Calhoun Students Take the SPARK! Challenge

Students in Christine Boyce’s Science class at Calhoun recently participated in the North Shore-LIJ SPARK! Challenge.

The students were matched with a facility and were able to shadow people from various fields for a day. This site visit to Glen Cove Hospital’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit was an opportunity to gain knowledge about various aspects of healthcare. Students had hands on experience in recreation therapy and speech pathology, along with physical and occupational therapy.

“Students come away from the challenge with a new respect and empathy for patients that suffer a brain injury,” Boyce said. “They learned first-hand from real health care professionals what life is like to work with patients. Students were also given information about each of the therapy components in terms of career choice.”

Nearly 500 students across Long Island will take part in these shadow days. After their visit, Calhoun students will create a video to show what they learned with the assistance of a mentor from North-Shore LIJ.

“The health care professionals were very forthcoming and excited to tell students about their personal experiences as students had many questions,” Boyce added.

Another Successful Food Drive for Kennedy’s Student Government

Each year, the John F. Kennedy High School Student Government runs its annual Thanksgiving Food Drive to benefit members of the Bellmore-Merrick community.  
“With the help of Stop & Shop, Student Government was able to continue this annual tradition as well as its dedication to community service,” said Brad Seidman, a social studies teacher, Senior Experience coordinator and co-faculty advisor to the Kennedy student Government.

The Student Government set up outside of the North Bellmore Stop & Shop in mid-November in help maximize donations. Shoppers were asked to pick up a few extra cans of vegetables, boxes of stuffing, cake mixes, etc. and leave them with the Student Government members who were stationed outside the door.  

“Some shoppers even helped by donating frozen turkeys, a staple at the Thanksgiving dinner table,” Seidman added.

Students at Kennedy High School were also encouraged to bring in non-perishable food items during the week to help contribute to the food collection efforts. Club members then gathered a few days later after school to organize and package the food. More than 40 boxes were neatly packaged and wrapped, as well as more than 20 turkeys.

Broadcasting Students Learn From the Pros

Earlier this month, students from the district’s Broadcasting class attended a taping of the ABC afternoon talk show “The Chew” in Manhattan.
The show focuses on food and entertainment and is co-hosted by celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Daphne Oz, Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall and Michael Simon. Mepham teacher Filiz Cooney, English Chairperson Mary Donnelly and Assistant Principal Marie Netto visited the taping along with the students to help gain a first-hand glimpse at how a television production team coordinates with the talent and the studio audience to produce a one-hour talk show.
The class was introduced to the show’s stage manager, lighting technician, music engineer and several production assistants who all provided valuable advice to the broadcasting students. The episode, entitled "The Chew's Ultimate Spectacular Stuffings," aired the same day at 1 p.m.

Business Students Compete in Adelphi Apprentice Challenge

Business students from Calhoun and Mepham High Schools participated in the second annual Adelphi Apprentice Challenge at Adelphi University on Nov. 20. Students competed in a social media and marketing plan competition for Live Nation Entertainment.

The students placed in the top two groups, among 150 students in participation from schools all over Long Island.

“Students gained valuable insight into the world of business from esteemed judges in the marketing and entertainment industries,” said Eric Gomez, assistant principal at Calhoun High School.

Cougars Boys Volleyball Nab County Title

The Kennedy Cougars boys volleyball team recently defeated Jericho to win the Nassau County Class B title. This is the sixth time in the past eight years that Kennedy’s boys volleyball has earned the Nassau County Championship.

They won in straight sets — 25-18, 25-20 and 25-19.

“There was a great crowd cheering for the team…that definitely made the gym feel like it belonged to the Cougar Nation,” said Principal Lorraine Poppe.

Michael Ianniello was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, Harrison Ivers was named All-County Tournament Honorable Mention and Jonah Zeitlin and Josh Levine were named to the All-County Tournament Team. Other team members include Tyler Anderson, Dylan Judd, Josh Kaplan, Mitchell Mass, Steve Carlson, Jordan Kappel, Garrett Krassner, Jeff Lowell, Owen Bradley, Shawn Linzer, Evan Rothchild, Peter Cuttitta, Harrison Marcus and Jonah Zeitlin.

