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Students Celebrate Earth Day at Northwest

Students Celebrate Earth Day at Northwest Photo

To celebrate Earth Day, students at Northwest Elementary School participated in literacy, science and art activities to learn how to make the planet a better place.

First-graders in Kristina Komsic’s class used tracings of their hands and blue and green paper circles to create “I’ve Got the Whole World in My Hands” posters. They also wrote sentences about what they can do to protect the planet.

In Nancy Davi-Ortiz’s second-grade class, children learned about the life cycle of plants by sprouting lima beans. They placed their beans into mason jars, which are more environmentally friendly than plastic bags, and added a paper towel and water. Once the beans sprout, they will plant them in small pots to bring home in time for Mother’s Day. The students also watched a video about the harmful effects of plastics, particularly on animals and marine life.

After reading Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax,” students in Kelli Geilman’s third-grade class made their own foldable lapbooks analyzing the environmentally themed book’s lessons. They also signed pledges promising to take care of the Earth, wrote actions that they could do and penned essays on the theme “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”

“At such a young age, the students can take part in this effort,” Ms. Geilman said. “I wanted them to learn that Earth Day is not just one day, it’s every day.”

Third-graders in Sylvin Ramgadoo’s class came up with their ideas for Earth-friendly cities. They created drawings and wrote about their plans, which included recycling centers, compost piles and bicycled-centered transportation. The project allowed students to think creatively and build their literacy skills.

The Amityville Tide: Special 2017-18 Budget Edition

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Learn more about the district’s proposed 2017-18 budget.

View the 2017-18 Budget Newsletter


World Language Honor Society Welcomes 35

World Language Honor Society Welcomes 35 Photo

Amityville Memorial High School’s chapter of the National World Language Honor Society welcomed 35 new members at an induction ceremony on March 30. Membership was offered to students achieving an average of 85 or above in their Spanish or French classes.

The program featured congratulatory remarks from Acting Principal Dr. Lois Etzel and Director of ENL and World Languages Mary Stephens, a candlelighting ceremony and an awards presentation. Dr. Etzel said it is important for students to learn other languages in order to create meaningful global connections.

Honor Society President Emily Cisneros and Vice President Esteban Idrovo served as the evening’s hosts and introduced the newest members.

Joining the Honor Society were Spanish language students Annastassia Baines, Jessalynn Brito, Angelica Castillo, Yossleyn Castillo-Turcios, Melvin Castro, Leyla Echevarria, Wuendis Ferrufino, Erika Garcia, Laurie Herard, Katherine Inoa Rodriguez, Ashley Izaguirre-Rivera, Angel Leon Zavala, Eddie Marrero Jr., Alejandra Mercado-Torres, Bianca Molina, Gisselle Monge, Salome Piedrahita Montoya, Ayana Myles, Briana Nunez, Trevony Palmer, John Quinane, Juan Reyes, Natalie Reyes, Jeridania Rodriguez, Gemma Rojas, Johana Sanchez, Irache Teague, Kenny Torres Mata and Ashley Ventura. Their teachers are Reynaldo Bueno, Elisa Castro and Sandra Whitney.

Students in the French language program, taught by Brooke Prestano, who earned induction were Stephany Carbajal, Britney Colas, Courtney Evans, Josefa Hernandez, Raiphy Jerez and Kerianne Victor.

High School Students Look to the Future

High School Students Look to the Future Pic 1

Recruiters from more than 100 colleges, as well as the armed forces, recently visited Amityville Memorial High School for the annual spring college fair. The gymnasium was buzzing as students collected informational items to help them make educated decisions about their post-high school plans. They learned about each school’s academic, athletic and extracurricular offerings, scholarship opportunities, job placement services and campus life.

The fair was open to students in all grades. Guidance counselor Maria Leon-Pineros said it was particularly important for underclassmen to attend to learn about the requirements needed to get into the college of their choice, such as grade point average and SAT scores.  


