Senior Competes in New Balance Championship

High school senior Allegra Fils-Aime recently competed at the 2015 New Balance National Outdoor Championship from June 19-21 in North Carolina.

During the event, Allegra competed against 37 athletes in the triple jump. She jumped 38’2” finishing in 22nd place.

The competition culminated her career as a high school athlete. During her time in the Port Jefferson School District, she earned All-League in the triple jump and holds second place in the county title.  She also medaled at the NYS track meet, finishing fifth.     

Allegra will attend Wesleyan University in the fall, where she will continue to participate in track.

Class of 2015 Joins Ranks of Port Jeff Alumni


Dressed in purple and white caps and gowns, the 2015 Earl. L. Vandermeulen High School graduating class was celebrated at a graduation ceremony on June 26.

During the commencement, speakers rose to congratulate the students and offer words of wisdom. Among those addressing the students were Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert, Valedictorian Noah Davis and Salutatorian Natalia Zaliznyak and parent speaker Peter Capobianco, who is the owner of Cappy’s Carpets.

In his speech, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bosert echoed sentiments that he delivered to the class when they graduated eighth grade. He said, “Take advantage of all the opportunities presented to you over the next four years. Be involved, find your niche. Be a scholar, be an athlete, be an artist, be a musician…most of all make us proud.”

Congratulations to the Class of 2015, and best wishes for a successful future.


Living Biography Museum

Dressed in period costumes, third-graders recently participated in a Living Biography Museum.

The museum culminated a month-long project in which the students in Nancy Winkler-Brogan’s class each selected a figure to research. The students then brought the figures to life during the Living Biography Museum, which was attended by the student’s peers, friends and family. Each third-grader presented a five-minute speech in front of poster boards describing their figure.

Among the figures the students presented information on were Elvis, Blackbeard, Dr. Seuss and Michelle Obama.

Ducks Visit

Fourth-grader Amy Whitman was one of four winners in the annual “Take a Duck to Class” essay contest, sponsored by the Long Island Ducks and TD Bank.

Per contest rules, Amy submitted an essay of less than 250 words that answered the question, “Who is a hero in your community and why?” Her winning essay focused on her cousin Justin Vogt, a U.S. Marine. She won a $50 Visa gift card from TD Bank and a visit to the school from QuackerJack.

Off to High School

School officials, parents and friends acknowledged the accomplishments of middle school eighth-graders at a ceremony on June 25 at the high school.

During the event, the students received several special classroom recognitions and Presidential Awards for Academic Excellence, as well as certificates to signify their move to high school.

“While you have reached an important milestone in your educational journey, you have many more opportunities to make us proud,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert. “As you head to high school, always trust your instincts and let them serve as a guide to shape your future.”

Also speaking during the ceremony was Middle School Principal Antonio Santana and eighth-grade Student Council President Phoenix Jampol.  

The event culminated with a performance of the theme from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony by the seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra.



Several students recently proved their smarts when it comes to correctly answering math questions. Among them was eighth-grader Annalisa Welinder, who earned fifth place for her score in the Level 3 Algebra/Trig Suffolk County Math Contest. Fellow eighth-grader Mayu Takeuchi also demonstrated her mathematical prowess with a score of 106 out of 120 on the AMC10 test, which is designed for high school students. Mayu’s score was the highest in her school.

Additionally, high school senior Ryan Burke qualified to take the prestigious American Invitational Mathematics Examination after earning a score of 106.5 on the AMC12 test. Ryan’s high score was in the top 5 percent nationally.

Moving Up to Middle School

The future Class of 2022 celebrated their moving up to middle school at a ceremony on June 24 at the high school.

During the event, the elementary school students received special classroom, safety patrol and principal recognitions, as well as certificates to signify their move to middle school.

“Today, we celebrate a milestone in your educational journey,” Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bossert said. “Take the lessons you’ve learned in elementary school to the middle school and seek out activities that inspire you.”

Also speaking at the ceremony were parent Jill Russell, retiring teacher’s aide Loraine Serabian and elementary Principal Thomas Meehan.

The event culminated with the students singing “The Best Day of My Life” by American Authors and an ice cream social.


Students Help Build a Home

With hammers and nails in hand, members of the high school Interact Club helped build a home in Mastic Beach as part of the Habitat for Humanity Student Build program.

The students spent the day installing windows on the first floor of the home and hammering in the front porch. They also raised $1,500 for the project through a fundraiser.

