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Wenonah Weighs In on Hurricane Relief

Wenonah Weighs In on Hurricane Relief photo
During a recent hurricane relief fundraiser, fourth- and fifth-grade students on the Wenonah Elementary School Lighthouse Team incorporated mathematics into their community service project.

The Lighthouse Team is composed of fourth- and fifth-grade student leaders who organize fundraising initiatives to benefit people in need across the country. As part of the hurricane relief fundraiser aimed to benefit the victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the students incorporated mathematics into the service project as they used addition to arrive at a total amount of food donated in pounds before it was picked up for donation.  

In total, the students raised 958.1 pounds of food, which was donated to nonprofit organization Island Harvest.  

Hiawatha Second-Graders Making a Difference With Community Service

Hiawatha Second-Graders Making a Difference With Community Service photo
Over the past few years Hiawatha Elementary School has been encouraging its second-graders to be more active participants in the community. Each month they participate in a different community service project.

This year a student in Tiffany Cioffi’s class, who is in remission from pediatric cancer, inspired a food donation drive. 

“When I found out that Athena was a cancer survivor, I wanted to find a way to incorporate this into our community service learning,” said Ms. Cioffi.

Athena was featured in ads for Burlington Coat Factory promoting pediatric cancer awareness, and her family participated in a video for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Ms. Cioffi reached out to Athena’s mom at the beginning of the year, and they worked together to think of a way “to make a small difference and to put some smiles on [patients’] faces.” 

“She shared with me that a majority of the children undergoing treatment are on steroids and have compromised immune systems,” said Ms. Cioffi. 

Since many patients and their families spend long hours at the clinic during their treatments, to make their visits a little more comfortable they collected individual pre-packaged snacks, K-cups and tea bags for them.
“Even though it’s a second-grade, yearlong project, we also try to get our staff and the rest of the building involved by putting it on our Hiawatha website to keep everyone informed of how they can help,” she said.
“I feel like the kids are really starting to understand how their actions are making a positive impact on others, and I think that having that connection with Athena made the drive even more important and personal,” added Cioffi. 

Next up, in the spirit of giving back to the community, they are sending holiday cards to the residents at the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook and in January they are hosting a coat drive for the Federation of Organizations.

Sachem Students Spread Safety

Sachem Students Spread Safety photo

During a recent visit to the Sachem Central School District’s middle schools, Sachem High School East and North students enrolled in the Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities class presented lessons regarding the dangers associated with drug use to sixth-grade students.

As part of the high school course, students are transformed into teachers, equipped with the skills to educate students on the dangers of drugs and the importance of making healthy choices throughout life. 

As part of the Too-Good-For-Drugs curriculum, the high school students deliver a series of lessons as they periodically visit the district middle schools, delivering students valuable information to lead healthy lives. 

Superintendent's Letter to the Community Regarding Driver Education Program


Sachem’s Salon of Opportunity

Sachem’s Salon of Opportunity photo

Students at Sachem High School East and North are learning about the skills needed to succeed in a multimillion-dollar business as part of the district’s career and technical education cosmetology class.

Putting lessons into practice, the students are not only learning trade skills but are putting them to use in their own salon, offering a plethora of services to fellow students and staff. As part of the cosmetology class, the students practice techniques in hair coloring, cutting and styling, while also learning the intricacies of nail and makeup services.

“The cosmetology class is a great opportunity to gain hands-on experience,” said High School East senior Jessica Hennessy. “We are given the chance to explore multiple different areas of cosmetology, which is a huge benefit.” 

Throughout the class, students can participate in workshops run by industry-leading professionals and gain practical career experience during multiple shadowing opportunities. After successful completion of the course requirements, the students are eligible to earn a New York State cosmetology license.

Girl Scout Holiday Light Show @ Smith Point County Park


Sachem East, Sachem North Cheer Earn Bids to Nationals

Sachem East, Sachem North Cheer Earn Bids to Nationals photo
The Sachem East and Sachem North cheer teams competed at the 2017 UCA Empire Regional championship on Saturday at Nassau County Community College.

After their performances, both schools received bids to the National High School Cheerleading championship to be held at Walt Disney World in February of 2018.

Competing in the Large Division, Sachem North took first place overall.

The last time Sachem North won the Large Division was 2009 when coaches Danielle Gresalfi and Jaclyn Tomasello competed for the Flaming Arrows.

“Going into this competition our goal was to hit the routine we’ve been working on over the past few weeks,” said Gresalfi. “I continuously told my girls to trust the process and focus on hitting. When it was time to compete the girls hit an amazing and energetic routine with zero deductions. This routine was probably one of the most difficult and creative Sachem North has put out in some years.”

Sachem East, competing in the Small Division, placed second.

“We have a very young team,” said Sachem East coach, Tylor Grimm, “only four seniors, so we were very happy with their performance.”

Both teams will compete at the Section XI competitions next Saturday at Longwood. They will both compete every weekend until Nationals in February.

Girl Sprouts


Robotics Breakfast Fundraiser at Wahlbergers


Nokomis Multicultural Feast

Nokomis Multicultural Feast photo

Nokomis Elementary School third-grade students embarked on travel around the world as part of an interactive social studies lesson.

Each third-grade student wrote a report about a country from their heritage, exploring important elements such as its flag and prominent foods eaten in the area. The students then presented their reports to fellow classmates, answering questions and showing off items such as different forms of currency from around the world. 

Concluding the multicultural study, students indulged in a feast of prepared dishes from the locations explored. The feast featured dishes such as empanadas from Argentina, sausage bread from Italy, kebabs from Poland, Irish soda bread from Ireland and German chocolate cake.   


Sachem North Lends Hand with Habitat for Humanity

Sachem North Lends Hand with Habitat for Humanity photo
Students from Sachem High School North recently helped build a home in East Patchogue through Habitat for Humanity.

Open to leadership students at the high school, the activity was organized by Leslie Zanone, a social worker at Sachem North, and Jonathan Chiaramonte, a social studies teacher.