Baseball Lesson a Home Run at Northwest

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The arrival of baseball season provided new opportunities for learning in Heather Tortorici’s first-grade classroom at Northwest Elementary School.

Ms. Tortorici created literacy and math lessons centered on the sport, along with some fun arts and crafts. Students studied literary devices in the book “Casey at the Bat” and the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” In math journals, they answered baseball-themed word problems. As a class project, each student wrote his or her own acrostic poem by using the first letters of baseball words and phrases to start each sentence. The poems were then combined to create a book and sent to the New York Yankees.

“The students loved these activities,” said Ms. Tortorici, who co-teaches the ENL class with Patricia Meisser. “They were thinking about baseball while reinforcing the skills they have been learning all year.”

Park Avenue Pupils Get Poetic

Park Avenue Pupils Get Poetic Pic 1

Poetry has been on the minds of students at Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School, where all classes are participating in literacy activities to coincide with National Poetry Month.

The new unit of study is part Columbia Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project, in which students become immersed in the written word. Classroom libraries are filled with poetry books that give children exposure to different kinds of poems such as rhyming, free prose and acrostic. Students have been working in pairs to analyze poems and write down their observations such as the tone, purpose and structure of a piece.

Using these examples, students are becoming poets themselves and honing their craft in poetry notebooks. Candice Laviano’s fourth-graders have found new and fresh ways to write poems, like when they recently created fantasy pieces about ordinary objects found in the home or classroom.

In several classes, students are completing entries for the Amityville Teachers Association’s annual poetry contest. 

District Recognized for Music Education

District Recognized for Music Education Photo
Amityville schools continue to be good places for young musicians to cultivate their talents. For the sixth time in the past seven years, the district has been named one of the Best Communities for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation.

The program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of the curriculum. Designations are made to districts and schools across the nation that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education.

“It’s rewarding because the teachers and the students in our district work very hard at what they do and it’s nice to be acknowledged for that dedication,” said Dr. Frances Fernandez, the district’s director of fine arts, who oversees a staff of 10 music teachers.

The district offers general music instruction beginning in kindergarten and students learn to play the recorder in third grade. A comprehensive instrumental program is offered in fourth grade and up. Upon entering Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School, children can select an instrument to play in the band or orchestra, and also join the chorus. Park Avenue, Edmund W. Miles Middle School and Amityville Memorial High School hold winter and spring concerts.

Jazz ensembles are available at the middle school and high school, and elective courses include piano and music theory. Every year, several students are selected to participate in music festivals hosted by the Suffolk County Music Educators Association and Long Island String Festival Association.

“The districts which have been recognized as Best Communities for Music Education were chosen based on their accessibility to music education for students,” added Dr. Fernandez. “We have many opportunities for children to explore their creative side through music starting at an early age and continuing on through middle school and high school.”

High School Tech Teacher a ‘Bright Light’

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Steve Carbo shines as a teacher in the Amityville, which is why he was recognized at the annual Bright Lights luncheon hosted by the Association of Suffolk Supervisors for Educational Technologies.  

Mr. Carbo has been a technology and media communications teacher at Amityville Memorial High School for 11 years. He teaches several courses including digital photography, 3D design and media arts. With the support of district leadership, he has transformed his classroom to add state-of-the-art technology.   

In his media arts class, students learn audio and video production as well as special effects creation. His 3D design class focus on video game creation, and in digital photography students are able to explore their specific visual interests.

“The students have a real interest in these classes,” Mr. Carbo said. “There are crucial skills they're learning by using technology creatively. It’s not even the future anymore, it’s the present. This is where the jobs are.”

He described himself as a “facilitator” who believes students learn best when they can work hands-on with technology. Mr. Carbo explained that in addition to learning practical skills, his courses allow students to develop their problem-solving and critical thinking abilities.

“There is no greater moment for me as a teacher then when I see a students excel beyond expectations,” he added.

Through his hobbies as a filmmaker and musician, Mr. Carbo keeps abreast of the latest trends and most current technology. He also attends conferences and trade shows, and this year Amityville was the only school to have students attend the ASSET Conference, which featured the latest in educational software and hardware.  