“This was truly a rewarding experience for the girls, who learned about Habitat’s organization and helped get a deserving family a step closer to moving into their new home,” said club advisor Deirdre Filippi.

Dancing the Night Away

To celebrate their completion of middle school, 92 eighth-graders enjoyed an evening of dancing on June 23 at Lombardi’s on the Sound.

The annual eighth-grade dance was coordinated by Allison Giannusa, Student Council advisor and allowed the students to spend some quality time together before moving to the high school.  

Summer School Opportunities for Parents and Students

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Valedictorian Honored

Port Jefferson Class of 2015 valedictorian Noah Davis was honored during the annual Suffolk County School Superintendents Association Valedictorians Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge in May.  

During the event, Noah and the other valedictorians in attendance were honored for their achievements, dedication and commitment. Noah was joined by his parents, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert and Principal Dr. Matthew Murphy. Regent Roger Tilles, a member of the New York State Education Department Board of Regents, served as keynote speaker and extended his congratulations to the soon-to-be graduates.

Mosaic Winners

Middle school students Erica Graci and Lucas Welinder were selected to have their artwork displayed at Rocketship Park in the Village of Port Jefferson as part of a beautification project fundraiser organized by the Village.

As part of the fundraiser, the middle school purchased two tiles and held a schoolwide contest calling for artwork to decorate the tiles. The winning images submitted by Erica and Lucas will be screened onto the mosaic tiles and installed at the park once a renovation project gets underway.

Athletes Commit to Colleges


Royal Pride shined through as the athletic department hosted a college-commitment ceremony on June 3 for student-athletes who have chosen to continue their athletic journeys at some of the nation’s top colleges this fall.

During the ceremony, six high school seniors penned their names to college commitment letters as proud parents, coaches and school administrators watched.

“These athletes have all made an enormous impact on the Port Jefferson athletic community by either being on championship teams or by setting school, state and personal records,” said Debra Ferry, Port Jefferson athletic director. “They each have what it takes to succeed as college athletes. I wish them the best of luck.”

The school district congratulates the following students:

James Burke, Georgetown University (Track)
Tristin DeVincenzo, University of Pennsylvania (Wrestling)
Shannon Fee, SUNY New Paltz (Softball)
Allegra Fils-Aime, Wesleyan University (Track)
Emilie Harrington, Hunter College (Volleyball)
Alden Mohacsi, Dickinson College (Track)


Port Jefferson Teams Earn Accolades

Three high school varsity athletic teams were recently recognized with prestigious honors during end-of-year sports dinners. The Port Jefferson School District congratulates the following teams:

The varsity lacrosse team capped off their inaugural season with several awards at a recent ceremony. During the event, Connor Fitterrer, Brian Mark and Max Scandale were named members of the League IV All-League team, and Max was recognized for making the All-County team. Brian was also named the League IV Rookie of the Year.

Senior Jake Myhre was recognized as the first recipient of the $1,000 “Stick with a Goal” scholarship, granted by the Port Jefferson Village Lacrosse Association. Jake will attend the University of Pittsburgh in the fall.

As a team, the boys earned the Suffolk County Lacrosse Coaches Association Crosse Award, which recognizes teams that are most improved.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what this team accomplished this past season,” said head coach Taylor Forstell.

Seven varsity baseball players scored top honors at the Suffolk County All-League/All-County Dinner. They included All-League Players Neil Alvarez, Noah Davis, Sean Griffin, Matt Keresztes, Ben Kluender and James Murphy, and All-Academic Player Tristin DeVincenzo. The team reached the Suffolk County Class B Semifinals.

At the Suffolk County Boys Tennis Awards Dinner, five senior varsity tennis players were recognized. Sascha Koller earned a top 16 in the county award, Paul Capobianco and Corey deGroot received an All-League Doubles recognition, Adam Nieves was awarded with an All-League Singles honor and Gaspar Cello received a sportsmanship award. Additionally, eighth-grader Josh Gelfond earned the No. 1 USTA boys 14-year-old player award and will be leading Port Jefferson’s tennis team next year.

Star Students Recognized

Six Port Jefferson elementary students have been named Star Students in the American Library Association’s yearlong Read Campaign.

The students chosen as June Star Students are Brianna Russo, kindergarten; Alexa Jacobs, first grade; Kyle DiCarlo, second grade; Anneliese Byrne, third grade; Sophia Wennerod, fourth grade; and Emily Hearney, fifth grade.  

For being named Star Students, the children have their photos displayed on the bulletin board outside the library along with a summary of their favorite books.

