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Sophomores Make a Personal Connection to History

Sophomores Make a Personal Connection to History photo
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Sophomores at Amityville Memorial High School heard a powerful story from a Long Island man who, more than seven decades ago, survived the Holocaust. The first-hand account from Werner Reich gave students insight into one of the biggest atrocities in history. 

Mr. Reich has been visiting the high school for the past decade to support the 10th-grade social studies curriculum, which focuses on world history and includes extensive study of World War II. He told students that as a teenager, he was arrested and held in a concentration camp before finally being liberated at 17 years old and later moving to the United States. A PowerPoint presentation with photographs, maps and cartoons illustrated his tales of capture and survival while providing historical context of the Holocaust.  

His story served as inspiration for students to lead lives based upon kindness and respect. Mr. Reich urged them to fight injustice and oppression, and to stand up for anyone being mistreated.

“Ask yourself, ‘What is the right thing to?’ Then do it,” he said.

Social studies teachers explained that students learn how to cite primary sources in their writing, and there is no greater primary source than hearing from a person who lived through a historical event. 

Pre-K Students Say ‘Thank You’ to Mom

Pre-K Students Say ‘Thank You’ to Mom photo

Mothers, grandmothers, aunts and other special guests visited Northeast Elementary School on May 11 for the annual pre-K Mother’s Day.

Principal Dr. Pauline Collins said that the event is a long-standing tradition at the school and a chance to recognize family members for the support they provide throughout the year. Each class performed a song, and selections included “Mommy, Mommy, I Love You Mommy,” “You’re My Mom,” “You're Amazing” and “I Want a Mom That Will Last Forever.” It concluded with a group performance of “Skidamarink.”

After the songs, the students joined their family members for refreshments and iced tea. Children provided gifts to their loved ones including handmade cards and crafts. 

Budget Passed

School Budget Passed, Yes: 515 No: 230. Trustees Juan Leon and Jeannette Santos re-elected to Board of Education.

District Celebrates its Champions

District Celebrates its Champions photo

Amityville Memorial High School’s state championship basketball team marched through the streets of town on May 12 as the community came out to celebrate their accomplishment.

The Parade of Champions began at Edmund W. Miles Middle School and was followed by a recognition ceremony in the high school auditorium. Marchers included administrators, board of education trustees, cheerleaders, junior varsity athletes, representatives from the middle and elementary schools, elected officials and community leaders.   

After winning the county and Long Island championships, the Warriors defeated Irondequoit High School, 52-42 on March 17, then captured the state title the following day with a 74-54 win over defending champion Ardsley High School. Amityville’s first state title in 15 years was a cause for celebration.

“They are a tremendous source of pride for our entire community,” said Superintendent Dr. Mary T. Kelly. “Our student athletes truly embody the Warrior ethic. They are gentlemen of character.”

On hand to honor the team were Amityville Mayor Dennis Siry and Deputy Mayor Kevin Smith, Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer, Town Councilman Terence McSweeney, Town Clerk Gerry Compitello, Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory and State Sen. John Brooks. The varsity basketball players, along with head coach Gordon Thomas and assistant coach Paul Robinson, were presented with citations.

The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a championship sign that was donated by the Town of Babylon. 

School officials also honored New York State wrestling champion and three-time All-American Deonte Wilson, who was unable to attend because he was competing that day in the discus throw for Amityville’s track and field team. 


Medical Research Earns Science Students First Place

Medical Research Earns Science Students First Place photo
A team of student scientists from the district took first place in the project competition at the recent STEM Diversity Summit at Farmingdale State College. 

The group of Amityville Memorial High School students, including Jeffrey Garcia, Nathalie Larin, Amber Palmer, Amelia Tisk, Alexa Victor and Z’Dhanne Williams, are part of the Independent Science Research program. They presented their project, “Treatment of Polycythemia Vera with Resveratrol and Other Small Molecules,” which they have been working on since middle school. 

