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Kennedy Drama Club Performs Theater in the Courtyard

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The courtyard at Kennedy High School served as the stage, set and scene of the Drama Club’s evening performances of Shakespeare Revued this week.

“Like a lot of people in the world, we had to learn to adapt,” explained Brad Seidman, a social studies teacher and the Drama Club adviser. “We are lucky to have this beautiful courtyard, and we are equally lucky to have a group of talented young people. This production is a testament to their love of theater and ability to adapt these circumstances."

The Drama Club only had three weeks to pull off the production, which ran Oct. 22-24. The production was the first of its kind to be held in the newly renovated courtyard.

“We put this together in Broadway time,” explained Drama Club officer/director Faith Poveromo.

From the stage and school facilities crew to the actors and faculty advisors, the courtyard was transformed into a theatrical backdrop, even utilizing a third-floor window as Juliet’s balcony to call down to Romeo.

“I am so proud of the show and every single cast and crew member has put in an extraordinary amount of effort,” said Drama Club officer Dylan Krapf.

Principal Gerard Owenburg called the performance “amazing.”

“Last spring the school closure forced the cancellation of their spring musical,” he said. “This evening [Oct. 22] was their big return. Holding this event required extensive preparation by the Drama Club crew and their advisor. I hope that this is the first of many extracurricular events that we are able to have for our students.”

Ben & Jerry’s Founder Zooms with Calhoun Club

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As part of the Activism Club’s goals at Calhoun High School in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, members raise awareness of social issues and connect students with community-based initiatives.

With this in mind, a member recently reached out to Calhoun alumnus Jerry Greenfield to participate in a Q&A session about activism efforts on a national and even global scale.

Greenfield and his partner Ben Cohen, both Class of 1969 Calhoun graduates, started an ice cream store in 1978 with limited experience and grew it into a successful global company, Ben & Jerry’s.

“The brand has been involved with many important causes over the years,” explained Erin Mormando, the club’s faculty adviser.

Students questioned Greenfield about maintaining profitability while supporting such historical movements.

“We had no idea was socially responsible business was or activism was,” Greenfield explained. “It was something that developed as the business evolved. Business is a very powerful force in our country,” he continued. “It tends to act in its financial self-interest without thinking of the needs of everybody and we didn’t think this was right. People in the community then want to support that business in return. It’s almost a spiritual law that the good that you do comes back to you.”

Ben & Jerry’s tries to partner with nonprofit organizations that are on the ground level, harnessing their consumer influence.

“What you guys [Ben & Jerry’s] are doing is a model that other businesses should follow,” said Kacie Moschella, student moderator and club founder. “Even if we do small community-based activities, we can contribute to the lives around us.”

Greenfield was impressed with the club’s existence, which started last school year.

“We’re just trying to bring social issues to light to see what we can do as a club together to help the community,” student Conlan Shea explained.

“Just the fact that you guys are doing this is so inspiring and I really appreciate it,” Greenfield added.

New Course Offering Delves Into the Science of Mindfulness

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After discovering mindfulness and meditation in her personal life, Heather Bizewski, a science teacher at Mepham High School, proposed a course to pass along its educational benefits to interested students.

“I experienced many benefits from developing mindfulness practices,” she said. “By using mindfulness and meditation practices, I was able to identify the limiting beliefs that I had about certain aspects of life.”

Once approved by the district’s curriculum committee in fall 2018, Bizewski and fellow teachers Brook Stehl, also from Mepham and Dawn Sullivan from Kennedy High School, wrote the course curriculum for the Scientific Basis of Mindfulness course.

“I began noticing when my students vocalized their limiting beliefs, for example I have heard many students say, ‘I can't do math,” she added. “When a person makes a statement like that, they are shutting down the opportunity to learn. I wanted to find a way to get my students to understand how they can overcome those limiting beliefs.”

The course focuses on the science behind mindfulness practices. They teach students about the structure and function of their brains and how incorporating mindfulness practices can potentially “rewire” your brain in positive ways.

“So far, some of the concepts we have studied include genetic traits and their influence on personality development and negativity bias, which shows how our brains are hardwired to look for the ‘dangers’ in our surroundings which leads to focusing mostly on the negative in situations,” Bizewski explained.

Mepham High School senior Amanda Green chose this course as a follow up to AP psychology, as her future career plans include perusing a degree in that field.

“Even from these few weeks in mindfulness and meditation, I can see a difference in myself,” she noted. “I have learned to let the negative things go and not to let them ruin my day. I feel overall happier and better prepared to deal with a bad situation.”

In addition to the scientific concepts that they study, the class also puts mindfulness into practice by using guided meditations and breathing techniques. They also spend time learning about and creating self-soothing tools for students to use outside of the classroom such as gratitude journals, stress balls and mala “worry beads” beads.

“It is my hope that through this course students will be able to develop a growth mindset and create a ‘toolbox’ of coping strategies for the stressors they experience in their lives,” Bizewski added.

CHSD Launches Intramural Conditioning Program

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In an effort to provide a positive athletic experience for all interested student-athletes after the fall sports season was delayed, the Central High School District is offering outdoor intramural/pre-season conditioning programs.

“My hope is that by providing this opportunity, our coaches and student-athletes can once again interact and provide some semblance of normalcy for all participants,” explained Eric Caballero, director of physical education, athletics, drivers education & health.

Kennedy, Mepham and high schools, as well as Grand and Merrick Avenue middle schools started programs in football, soccer, cross-country, tennis, cheer and kickline in early October.

“It was great to see students out on the fields in the afternoon being active and having fun,” said Calhoun Principal Nicole Hollings in her weekly email to parents/guardians.

The primary focus is maintaining the health and safety of coaches and students. All plans are conducted in accordance with guidelines and recommendations made by the NYSDOH, NYSED and the CDC.

“Attendance will be taken daily,” added Caballero. “Students will be required to show their health app screen on their smartphone and temperatures will be checked prior to participation.”

The ultimate goal is to actively plan for three interscholastic sports seasons, as outlined by Section VIII, in January of 2021.

Students Clean Up Streets to Shores

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Students across the Central High School District have been making their mark in the surrounding communities by creating or participating in environmental cleanups.

Led by their teacher Brian Joyce, the Leadership classes at Calhoun High School organized a Community Cleanup Oct. 9.

“It was great to see our students doing something positive for the neighborhood,” said Principal Nicole Hollings.

The effort was spearheaded by student, Adam Selcedo, who shared that he noticed an abundance of trash on the ground while he was exercising. He brought the idea to classmates who agreed to address the issue head on.

“I couldn’t believe the amount of garbage that was left on the ground…just a couple of feet away from a garbage can,” student Nicole Devlin noted.

Students remarked about feeling accomplished after participating.

“It made me realize how easily I can brighten other people’s day by completing small tasks,” added student Frankie Depalo.

Leadership classes throughout the district are aimed at promoting community service and fostering group process, self-awareness and human relations skills among students.

The Mepham High School LEO Club participated in a Jones Beach cleanup with the environmental awareness group, SPLASH (Stop Polluting Littering and Save Harbors) on Oct. 17.

“The response by the LEOs was very enthusiastic and I'm so proud of how hard they worked and how they want to play a part in taking care of their environment,” said science teacher and club co-adviser Josephine Parlagreco. “The same day they were asking to do it again.”

Sponsored by the Bellmore Lions Club, the Leo Club’s mission is one of altruism and philanthropy.

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