Elementary Math Tournament

A team of sixth-graders scored big at the eighth annual Suffolk County Elementary Math Tournament at Stony Brook University.

The team placed 10th out of 52 teams, and team member Aaron Held placed fourth in the individual competition out of 260 students.

To earn the recognitions, the students were required to answer challenging Math Olympiad-style problems in a timed tournament.

“The kids had a blast competing and spending the day on a college campus,” said math teacher Megan Ryan.

Buddy Bench Unveiled

To encourage inclusion and kindness on the playground, the elementary school cut the ribbon on a new playground buddy bench during the school’s first Friendship Day.

The buddy bench, purchased through a Royal Education Foundation grant, aims to ensure that every student who may feel isolated or left out has someone to play with during recess. All students are encouraged to invite those sitting on the bench to play.

During the ribbon-cutting, students, wearing yellow as a symbol of friendship, read poems and sang about friendship.

Club Raises Money for Wounded Warriors

To conclude their inaugural school year as an official high school club, the Varsity Club worked together to raise $400 for the Wounded Warrior Project.

To garner the funds, Port Jefferson students James Murphy and Dylan Wennerod, with the help of advisor Jesse Rosen, organized a well-attended, after-school, donation-based speedball tournament for students and staff.

The club members hope to build on the success of the event next year and raise even more money for the Wounded Warrior Project.  

Latin Students Earn High Marks

Fifty high school and middle school Latin students recently earned some of the highest marks in the world after taking the 2015 National Latin. In celebration of their success, each student was awarded for his or her accomplishments at a luncheon on May 21 in the high school library.

The Port Jefferson students were among 154,000 students from 49 states and 17 foreign countries to take the annual exam. They were presented with certificates of achievement as their parents watched.

Notably, three middle school students – Francine Leung, Mayu Takeuchi and Annalisa Welinder – received additional honors for earning a perfect score on the Latin I exam.

“I am always astonished by our Latin students,” said Middle School Principal Antonio Santana. “They do a fantastic job. Congratulations to all of them.”

The Port Jefferson School District extends its congratulations to the following students:

Introduction to Latin Exam

Outstanding Achievement Certificate plus a purple ribbon:
Giuseppina Than        Outstanding Achievement Certificate plus a ribbon
Lucas Rohman        Outstanding Achievement Certificate plus a ribbon
Carmella Moran        Outstanding Achievement Certificate plus a ribbon
Kyle Onghai            Outstanding Achievement Certificate plus a ribbon
Quinn McGorry        Achievement Certificate
Felicity Hyams        Achievement Certificate
Jane Murphy            Achievement Certificate

Latin I Exam
Mayu Takeuchi        gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Annalisa Welinder        gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Francine Leung        gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Ava Schully            gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Hyun Jin Lee            gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Katherine Ambrozy        gold  medal, summa  cum laude
David  Rotunno        silver medal, maxima cum laude
Miles Kaming-Thanassi    silver medal, maxima cum laude    
Gavin Barrett            silver medal, maxima cum laude
Sarah Hull            silver medal, maxima cum laude
Ju Eun Ha            silver medal, maxima cum laude
Ryan Kim            silver medal, maxima cum laude
Sabrina Schully        magna cum laude          
Ryan Robertson        magna cum laude  
Taylor Corallo        cum laude  
Cameron Cohen        cum laude  

Latin II Exam
Ibuki Iwasaki             gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Emma Gutmann        gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Joseph Samara        silver medal, maxima cum laude
Cezanne Lojeski        silver medal, maxima cum laude
Leland Held            magna cum laude  
John O’Connor        cum laude  

Latin III Exam
Chiara Rabeno        gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Xinyi Hong            gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Luigia Than            gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Matthew Pifko         silver medal, maxima cum laude
Arunima Roy            silver medal, maxima cum laude
Louis Martin-Deprez     silver medal, maxima cum laude
Paul Simmerling        silver medal, maxima cum laude
Isabella Koutsantanou     silver medal, maxima cum laude
Connor Kaminska        silver medal, maxima cum laude
Edward Finkelstein        magna cum laude  
John Collins            cum laude  

Latin IV Poetry Exam
Eric Kilgore            gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Anita Rescia            gold  medal, summa  cum laude
Elisa Ueno            magna cum laude  
Rachel Collins            magna cum laude  
Billy Witrock             magna cum laude  
Courtney Lewis        cum laude  
Virginia Albinson         cum laude

Latin V Advanced Level Exam
Noah Davis            gold medal,  summa cum laude  
Natasha  Zaliznyak        gold medal,  summa cum laude  
Ryan Burke              silver medal, maxima cum laude

Community Read

Students, teachers and parents recently came together for a Community Read event at the high school. Upperclassmen led discussion groups in which participants discussed the book “Freak the Mighty” by Rodman Philbrock. Participants were able to ask the author questions through a Skype session, set up by teacher Paige MacLeod.