“We hope to get more classes involved,” said Zanone. “There has been a tremendous amount of interest in the school from students and teachers. We believe that Sachem North students could organize six builds a year, and that would be a dream!

“It is a very real experience for the students, and a concrete way for them to give their time and energy for the cause. We already have students asking to go back again in the spring,” said Zanone.

Wenonah Students from Readers to Chefs

Wenonah Students from Readers to Chefs photo

Wenonah Elementary School students in Heather Porciello’s Life Skills class turned story elements into tasty treats as they learned to follow the steps of a recipe.

Students first read the book “The Old Lady That Swallowed a Bat” by author Lucille Colandro. After completing the book, students participated in a sequencing activity where they glued picture cutouts of story events in the order they occurred in the story. 

The class then connected literacy to life skills as they began following a recipe to bake bat cookies. Gathering the necessary supplies one by one, the students worked together until all ingredients were combined. Throughout the cooking activity, students carefully followed the recipe, incorporating measuring cups, a microwave oven and an electric mixer when needed. 

At the conclusion of the activity, the student-chefs added wings to complete their bat cookie creations. 


Chippewa Celebrates 50 Years of Education

Chippewa Celebrates 50 Years of Education photo

Chippewa Elementary School recently celebrated 50 years of education during a day filled with special activities remembering the past.

The day began by recognizing past teachers and staff in attendance through special words by current Principal Patricia Aubrey before a ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony. A time capsule sealed in 1968 by former staff members was opened and the contents displayed in the multipurpose room to showcase the preserved treasures from the past. Among the contents found within the capsule were old photographs of students and various documents displaying current trends of the time. 

Additionally, the day included several connections to the students’ social studies curriculum, as students were challenged to pick a past era and study what was popular during that time. Students created comparison posters showcasing current trends and how they contrasted with ones of the past. The posters were displayed amongst the time capsule artifacts for the visitors to enjoy as they viewed the collection of items.  

Concluding the special day was a parade throughout the building lead by past teachers and staff, followed by each kindergarten class dressed in holiday costumes. 

Waverly Elementary Pledges for Peace

Waverly Elementary Pledges for Peace photo

Students across grade levels at Waverly Elementary School recently attended a special assembly promoting peace throughout their school community and beyond. They helped to plant seeds of kindness as they wrapped daffodil bulbs in peace pledges that were planted in front of the school.

As part of the character education curriculum, each student at Waverly Elementary School was asked to write an essay on what peace means to them. Then, during the assembly, several students were selected to read their essays to fellow classmates, allowing the students to reflect on the ideas of their peers. 

Continuing the connection to promoting peace throughout Waverly, the students organized a fundraiser to benefit the nonprofit organization The Team Jesse Foundation, which provides education and support to families of fallen soldiers in honor of SSG Jesse Williams. The students sold Team Jesse bracelets and raised $400, which they presented during the assembly to the parents of Kevin Mincio, founder of The Team Jesse Foundation.

To conclude the event, all students wrote pledges on how they can make Waverly Elementary a better place. They then walked outside the school to plant daffodil bulbs that will bloom beautiful flowers in spring, reminding each student of their promises to promote peace. 

Wenonah Students Weave Webs

Wenonah Students Weave Webs photo

Design, research and critical thinking helped guide fourth-grade students to success in Lenore Lounsbury’s class at Wenonah Elementary School. They recently worked together in teams to weave webs capable of catching a stapler dropped from a height of one meter.

The students began the STEAM-based activity by first learning the job of an engineer and the processes they follow to create successful designs. With this newfound knowledge, the student-engineers then researched the many ways in which spiders spin their webs before beginning to design their own creations. Equipped with a clothes hanger, 15 feet of yarn and 6 inches of tape, students worked in groups to carefully weave intricate webs to accomplish the goal. 

Throughout the activity emphasis was placed on recognizing design flaws and correcting them until their webs succeeded. 


Rockets Take Learning Sky High

Rockets Take Learning Sky High photo

Physics equations fueled learning outside of Sachem High School North as students in Robert Wentzel’s Rocket and Aircraft Design class gathered to test launch multistage rockets they had constructed.

Prior to launch, students worked through various physics calculations to ensure the overall safety and success of their rockets. The student-engineers calculated the thrust necessary to reach 30 miles per hour while allowing the rockets to maintain a straight flight path. Also, students determined the speed at which their rocket had to fall to make a safe landing and then designed their parachutes accordingly. 

During the testing phase a focus was placed on unique design elements such as tube and fin size and how each component affected the rockets’ flight. 

Sachem Girls Gymnastics Coach Honored

Sachem Girls Gymnastics Coach Honored photo
Sachem girls gymnastics coach Mike Nowakowski was recognized as Assistant Coach of the Year by the Suffolk County Girls Gymnastics Coaches Association this season.

Nowakowski was honored for his dedication and service to the team, which wrapped up competition in November.

“We are so proud and happy for him,” said Sachem gymnastics head coach Jan Zettwoch.

Merrimac Elementary Kicking for a Cause

Merrimac Elementary Kicking for a Cause photo
Two Merrimac Elementary School siblings went above and beyond as they organized a kickball tournament aimed at collecting nonperishable food items and cleaning supplies to donate to the nonprofit organization Island Harvest, benefiting those affected by the devastating hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 

As part of the Leader in Me program, third-grade student Gabriel Nagel and fifth-grader Sarah Nagel organized the engaging benefit to involve all students of Merrimac Elementary by creating friendly competition amongst classes. With help from gym teachers Robert Romano and Nicole Kessinger, the drive was arranged so that every two days each class’ donations would be tallied to arrive at that class’ total score. Adding an interesting twist to the drive, the inclusion of cleaning supplies as bonus items counted as 15 points added to the class totals. During each gym class throughout the week, every point scored by students during the kickball games was added to their overall totals. 

The Leader in Me is a program that provides students the opportunity to organize a service learning project that will contribute to the community. Each proposed project is presented to students and staff before implementation. 

The student duo worked together to create flyers and announcements to promote the Kicking for a Cause drive throughout the building. The fundraiser provided students across all grade levels an opportunity to synergize and work towards a common goal while having fun. 