The students have been trying to determine molecules that would be best for the treatment of Polycythemia Vera, a rare blood cancer. They have been working one day a week at Farmingdale alongside biology professor Dr. Andrew Michaelson, with support from science research teacher Alexis Charles and retired science teacher Deborah Charles.  

“All of this research is for a good cause,” Jeffrey said. “This can one day save lives.”

The five students were honored at the May 9 board of education and presented with certificates and plaques from Dr. Veronica Henry, the executive assistant to the president at Farmingdale. Amityville’s Independent Science Research program, now its third year, continues to grow in terms of enrollment and participation in regional science competitions. This year, students took part in the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair and Molloy College’s Kathy Belton Science Fair for the first time.  

Video: High School Heroes at Northwest


Elementary students learned about business, communities and financial literacy from their peers at the high school.

Three Receive Tenure in Amityville

Three Receive Tenure in Amityville photo
The Board of Education awarded tenure to three staff members at their meeting on April 18. The tenure recipients were Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Diane Castonguay, Northwest Elementary School instructional coach Lorie Beard and Northeast Elementary School instructional coach Theresa McCormack. Superintendent Dr. Mary T. Kelly recommended them for tenure. 

Ms. Castonguay came to the district three years ago after working in the private sector as a certified public account and then as a school district treasurer. She oversees all financial operations and the development of the annual budget, along with facilities, transportation and the school lunch program. Dr. Kelly cited the outstanding job she has done in Amityville.

Ms. Beard and Ms. McCormack support teachers at their respective buildings with instructional and technology needs. They have helped to implement the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project workshops. Dr. Kelly said they are both highly respected among the faculty.

Science Fair Showcases Middle School’s Inquiring Minds

Inquiring Minds Pic
After months of exploration and inquiry, students at Edmund W. Miles Middle School presented their findings at the annual science fair.

The students showcased their work for their classmates, teachers and families during the evening event. Projects explored a variety of different scientific concepts including electricity, density, magnetics and nature. Students explored which type of gum keeps its flavor longer, if adding salt to water can make an egg float and the impact of sunlight on growing grass.

Each seventh-grade student completed a project by conducting an experiment using the scientific method. They were allowed to work independently or with a partner. Science department Chairwoman Natasha Lim said she was proud on how hard the students worked as they explored challenging topics and conducted rigorous investigations.  

The goal of the project, Ms. Lim said, is to get students excited about science and find a topic they are passionate about. She added that the science fair is their opportunity to be the experts.

Students in the science research program, under the direction of teacher Alexis Charles, also presented their work. Throughout the year, they have been studying the causes and impacts of climate change, and also taking care of animals including beta fish, guppies and leopard geckos.

A group of ninth-grade science research students, who have been studying a rare type of cancer known as polycythemia vera since last year, also presented on their latest findings. The students also competed at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair, Molloy College’s Kathy Belton Science Fair, and the STEM Diversity Summit at Farmingdale State College, which included a first-place finish. 

Students also showcased their work from the middle school’s new STEAM classes, which focus on science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. Teacher Mark Marchino said students have been participating in many hands-on activities throughout the year. They built cars to protect eggs from breaking, bridges out of straws that could hold a certain amount of weight, water filters using rocks, sand, cotton balls and coffee filters, and backyard design drawings.

Adjacent to the science fair was the first Miles Pride Showcase. Sixth-graders from Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School were invited to learn about the athletic and extracurricular opportunities that will be available upon entering middle school in the fall.

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Northwest Students Step Back in Time

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Second-graders at Northwest Elementary School explored the past with help from members of the Amityville Historical Society. 

The students recently visited Lauder Museum in the village to learn about the history of Amityville through displays, photos and maps. As a follow up, historical society representatives Patricia Cahaney, Seth Purdy and Doris Reynolds visited Olimpia Karounos’s class and showed off various artifacts, some at least a century old, such as a rotary telephone, washboard and coffee grinder. 

The field trip and classroom visit supported the second-grade social studies curriculum, which focuses on communities and how they change over time. Students also created their own personal timelines with photos of themselves from birth through the present. 

