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Grand Avenue Celebrates Moving Up

Grand Avenue Celebrates Moving Up

Before an auditorium filled with faculty, family and friends at the Grand Avenue Middle School’s 61st  moving up ceremony, Principal Carlo Conte told graduates not to hesitate when they are embarking on a new venture.

“The next time you feel yourself hesitating beginning something positive, count down from five, empower yourself and launch yourself into greatness,” he added, recalling a speech he watched earlier in the week to help individuals get started.

Amanda Falls led the ceremony with a poignant rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Grand Voices, led by director Kyle Banks, sang “Here Comes the Sun” and “Proud Corazon,” with a solo by Sydney Florio.

Wellington C. Mepham High School senior Allison Trenkle was invited to address Team Warriors at the 10 a.m. ceremony. Grand Avenue held a total of four ceremonies throughout the day.

“Middle school was an unforgettable experience, but as that door closes, countless memorable times lie ahead of you in the door that opens to one of the amazing high schools in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District,” she addressed the middle school graduates. “I encourage every one of you to seize every opportunity you come across in the next four years. Doing this helped me to be able to look back fondly on the door that is closing and I hope that all of you are able to find that in high school as well."

Eighth grader Mario Medina offered a student reflection to his peers about their future after Grand Avenue.

“All of those who have impacted our lives have led us up to this moment and now is our time to seize it,” he said. “Be prepared to dive into the unknown and take your shot at life. Your life and world can only be as good as you make it.”

Merrick Avenue Eighth Graders Graduate

Merrick Avenue Eighth Graders Graduate

Merrick Avenue Middle School was decked out in fanfare for its eighth grade moving up ceremonies held on June 14.

Principal Dr. Taryn Johnson told students two years was not enough for her to spend as an educator and mentor.

“I ask you to quantify the two years in terms of friendships, arguments, happiness, surprises and disappointments,” she said. “Then I ask you to understand that time is fleeting and pause to put time into perspective. You will learn and live every moment. You will nurture in every single moment you have with each other.”

The school’s vocal group, Word of Mouth, sang a moving rendition of “Lullabye,” led by director Dana Brandwein.
Kennedy High School senior Samuel Moskowitz addressed the graduates.

“Take chances, make mistakes and get messy,” he offered to the graduates, quoting a famed character from television’s “The Magic School Bus.” “In each opportunity when I feared I would fall flat on my face, the support from teachers and friends always cleared my mind.”

Mariel Pusateri, a student speaker for Team Six was grateful toward teachers who pushed core values of trust and perseverance. 

“Thank you for being a great group of teachers that have made it very easy to trust you,” she recalled. “Everything you taught us was to benefit us.”

MAP Graduates Nine Seniors

MAP Graduates Nine Seniors photo

The Meadowbrook Alternative Program graduated nine students from its senior class on June 24.

During her commencement speech, valedictorian Brianna Ottofaro spoke about finding her self-confidence and her path at MAP.

“I urge you to embrace each other’s differences,” she said. “Not all schools offer such an advantage. No matter the path you decide to take after high school, the support we gained from our peers and teachers will help us succeed.”

Salutatorian Matthew Alexander touched on his thankfulness to the MAP teaching and support staff.

“They worked tirelessly to make sure we have a great education and are prepared for the future,” he said. “While doing this, they made sure we are actively engaged, and that we have fun while doing so.”

As a MAP graduation tradition, Principal Susan Ellinghaus invites an alumnus to address current graduates. Joseph Calvaruso from the Class of 2017, spoke about his path at MAP and the lessons he has taken with him. 

“I realized I needed to make a change,” he explained. “I needed to go to MAP. I was given a second chance I so desperately needed and became the man I am today. Most importantly, it was here that I learned to never give up.”

Dr. Joseph Netto, the program’s psychologist, offered the faculty address.

“The obstacles in your path may have seemed so daunting, yet your individual perseverance allowed you to rise to the occasion,” he said. “And I strongly believe that [perseverance] is the most important lesson and skill that you have learned here at MAP. It is this individuality that will allow you to surpass mediocrity.”

CHAMP Receives $1,000 Donation

CHAMP Receives $1,000 Donation
The Lions and Kiwanis Clubs of Bellmore made a donation to the Central High School District’s CHAMP Program at the June 5 board of education meeting. 