“With the Leader in Me program our students have developed valuable skills such as leadership, communication, empathy and teamwork, all of which have contributed to a school culture that values project-based learning, goal setting and critical thinking,” said Merrimac Principal Veronica DeCicco. “All of the students learned a valuable lesson about contributing as a community.” 

As a result of the school’s generosity, hundreds of items were donated to the cause. 

At the conclusion of the drive, Michelle Nelson’s kindergarten class, Peter Gentzlinger’s first-grade class and Lorraine Alvarez’s fifth-grade class were presented with trophies donated by Port Jefferson Sporting Goods to be displayed in their classrooms as the three winning classes. 


Sachem Students Absorb Storm Science

Sachem Students Absorb Storm Science photo
The science behind weather events wowed second-grade students in Tiffany Cioffi’s class at Hiawatha Elementary School as the students participated in an engaging STEAM experiment creating a rain cloud simulation in a jar.

As part of a science unit focusing on weather, students have been actively observing weather patterns, identifying different types of precipitation and learning how the water cycle works. The experiment began with a mason jar partially filled with water, representing air. Then shaving cream was added on top of the water to represent clouds. In a separate container, water and food coloring were mixed together to represent rain.

Simulating the process in which clouds become oversaturated and begin to rain, the student scientists used an eyedropper to carefully drop water onto the cloud until it reached the point of saturation and leaked through the shaving cream cloud into the water below, simulating rainfall. 

Acting as true scientists, the students used data collected during their experiment to draw conclusions about why a cloud starts to rain. 


Thanksgiving Food Drives Bring Out Best in Sachem Students, Staff

Thanksgiving Food Drives Bring Out Best in Sachem Students, Staff photo
Thanksgiving Food Drives Bring Out Best in Sachem Students, Staff photo 2
Sachem was at its finest on Tuesday morning when students and staff across the district came together for one last push for the annual Thanksgiving food drive at both Sachem High School East and Sachem High School North. The high schools combined to generate more than 1,600 boxes this year. 

“This is probably one of the most impactful things we can do in our schools,” said Emma Hirt, president of the Student Government at Sachem North. “Every year we average over 1,000 boxes, and it’s amazing. It’s really cool when you’re finished and see how many families we’re going to feed this Thanksgiving.” 

Students began in September generating funds and items and have worked extremely hard over the last two weeks sorting, packing and shipping the boxes. 

“It’s a great feeling knowing that we’re doing something that goes to people in our community and helps them out,” said Erin Mullery, the Student Government president at Sachem East.

The boxes were shipped out on Tuesday afternoon to various local churches, food pantries and other organizations. 

“You see the best of everybody come out around this time,” said Damon Gallo, a Student Government adviser at Sachem East. “We’re doing something that directly affects people. We’re able to give someone a Thanksgiving meal that otherwise may not have one. This is community service, this is civics. The students love the fact they can help out people in our community.”

For Sachem North teacher and Student Government adviser Jonathan Chiaramonte it’s about inspiring the next generation of volunteers in the building, knowing that dozens of alumni will be out doing good in the world after their impactful experience at Sachem.  

“The reason we want so many students involved is because we don’t want it to end here,” said Chiaramonte to a crowded auditorium during a food drive assembly on Tuesday. “We want them to do that in their dorms in college and continue this. None of us need to be here to make that change. So many students of ours have gone on and done fundraisers like this. We want you to be inspired to continue a life of service.”

Tamarac’s Thanksgiving Adventure

Tamarac’s Thanksgiving Adventure photo

Kindergarten students at Tamarac Elementary School explored a plethora of Thanksgiving-themed activities as they worked through multiple stations examining aspects of Native American culture.

Accompanied by their parents, the kindergarten students in Jamie Onorato and Dara Goz’s class moved throughout the room participating in hands-on activities, including fishing for numbers, reading symbol stories and creating various Native American items. These items included such things as wampum bags, miniature teepees and totem poles. 

The enriching activities from the Thanksgiving adventure make direct connections to the grade level’s social studies curriculum, in particular their study of the first Thanksgiving. 


Wenonah Read to Feed

Wenonah Read to Feed photo
Wenonah Read to Feed photo 2
Wenonah Read to Feed photo 3
Wenonah Elementary School connected literacy and learning during a recent community service initiative – the Read to Feed food drive. 

The initiative, which benefited the Sachem Food Pantry located at Sachem High School North, works through a pledge system. For every 75 minutes of reading accomplished outside of school, a friend or family member donated a food item to the participating classes. Throughout the drive the students watched the donations add up, as colored feathers representing the classes were added to a turkey-themed bulletin board.  

In addition to the literary connections, the drive also incorporated mathematics, as students tracked all weekly donations and used the data to graph their progress.

Tamarac Teacher Turns Broken to Beautiful

Tamarac Teacher Turns Broken to Beautiful photo

Art students at Tamarac Elementary School have been working toward something special this year as part of a recycled rainbow-crayon reward program promoting teamwork, respect and recycling within the classroom.

Students across grade levels in Alexis Rae Curcio’s art class have been displaying teamwork and togetherness as they work to earn 100 class points, points that are assigned in recognition of good behavior. Once the point goal is achieved, the students receive a multicolored recycled crayon produced by Ms. Curcio.

To make the colorful creations, students and staff throughout the building were encouraged to drop off their broken crayons, which Ms. Curcio then melted down in different molds to form various shapes. Throughout the students’ time in art class, the importance of reusing and recycling was emphasized. 

To date, several students have received multicolored crayons and are eagerly integrating their multicolored effects into their creative works of art.


Pumpkin Chuckin’ Challenge at Wenonah

Pumpkin Chuckin’ Challenge at Wenonah photo

Design and engineering principles propelled students during a competition at Wenonah Elementary School in which fifth-grade students were challenged to construct a catapult that could perform best in three challenges, testing distance, power and accuracy.

Separated into teams, the student-engineers participated in an engaging design activity that incorporated several aspects of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Beginning with design, students were tasked with sketching two separate plans they believed would obtain the best results. Picking one design, the students then constructed their catapults using household materials such as spoons, rubber bands and popsicle sticks. 