District Earns Distinction for Music Program

District Earns Distinction for Music Program photo
The district has once again been recognized for its music program by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation with a Best Communities for Music Education distinction. Amityville joined 583 school districts in the nation in receiving the designation, the seventh time in the last eight years for the district. 

For 19 years, the Best Communities for Music Education program has acknowledged schools and districts across the country for their commitment to and support of music education in schools. The survey measured a variety of factors, including budgetary commitment to music, opportunities to learn music, the presence of highly qualified music teachers, adherence to state and national standards, types of musical experiences offered and opportunities for performance and competition.

In Amityville, general music instruction begins in kindergarten, and students learn to play the recorder in third grade. Upon entering Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School in fourth grade, children can select an instrument to play in the band or orchestra, and also join the chorus. Jazz ensembles are available at the middle school and high school, and elective courses include piano and music theory. 

“It is a great honor that the Amityville Union Free School District has again been designated as one the Best Communities for Music Education,” said Dr. Frances Fernandez, director of fine arts. “Our music program gives all students a chance to shine in the performing arts, and our dedicated music teachers are second to none. Amityville continues to remain a community that is committed to access and high standards for music education.”

Middle School Honor Society Welcomes New Members

Middle School Honor Society Welcomes New Members photo

In recognition of their academic achievements and good character, 17 students were inducted into the National Junior Honor Society at Edmund W. Miles Middle School.

The inductees were joined by their families and their fellow seventh-graders during an afternoon ceremony on April 16. Principal Ed Plaia told the new members that the National Junior Honor Society is not a club but rather a prestigious national organization that has specific and demanding criteria for admittance. He reminded them to “keep up the good work.”

Honor society co-presidents Mikhail Ankudovych and Samantha Molina lit the golden candle of knowledge, which was then used to light blue candles representing the five core values of the organization: character, citizenship, leadership, scholarship and service. Amityville’s chapter participates in several community service activities each year including volunteering at family learning nights at the elementary schools and raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The new members are Wilnory Bouzy, Nicholas Brown, Luna Caicedo, Ashley Campos, Nataly Carbajal, Denisse Diaz Marte, Dimarion Donaldson, Martha Gonzalez, Jacob Griffin, Daniella Henriquez, Jose Hernandez, Irene Pineda, Ryan Rose, Micoh Sterling, Adrianna Velasquez Bautista, Florian Victor and Makayla Warrick. As they walked across the stage to receive their certificates, they were congratulated by Mr. Plaia, Assistant Principal Kristy Pagliari, Dean of Student Earl Mitchell and adviser Carlee Wallenstein-Brunson.

Superintendent Dr. Mary T. Kelly remarked to the inductees, “Your accomplishments are a tremendous source of pride for your parents, your teachers and all of us in the Amityville community.”


Amityville Athletics Are on the Air

Amityville Athletics Are on the Air photo
Reporting live from Amityville Memorial High School, it’s Justin Bethea and Devontay Rickenbacker. The two students have added a new dimension to Amityville athletics by broadcasting several Warriors contests. 

Justin, a sophomore, and Devontay, a junior, called all of the home games for the boys and girls varsity basketball teams as well as select road games. They were also able to travel with the boys team throughout its playoff run that culminated in a state championship. In addition to calling the plays and providing in-game commentary, the duo conducted postgame interviews with players, coaches and administrators. 

The games were livestreamed on The Cube and filmed using Padcaster, a kit that includes an iPad, case, tripod and microphone. Justin and Devontay were supported by fellow students Brian Portillo and Sabitha Joseph, who operated the camera, and technology teacher Paul Cimmino. 

“I found something that I enjoy doing,” Justin said. “Broadcasting is what I now want to do as a career.”

Devontay, who used to make YouTube videos about the NFL and NBA when he was younger, said he has always had an interest in sports commentary and this experience opened his eyes to the preparation that professional broadcasters must undertake. He and Justin both spoke of the importance of good pronunciation and cutting down on saying words such as “like” and “umm” while on camera. Additionally, they had to learn to be unbiased by referring to the team as “Amityville” or “the Warriors” instead of “we.” 