Kennedy Drama Club to Present A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Drama Club at John F. Kennedy High School will present William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream this weekend in the school’s auditorium.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, written in the late 1500s. The stage comes to life thanks to the crew who worked to create mythical Athens and an enchanted forest. Under the direction of English teacher Daniel Sheffield, the cast has worked tireless to portray the plays’ characters.

The shows will be performed Nov. 20 and 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 each.

District’s Family Project to Host Holiday Party

The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District’s Family Project will once again host its annual free Holiday Party on Dec. 15 from 7-9:30 p.m. at Grand Avenue Middle School, offering a district wide celebration of students with disabilities and their families.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a dessert, while a local DJ will provide entertainment. Volunteers from Vets to Vets will be on hand to assist, as will district staff and students.

According to Steve Rose, director of the Family Project, this effort “has taken on a life of its own.” Rose worked in district as a social worker and now remains on staff to oversee the weekly Family Project events and activities, which are held on Tuesday evenings at Grand Avenue. Students receiving special education services and their families are encouraged to attend. Other high students often volunteer for this program.

“I enjoy watching young people do this incredible work,” Rose added.

Using Robots to Connect With Literature

Armed with iPhones and spherical robots, students in Richard Perry’s 11th-grade AP English class at Calhoun sought to make an empathetic connection with their assigned reading lesson, The Grapes of Wrath.

“This project started last year when I found that students weren’t connecting with the book,” Perry said. “This lesson gets them starting to think like programmers while connecting them to the literature.”

The Sphero robots were made possible through a grant from the company who makes them. Perry, an Apple Educator as well, was challenged to come up with creative ways to incorporate them into his classroom. His challenge to students was to have them come up with ways to navigate the Sphero robot - using wireless controls on their iPhones – through a home-built model mountain. Perry noted that the process requires much trial and error and can lead to frustration.

“This allows the students to experience failure, as the Joads did while traveling through the mountains (in the novel, The Grapes of Wrath),” Perry said. “I want them to be able to empathize with the characters.”

At the end of the project, students had five minutes to get the robot from one side of the model to the other. They had to document their attempts and failures.

“This will be used to pass on to the next group,” Perry said.

After navigating the even tiled floor of their classroom, Joe Kennedy equipped his robot with three rubber bands he had on his wrist.
“I put them around the ball to give it more traction,” he said, adding that he thinks this will make the robot be successful when attempting the model.

The connection was made clear to Chad Ackerman when he was watching his fellow students’ robots collide as they all attempted to master a ramp.

“They’re like the Joads and Wilson families fighting,” Ackerman noted to his teacher. “See, I’m making connections, Mr. Perry,” he quipped.

Zachary Neiger Named Long Island Scholar of Mathematics

Calhoun High School student Zachary Neiger was recently selected to the Institute of Creative Problem Solving for Gifted and Talented Students at SUNY College at Old Westbury.

“Zach is a friendly and bright student who has a great appreciation for math,” said math teacher Lori Biscardi. “He is very inquisitive and loves to understand the background of mathematical concepts.”

He is among 84 students this year to be named a Long Island Scholar of Mathematics.

There were approximately 600 students nominated by schools on Long Island and selection to the institute implies that the student is among the top one-tenth of one percent in math of all students on Long Island in his or her grade.

“The students applied last January when they were in ninth grade Geometry A,” said James Morris, the math chairperson. “Students had to complete an application, which included a letter of recommendation from the teacher, and then they had to take an exam last March.”

Grand Avenue Students Learn Dangers of Impairment

Candy Collection a Sweet Victory for Merrick Avenue Middle School

Merrick Avenue Middle School collected more leftover Halloween candy than in previous years, thanks in part to the effort of the school’s Student Government. The donated candy will make its way to our troops serving overseas as part of Operation Sweet Tooth.