They presented a $1,000 check to the Culinary and Hospitality Applied Management Program, which is housed at Kennedy High School.
Students from the program volunteered last weekend at the Nassau County Strawberry Festival, assisting the clubs with their weekend fair and fundraising efforts.

“Students made nearly 1,300 pieces of cake and 40 gallons of whipped cream, as well as prepared 80 pounds of strawberries for assorted uses,” explained Andrew Meyerowitz, Kiwanis Club president, who is also a Kennedy graduate.

Tyler Bissoondial Awarded High Honors

 Tyler Bissoondial Awarded High Honors
On June 8, Grand Avenue Middle School student Tyler Bissoondial was awarded High Honors at the New York State Science Congress in Syracuse, for his project titled, “The Isolation and Characterization of Salt Tolerant Mutant in Raphanus sativus.”

This achievement is equivalent of second place.

Bissoondial will attend John F. Kennedy High School in the fall, but will return to Grand Avenue to serve as president of the Students Network of Cooperative Science, a peer-mentoring club, advised by science teacher Tami Cruz. The club pairs high school and middle school students, working together on science research projects.

Calhoun Colts Celebrate ‘Colture Day’

Calhoun Colts Celebrate ‘Colture Day’ photo
Calhoun Colts Celebrate ‘Colture Day’ photo 2
Calhoun Colts Celebrate ‘Colture Day’ photo 3
Calhoun Colts Celebrate ‘Colture Day’ photo 4
Calhoun Colts Celebrate ‘Colture Day’ photo 5
The International Buddy Club hosted its first ever “Colture Day” at Sanford H. Calhoun High School to celebrate with pride the school’s cultural diversity. 

Visitors collected stamps for their passports as they traveled to different stations, answering trivia questions, participating in cultural games, savoring international delicacies, and dancing to world music. 

IBC members, including first and second generation immigrants and students of color, spoke to the crowd and described personal experiences with immigration, racism, and discrimination, all with a positive message to promote change and equality for the future. 

The event was organized by ENL teacher and International Buddy Club advisor, Heather Glick, together with the collaboration of the Japanese Culture Club, Advanced Science Research, Model United Nations, as well as classes such as Drawing & Painting, AP Photography, AP Calculus BC, AP English, AP French, AP Italian, AP Spanish, Mandarin, Health, and Voices of the Past. Special visitors included middle school students from the English as a New Language (ENL) program at Grand Avenue and Merrick Avenue, as well as Calhoun’s present students and graduates of ENL/IBC. 

“This was a special day for all as students and staff proudly displayed their cultural heritage while sending a message of inclusion and tolerance,” explained Enrique Montes, a World Languages Chairperson.

Grand Avenue Hosts Gaming Showcase

Grand Avenue Hosts Gaming Showcase
Grand Avenue Hosts Gaming Showcase
Grand Avenue Hosts Gaming Showcase
Grand Avenue Hosts Gaming Showcase
The Grand Avenue Middle School Library hosted its first Grand Gaming Showcase on June 4-5.

Earlier this year, Michelle Biancardo’s seventh grade Coding classes created their own video games using the Hatch and Python programming languages. This event showcased the students creative work in designing multi-level, gravity platformers and vintage arcade style games, quiz games and other informative challenges.

“Students were invited to get a special pass from lunch to attend the event,” Biancardo said. “Once there, they could play the games created by their peers. There was also a section where students could explore the Scratch website to learn more about what can be designed or try their hand at creating something themselves.”

Bellmore-Merrick BOE Recognizes Student Representatives

Bellmore-Merrick BOE Recognizes Student Representatives
As the Central High School District wraps up the 2018-19 school year, it recognized four student representatives who offered school points of pride updates and witty banter at the monthly board of education meetings.

At the June 5 meeting, Gabriela Daza of Mepham, Juliana Tirino of Calhoun, Matthew Alexander of the Meadowbrook Alternative Program and Jonathan Mashal of Kennedy high schools, were given a commemorative gavel after offering their last update from the board dais.

“I can’t say I know exactly who I am, but I do know who I want to be thanks to the many people I’ve met here these last six years [in the high school district],” offered Daza.

Sara Tappeto Named Academic All-American Lacrosse Player

Sara Tappeto Named Academic All-American Lacrosse Player
Calhoun High School senior Sarah Tappeto was recently honored at the Nassau County Girls Lacrosse Association’s annual dinner as a U.S. Lacrosse Academic All-American. 