Once the creations were finalized, the students then carefully used their catapults to launch miniature pumpkins and competed in three different challenges. The first challenge tested accuracy, in which the goal was to launch five cotton balls into a cup. Next, the power of the catapult was tested as the students pushed their catapults to the limit, launching a marshmallow as far as possible. Finally came the tower test, in which accuracy and power were combined to topple a tower of plastic cups using miniature pumpkins. 

Furthering the connection to the design principles necessary to construct a successful catapult, students tracked their test launch results and graphed the effectiveness of angle adjustments and how they correlated to launch distance. Using the data collected from the accuracy test, students also calculated the accuracy percentage derived from fractions.

At the conclusion of the testing phase the students competed amongst each other in a schoolwide competition.  


Sachem Elementary Student Takes the Lead

Sachem Elementary Student Takes the Lead photo
Sachem Elementary Student Takes the Lead photo 2
On Oct. 27, the field behind the Grundy Avenue Elementary school was blanketed by students and staff members in pink supporting a great cause – raising awareness for breast cancer during a student-organized walk. Leading the charge during the event was student-coordinator and advocate Bret Auricchio.

Bret, a Grundy third-grader, took the lead on this initiative last month to raise money for the American Cancer Society. After realizing the success these walks have had elsewhere in the district, Bret was confident that his school could make a significant impact. He developed a plan for the event from start to finish, including creating and reading daily announcements and designing and distributing flyers for the students to bring home to their families. 

Reflecting on Bret’s actions, Principal Amato remembered a quote from renowned American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

As a result of student and faculty participation throughout the building, the breast cancer awareness walk raised a total of $1,100. 

Nokomis Elementary Veteran Visit

Nokomis Elementary Veteran Visit photo

Shortly before this year’s Veterans Day, students at Nokomis Elementary School welcomed past Nokomis student, High School North alumni and recent United States Marine boot camp graduate Amadeus Garay-Reyes for a special visit.

Over the past few months, third-grade students in Laura Clifford and Tara Erb’s class, including Amadeus’ younger brother Tyler, have been in contact with the new Marine during his time in boot camp, sending messages of encouragement, along with questions about his experience as a beginning military member. Amadeus replied to students with answers to their questions and thanks for their unwavering support. 

During the in-class visit, Amadeus thanked the students personally for their kind words and encouraged them to always try their best in everything they do. He continued the visit by answering more questions for the students and explained what Veterans Day means to him.  

Concluding the eventful day, Amadeus was surprised by his favorite teacher Bill O’Neil, who was his inspiration growing up. 

Reptiles, Reptiles, and More Reptiles! By Giavonna Perkins

critter club photo
Sagamore Middle School’s Critter Club was visited by Jungle Bob on November 15, 2017. Jungle Bob is a specialist when it comes to all kinds of reptiles.

Jungle Bob visited Critter Club and brought in some fascinating reptiles to observe. First, Critter Club members saw and felt Rosy, a cool, scary and hairy tarantula that was the size of a human palm. Then Critter Club met two slithery and sly snakes that had wildly colored patterned skin. The little one was about one and a half feet long. The little one also had red and black stripes on its skin. The larger snake was about two feet long with an unusual pattern that was green, yellow, and tan. One student got to wear it as a necklace. We learned that every snake is unique in its own special way.
Next, we saw a bearded dragon.  I fell in love with it quickly because it was tiny and cute. The bearded dragon had yellow skin that felt like rubber and it had a blue tongue. When I held the dragon the wrong way, I got scared because the dragon looked like it was about to scream. Now I’m wondering, do bearded dragons actually scream? Turns out I loved the bearded dragon and it was a fascinating experience, one I will never forget.

Lastly, Critter Club met Castro who is an iguana that was four feet long. This interesting critter was from Cuba and he was nineteen years of age which is pretty old. The iguana ate a live bug. In conclusion, being a Critter Club member gives me a lot of opportunities to learn, see and meet new animals. You can also visit Jungle Bob at his stores.

JUNGLE BOB’s Reptile World: www.junglebobreptileworld

Collaborative Construction Builds Bridges at Grundy Avenue

Collaborative Construction Builds Bridges at Grundy Avenue photo

Fourth-grade students at Grundy Avenue Elementary School came together to complete a common goal as they applied basic engineering principles to construct a bridge capable of holding an added load.

Students in Donna Marie Sherwood’s class were challenged with the task of creating a bridge that could withstand an unspecified amount of added stress. To begin the activity, students learned about the engineering process and how different shapes withstand force. It was determined that a triangle was the strongest shape and would be a valuable design element to incorporate into their bridges. Students were broken up into teams, and each group was provided with toothpicks and Dots candy to assemble the strongest bridge. 

With a designated span of 6 inches to cross between student desks, each member of the team shared ideas as they navigated through their respective bridge constructions. At the conclusion of construction, students tested each bridge, adding blocks until their bridge broke. 

Throughout the activity, teamwork was emphasized, and how with input from all team members each goal becomes more attainable. 


Outstanding Sportsmanship Teams Recognized

Sportsmanship slide
The following teams have been recognized by Section XI for exemplifying the standards of sportsmanship for the fall season:
• JV East Field Hockey
• Sagamore Field Hockey
• V East Football
• JV North Football
• V North Boys Soccer
• JV East Boys Soccer

Sachem Students’ Talents Shine at PEAK Music Festival

Sachem Students’ Talents Shine at PEAK Music Festival photo

The musical talents of 22 fourth-grade students from across the Sachem Central School District were recently on display and applauded during this year’s Parents, Educators and Kids Festival hosted by the Suffolk County Music Educators Association.

Approximately 200 students from 32 Suffolk school districts were represented during the PEAK Festival at Northport High School, where they participated in various enriching musical workshops. The gifted student musicians had the opportunity to play the recorder in a peer ensemble and perform songs for an audience as part of a chorus comprised of other top fourth-grade musicians from Suffolk County.  