 “I donated a bag and so did my sister at her elementary school, Lakeside,” said Jayden Mogelefsky, a seventh grader and member of Student Government. “I thought it would be good to do something nice for the troops who don’t get to experience this holiday at home with their families.”
Seventh-grader Skylar Zena said she donated two bags of her collected Halloween candy because she “wanted to give the troops a little bit of happiness this holiday season.”

Overseen by social studies teachers and club advisors Ms. Colangelo and Mr. Amador, volunteers filled 10 contractor-sized bags of donated candy for Amador to bring to Merrick dentist Dr. David Gottesfeld’s office.

Kennedy Announces October Students of the Month

The administration and staff at Kennedy recently named a student from each academic department to receive Student of the Month recognition.

 This honor highlights their achievements and/or efforts for the month of October.

Among those selected were: Michael Molzon (Science); Samantha Klein (Math); Hunter Moran; (Physical Education); Nicole Rezak (World Languages); Brian Needle (Business); Dylan Judd (World Languages); Matthew Alexander (Vocal Music); Kayla Braccio (Health); Anna Kuznetsova (Instrumental Music); Ashley Bardhan (Art) and Nicholas Pandolfi (Social Studies); Jocelyn Cohn (English) and Katelyn McCormick (Family & Consumer Science).

Calhoun NHS Raises $1,000 for Breast Cancer Awareness

Members of the Calhoun National Honor Society raised $1,058 for the American Cancer Society's fight against breast cancer. The top fundraiser was Taylor Munson, who collected $110 for the honor society's effort. In addition, 28 students participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Jones Beach on Oct. 18.

District Honors Board of Ed

It was standing room only at the November Board of Education meeting as schools and PTAs honored the board.

A large cast of “Grand Voices” from Grand Avenue led by Amanda Cantwell serenaded the board with two songs, including the classic Etta James tune, “At Last” and an upbeat one, Bruno Mars’ “Treasure.”

Student artists from Merrick Avenue presented the board with framed renderings of each of the district’s buildings. Members of the Calhoun Prep Program gifted the board a customized puzzle that, once put together, creatively spelled out the district’s “One Voice, One Message” vision.

“We need to continue to talk about what the kids are doing in the classroom that has nothing to do with testing or assigned grades,” Superintendent John DeTommaso said.

The PTA Coordinating Council also presented a monetary donation to each school’s library in honor of the board.

“I am so lucky and honored to be working with this board who is all about the kids and making decisions with them in mind,” DeTommaso added.

Members of the board of education include President Skip Haile, Vice President Janet Goller and trustees Marion Blane, Wendy Garguilo, Dr. Nancy Kaplan, Nina Lanci and Gina Piskin.

Calhoun Class Leads Students, Leaves Legacy

Students in Brian Joyce’s Leadership class are working on leaving their legacies behind at Calhoun.

Joyce said through various service projects and internal reflection, his students are identifying what their legacy is now and what they’d like it to be.

“We choose projects that we’re passionate about and it makes us more driven to make them a success,” said LaMagna. “This will benefit us as we prepare for college and the real world.”

Currently some students are paired up with freshmen counterparts who were identified as students who would benefit from interaction and guidance from an upperclassman.

“The goal is to open doors through this mentorship,” LaMagna explained.

“As seniors we can boost their confidence because they know they have someone to talk to,” added Jessica Helbock.

Additionally, students chose a passion project to fundraise for and dedicated a bronze plaque to be mounted outside of their late social studies teacher, Douglas Smestad’s classroom. Smestad lost his battle with cancer in the beginning of the school year and was well respected and revered district-wide by staff and students alike.

“He affected every student he taught in a positive way,” LaMagna said.

“We want the plaque to symbolize who Mr. Smestad was as a whole,” said Jared Del Orfano, adding that they plan to include some of Smestad’s frequently stated motivational quotes.