In addition to his classes, he is the stage crew advisor and audio visual coordinator. Mr. Carbo was nominated for the award by Carole Polney, Amityville’s assistant superintendent for technology and administrative services, and the president of ASSET. She noted his dedication to students inside the classroom and after school hours, and said his school counts on him as the “go-to-guy” for technology needs.

“Mr. Carbo is a team player and visionary teacher,” Ms. Polney said. “He not only keeps up his professional growth regarding technology, but he's also sure to expose Amityville students to some of the newest technologies. His kind heart and passion for technology is evident in his classroom teaching, his collaboration with his colleagues and his commitment to our schools.”

Aspiring Doctors Land Illustrious Internship

Aspiring Doctors Land Illustrious Internship Photo
Three science research students from Amityville Memorial High School have been selected for a prestigious summer internship at Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

Nidia Mendoza, Ernesto Monzon and Harris Martinez Garcia will have the opportunity to work alongside doctors and scientists performing cutting-edge medical research. They had to complete a rigorous application process, which included submitting a resume and answering essay questions, while competing against undergraduate through doctoral-level college students for the internship.

“This is an amazing program and it can get me closer to my goal of working in the medical field,” Ernesto said. “We are very lucky to have been selected.”

The students will be eligible for a grant that can help offset their travel expenses. At the conclusion of their internship, they will present their research and that work can be entered into science competitions.

The district’s science research program is in its second year and led by teachers Deborah Charles and Alexis Charles.

Park Avenue Students are Reading a Latte


Reading has been the focal point at Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School, which is celebrated Parents as Reading Partners month in March. The theme is “Let’s Read a Latte.”

Guest readers have visited classrooms including parents, community members, district administrators and board of education trustees. During her visit to a sixth-grade class, Superintendent Dr. Mary T. Kelly said that reading is a way for people to use their imagination and also to learn about the world.

The PARP program began on what would have been the 113th birthday of popular children’s author Dr. Seuss. Students were encouraged to wear pajamas to school to make reading synonymous with comfort. Mystery Mondays featured schoolwide announcements in which students had to guess either a mystery reader or the message of a mystery poem. Parents and their children came together on PARP Reading Night for various literacy activities, such as writing the ending to a story and drawing pictures based on their favorite books.

Students throughout the school are keeping track of their independent reading time at home. Each week, the children with the most minutes receive prizes such as books, bookmarks and pencils. Principal Robyn Santiago said that the books being given away were based on student input so they would receive titles that they enjoy. She also said that in classes, teachers are matching students with books that fit their interests.

“If you enjoy something, you’re going to do more of it and you’re going to do better,” she said of the school’s effort to build a reading community. “We hope that PARP instills a love of reading in the students.”

At the end of the month, the grade with the most combined reading minutes wins a hot chocolate party, and the top student in the school receives two tickets to a Brooklyn Nets basketball game.

Harlem Wizards Are Visiting Amityville!

Watch this video for a sneak peek at what you'll see when the Harlem Wizards visit Amityville!

Middle School Classrooms get a New Look

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Several English Language Arts classrooms at Edmund W. Miles Middle School have gotten a new look to support a growing reading and writing program in the district.

This year, the district has expanded its participation in the Reading and Writing Project Institute through Columbia Teachers College, which takes a new approach to literacy instruction. Three classrooms at the middle school have been transformed with new furniture and greater book collections.

Trapezoid tables, paired with lightweight red chairs have replaced traditional desks. Beanbag chairs provide students alternative places to sit and read, and new bookshelves house leveled libraries. ELA Chairman Reinaldo Latorre, who teaches ninth-grade classes, said the new tables can be arranged in many ways, allowing students to sit in groups to discuss their reading and writing activities. The set up promotes turn and talk discussions, which are used for students to share their thoughts on reading passages or writing activities.