The PEAK Festival is an opportunity for the musicians to experience new and exciting music that they may not have been exposed to before, while allowing parents and educators to join in on the fun. The workshop sessions included activities such as world drumming, folk dance, ukulele and musical theater. Music educators participating in the workshops are encouraged to draw inspiration from the activities they attend and incorporate elements into their own classroom lessons.  

“PEAK provides students, parents and music teachers a unique experience participating in workshops and performances together,” said Jennifer Fischer, Sachem music teacher and co-chairperson for the PEAK Festival. “The smiles on the faces of all those involved during the performance speaks volumes about the festival.”

Congratulations to the following students who were selected to take part in this event:

Cayuga Elementary (Teacher - Amy Beck)
Aidan Pardi
Lilliana Surbito
Alexcis Tramontana
Matthew Umbenhower

Merrimac Elementary (Teacher - Debbie Degenhardt) 
Gianna Fitzpatrick
Elizabeth D’Agostino 
McKenna Dembinski
William Knaub
Jordyn Simone

Grundy Avenue Elementary (Teacher - Alyssa Gallagher)
Krish Rajan
Wyatt Straub

Hiawatha Elementary (Teacher - Marjorie Kelting) 
Catarina Dutra
Isabella Meichner
Justin Perry
Kiera Reichel
Abigail Tannacore

Wenonah Elementary (Teacher - Grace Kim)
Alexa DyReyes
Jonathan Giraulo
Melanie Marchionna
Abigail Rabbitt

Nokomis Elementary (Teacher - Christina Schaefer) 
Delilah Creter
Alyssa Tappin

A World of Opportunities for Sachem Students

A World of Opportunities for Sachem Students photo
At a recent Board of Education meeting, several Sachem Central School District faculty members and students delivered a comprehensive presentation on the career and technical education programs offered at both Sachem High School East and North, a program that encompasses technology, business, and family and consumer science disciplines.  

Chairperson Keith Connelly spoke about how the technology program creates a unique learning environment for students and places an emphasis on the hands-on learning experience. Students are challenged with real-world applications as they work to problem  solve and deploy the skills acquired through their study of engineering, carpentry or various computer-related topics.   

All aspects of the workplace are integrated into the school day through the high school Virtual Enterprise course. As Chairperson for Business Thomas Sullivan explained, this live global business course simulates the profession and calls for students to develop new business models and plans from the ground up. The course places a focus on college and career readiness and enables students to practice imperative business skills such as communication, personal finance, problem solving and technology. 

Mary Faller, the department chairperson for family and consumer sciences, spoke about the vast cosmetology program offered by the district. Through this program, students are not only provided with the opportunity to learn from various professionals about hair, nail and skin care, they also gain greater hands-on experience in an industry worth an estimated $445 billion. 

The input of the students during the presentation solidified the programs impact on their educational experience. Students Melissa Pankus and Jessica Hennessy assisted in the cosmetology presentation and students Alec Roberts, Andrew Scavo, Hannah Shapiro and Jeanine Cerqueira provided insight on the Virtual Enterprise class. Student Andrew Scavo spoke about how the non-traditional VE classroom setting provides students the opportunity to gain self-confidence, explore all aspects of the business world and acquire a number of skills needed to succeed.

“The CTE programs offered at Sachem provide students a strong foundation in their chosen career path that will propel them to continued success in their future education or career choice,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Graham. “The students participating in the various programs offered by the district are able to earn college credits and multiple state-recognized certifications as they work towards graduation. It is a great opportunity to take learning out of the textbook and enable students to make connections to subjects they are particularly interested in.” 

Sachem Student-Athletes Sign National Letters of Intent

letters of intent image
On Thursday, Nov. 9, multiple student-athletes from both Sachem High School East and Sachem High School North signed their National Letters of Intent to play college sports next year.  

“It’s always a proud day for Sachem when our student-athletes sign their National Letters of Intent to play at the next level,” said Sachem Athletic Director Gary Beutel. “These individuals have dedicated themselves academically and athletically in order to achieve this success. We wish them the best of luck in their future academic and athletic careers. We know they will represent Sachem proudly at their future institutions.”

The following students were recognized:

Sachem North
-Grace Lipponer, Manhattan College, lacrosse
-Ashley Perrini, NYIT, lacrosse
-Hailey Rhatigan, Mercer University, lacrosse

Sachem East
-Justin Allone, Seton Hall University, cross country
-Taylor Calvagna, Hartford College, lacrosse
-Danielle Cosgrove, University of Notre Dame, basketball
-Pete Engelken, Marist College, lacrosse
-Craig Leonard, LIU Post, baseball
-Daniel Palermo, Iona College, baseball

Sachem Gymnastics Wins Co-League Championship

Sachem Gymnastics Wins Co-League Championship photo
The Sachem girls gymnastics team finished the season in a three-way tie for a League II championship. They were in the lead with Kings Park and Patchogue-Medford all season.

Overall, the Flaming Arrows finished seventh in all of Suffolk County after a successful outing at the Suffolk County Individual championships held at Hauppauge High School on Nov. 9.

Three student-athletes competed at the county championships. They were Kaylyn Spotton on vault, bars and beam, Samantha Woodburn on bars and Summer Matlat on bars, floor and as an alternate on beam.

Spotton was ranked No. 1 on vault in Suffolk County this season and will be an alternate on the state team that will compete in the state championships on March 3 at Cold Spring Harbor High School.

Sachem Students Share Kindness

Sachem Students Share Kindness photo

Sachem ROCKS – Reach Out Choose Kindness Sachem. A simple acronym with a meaningful message is blanketed across the new kindness rock garden in front of Sachem High School North thanks to a program to promote kindness in a unique way.

An initiative that began in Andrea Biblow, Carrie Dansky, Jamie Durkin, Cheryl Haugie and Lauren Puleo’s communication skills classroom as a hands-on activity for speech and language students has transformed into a project with much more meaning. Painting by the dozens, these students are working to transform ordinary rocks into colorful pieces of art inscribed with uplifting messages of kindness. Once completed, the rocks are then placed outside, creating a vibrant kindness garden in front of the school. 