The goal is to present the plaque to Smestad’s family at a celebration of life being held for the late teacher at the end of December. Donations are also being accepted at the school’s main office.

Kennedy Opens Halloween Fun House for Younger Kids


The halls and classrooms at Kennedy were transformed into a Halloween fun house recently for younger children in the district.

Children from Reinhard Early Childhood Center – future Cougars themselves - were treated to a pumpkin patch and pumpkin decorating, superhero cape creating, mummy wrapping and more.

This service-learning project made possible by Kennedy seniors and the social studies department became a cooperative community endeavor as students reached out to local businesses in the area for donations of decorations, candy and costumes.

“Government teachers, Mrs. McManus, Mrs. Scherer and Mr. Seidman spent months planning the event,” said Social Studies Chairperson Karen McGuinness. 

Mr. Digiovanni and his students from the Culinary and Hospitality Applied Management Program (C.H.A.M.P.) baked over 300 cookies for decorating.
 “We are trying to host more events like this to help the kids who will eventually be attending school here identify with the building,” Assistant Principal Gerard Owenburg said, who initiated the project.


National Museum of Mathematics Visit

On Monday, November 2, 2015 the Grand Avenue Middle School Math League visited the National Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan. Students and club advisor Mr. Dagger explored the museum which featured interactive displays on tessellations, robotics, fractals and so much more. Math League members played logic puzzles and completed mazes on a digital floor. The students also took a class on gaming called "Tic Tac, No!" The class included 3-D gaming and Mobius Strips.

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Mepham Creates Flag Field of Honor


As part of a service-based project for the Mepham senior class, the front lawn of the school is dotted with American and military flags to raise money and awareness for their adopted organization, Tuesday’s Children.

The school first learned about the organization eight years ago when a member of the class of 2011 explained to them how Tuesday's Children had made a profound impact on her life following the death of her grandmother in the World Trade Center.

“Her brother, a class of 2015 graduate, spoke with us recently about how much of an impact Tuesday's Children had on his life. The connection to our Mepham family made working with this organization all the more important,” Kerry Dennis, a history teacher and project organizer said. Other teacher organizers included Ms. Einbinder, Mr. Patten, Mr. Achtziger and Ms. Bender.

The students began their service for Tuesday's Children by creating Mepham's first Flag Field of Honor. Flags were sold throughout the community for the month of September. A total of 275 flags were sold, including 24 military flags.

“The Mepham Alumni Association purchased 43 flags in honor of those alumni who died in serving in the military,” Dennis explained.
The flags are 3’ x 5’ and each stand on a 6’ pole on the front lawn of Mepham between November 1 and mid-December.

“More than 120 members of the Class of 2016, parent and teacher volunteers, custodians, administrators and our Superintendent of Schools, Mr. DeTommaso, gathered at Mepham to assist and celebrate the Class of 2016's Field of Honor to recognize our Veterans, Service Men and Women and First Responders,” Mepham Principal Michael Harrington said. “The overwhelming turnout and the incredible efforts of our school community left me in awe.”

The proceeds raised from the flag sales will go directly to Tuesday's Children. Tuesday's Children was formed in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. The group initially worked with children who lost a parent on September 11th, but have since branched to encompass recovery workers from September 11th efforts, military and children from around the world impacted by terrorism.



Video Courtesy of Tom O'Brien


Calhoun Transforms Room to Destination: Doom

It was gore galore at Calhoun as a classroom was transformed into Destination: Doom – a walk-through haunted house.

Students paid a nominal fee to enter the dark room, which was packed with spooky sights, costumed characters and horror film-worthy make up. The cast behind this creepy classroom experience was the International Buddy Club, who worked countless hours after school and during free periods to make this Halloween experience a haunting delight.

The IBC was created by English Language Learners at Calhoun with the original purpose of having an orientation program for new foreign students who come to Calhoun. During the past four years, it has morphed into a much bigger and more active club where foreign students and American students get to know each other through social and cultural activities.