In order to be considered for such an award, the athlete must maintain a 3.7. GPA during their high school career and have left their mark beyond the lacrosse field and classroom by making service contributions to the community. 

Tappeto was one of nine athletes in the county who received this honor. Aside from her work in the classroom, Tappeto led the team in goals this season and has amassed more than 100 points in her varsity career. In addition to her honor as a U.S. Lacrosse Academic All-American, she was an All-County honorable mention recipient and Calhoun’s Scholar Athlete for this season. 

She will attend Molloy College on a soccer scholarship this fall.

Molly Flaherty Receives Student of the Year Scholarship Award

Molly Flaherty Receives Student of the Year Scholarship Award photo
Molly Flaherty Receives Student of the Year Scholarship Award photo 2
Molly Flaherty Receives Student of the Year Scholarship Award photo 3
Molly Flaherty, student at Calhoun High School was recently presented with the Student of the Year Scholarship Award. 

She was nominated by her teachers based upon her accomplishments during her time at Calhoun. She accepted this award at the LIASEA (Long Island Association of Special Education Administrators on Friday, June 7 at the Crest Hollow Country Club. 

In attendance were Molly’s parents, sister, Maggie, special education teacher Lisa Loonie and Assistant Director of Special Education, Emily Paluseo. 

MAP Creates Memory Garden

MAP Creates Memory Garden photo
MAP Creates Memory Garden photo 2
MAP Creates Memory Garden photo 3
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and to commemorate, Zachary Gosse’s School and Community Leadership class invited representatives from the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center (ADRC) to provide pertinent education on the disease to the students at MAP.  

The presentation was informative and was well received by the students. The School and Community Leadership class had raised funds through purple bracelet and purple ribbon sales, as well as through a Memory Garden which was planted in the front entrance of the Brookside School on Meadowbrook Road.  

Two flats of annual flowers were donated to the class by Atlantic Nursery in Freeport.   obin Marks, Executive Director & CEO, and Alexandra Bett, Care Consultant and Outreach Coordinator, of ADRC accepted the donation and sincerely thanked the students for their tremendous efforts. 

ADRC is a grassroots organization whose main goal is to provide services to those families affected by Alzheimer’s and other Brain disorders throughout Long Island.  

Mepham Softball Crowned County Champs

Mepham Softball Crowned County Champs
Mepham Softball Crowned County Champs 2
The Mepham High School girls softball team won the Nassau County Class A Championship on May 31.

This is the first time in the program’s history that a team has accomplished this. 

“The entire team of 16 works together as one to get the job done,” said coach Brenda Dolan. “Whether it's one pitch, one play, one at bat, one catch; they all know that every job is important to the success of this team.”

They take on the Suffolk County winners, Sayville High School, on June 7.

Students Receive High Marks in the LI Science Congress

 Students Receive High Marks in the LI Science Congress
 Students Receive High Marks in the LI Science Congress
 Students Receive High Marks in the LI Science Congress
In April several students from the Central High School District’s Advanced Science Research program, as well as some middle school students, presented their ongoing research projects in the Long Island Science Congress competition.   

“Our students were judged among nearly 2,000 student researchers from all across long Island.  The final results for the competition have just been released and we are so proud to share our list of awards and achievements in the Long Island Science Congress,” explained Robert Soel, a district science chairperson.

Kennedy High School:
Andrew Brinton                High Honors 
Mikaela Milch                    Honors 
Ashley Cammiso               Achievement 
Liam Boyle                          Achievement
Ekaterina Fakinos             Achievement 
Jack Racer                           Achievement
Kenar Gelman                    Achievement
Joshua Abramovitch       Achievement
Randi Finklestein              Meritorious
Katherine St George       Honorable Mention 
Nate Bergfeld                    Honorable Mention        
Pierce Infuso                      Honorable Mention
Jordan Kanner                   Honorable Mention

Mepham High School:
Timothy Langone     High Honors
Brandon Langone    High Honors
Sydney Rubin            Honors
Erin Lutz                     Achievement
Chloe Shipley            Achievement
Kirsten Knowles        Achievement
Sarah Hodnett           Meritorious
Sreeshty Ray              Meritorious
Hashir Siddiqui          Meritorious