During this ongoing project, students have received special help from members of the Suffolk County Police Department, fellow students and parents, as all were invited to participate and create their own colorful kindness rocks. Extending the garden further, transition program students who work throughout the Sachem community practicing life skills in a real-world setting have been placing decorated rocks at their destinations, spreading kindness wherever they go. 

All who have participated are encouraged to include the hashtag “Sachem ROCKS” on their designs in order to help spread the kindness project beyond the borders of the school community. 

Throughout the month of November, opportunities for students to create their own rocks will be offered within the building to continue to promote the power of kindness. 


Grundy Avenue Parade for Patriots

Grundy Avenue Parade for Patriots photo

American flags waved in the wind as students across all grade levels gathered to honor veterans during a parade in front of Grundy Avenue Elementary School.

The patriotic students, dressed in red, white and blue, cheered as the veterans marched down the road. They then joined the students in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as part of a flag raising ceremony. Students then performed two songs for the veterans, thanking them for their extraordinary sacrifice for our country. 

Following the parade, students in grades 3-5 had the opportunity to ask the veterans questions about their experiences as members of the military. The panel of veterans fielded questions about each branch of the armed services, their individual terms of service and what influenced them to become a member of the military. 

To conclude the celebration, the students served the honorees cake and coffee and invited them to continue to share their past memories. 

Singing Stories to Sachem Students

Singing Stories to Sachem Students photo
Singing Stories to Sachem Students photo 2
This October, fourth-grade Sachem students throughout the district enjoyed a visit from award-winning author and storyteller Heather Forest, as she incorporated her singing musical mastery into her folktales. 

Delivering a range of folktales from across the world, storyteller Heather Forest seamlessly weaved musical instruments into her stories. Incorporating a guitar and xylophone, she periodically called upon students to join in on the music. Grasping the imagination of each listener, Forest’s visual stories painted a picture as she guided students through each tale. 

Teachers were provided with copies of Forest’s books to continue the folktale fun in future classes.

Fire Safety at Nokomis

Fire Safety at Nokomis photo

Sachem students at Nokomis Elementary School were visited by members of the Ronkonkoma Fire Department as the district continued its emphasis on fire safety and prevention.

Students across all grade levels learned about the various gear that firefighters wear during emergency situations, such as a self-contained breathing apparatus which provides firefighters air as they enter a smoke-filled structure, how to safely escape a fire and the importance of knowing more than one way to exit their home if necessary. 

Concluding the fire prevention assembly program, students were guided through the multiple firefighting apparatuses within the department and had the opportunity to explore a fire truck. 


Fact Family Fun in Fall

Fact Family Fun in Fall photo

First-grade Chippewa Elementary School students in Laurie-Ann Rooney’s class approached math artistically as they practiced fact families in a hands-on activity using a construction paper pumpkin. To better understand how addition and subtraction work together, students were each given a set of three numbers, which they switched around to form four different combinations. Students discovered by arranging the numbers in different orders that they get the same sums and differences. They then displayed the different fact families by arranging the combinations on the pumpkin. After completing their pumpkin, the students were challenged to correctly label the four sections on it with each equation from their assigned fact family.

High School East QuestBridge Finalists Named

High School East QuestBridge Finalists Named photo
Three Sachem High School East seniors were named QuestBridge College Match Finalists and have been selected for the chance to receive full scholarships to some of the nation’s top colleges upon admittance. 

Juan Amaya, Julia Araujo and Ilyssa Forman were selected for their high academic prowess, success in a plethora of Advanced Placement courses and for securing their respective places as part of the top 5 to 10 percent of their class. 

Among many accolades, Juan is class vice president, Foreign Language Honor Society vice president, and a member of the varsity track and field team, participating in high jump and in hurdling events.  

Julia is a member of the school orchestra in which she plays violin, and she also volunteers for Teens as Teachers and the Diversity Club.

Ilyssa is the president of the History Honor Society, the editor of the school paper and president and founder of the Philosophy and Debate Club.

“These three individuals are the true definition of persistence and have long maintained a focus on high academic standards,” said Principal Louis Antonetti. 

Out of approximately 15,000 applicants in 2017, only 5,759 have been selected as finalists.   

Student Buddies Share Discoveries

Student Buddies Share Discoveries photo

First- and fifth-grade students at Chippewa Elementary School buddied up as they participated in a hands-on science and mathematics autumn-themed activity.

First-grade students in Donna Gianfortone’s class became buddies with fifth-grade students from Jackie Foley’s class as they performed various activities centered on pumpkins. As a team, the student buddies visited different stations where they performed a multitude of examinations on the favorite fall fruit. Using paper clips and blocks, students began with taking measurements, then continued their observations by reaching inside the pumpkin to count the seeds and using a magnifying glass to inspect them closely. 

Throughout the activity, the student buddies offered each other varying perspectives on their observations. 


Carpentry Class Brings Learning to Life

Carpentry Class Brings Learning to Life photo

Students at Sachem High School East take learning out of the classroom as they apply mathematics concepts while collectively constructing a small ranch-style structure from the ground up, as part of a Career Training Program Carpentry class taught by James Byrne.

As part of the yearlong program, students work right outside of their classroom to raise a residential-type structure on the grounds of High School East. Students deploy multiple construction skills learned within the classroom to aide in the challenging building project. With the help of schematics, students turn designs into something tangible. Beginning with framing, sheathing and laying the initial floor, students raised the walls for the 16x24 foot L-shaped ranch. Next, students carefully measured rough openings where they will eventually hang doors and place windows. 

While working to complete the structure, students will be challenged further with angles and measures as they raise the rafters to begin the roof. Continuing to improve their craftsmanship, the students will lay shingles to complete the roof and also work on their trim abilities as they add full siding to the building. 

As the construction project continues, students will also incorporate various other trade skills to make the structure replicate a fully functioning home on the interior as well. The house will be equipped with running water, working electricity, and simple cabinetry features, all completed by the student craftsmen. 