“One amazing thing about it that developed naturally is that we have so many different types of students involved,” said ENL teacher and IBC advisor Heather Glick. “They included students from cosmetology who do make-up, students from drama who help with costumes and acting, students who are good at baking who bake scary snacks for the after-party (for club members) and other students who brainstorm and design and create sets and costumes and music and lighting.”

Calhoun Salutes National Merit Commended Students

Eleven Calhoun seniors have been named 2015 National Merit Commended Students.

Lori Zomback, Nicole Fegan, Louis Lin, Gabriel Dubinsky, Brandon Lax, Gabrielle Werner, Julianna Casella, Kristi Chan, Haley Ryan, Brian Kishinevsky and Paulina Fein were among those recognized.

“We are so proud of the accomplishments of each of these students,” said Principal Nicole Hollings. “Not only are they very strong in academics, but they have also contributed to the Calhoun community in a variety of ways. Their talents and dedication reach far beyond the classroom walls. We look forward to seeing what they will accomplish the rest of this year and beyond.”

To qualify for this distinction, students must score in the top 5 percentile on the PSAT/NMSQT exam in their junior year.

Middle Schools Display Halloween Spirit

Halloween spirit was alive at the two middle schools last week.

At Grand Avenue, students paid $1 to dress up in the Costumes for a Cause fundraiser. They raise $350 for a cancer-related charity. At Merrick Avenue, Rammy the Ram and his pal, Merrick Avenue Teddy were portrayed by Dylan Lipman and Charlie Goldberg.

“The students have officially revived the Merrick Avenue mascot,” said Principal Taryn Johnson. “You will be seeing them around more often.”
Both student bodies are also collecting leftover Halloween candy to donate to troops overseas.

Admins Take Pies to Face to Boost Book Fair Sales


Grand Avenue students recently visited the PTA Book Fair during their English classes. In an effort to boost book sales, Vice Principals Mr. Mollica and Mr. Del Rosario and Principal Mr. Conte volunteered their faces. For every $5 spent, students received a raffle ticket to put in the administrator of their choice's bucket. At the conclusion of the book fair, one student's ticket from each bucket was chosen to pie their administrator.



Video courtesy of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District

Grand Avenue Explores the Progressive Era

Grand Avenue Middle School is displaying an exhibit entitled, The Progressive Era: Creating Modern America, 1900-1917. The exhibit, which is on loan from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, explores the reform movement known as the Progressive Era.

The panel exhibition displays a myriad of primary sources, including letters, cartoons and photographs that focus on the social, political and economic problems at the dawn of the 20th century. Eighth-grade teachers developed a project for students to explore the problems and the solutions proposed by reformers of the Progressive Era.

Eighth grader Katelyn Schwartz chose to focus her project on Susan B. Anthony, as she said the historic figure was most familiar to her.

“I learned that her picture was put on the back of a coin,” Schwartz said.

The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School district is an affiliate school of the Institute, which is located in midtown Manhattan. The Institute makes available museum quality American History exhibitions for schools to display on important topics in American history. The projects and panel exhibit are on display through at Grand Avenue through Nov. 3.

The 7th grade girls soccer team went undefeated this season with a record of 8 wins and 1 tie!



Mepham Junior Earns First Place in Essay Contest

Mepham junior Christina Gargano recently earned first place in an essay contest.

The contest essay topic, “Italian Creativity: 1965 New York World’s Fair – 2015 Expo Milano: Celebrating 50 years of Science and Technology,” inspired Gargano to reflect upon how Italian-American research and discoveries have helped transform the way we live. 

The contest was sponsored by the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee-New York, Inc. and the American Association of Teachers of Italian. Gargano was honored at a ceremony at Saint John’s University and also received a $200 prize.

Kennedy Fires Up Homecoming Festivities


With a pep rally, outdoor festival and toasty bonfire, John F. Kennedy High School kicked off Homecoming in full force.

Under the bright Friday night lights, the Cougars took on New Hyde Park, coming out victorious, 28-21. Prior to the game, various school clubs fundraised by selling homemade chocolates, snacks and even the opportunity to throw a pie at a teacher.