The pair learned how to fill an entire broadcast with commentary. For each game, they had statistics at the ready for both Amityville and the away team. Because they are classmates with Warriors players, they also had several anecdotes they could tell when there were breaks in the action. 

Although they weren’t able to broadcast the state championship game in Binghamton, Justin and Devontay both were given seats on press row, in which they were able to take photos and videos and network with members of the media. Devontay said that one of the greatest moments of the season they did get to call was when senior captain Josh Serrano scored his 1,500th career point.

Evan Farkas, the director of athletics, physical education and health, said a group visited Harborfields High School last year to learn about their broadcasting program, and this year’s goal was to livestream a handful of games.

“Little did we know that Justin and Devontay would come in and take it to a whole new level,” he said. “We’ve quickly become a model school for broadcasting.”

Mr. Farkas said the goal for next year is to add even more sports to the broadcasting lineup. Additionally, they are looking to add some new equipment such as noise-canceling headphones. 

Justin said that having several hundred people tune in to the games and hear him and Devontay’s commentary was a rewarding experience. It was just as thrilling as being on the sidelines for the basketball team’s title run. 

“There was a huge learning curve,” Justin said, “but it was a great experience.”

An Exciting Earth Exploration at Northeast

An Exciting Earth Exploration at Northeast photo
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From below the ground to the sky above, pre-K students at Northeast Elementary School learned all they could about earth.

During a week’s work of activities leading up to Earth Day, children in Lisa Carey’s class acquired new knowledge about the planet they call home through a variety of hands-on activities, such as when they explored a large box filled with dirt, grass, roots and worms. They performed a science experiment to learn how rain falls from the clouds and built a birdhouse that will be filled with seed and hung in the school’s garden.

Each child made his her own Chia pet by filling a cup with dirt, adding grass seed and drawing a face on the cup. Ms. Carey said once the grass grows, the children would be encouraged to take it home and plant it. As a culminating activity, children made edible cups of dirt from chocolate pudding, crushed graham crackers and gummy worms. 

High School Students Check Out College Choices

High School Students Check Out College Choices photo

Amityville Memorial High School students had a chance to explore their futures during the annual spring college fair on March 29. Representatives were in attendance from more than 100 colleges and universities on Long Island, in the city, upstate and throughout the Northeast. Attendees could also earn about opportunities in the military and law enforcement.

Students traveled throughout the gymnasium and were able to ask questions about academic programs, athletics and extracurricular activities, scholarship opportunities, on-campus housing and more. For underclassman, the college fair gave them a chance to understand admissions requirements, while seniors could learn about the next steps in the application process. 

High School Bridge Builders Earn Recognition

High School Bridge Builders Earn Recognition photo
Amityville Memorial High School sophomores Jared Davis and Alexa Victor were selected to receive the Students Building Bridges Award from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island. 

They were nominated by social studies Chairwoman Dawn Mizrachi, their Advanced Placement world history teacher. The award recognizes students for their efforts in bridging the community, teaching tolerance and completing services that aim to advocate change and improve lives of others.

Jared and Alexa will be publicly honored at Suffolk County’s Yom Hashoah Holocaust Remembrance Day program on Thursday, May 3, at Suffolk County Community College. They will each receive a citation from an elected official and a certificate from JCRC-LI.

Language Learners Celebrate Success

Language Learners Celebrate Success photo

The National World Language Honor Society at Amityville Memorial High School welcomed 53 new members at its March 27 induction ceremony.

New members were recognized for their achievement in learning new languages and embracing other cultures. Membership was offered to students with an average of 85 or above in Spanish or French classes. 

Each inductee received a certificate and a medal. Teachers Elisa Castro and Sandra Whitney introduced the 43 Spanish language students who were selected for membership, joining 10 students from Brooke Prestano’s French classes. 