Sachem Duo Wins Teslamania Physics Demo-Derby

Sachem Duo Wins Teslamania Physics Demo-Derby photo
Sachem High School East physics educator Richard Gearns and senior John Glenis took first place at the Teslamania Physics Demo-Derby at Stony Brook University, as they wowed onlookers with their incandescent bulb demonstration. 

The Teslamania Physics Demo-Derby is an event that gives physics educators from across Long Island an opportunity to showcase their ideas, inventions and lessons aimed at improving physics education and engaging students within the classroom. Participating educators are encouraged to incorporate demonstrations from the event into their own classrooms. 

“Teslamania was a truly fascinating experience,” said Glenis. “It exposed me to a variety of demonstrations which allowed me to better visualize the concepts we learn in class in an engaging way.”

Within their 15-minute demonstration window, the Sachem duo demonstrated to physics teachers how the filament of an AC incandescent bulb vibrates in the presence of a strong magnetic field. 

 “It’s a great contest,” said Gearns. “It brings together physics teachers and students in a way that allows everyone to share in the creativity, excitement and power of science.”  

Strong Showing for Sachem XC at County Championships

Strong Showing for Sachem XC at County Championships photo
Strong Showing for Sachem XC at County Championships photo 2
The dynasty-like ways of Sachem East girls cross country continued last week as the Arrows captured another Suffolk County Class A championship.

Melissa Merone was the top finisher for East, placing second with a time of 20:04.93. She was followed by Lindsey Dodenhoff, who placed third in 20:06.93.  Rounding out the team effort were Rachel Ruggiero, Kaitlyn Famiglietti, Caitlin O'Hehir, Bridget Abraldes, and Shayna Arrigo.

Also qualifying for the state championships was Jordyn McDonnell from Sachem North who placed fourth overall in 20:15.68.  North also had a strong showing from Molly Ramirez who placed tenth in the county championships (10th, 20:38.68).

The New York State championships will take place at Wayne Central School on Saturday, November 11.  We wish the East team and Jordyn good luck at States!

Learning Grows with Hiawatha’s Great Pumpkin

Learning Grows with Hiawatha’s Great Pumpkin photo

Hiawatha Elementary School kindergarten students were greeted by a great surprise as they participated in a fall-themed activity focused on identifying unique properties of pumpkins.

The students recited a poem and sprinkled a field outside the school with special pumpkin glitter in hopes the Great Pumpkin from the infamous Charlie Brown story would bring pumpkins overnight. The next day students were pleasantly surprised when a pumpkin patch blanketed the field where they had spread the glitter the day before. 

Kindergarten students in Mrs. Cerullo’s class began conducting several experiments – including observations of their pumpkins, describing their unique characteristics and measuring the pumpkins’ height and width with cubes. Continuing their observations, students placed their pumpkins into tubs of water, discovering their buoyancy.  

Following the activity, students were given the opportunity to take home their pumpkins to continue the fall-themed fun.  


Shaping Initials in Iron

Shaping Initials in Iron photo
Sachem High School East students in Keith Connelly’s technology class practiced metal design and production techniques as they crafted their initials out of iron. 

English as a New Language students in grades 9-12 worked through a multistep production process helping to improve upon communication skills through hands on learning activities. Students began production with the study of letter design and then practiced measuring curved lines as they turned their designs into reality. As production continued, students learned to cut and bend metal to mirror the designs that they sketched. Following cutting and shaping, students practiced self-shielded flux core welding to join each initial. 

Concluding the process, students applied finishing techniques such as grinding and finally painted their initials to complete their projects.   

National Teen Safe Driving Week

National Teen Safe Driving Week photo
National Teen Safe Driving Week photo 2
Sachem High School East students recently participated in various special assembly programs, each reinforcing the need to exercise caution and safety when operating a motor vehicle. The programs featured guest speakers representing different organizations across Long Island, who offered valuable information on safe driving practices. 

All health education classes attended an assembly presented by Karen Torres, distracted driving awareness advocate and founder of All4UDad. Following a tragic loss caused by a distracted driver, Ms. Torres travels to schools, sharing her story and speaking of the dangers associated with driving while distracted. 

During events organized by health educators Siobhan Carey, Sean Cully and Patricia Broderick,
students were visited by Officer McVeigh from the Suffolk County Police Department and members of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, who spoke on the topic of safe driving and the dangers of driving under the influence.

Continuing the discussion on safe driving, Al Ferrari from the Empower Assist Care Network spoke with classes about safe driving practices and personal safety. 

Seneca Students Make Marble Mazes

Seneca Students Make Marble Mazes photo
Seneca Students Make Marble Mazes photo 2
Seneca Students Make Marble Mazes photo 3
Seneca Students Make Marble Mazes photo 4
Students in Michael Lundstrom’s technology class at Seneca Middle School used innovative thinking as they faced design challenges in creating marble mazes, racing the clock to reach a designated goal time of eight seconds. 

Seventh-grade students in Mr. Lundstrom’s technology class focused on the engineering design process as they embarked on the challenges of navigating a marble through a maze, meeting the time constraints allowed. Supplied with cardboard from cereal boxes, students assembled the mazes, weaving the marble throughout their creations to reach its destination. The only factor aiding the marble in its descent was gravity. 

During the project, the students learned a number of lessons beyond the engineering skill acquired. These included the concept of design ethics and the importance of attributing credit for components found in others’ designs while conducting research. Additionally, self-refection was emphasized during the testing phase, which required students to recognize design failures and the need to create functional solutions that successfully completed their goals.  

Connecting to Technology in Lynwood’s New Makerspace

Connecting to Technology in Lynwood’s New Makerspace photo

Students across all grade levels at Lynwood Elementary School experienced various new technologies within their makerspace room as librarians from the Sachem Public Library led an interactive showcase.

Throughout the week, Lynwood students explored technologies such as remote control mechanical arms; Osmos, an iPad attachment and app that allows students to bring drawings from the tablet to paper; and Mbots, programmable remote-controlled vehicles with a coding component. 