The purpose of Community Read events is to encourage and promote literacy in students, as well as to facilitate shared reading between the students and their parents.  

Major Organization Festival

Musicians from the seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra earned a silver award for their performance at the NYSSMA Major Organization Festival, held on May 28 at Patchogue-Medford High School.

During the event, the musicians, led by music teacher Christian Neubert, performed several pieces for adjudicators, who evaluated them on quality of performance and level of musicianship.     

Students Recognized for Volunteer Efforts

Students were recognized at the June 9 Board of Education meeting for earning the Presidential Service Award.

The 50 students, each of whom volunteered between 50 and 100 hours of their time to the Port Jefferson community, received a certificate and medal.

This year, under the direction of parent volunteer Jackie Hull, the students logged 6,000 volunteer hours with the majority of students recording an average of 188 hours of service.

“It is wonderful to recognize these very civic-minded students, who have gone above and beyond,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert.

The Port Jefferson School District congratulates the following students: Chloe Andriani, Nicholas Thomas Andriani, Gavin Barrett, Reid Biondo, Kyra Becker, Lexi Becker, Nicholas Caltagirone, Sam Caltagirone, Ashley Catoggio, Taylor Catoggio, Kathleen Christ, Shannon Christ, Jillian Colucci, Lia Desmond, Olivia Desmond, Robert Delman, Eli Doyle, Chloe Brooke Dugourd, Dylan Serge Dugourd, Kayla Jade Fox, Hailey Hearney, Sarah Elizabeth Hull, Thomas Henry Hull, Grace Keegan, James P. Kennedy, Michael L. Kennedy, Claudia Koutsantanou, Hyun Jin Lee, Joseph Luca, Matthew Luca, Aidan Malinowski, Max Okst, Fiona Petracca, Siobhan Petracca, Skylar Marylin Pine, David Rotunno, Devin Rotunno, Jordan Suarez, Jillian Sullivan, Mayu Takeuchi, Luigia Than, Pina Than, Karin Thomassen, Kayla Timpanaro, Andrew Tursi, Robert Williams, Peggy Yin, Brooke Zamek, Eric Zimmermann and Noelle Zimmermann.

Organic Smoothie Making

As part of a wellness lesson, high school students made organic smoothies using a “fender blender” bicycle.

The students in Dinarae Camarda’s Well-Fit Physical Education classes took turns blending smoothies with the bicycle-powered blender, which was provided to the class by Whole Foods of Lake Grove.

In addition to blending nutritious smoothies, the students learned about organic farming and the importance of pollinators.

Cooking Club Gets “Chopped"


You’ve read the story and seen the pictures, now enjoy the video. Produced and edited by Earl L. Vandermeulen senior Julia Durfee in Brian Chalmers’ broadcast/journalism class, the video takes viewers behind the scenes of the Port Jefferson Middle School “Chopped” competition held in May.

Student Cellist Earns Scholarship

Port Jefferson Middle School sixth-grader Lucas Welinder has been awarded a full scholarship as a cellist to the fourth annual Oyster Bay Music Festival, scheduled for June 28–July 6.

During the weeklong festival, Lucas will have the opportunity to perform and learn technique alongside talented music students from across Long Island.

In addition to the scholarship, Lucas’ hard work and dedication to music also earned him a Suffolk County Long Island String Festival Association scholarship for private study this summer.

When in Rome

To celebrate ancient Roman culture, 50 of the district’s Latin Club members and their families participated in the seventh annual Roman Banquet. The event was held at the Port Jefferson Village Center on the date traditionally recognized for the founding of Rome, April 21.

Dressed in togas, the students read Latin poetry, challenged their parents on word origins, watched a student performance of Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat Major and enjoyed a feast fit for an emperor.

“The banquet is modeled on an ancient banquet using only foods that existed during that time period,” said Latin teacher Anne Algieri. Items enjoyed at the banquet included eggs and apples.

Tenured Educators & Farewell to Retirees

The Port Jefferson School District Board bid farewell to six retiring employees and congratulated five educators on receiving tenure at its June 9 meeting.