New members of the Spanish Honor Society are Cedric Agenor, Albiery Amaya, Jasmine Ambrose, Celian Aracena, Karina Aracena, Kayla Barrett, Olivia Bennett, Makhai Barton, Daniela Campos, Bryan Canales, Nayeliz Canas, Hasson Cantarero Hernandez, Mary Dexter, Jeffrey Garcia, Ariel Graham, Natalya Grant, Andrea Grijalva, Chantel Hinds, Krystian Hobson, Aaliyah Hunt, Marco Iorio, Maksymilian Kiec, Aleyna Kokoglu, Mert Kokoglu, Nathalie Larin, Jessica Licona, Rachelle Louisjean, Jasmin Lucero, Meghan Luders, Ryan McPherson, Nidia Mendoza, Odalys Murcia, Brayan Nieto, William Orellano, Nil Patel, Ashley Pico, Chelsie Rodriguez, Stephanie Rodriguez, Gleny Inoa Rodriguez, Jazmin Ruiz, Ameila Tisk, Katirya Tyson-Cardona and Z’Dhanne Williams.

New members of the French Honor Society are Stephany Carbajal, Brianna Mazzilli, Ernesto Monzon, Amaya Pelzer-Covington, Aatyra Robinson, Ava Sutherland, Anneth Taylor, Jordan Tobin, Trinity Tobin and Alexa Victor. 

The ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance in English, French and Spanish. There was a merengue dance presentation, candle-lighting ceremony and recognition of senior honor society members. Congratulatory remarks came from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary T. Kelly, Director of ENL and World Languages Mary Stephens, and high school Principal Maria Andreotti.

“Being multilingual will prepare you to be successful in a global community,” Ms. Andreotti told the inductees. 

Building a Community of Readers at Park Avenue

Building a Community of Readers at Park Avenue photo

To celebrate Pick a Reading Partner month, guest readers visited classrooms throughout March at Park Avenue Elementary School in the Amityville Union Free School District. Among the visitors were school and central office administrators, board of education trustees, parents, grandparents and community members.

The goal of PARP is to get students excited about reading and this year’s theme was “Wild About Reading.” Children were encouraged to read every day at home and log their minutes. The top three readers in every grade were recognized at the end of each week. 

There were several other activities throughout the month. Students were visited by mystery readers, wore shirts and hats with words, brought their favorite books to schools, dressed up as book characters and designed bookmarks.  

“We were excited to welcome our special guests to share the joy of reading,” said Principal Robyn Santiago. “We want to instill in our students a love of reading, and it is important for them to see different people from different professions reading and reading for enjoyment.” 


Northwest Students Go on an Art Adventure

Northwest Students Go on an Art Adventure photo

The classrooms and hallways at Northwest Elementary School in the Amityville Union Free School District will soon be full of color, thanks to the students who completed several projects under the direction of professional artist John DiNaro.

Mr. DiNaro, who previously spearheaded mural projects at Amityville Memorial High School, visited Lydia Robinson’s art classes in March. Children worked together to create a half-dozen murals including one for the music room and several for the hallways. They used paint and glued on bottle caps to make the colorful creations. 

Students created the sketches that were the inspiration for the mural designs. Ms. Robinson and Mr. DiNaro were both impressed with the creativity of the students, who came up with a wide variety of ideas. 

Under Mr. DiNaro’s supervision, the students also painted two buddy benches, which will be placed in the school library. All first- through third-graders contributed their artistic talents to either the benches or the murals. 

“Every student had a part in this,” Ms. Robinson said. “We worked together as a school community to create a beautiful space for ourselves.”

Ms. Robinson added that the projects allowed students to further develop their artistic abilities but on a much larger scale. Students learned the importance of cooperation and collaboration. 

Amityville Celebrates Deonte Wilson Day

Amityville Celebrates Deonte Wilson Day photo
New York State wrestling champion Deonte Wilson has brought great pride to his school and community with his athletic prowess and kind heart, and he was fittingly honored during a special ceremony at Amityville Memorial High School.

The Town of Babylon declared March 29 Deonte Wilson Day and Supervisor Richard Schaffer presented him with a proclamation. Deonte was joined by his family, coaches, high school and district administrators, and board of education trustees, who all attended to personally congratulate the senior. Among the words and phrases used to describe him: “determination,” “amazing young man” and “role model.”