Along with new technologies, students were also challenged with more familiar objects. At one station, students were supplied with clothespins, popsicle sticks and alligator clips, and tasked with constructing a weight-bearing structure. An assortment of Legos was supplied at another station and students were challenged to build functioning cars or replica homes. Finally, common hand tools were incorporated to test the students’ problem-solving skills as they collaborated to remove various nuts, bolts and screws from a pegboard. 

In its inaugural year, teachers will utilize the Lynwood Elementary makerspace room to conduct educationally enriching and engaging activities. 

Spooky STEAM for Sachem Students

Spooky STEAM for Sachem Students photo

Waverly Avenue Elementary students in Cathy Juliano’s fourth-grade class participated in a Halloween-themed STEAM activity that challenged their creative design skills by calling for the construction of miniature haunted houses.

To begin the project, students drafted unique design ideas, keeping in mind the structural integrity of their buildings. Following the design process, students turned their ideas into reality utilizing popsicle sticks and glue. Throughout the construction process, students employed problem-solving techniques by incorporating the objects around them to act as braces, allowing the glue to set and the structures to strengthen. 

Following construction, students decorated their houses with paint and Halloween-themed cutouts. 

Pet Education Project

Founder of the Pet Education Project, Erica Falbaum visited Merrimac Elementary students today, spreading awareness of animal abuse and responsible pet ownership. Jaclyn Ianson and Camdyn Bentivenga raised a total of $500 dollars for the nonprofit organization. Read more about pet education at Merrimac here:

Sachem Students Teach Students

Sachem Students Teach Students photo
Sachem Students Teach Students photo 2
Sachem Students Teach Students photo 3
Students from Sachem High Schools North and East came together for a day of training as part of the Teens as Teachers Substance Abuse Prevention and Education Program club and course. The program, which included multiple guest speakers from across Suffolk County, featured interactive activities designed to strengthen students’ skills as peer educators as they work collectively as community liaisons, educating youth and promoting a safe and healthy lifestyle. 

The peer educators within the program facilitate lessons to sixth-grade students around the district on how to resist pressures to use drugs and alcohol. The skills-based health education program is designed to mitigate risk factors and build the basis for a safe, supportive and respectful learning environment. The Too Good for Drugs (TGFD) curriculum is used to put social and emotional learning to work through fun and interactive lessons, building the self-confidence young people need to make healthy choices and achieve success.

The training program organized by Sachem Health Education Department educators Patricia Broderick, Lori Hewlett and Kristen Maccarone began with a brief presentation from Sachem substance abuse and violence prevention counselors. Then the students transitioned into an inspirational presentation given by Kym Laube, executive director of HUGS Inc., about the importance of leadership. 

Following the guest speakers, students separated into groups and practiced presenting the lessons they will be delivering to the district’s sixth-grade students in the coming months. 

Students Skype With Chef Ina Garten

Students Skype With Chef Ina Garten Pic
Inspiration was on the menu for students of Tiffany Ambrico-Wilson’s World at Work class at Sachem High School East as they participated in a Skype call with Ina Garten, American author and host of the Food Network program, “Barefoot Contessa.”

The World at Work class helps transition special education students from high school to life after graduation, focusing on life skills such as cleaning, cooking, shopping and managing finances. Students get a chance to practice these skills as the class partakes in weekly grocery store trips. They are also given the opportunity to work with a job coach twice a week building the skills necessary toward gaining employment. 

Ina provided the students an inside look into her preparation process, from selecting a recipe to utilizing her home garden or purchasing ingredients at her local grocery store, before cooking an Italian dish, polenta, and a class favorite treat, chocolate chip cookies. Additionally, she spoke to the students about how she became a successful chef, reflecting on her inspirations growing up and the steps she took to teach herself how to cook. Throughout the videoconference, Ina reiterated the importance of passion in anything the students choose to do in life. 

“Being able to have this experience with Ina adds to what we try to do every day,” said Ambrico-Wilson. “Find what you love to do and do it.”

Grundy Avenue Draws from Dots

Grundy Avenue Draws from Dots photo
Opening doors of artistic creativity and inspiration, Grundy Avenue Elementary students in Nicole Liuzzi’s third-grade classes participated in their annual monthlong International Dot Day art project.

Students began their project by creating a single dot on a sheet of paper. Mrs. Liuzzi then read her class “The Dot,” by Peter H. Reynold. The book portrays a little girl who is shy about expressing her artistic abilities. After some encouragement from her art teacher, she becomes inspired by a tiny dot she put on a piece of paper and then goes on to create many more works of art, all stemming from a single dot. The students in Mrs. Liuzzi’s class mirrored this process, revisiting their original dots at the completion of the book and creating their very own masterpieces. 

“I feel that the book and this project truly embody what art is all about, creativity and innovation,” said Mrs. Liuzzi. “The art room is truly the one place where students can lose their fear of being wrong and just have fun.”

While creating their works of art, the students often looked to a line from the book, “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” Each dot took the students though their very own enriching artistic journey.  

Sachem Hosts Genetics Update Conference

Sachem Hosts Genetics Update Conference photo
Students and staff from several Long Island districts gathered in the Sachem High School North auditorium for a lecture on groundbreaking cancer genetics research topics by Indiana University professor Dr. Sam Rhine.

The college-style lecture covered multiple areas of the genetics scientific discipline, spanning from causes of different forms of cancer to the possibilities of correcting genetic diseases. Dr. Rhine also spoke to students and educators about ongoing organ transplant research involving pigs and promising new research with the capabilities to edit genomes known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR). 

Students and staff were encouraged to ask questions throughout the lecture, and educators were provided with information to perform their own in-class genetic experiments. 

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As we embark on the 2017-2018 school year, we look to enhance the level of communication within the Sachem family.

In an effort to build upon our connections with our parents and community, we are excited to announce the creation of our e-newsletter. The newsletter will be sent monthly to those who sign up and will include district news, announcements and important dates. Our hope is to provide valuable information about the happenings inside our classrooms while strengthening our community bond as we move forward on the path to a successful academic year.

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2017-2018 District Calendar Summary

Calendar Summary Pic 1
Click here to see the 2017-2018 School Calendar Summary.