In the junior division, students from Grand Avenue Middle School received the following honors:
Highest Honors and state finalist:
Tyler Bissoondial
High Honors:
Dillon Moi
Adhith Jacob
Sahara Partap
Gabriella Simal
Mackenzie Filosa
Jessica Blumberg
Massimo Marino
Cameron Franceschina
Hayden Schneider
Christopher Sanchez
Future Scientist Award:
Sahara Partap
Gabriella Simal
Mackenzie Filosa
L.I. Science Technology Engineering and Math Education Leadership Award:
Jessica Blumberg
Best in Category for Physical Science:
Dillon Moi
Adhith Jacob
Best in Category for Microbiology and Genetics
Tyler Bissoondial

Merrick Avenue Students are Kidsday Reporters

Merrick Avenue Students are Kidsday Reporters photo
Merrick Avenue Students are Kidsday Reporters photo 2
Students from Roland Clark’s seventh grade English classes from Merrick Avenue Middle School had the unique opportunity to become newspaper reporter for a day.

They were tasked with completing a Newsday Kidsday section, interviewing Buddy Valastro from the hit television baking show, “Cake Boss.”

Students Dylan Cuttler, Sam Saldarelli, Emmy Rosenberg and Asra Iqbal all traveled to the Discovery offices in Manhattan to complete the interview. 
Their article was published on May 21 and can be viewed online.

Kidsday is a section of Newsday that is written by kids, covering Long Island family-friendly places, reviews, celebrity interviews and more. 

Grand Avenue MS Hosts First Science Fair

Grand Avenue MS Hosts First Science Fair photo
Grand Avenue Middle School held its first in-house science fair on May 23, led by science teacher Tami Cruz.

Participants included Tyler Bissoondial, Mackenzie Filosa, Adhith Jacob, Li Lin, Brady Marr, Dillon Moi, Samantha Nadler, Sahara Partap, Christopher Sanchez, Hayden Schneider and Gabriella Simal.

“Students shared their knowledge either by answering other students' questions or by presenting to our interns and teachers,” Cruz explained. 

Participants from this class also received their awards from the Long Island Science Congress Competition. Awards ranged from the Achievement Award to the Highest Honors Award. 

Tyler Bissoondial received the distinction of making it to the state competition in Syracuse.

From Rams to Colts — A Welcoming Committee

From Rams to Colts — A Welcoming Committee
Guidance & Wellness Counselors Ricky Posner and Brian Resnick, along with several current students, welcomed some future Colts to Calhoun High School on May 29.

They fielded questions, offered campus tours and showed off the Colt culture to incoming ninth graders who are currently attending Merrick Avenue Middle School.

CHSD Designated ‘No Place for Hate’

CHSD Designated ‘No Place for Hate’ photo
CHSD Designated ‘No Place for Hate’ photo 2
Once again, all six schools in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District have been selected as No Place for Hate schools. 

Several staff members and students went to New York City on May 23 for the convention.

The Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate initiative is a school climate improvement framework that provides pre K-12 schools with an organizing framework for combating bias, bullying and hatred, leading to long-term solutions for creating and maintaining a positive climate. 

Science Fair

Ms. Cruz's research class participated in their first in-house science fair. Participants included Tyler Bissoondial, Mackenzie Filosa, Adhith Jacob, Li Lin, Brady Marr, Dillon Moi, Samantha Nadler, Sahara Partap, Christopher Sanchez, Hayden Schneider, and Gabriella Simal. A good day was had by all. Students shared their knowledge either by answering other students' questions or by presenting to our interns and teachers. Yesterday, participants from this class received their awards from the Long Island Science Congress Competition. Awards ranged from the Achievement Award to the Highest Honors Award. Tyler Bissoondial also received the distinction of making it to the state competition in Syracuse.

VIDEO: Students Shine in Bellmore-Merrick Challenge


Members of the Bellmore-Merrick School and Community Leadership Program and Athletes Helping Athletes participated in the Bellmore-Merrick Challenge on May 22.

Special needs students from various schools around Nassau County gathered at Calhoun each year to participate in the Bellmore-Merrick Challenge, a field day of fun activities designed to make connections between students from across the county.

What started with three schools and 90 kids, has grown into an extraordinary event with 14 schools and 450 kids. Students competed in a variety of traditional field day activities, including relays, an inflatable obstacle course, jumping competitions and throwing contests, among other events.
The Bellmore-Merrick Challenge provides an opportunity for special needs students to have fun, develop their strengths and socialize with students from nearby districts. 