During the meeting, administrators shared kind words about the retiring teachers and office staff, who worked tirelessly for the students and could never truly be replaced.
The district extends its best wishes for a happy and healthy retirement to: Louise Cash, teaching assistant; MaryJane Fleckenstein, lifeguard; Vicky Herman, teaching assistant; Marianne McFadden, teacher; Loraine Serabian, teaching assistant; and Carole Udovich, office applications specialist.    

The Board also congratulated tenured employees Taylor Forstell, special education teacher; Celiana Gandolfo, foreign language teacher; Maureen Hull, executive director of curriculum and instruction; Stacia Schoen, speech teacher; and Kelly Spencer, special education teacher.

“You have reached a milestone in your careers, and we hope that you continue to serve as an inspiration to students over the next 20 to 30 years,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert.

Additionally, Board Vice President James Laffey was recognized for his years of service as a Board member, serving on three committees.

“Mr. Laffey really stepped up to the plate,” said BOE President Kathleen Brennan.
 “He takes his work on the BOE very seriously, and we will miss him.”

The Board rounded out the evening by thanking high school senior Paul Capobianco for serving as the student representative to the Board.

Students Exhibit Art


Students across the district showed off their artistic skills at several art shows throughout the month of May.

From painting to sketching to sculpture, the students worked with art teachers Richard Anderson, Lynne Edsall, Carrie Morgan, Nancy Randazzo and Stacey Schuman to perfect their pieces.


A special meeting of the Board of Education of Port Jefferson School District will be held on June 16, 2015, 6:00 p.m. at the District Office, for the purpose of entering executive session to discuss the Superintendent’s Evaluation.  

A special meeting of the Board of Education of Port Jefferson School District will be held on June 23, 2015, 6:00 p.m., in the Large Group Room at the elementary school for the purpose of taking action on business items and entering executive session to discuss the Superintendent’s Evaluation.

The annual reorganization meeting and July business meeting of the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education will be held on July 13, 2015, in the Large Group Room at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School.  The Board will be meeting in executive session at 6:00 p.m., the reorganization meeting will commence at 7:00 p.m., and the business meeting will commence at 7:30 p.m.

First Annual Career Day

On June 3, fourth and fifth graders learned about various careers from parent volunteers. Find out more about the new program by watching the accompanying video.

Athlete Scholarship Awarded

High school All-American wrestler Tristin DeVincenzo is the recipient of the prestigious National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s Student Athletic Scholarship, presented to him by the Suffolk County Athletic Directors Association.

To earn the scholarship, Tristin wrote an essay about how high school athletics have impacted his life. The scholarship recognizes Tristin as a distinguished scholastic athlete with leadership and sportsmanship qualities.

Tristin, who will be attending the University of Pennsylvania this fall, was recently named an All-American athlete. He also holds county and state wrestling titles and has a 137-19 career record.   

Culinary Student Heading to Nationals

High school and BOCES student JessieJayne Clancy served up a first-place win at the Skills USA New York State Leadership Conference and Competition in Syracuse, New York. With this win, JessieJayne will take her skills to the national competition.

To earn the top spot, JessieJayne competed against students throughout New York State in the culinary service category, where she was required to perform restaurant/service-related tasks in front of a panel of judges.

JessieJayne will represent New York at the national level of the contest on June 24-28 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Meet the New HS Principal

The Port Jefferson School District has named Christine Austen as the new principal of Earl L. Vandemeulen High School.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Ms. Austen as our new high school principal,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert. “Her strong educational background will help her as she takes the helm at our high school and continues our tradition of educational excellence and Royal Pride.”

Ms. Austen is equally excited to take on the role of principal at the school from which she graduated.

“It is wonderful to be given this opportunity to come home and give back to the community this way,” she said.

As principal, Ms. Austen said, she plans to continue to maintain the important connection the school district has with the community and ensure that every student is college- and career-ready through individualized learning opportunities. She also intends to enhance the high school experience for students through the introduction of new technology-related courses and the institution of Google Classrooms.

“Our goal is to prepare our students with skills that will last a lifetime,” she said.

Ms. Austen previously served in the district as dean of students, technology integration specialist and library media specialist. She is a member of the district’s Safety Committee, Code of Conduct Committee and Professional Development Committee, among others.

Ms. Austen, who is a mother of three, holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stony Brook University and a Master of Library Science from LIU Post. She also holds an advanced certificate in educational computing and administration from Stony Brook University and is the recipient of the 2008 C.W. Post Educator of the Year Award.

Saturday, July 04, 2015