“There’s more collaboration among the students, and it’s just natural,” Mr. Latorre said. “They are able to gather ideas from one another. By listening to what someone else is doing, the students can strengthen their own writing.”

Eighth-grade co-teachers Janine Katsigiorgis and Carolyn Mejia have placed anchor charts on the tables which include thought prompts for students, suggestions for transitions in their writing, and parts of books they should be analyzing such as character development, conflict and symbolism.

Their classroom is filled with hundreds of books in the new leveled library, which are used for both book clubs and independent reading. Students can find literature at their level. A core mission of the Columbia Teachers College program is to create communities of readers and writers.

Katie Rosario, an eighth-grade teacher, said she now does more small-group instruction to support students based on their individual needs. The trapezoid desks can be formed into shapes to support these small groups, or arranged in a large circle for a full class discussion.  

“My classroom also has comfortable beanbags and other seating options, along with lamps to give kids that living room feel,” she said “I love reading in my cozy spot, so why not try and create that for our students? Both the new desks and the new program has increased student engagement and motivation to learn.”

Josh Serrano a Newsday All-Long Island Athlete

Josh Serrano a Newsday All-Long Island Athlete Photo
Congratulations to Amityville Memorial High School student-athlete Josh Serrano, who was named to Newsday’s All-Long Island basketball team for the winter sports season. The point guard was one of 10 students from across the island to earn the distinction.

Josh had a banner year for the Warriors. In addition to being Long Island’s second-leading scorer with an average of 25.7 points per game, he set Amityville’s single-game record with 45 points. The junior also reached 1,000 points for his high school career, and will have an opportunity to build on that total next year. 

Holocaust Survivor Gives a Call to Action

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Holocaust survivor Werner Reich visited Amityville Memorial High School on March 7 to not only speak about one of the biggest atrocities in history, but to relay a message to students about character. 

Mr. Reich met with 10th-graders, who study European history as part of the social studies curriculum. His PowerPoint presentation included photographs, maps and cartoons, which illustrated his story about being arrested, held in a concentration camp and finally liberated at 17 years old. 

The 90-year-old Suffolk County resident and author used his story to spread an anti-bullying message. He said an act of oppression has four groups of people: the victim, the bully, the good people who do nothing and the good people who do something. He encouraged students to be the latter by standing up for others who are being treated unfairly. His advice to them was, “Don’t wait for others. Be the first to act.”

Dawn Mizrachi, chairwoman of the high school social studies department, said that there are very few Holocaust survivors still alive, and it was a rewarding experience for students to hear from Mr. Reich and to ask him questions. She explained that they not only received a history lesson from someone who lived it, but learned how to apply that knowledge to their own lives.   

Exemplary Pair Leads Class of 2017

Exemplary Pair Leads Class of 2017 Photo
Amityville Memorial High School has announced the valedictorian and salutatorian of the Class of 2017. Esteban Idrovo Ponce has achieved the top ranking with a weighted grade point average of 112.13, and Lawrence Haave earned the second spot in the class with a GPA of 106.45.

Esteban, who plans to major in physics in college, is parliamentarian of the National Honor Society, vice president of the National World Language Honor Society, president of the Key Club and treasurer of the Drama Club. He has also been an active member of student government, the Debate Club, the Puerto Rican Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute, Mathletes and the track and field team while serving as a tutor and a volunteer with the Amityville Fire Department. 

Lawrence, also planning to pursue a career in physics, is president of the National Honor Society, vice president of the Drama Club, past president of the Key Club and a member of WAC PAC, the National World Language Honor Society and student government. He is a founder of AVTV, a film-creating club at the school, and has also volunteered his time as a tutor.

Both seniors are enrolled in the district’s science research program, and are participating in research internships at Farmingdale State College. Esteban has been working with several complex software programs, while Lawrence is working with computer programming languages and studying data from active satellites to learn about massive galaxy clusters. 