“A special thank you goes out to all of the participants, buddies and volunteers from Athletes Helping Athletes for making this another successful year,” added Calhoun Principal Nicole Hollings.

Art + Tech Highlighted at Shows

Art + Tech Highlighted at Shows photo

Both the Merrick Avenue and Grand Avenue middle schools combined arts and robotics to create electrifying shows on May 9 and 16, respectively.

“The concept was that when everyone is the same it is boring,” explained Michelle Biancardo, a technology and coding teacher at both middle schools. “What makes society interesting is the difference between people. Sometimes that difference can create dissonance, but more often it can create beauty, cooperation and fun.”

At Merrick Avenue, the Robotics Club used Makey Makey kits to code messages and music from each artist when the clay ball was pressed, completing the circuit.

This year at the Grand Avenue Spring Expo, art and technology collaborated again to create an interactive installation called "CLIQUE." 
The Robotics Club, lead by Biancardo and the Art Club, lead by Nicholas Giordano, worked together to attach the large scale artwork to coded sounds. 

“The balloons are attached to wires and copper tape, which acts like a conductor,” explained Dillon Moi, an eighth grader in the Robotics Club. “These small motherboards were wired to helium balloons and aluminum touch pads to "complete the circuit and create a sound that supportd the main idea.”

Merrick Kiwanis Honors Graduating Seniors

 Merrick Kiwanis Honors Graduating Seniors photo
The Kiwanis Club of Merrick honored one graduating senior from each of the Central High School District schools at the Club’s 52nd annual Student Recognition Night on May 14. 

Each of the students selected by their respective principal, was chosen on the basis of academic achievement, extracurricular and community service activities, and outstanding character. This year’s recipients were: Matthew Alexander of Meadowbrook Alternative Program – MAP, Caroline Casella of. Calhoun, Ali Cheema of Mepham and Sidra Naheed of Kennedy.  

At the dinner, the honorees were introduced by the principals, who described and praised the achievements and accomplishments that led to their selection for this prestigious award. In their acceptance remarks, the students shared what their high school careers have meant to them, beyond the academics that will take them on to college next fall. 

Kiwanis member Dr. Nancy Kaplan, a school board trustee, spoke on behalf of Superintendent John DeTommaso, who was unable to attend. She offered a heartfelt and insightful assessment into what makes a school – and a school district – successful, citing the caliber of educators and support that produce students like those being honored. She also delivered the superintendent’s praise and thanks for Kiwanis’s efforts in the community, citing the support for the Community Food Bank at MAP that serves more than 60 local families. The students also received Citations from County Legislator Steve Rhoads and Proclamations from State Sen. John Brooks.

Kiwanis is a service organization for individuals desiring personal involvement in the leadership and improvement of their communities.

Girls Track Clinches Division Championship

Girls Track Clinches Division Championship
Calhoun High School girls track headed into the May 17 competition with a mission of earning their fourth consecutive division championship — and they were victorious.

“The Colts got out to a fast start and never looked back,” said coach Joseph Migliano. “Maura Walters and Elizabeth Tuzzolo took third and fourth in the 400-meter hurdles earning the team a fast 10 points and Maura’s first ever All-Division honor.”

Next up was the 1500 meters in which Calhoun sent out freshman Julianna Razza and sophomore Faith Dwyer. Razza earned her first event championship while Dwyer ran her second fastest time all year and finished third to claim the last All-Division spot. 

Lisa Jose took second in the 100-meter dash and also earned All-Division honors. 

Meanwhile, Jamie Campanelli went on to throw her personal best in shot put and win the event for the second straight year. Senior captain Victoria Unz battled through an injury to take second in the discus, along with sophomore Melissa Kurlanchik who finished fourth in that event. 

In the triple jump, Jose won with a jump of 33 feet, 9 inches while teammates Walters and freshmen Ashley Thompson followed up with fourth and fifth, respectively. 

Eighth grade standout Sara Manson scored in the 100-meter hurdles, long jump and earned her first division title in the pole vault event. 

Sophomore Nicole Devlin set a goal to win the division high jump, and met it. She beat the reigning high jumper and claimed her spot as division champion. 

In the 800-meter race, sophomore Emma Bhansingh ran 4-second personal best and finished fourth overall in a very fast heat. 