One of the top ranked high school wrestlers in the United States, Deonte was the state wrestling champion in the 285-pound weight class and became a three-time All-American Wrestler as he finished second in the country at the wrestling nationals on March 25. He plans to continue wrestling in college and is currently in the process of selecting a school.

“It feels pretty good when people call you one of the best in the nation,” Deonte said. “Knowing I accomplished so much, it means something to me and to the community.”

Deonte, a member of the varsity team since eighth grade, said he wouldn’t have been able to make his dream come true without the support from his coaches and family. After winning the state title, he called his mother to wish her a happy birthday before sharing his news. 

He also discussed the importance of having a strong work ethic and maintaining good grades. In addition to wrestling, he plays football in the fall and runs for the track team in the spring.

“Aside from being an outstanding athlete, he’s the kindest, most caring person you would ever want to meet,” Principal Maria Andreotti said. “Deonte represents the best of what we have to offer as a school and as a district.”

Speakers at the ceremony included Director of Athletics, Physical Education and Health Evan Farkas, head wrestling coach Greg McCoy and volunteer assistant coach Billy Maisel. 

“He’s worked extremely hard toward this goal and has put in so much work when it comes to his sport,” said coach McCoy. “He has reignited the Amityville wrestling program.”

Middle School Marks Women’s History Month

Middle School Marks Women’s History Month photo

March is Women’s History Month and students at Edmund W. Miles Middle School paid tribute to many women who have made great contributions to society.

The theme for the women’s history celebration on March 23 was “Women in History Shouldn’t be a Mystery.” Teacher Latessa Clairborne hosted the program as Oprah Winfrey. Students shared original poetry and performed choreographed dances. They also played the part of notable women in politics, science and entertainment such as Michelle Obama, Marie Curie and Beyonce.  

The jazz band, under the direction of Joseph Sciolino, performed “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing” accompanied by student vocalist Shaakirah Nazim-Haris who portrayed Ella Fitzgerald. The ninth-grade orchestra, led by Bianca Ferrante, played “Dragon Dances,” written by female composer Soon Hee Newbold. 

The show was organized by librarian Lynn Cesiro and middle school social studies Chairman Paul Duguay. 

“Back in history, women were not allowed to do the same things as men,” said ninth-grade D’Layzia Williams who portrayed Michelle Obama. “We came together to celebrate that women can do anything and honor those who made a difference.”

Amityville Actors Tell Seuss Stories Through Song

Amityville Actors Tell Seuss Stories Through Song photo

The characters from more than a dozen Dr. Seuss books came alive on the Amityville Memorial High School stage as the Drama Club hosted its spring musical, “Seussical,” with four performances from March 23-25.

The show featured 35 students from the high school, Edmund W. Miles Middle School and Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School, along with two alumni. It was based upon the works of the renowned children’s author, and followed the adventures of Horton and Jojo as they traveled through the Jungle of Nool and Who-ville, as the Cat in the Hat narrated.

Lead actors included senior Shival Sohan as the Cat in the Hat, sixth-grader Ayden Carton as Jojo, fifth-graders Arianna and Brianna Cuevas as Thing 1 and Thing 2, senior Jacob Marrero as Horton the Elephant, freshman Colleen Compitello as Gertrude McFuzz, sophomore Trinity Tobin as Mayzie LaBird, sophomore Alexa Victor as General Gengus Khan Schmitz and freshman Alexander Diaz as the leader of the Wickersham Brothers.

Shaakirah Nazim-Harris played Sour Kangaroo, Tiffany Asbell was Young Kangaroo and Daniel Lutz and Imagine Halyard starred as Mr. and Mrs. Mayor. There was also Amber Palmer as Yurtle the Turtle, Johnatan Blanchard as the Grinch, Kyra Lee as the Lorax and DeAsia McCorvey as Vlad Vladikoff. 

The show was directed by Melissa Asbell and Megan Ashe, and the pit orchestra director was Jolene Maccarone.

VIDEO: Technology at Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School


Tuesday, May 22, 2018