“Esteban and Lawrence have demonstrated exemplary leadership skills at Amityville Memorial High School,” said Acting Principal Dr. Lois Etzel. “We congratulate them on their achievements, both inside and outside of the classroom, and are proud to have them representing the Class of 2017.”

A Day and Night Devoted to Dr. Seuss

A Day and Night Devoted to Dr. Seuss Photo

Dr. Seuss is such a beloved children’s author that a school day just wasn’t enough to recognize his work. At Northeast Elementary School, the celebration extended into the evening hours with Dr. Seuss family learning night on March 2.

To mark what would have been his 113th birthday, pre-K students and kindergartners participated in activities throughout the day such as making word family hats, counting and adding Swedish fish, writing about what escapades they could get into like the Cat in the Hat did, and reading lots of Dr. Seuss books.

The fun continued at night, and this time their parents were able to join in the excitement. At various learning stations, children sorted colored goldfish, found rhyming words and made Cat in the Hat inspired hats. There was also a group game of word bingo and a demonstration of educational iPad apps.

“There were a lot of literacy and math games,” said Principal Dr. Pauline Collins. “The activities at each center reinforced the learning that takes place in school and allows the parents to see these activities so they can help their children at home.”

Throughout the week, guest readers including administrators, board of education members and members of the middle school’s National Junior Honor Society visited classrooms to serve as guest readers.

Photos and Videos: Middle School Lip Sync Competition

MS Lip Sync
Teachers at Edmund W. Miles Middle School recently participated in a Lip Sync Battle, sponsored by the GSA. Click here to see an album of photos and videos from the event.

Seuss-inspired Learning at Northwest

Seuss-inspired Learning at Northwest

The works of children’s author Dr. Seuss were celebrated at Northwest Elementary School on March 2 with read alouds, crafts and writing activities. The students joined their peers from around the country to mark Read Across America Day on what would have been the renowned writer’s 113th birthday.

Second-grade teacher Dana Herz welcomed guest readers, including staff members and parents and grandparents of students. The children completed activity sheets about their favorite Dr. Seuss book they heard that day. They also made their own “Cat in the Hat” inspired hats and created filmstrip biographies about Dr. Seuss.

“Dr. Seuss was a pioneer in children’s reading,” Ms. Herz said. “It’s a great day for the students to see that reading can be fun, and to inspire them to become better readers.”

Children in Hilda Brown’s first-grade bilingual class read “The Cat in the Hat,” then watched a portion of the animated movie, and compared the two. Second-graders in Olimpia Karounos’ class made their own green slime using cornstarch, water and food coloring after reading “Bartholomew and the Oobleck.”

Boys Track Teams Makes its Mark

The Amityville Union Free School District congratulates the boys varsity track team for its accomplishments at the New Balance Nationals on March 12. The 800-meter relay team of Terrance Hinds, Jowell Dixon, Emmanuel Oguntoye and Kerron Gonzales placed sixth in the Emerging Elite.

Emmanuel capped off an amazing season by competing in the championship triple jump and placing fifth in the United States to earn the title of All-American. He is the only track athlete in Suffolk over the past 30 years that held the New York State No. 1 ranking the entire season and capped it off with the state title.

The team, which won the county championship and had several students compete at the state meet, was coached by Reynolds Hawkins. He was recently named the Suffolk County coach of the year.

‘Addams Family’ Coming to AMHS Stage

‘Addams Family’ Coming to AMHS Stage
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, and they’ll be appearing the Amityville Memorial High School stage this coming weekend. The Drama Club presents “The Addams Family” the musical from March 17-19.

Seniors Esteban Idrovo and Lawrence Haave will share the role of Gomez Addams. Meghan Jacobsen stars as his wife, Morticia, with Lena Vazquez and Carlos Vazquez playing their children, Wednesday and Pugsley. Other leading roles include Tyler Corbisiero as Uncle Fester, Trinity Tobin as Grandma Addams and Jacob Marrero as Lurch. The play is directed by Melissa Asbell.

Show times are Friday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 18 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 19 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $5 each.