“It was a very special day for the team earning their fourth consecutive division title,” Migliano said. “They proved why track and field is a true team sport, scoring in all events and winning by roughly 50 points.”

Students Awarded NYS Senate Youth Leadership Awards

Leadership Awards
Leadership Awards2
Leadership Awards 3
Leadership Awards 4
Leadership Awards 5
Leadership Awards 6
Five Mepham High School students were recently recognized with NYS Senate Youth Leadership Awards.
Nicholas Azzariti, Julia Caponi, Anthony Novello, Anthony Paolillo and Allison Trenkle were each recognize.

Nominations for an award come from teachers, administrators, counselors or other school faculty for well-rounded candidates who excel not only academically, but through leadership in extracurricular and volunteer activities. There are four categories including Academics, Athletics, Arts and Community Service.

Pennies for Patients

Which team can raise the most money for the pennies for patients campaign?

Make your online donation today using the link to your team's official online donation page:

7th Grade Teams:

• Awesome
• Team Dynamite
Team Fire
• Team Supreme

8th Grade Teams:

• Team Discovery
• Team House Braves
Team Justice
• Team Legacy
• Team Warriors

Former Students Impart Words of Wisdom

Grand Avenue welcomed back former students who imparted words of wisdom on the Drama Club and other school extracurriculars. Biscaydence, University of Miami's a capella group who just came in second at Nationals, stopped by to perform for current students. The Drama Club and Grand Voices were treated to pop hits in the style of Pentatonix. Biscaydence is currently spearheaded by Steven Alexander, a 2013 graduate of Grand Avenue who is now attending University of Miami for a degree in music education. Another former Drama member, Richie Jackson, is now a Tony-nominated Broadway producer for his work on Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song. Mr. Jackson recalled his Grand Avenue memories from 40 years prior with that club and the newly-formed Gay Straight Alliance. His play will compete for the Tony this June. Lots of Grand Avenue alumni doing big things!

Calhoun Duo Awarded NYS Senate Youth Leadership Awards

 Calhoun Duo Awarded NYS Senate Youth Leadership Awards
 Calhoun Duo Awarded NYS Senate Youth Leadership Awards 2
Two Calhoun High School students were recently awarded NYS Senate Youth Leadership Awards.

Junior Marc Edayadi, who serves as president of Calhoun Model Congress, is a member of several honor societies, editor of the school newspaper, Hoofbeats, and plays trombone and baritone in the band.

“Marc has a talent for getting other students engaged in politics and public policy,” said Beth Finneran, Calhoun Model Congress supervisor. “As president of the Calhoun Model Congress Club, he mentored 12 other students on how to write bills on various topics from the environment to trade to education. He coached them on how to present and effectively debate. Thanks to Marc’s leadership this year, Calhoun had the most bills pass through committee at Yale Model Congress in Calhoun history.”

Senior Brianna McDonough attends the BOCES Long Island High School for the Arts. She is heading to the University of Rochester in the fall. She is a member of three National Honor Societies. 

“I have seen both a tremendous work ethic and persistence to be an agent of positive change in her community and around the world,” said her guidance counselor/Calhoun Assistant Principal Dr. Neil Testa. “She has steadfastly grown into a natural leader, aiming to help people in and around her community. Her activities and performances outside of school are often geared toward helping people and raising awareness  for various causes. Her involvement and writings about her work with helping victims of the natural disaster in Puerto Rico has earned her the “American Scholastic Press Association Award for Outstanding Story.”

Nominations for an award come from teachers, administrators, counselors or other school faculty for well-rounded candidates who excel not only academically, but through leadership in extracurricular and volunteer activities. There are four categories including Academics, Athletics, Arts and Community Service.

Composer/Conductor Makes Music with Kennedy Students

Composer photo

On May 1, orchestra, band and vocal students at Kennedy High School worked with composer/conductor Stephen Melillo ahead of their evening concerts.

One of the most internationally recognized composers for wind band music, Melillo  is known for his techniques in concert music, revolutionizing the video game industry in terms of how they use music, film scores, TV shows, as well as multiple Pulitzer nominations for his music.

“The transformation my students had in a total of less than four hours with Stephen Melillo was absolutely incredible,” said JFK Band Director Walter Avellaneda. “They understood passion and they understood how to play their instrument with beauty and intensity at such an intense level. They played from their hearts in such a way that I have been silent and speechless about it since then.”

