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Holocaust Survivor Preaches Acceptance and Kindness

Holocaust Survivor Preaches Acceptance and Kindness photo
Holocaust Survivor Preaches Acceptance and Kindness photo 2
Holocaust Survivor Preaches Acceptance and Kindness photo 3
Holocaust Survivor Preaches Acceptance and Kindness photo 4
Amityville Memorial High School sophomores received a first-hand account of one of the darkest periods in the human history as they gathered in the library to hear from Holocaust survivor Werner Reich.

Through personal stories and pictures, Mr. Reich vividly described the historical event that resulted in the death millions of people. He shared his own tales of persecution, capture and imprisonment before liberation by American military forces when he was 17. After returning to Yugoslavia for two years, he moved to England and then the United States, where he was finally able to complete his education.

Mr. Reich said that while the Holocaust occurred many decades ago, there are lessons that apply to modern society. He called on students to fight any and all forms of oppression, including bullying. Even if someone isn't the victim of bullying, they should not be a bystander if they see it happening.

“Be the first to act,” he said. “Help without being asked.”

He added that speaking up is not snitching. Before concluding his presentation, Mr. Reich asked students to reflect on the question, “What kind of person will you be when others are in need?” 

Sharing Without Borders in Amityville

Sharing Without Borders in Amityville photo

Forty students from three Long Island high schools came together after school at Amityville Memorial High School on March 12 to continue their discussion on issues affecting society. Through the Breaking Borders program, Amityville students welcomed their peers from Oyster Bay and Syosset high schools to share their thoughts about inequality.

After bonding over pizza in the cafeteria, students moved to the gymnasium where they met in small groups. Discussion prompts included their perceptions of inequality and why it exists, gender pay equality, reasons some people don’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, and personal experiences with inequality. Each group had a student leader to facilitate conversation. 

Amityville social studies teacher Matthew Tomasi said the rules were simple: students had to come in with an open mind and respect each other’s opinions. The purpose was to foster an honest dialogue among teenagers who have grown up in different communities. 

“It’s nice to learn about other people on Long Island and to speak to people with different perspectives,” Amityville sophomore Johnatan Blanchard said about his reasons for taking part in the Breaking Borders program. 

Earlier this year, Mr. Tomasi took a group of 12 Amityville students from his Advanced Placement European History class to Freeport High School for a Breaking Borders program on family traditions. In addition to thoughtful and productive discussions, students also wrapped Christmas presents for children in the community.

Mr. Tomasi said that word quickly spread among the Amityville student body about the experience. He then took a group of 30 interested students to the next program at Elmont Memorial High School, where the conversation centered on immigration. Students also brought canned goods to donate to Elmont’s food drive. Joining students and Mr. Tomasi on that trip were Assistant Principal Brian Suckle, social studies teacher Robert Annese and science teacher Patrick Fallot.  

“It’s good for the students to meet different people from different parts of Long Island to bring issues to light,” Mr. Tomasi said. “It allows the students to face the challenges currently in our society, because they are going to be the generation that finds solutions.” 

Breaking Borders is a student-run leadership program which aims to break down ethnic, socio-economic, racial and religious barriers among students from different Long Island school districts. The program fosters respect, tolerance and understanding by encouraging open and honest dialogue among students. Mr. Tomasi said after the sessions at three different high schools, Amityville students “walked away seeing things from a different perspective.”

Cultural Exchange Program Comes Full Circle

Cultural Exchange Program Comes Full Circle photo

Amityville Memorial High School students are making friends all over Suffolk County. Through the school’s popular Cultural Exchange program, they welcomed peers from Bayport-Blue Point and East Islip high schools earlier in the year. In February, it was their turn to be the visitors.

Recently, students from Amityville’s Warrior Awareness Club, known as the WAC PAC, spent the day in East Islip. Students were welcomed with a big breakfast and took part in icebreaker activities. Each Amityville student paired up an East Islip student and followed the schedule of his or her host. East Islip staff members made T-shirts for all participants.

“I had a lot of fun spending the day my partner,” said Amityville sophomore Allany McCatty. “I enjoyed participating in her classes and I look forward to keeping in touch with her.”

Added senior Noah Odige, “It’s always interesting to see how other schools function throughout the day and I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to get a glimpse into the life of an East Islip student.”

This was the first visit by Amityville to the home of the Redmen and they loved it, according to WAC PAC adviser Jason McGowan. Amityville hosted the East Islip students back in January for the inaugural visit. 

The WAC PAC also sent 30 students to Bayport-Blue Point High School for their visit to the home of the Phantoms. Amityville students and staff were greeted by the orchestra as they walked into the cafeteria. 

Bayport-Blue Point School District administrators led icebreaker activities in a conference room and students, who initially met in Amityville in November, were reintroduced to each other over breakfast.

In a true double exchange, Amityville senior Letizia Cazzaniga, an exchange student from Milan, Italy, was a part of the program and she connected with her partner, Emily. Sophomore Abel Tejada was paired up with Mr. McGowan's son, Trey, and won a badminton tournament together in physical education class.

“I loved spending the day in their high school,” junior Bryan Canales said. “All of the students were friendly toward us." 

After gathering together for a pizza lunch, the Amityville and Bayport-Blue Point students parted ways but not before exchanging phone numbers and social media information.

“Teenagers are teenagers, and that’s the point I am trying to make with this program,” Mr. McGowan said. “Even though we are a few zip codes away, connections can be made regardless of your background. It was beautiful to see the laughter and the hugs as we left each school. The major goal of this program is for students to learn about diversity by experiencing dissimilar school populations. Rather than discussing diversity in a typical classroom lesson, participants have the opportunity to experience it first-hand.”

Amityville Artists Earn All-County Nods

Amityville Artists Earn All-County Nods photo
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Four students from Amityville had their work selected for the Suffolk County Art Leaders Association’s annual All-County exhibit. Their art was recently displayed at Old Town Hall in Babylon.

The featured student artists included Edmund W. Miles Middle School ninth-grader Ulric Farrier (block printing) and Amityville Memorial High School juniors Brianna Desire (photography) and Astrid Dixon (drawing/mixed media). Additionally, senior Maiya Bryant displayed her artwork within the senior scholarship portion of the SCALA All-County exhibition. 

Students completed their work under the direction of art teachers Jennifer Dibble, Jayne Grasso and Nicole Pappas.

Students Present Drone Study at LISEF Fair

Students Present Drone Study at LISEF Fair photo
Amityville Memorial High School students Darius Mobley Jr. and Z’Dhanne Williams recently presented their research project at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair held at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. Their topic was, “Are autonomous drones more efficient than human programmed drones in rescue missions?”

After conducting extensive research on present-day drone usage, Darius and Z’Dhanne conducted their own study comparing flight times of autonomous drones with the flight times of drones driven by human operators. With help from fellow robotics club members Raiphy Jerez and Trae’von Smith, they concluded that while the autonomous drones had a faster flight time by 15 seconds on average compared to human programmed drones, they lacked responsiveness and were more likely to have disrupted flight due to lapse time in communication with the computer server. The students set up an obstacle course in the cafeteria to conduct their study.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019