Meet the Top 25 of the Class of 2017

Amityville Memorial High School has announced the top 25 graduates of the Class of 2017, including the valedictorian and salutatorian. The students spoke about their college plans, and what they will miss most about high school. Click here to view a video on the Top 25.

Black History Comes Alive at Park Avenue

Black History Comes Alive at Park Avenue

African-American athletes, musicians and scientists were portrayed by students at Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School on Feb. 27. The 21st Century B.E.S.T. Program hosted its Black History Month celebration, “Our History Comes Alive.”

Students Dimarion Donaldson and Imani McPhaul played the parts of Barack Obama and Michelle Obama while introducing each skit. Sophia Hernandez Morency and Natalyah Smith sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Black American national anthem.

Singer and storyteller April Armstrong was the special guest and performed traditional African songs. With the help of students, she told the story of Stagecoach Mary, the first African-American woman to serve as a star route mail carrier.

The students portrayed African-American icons such as Arthur Ashe, Venus Williams and Serena Williams, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, as well as some “hidden figures” like Dorothy Vaughan, a leading mathematician, and Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the Super Soaker water gun. They did their own research and wrote speeches.

Sixth-grade teacher Denise Graham, site coordinator of the 21st Century program, said the purpose of the event was to teach students about the various contributions that African-Americans have made in society, and inspire them to work hard. She also noted that Park Avenue has a diverse population and that children of all cultures enthusiastically came together to celebrate.

“The students did a wonderful job in capturing the essence of the people they portrayed,” said Ms. Graham. “There was a lot of work that went into it, and they put on a great performance.”

Middle School Students Have a New Reading Buddy

Middle School Students Have a New Reading Buddy
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Buddy the dog has quickly become a favorite friend at Edmund W. Miles Middle School. He visits Ricki Budnick’s class every Monday morning, and students gather around to read to him.

Reading to dogs has proved to be a therapeutic approach in the development of literacy skills. Ms. Budnick explained that the students find it relaxing because the dog is nonjudgmental. Children select the books they want to read and sometimes do a theme, such as on Feb. 6 when they all picked animal stories.

Buddy comes with his handler, Joan Kemnitzer, a volunteer from Bideawee’s Pet Partners program. Ms. Budnick found out about the program from school librarian Lynn Cesiro, and said she plans to continue it for the rest of the school year.

Winning Is Their Business

Winning Is Their Business
Four aspiring business leaders will represent Amityville High School at the Distributive Education Club of America’s upcoming state competition.

Seniors Elvis Amaya, Kevin Barrios and Aaron Mathurin, and junior Ana Candia placed at the Suffolk County regional competition on Jan. 4 at Suffolk County Community College. Elvis will continue on in the public speaking category and his topic at the state competition will be, “How will you use DECA to shape the future?” Ana and Kevin are competing together in the buying and merchandising marketing event and Aaron’s category is business management and administration.

DECA is a nationwide, business-themed organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. This is the second year of the chapter at Amityville Memorial High School. The winners, under adviser Matthew Tomasi, will compete against students from across New York at the state championship in Rochester from March 7-10.

“If they want to pursue a career in business, this is a great opportunity,” Mr. Tomasi said. “Participation in DECA gives them a chance to see what makes a business successful.”

Celebrating Black History Month Through Song

Celebrating Black History Month Through Song

Diversity was celebrated at Northeast Elementary School during the Black History Month program on Feb. 17. Students in pre-K and kindergarten created self-portraits, which served as the backdrop for a performance that drew a large crowd of parents and family members. In the week leading up to the celebration, each child wrote about why he or she is special and unique, and participated in a schoolwide read aloud.

The program opened with a welcoming song from West Africa, “Funga Alafia.” A kindergarten singalong was followed by a musical production, “The Crayon Box That Talked.” Each class dressed in a different color, turning the center of the gymnasium into a large rainbow. The message of the show was: “We are like a box of crayons. Every one of us is unique. And when we get together, our classroom is complete.”

Sunday, April 30, 2017