“It’s always a meaningful experience when our students have the opportunity to work with professional musicians,” said Cheryl Fontana, the district’s director of the fine & performing arts. “We are so grateful to Mr. Melillo for sharing his knowledge and passion with our young musicians.”

A special highlight of the event is that the music department commissioned a piece by Melillo, honoring Lorraine Poppe, the school’s late former principal. The piece, “to Love & be Loved,” will soon be released worldwide. 

“We were able to send a recording of the work to Ms. Poppe and her family a few weeks ago,” explained Avellaneda. “Her sister said it was the last piece of music that she was listening to as she passed. They were playing it over and over for her; it brought their family much comfort during a difficult time.”

Avellaneda said it was an honor to play for Poppe’s family who attended the evening concert. “Without her vision, the music program would have never flourished,” he added. “And now we are lucky to have the same endless support by Principal Gerard Owenburg who encourages these types of experiences; it is truly fitting that the piece was premiered on National Principal's Day,” he added.

Broadcasting Students Earn Top Awards

Broadcasting Students Earn Top Awards photo
Broadcasting Students Earn Top Awards photo 2
Bellmore-Merrick’s Broadcasting students earned top honors at the BASH Awards at Stony Brook on May 3.

Rocco Law and Brandon Hislop won first place for “Best Anchor Team” for their work on Sports Talk, out of 24 teams.

“Rocco stays late, comes in early and goes above and beyond for the program,” said teacher Stuart Stein. “And Brandon is the perfect on-air foil for Rocco sharing his love of sports and always being ready to challenge him.”

Casey Fahrer finished second in category of Best School News Package. He was also recently selected to represent Bellmore-Merrick as a National Youth Correspondent to the 2019 Washington Journalism and Media Conference at George Mason University. 

“With a team made up of four freshmen, seven sophomores and four juniors, BMB was easily the youngest group of nominees at a senior-dominated event,” added Stein.

Mepham was one of only two schools in all of Nassau County to be recognized and one of only five schools to win or place in multiple awards. All of the students who attended the event were inspired and filled with ideas to take BMB productions to the next level for next year’s competition. 

BASH recognizes the most outstanding high school student work in broadcast journalism and video production.

Mepham Welcomes Holocaust Survivor

Mepham Welcomes Holocaust Survivor
Mepham Welcomes Holocaust Survivor 2
Mepham High School was honored to host Holocaust survivor, author and international educator, Irving Roth, on May 7 for a special assembly.

Adelphi student teacher, Rebecca Singer, arranged this opportunity after having met Roth at his temple and research center located in Manhasset.  

Over 100 ninth graders from Linu Chacko's and Mr. Morris' classes were able to listen to Roth's experiences as a 10-year-old growing up in Czechoslovakia, with no idea of how his life was about to change. 

The students listened attentively to his inspiring and powerful story and then asked him questions, gaining invaluable lessons as a culmination to their Holocaust unit in English class. 

Roth asked the students to promise to remember his story and pass it on to their children, and to speak up whenever they see evil taking place around them.

Grace Bayer Selected for Elite California Art Program

Grace Bayer Selected for Elite California Art Program photo
Grace Bayer, a junior at Mepham High School, was recently one of 20 students from across the nation named a California Arts Scholar. She and the others will attend the California State Summer School for the Arts program.

“These participants are selected on the basis of their talent and creativity,” explained teacher Talon Bidermann.

This rigorous, four-week training program is aimed at improving high school students’ aesthetics and technique.

Bayer’s ink drawing was also recently featured in the Long Island's Best Juried Art Show at the Heckscher Museum of Art. Her artwork will be on display at the Huntington museum through May 19.

Calhoun Girls Track Clinches Third Straight Conference Title

Calhoun Girls Track Clinches Third Straight Conference Title photo
Calhoun High School girls track team not only won their third straight conference title on April 29, but they now have the longest winning streak in Nassau County at 51 in a row.

Every week throughout the season, the girls would face a different task from running against some of the best sprinters in the state or having to compete with the perennial county champions Manhasset Indians in the first league meet of the year. As each week came and gone, however, the girls would always wind up on top, with only Manhasset coming within 25 points of them. 

April 29 was the girls last league meet and one they have been looking forward to all year. They would take their 11-0 record with them as they traveled to MacArthur High School to compete against the generals and cross town rival Mepham Pirates. If the players lost to even one of these teams, it could jeopardize their entire season.

“The girls had a focus about them that entire day in school. You could tell hours before the meet began that it was going to be a good night,” said coach Joseph Migliano. 

Calhoun got out to a fast start, taking first and second in the 400-meter hurdles, and following that up with first, third and fourth in the 1,500-meter race. 

“Our distance crew has really stepped up all season,” Migliano. “They are young, strong and motivated to be special. They have been solid all year scoring major points for the team.” 

The Calhoun sprinters were no different. Led by junior captain Lisa Jose, the girls took 15 out of 20 points in the sprints.

“I felt confident going into the meet because everyone had worked so hard this season and we knew what we were capable of accomplishing,” said Jose. “There was definitely a lot of pressure to maintain our winning streak but that only motivated us more to compete to the best of our abilities regardless of what the other teams put out there.”

Jose and best friend Kristina Losquadro dominated the sprinting events for the team all season. Not one meet has gone by that they haven’t been a major contributor, he explained. 

“Lisa has always been a standout athlete, but this year she evolved into a leader and captain. Someone the younger girls could look up to and emulate,” Migliano said.

Traditionally Calhoun would score big in the field events and that was no different. Throwers Jamie Campanelli, captain Victoria Unz, Melissa Kurlanchik and Erica Klein had another stellar day winning the shot put and Discus. 

“They contribute so much and no one ever sees it because the throws aren’t on the track. The team, however knows, and has a deep respect and gratitude for everything the throwers do,” Migliano added.  

Calhoun put any doubt in this meet to rest with the rest of the field events. Nicole Devlin, Victoria Drewes and Ava Bayat swept the High Jump. Sarah Tappeto led the girls into triple jump, and she along with Lisa Jose and Maura Walters swept the event. 

“Sarah is such a special athlete. Not only is she a leader on the track, but she is the lacrosse team captain as well. Balancing two sports in one season is tough, but with the talent and work ethic Sarah Tappeto has, she makes it look easy,” added Migliano.

It would be hard to talk about Calhoun’s success this spring season and not mention stand out eighth grader Sara Manson. She hurdles, sprints, jumps, pole vaults and is one of the top 400-meter runners on the team. Yesterday was no different for Sara, she won the 100-meter hurdles, pole vault and long jump. Sara has also qualified for the New Balance National Championships in Long and Triple Jump. 

“Sara leaves me speechless on a daily basis. She just turned 14 years old and has the mentality of a proven veteran. She’s strong, confident, dedicated and one terrific athlete. Every day, she strives to get better and our practices usually end with me having to kick her out of the weight room. I couldn’t ask for anything more out of this young lady, and I can’t wait for the years to come to watch her grow in the sport she loves,” said Migliano.

The girls closed out the meet with a first-place finish in the 4x400-meter race led by junior captain Elizabeth Tuzzolo.

“Liz is the heart of our middle-distance program. The girls look up to her for leadership and guidance. Nothing said this more than her getting over 95 percent of the votes along with Lisa Jose for team captain. Good or bad, Liz leaves it all on the track and sets the standard for our 400-meter runners,” added Migliano.

At the end of the day, the girls did what they set out to do months ago. Winning this meet with 115 points, beating MacArthur and Mepham by 90 and claiming another Conference Championship. 

“This is a very special group of young ladies I get to work with. We maybe one of the youngest teams winning in Nassau, but we have heart and work ethic for days,” said Migliano. “No matter if we were up by 100 or down, the girls compete like we’re losing. Leaving everything they had on the track all season long. I couldn’t ask for anything more from them. They have turned a track and field team into a track and field program, with standards and expectations.” 

Freedom Tower Visit

The Grand Ave. Yorker Club went on their final trip of the year to One World Trade Center (freedom tower) on Monday, April 29. Students went to the 102 floor to experience the panoramic views of the city. Along with advisors Mr. Bargiel and Mr. Rummenie members also toured the north and south pools, the oculus building and then walked a few blocks to Trinity Church where students were able to visit steamship inventor Robert Fulton's grave as well as first Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton! Mother Nature once again cooperated with beautiful blue skies.

Points of Pride

The district's Points of Pride highlights various achievements and accomplishments in the areas of academics, arts, athletics and altruism. A celebration of student and staff successes, these monthly bulletins are also available at board of education meetings. 

Click here to read the Points of Pride.

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