“In the gym, the crowds gathered to watch the girls’ varsity volleyball team, badminton team, and boys’ junior varsity volleyball team all play exciting matches,” Principal Lorraine Poppe said.

Local bands took to the temporary stage and food trucks gathered in the parking lot behind the bleachers.

A safely lit bonfire burned on the baseball field, under the direct supervision of Bellmore volunteer firefighters. This annual tradition serves as a warm union for the students, staff and community. The marching band kept fans upbeat in the stands throughout the game and the cheerleaders and kickliners were brimming with school spirit.

“It was a wonderful week – one filled with lots of school spirit and a high level of participation,” Poppe said. “It was a great week for the Cougar Nation.”

English, Social Studies Teachers Receive Program of Excellence Award

At its 2015 Annual Convention in mid-October in Albany, the New York State English Council awarded several English and Social Students teachers from the district with the Program of Excellence Award. With this award, NYSEC honors well-established, exemplary ELA programs that support creative instruction and learning. The Calhoun High School and Mepham High School Senior Experience Class and Internship is an innovative, interdisciplinary program that utilizes a co-teaching model with an English teacher and a social studies teacher. It provides students with hands-on career opportunities outside of the regular classroom setting. Students in the program obtain awareness, first hand understanding, and appreciation of the knowledge, skill, and educational requirements necessary for various occupations.

Additionally, English teachers Meredith Levine and Daniel Sheffield have both been recognized as NYSEC Educators of Excellence. Ms. Levine and Mr. Sheffield of Kennedy were formally honored at an awards ceremony at the NYSEC Annual Conference held in Albany, October 16-18.  

Ms. Levine, a 21-year veteran, teaches eighth grade at Grand Avenue Middle School. Mr. Sheffield has been teaching at JFK for 14 years; he also the drama club advisor, directing and coordinating all of Kennedy’s student productions.

The application process included a letter of nomination, submission of documentation including a program description, curriculum outline and rationale, and samples of teacher and student work as well as an on-site visit from NYSEC committee members. Teachers from both schools were invited to showcase their program at the NYSEC Annual Conference in Albany on Friday, October 16th.

Kennedy Salutes National Merit Commended Students

Eight seniors from Kennedy have been named 2015 National Merit Commended Students.

Harrison Ivers, Dylan Barth, Evan Rothchild, Cara Slovinsky, Samantha Klein, David Mehani, Shawn Linzer and Steven Obadiah were among those recognized.

“We are pleased to see the number of seniors recognized this year and we are extremely proud of their individual achievements,” said Principal Lorraine Poppe. “These students have demonstrated great success in the classroom, taking the most challenging academic programs.  I look forward to the work that they will continue to do at Kennedy and the colleges and universities of their choice.”

To qualify for this distinction, students must score in the top 5 percent tile on the PSAT/NMSQT exam in their junior year.

Merrick Avenue Middle School Word of Mouth I Want You Back Macy's A Cappella Challenge

Stranger Danger Safety Tips - Nassau County Police Department


In the News


Updates Inside


The district will be placing new information in this section regarding the Capital Projects. Be on the lookout for information as it becomes available. See the links below for our latest updates.

11/15/15 - Bond Phase 2 Update

November 2015 Capital Bond Project Slideshow

10/20/15 - Bond Phase 2 Update

8/25/15 - Bond Phase 2 Update

1/22/15 - Bond Phase 1 Update

12/10/14 - Bond Phase 1 Update

10/29/14 - Bond Phase 1 Update

9/29/14 - Bond Phase 1 Update

8/11/14 - Bond Phase 1 Update

7/14/14 - Bond Phase 1 Update

6/30/14 - Bond Phase 1 Update

July 2014 Capital Bond Project Slideshow

August 2014 Capital Bond Project Slideshow

September 2014 Capital Bond Project Slideshow

October 2014 Capital Bond Project Slideshow

November 2014 Capital Bond Project Slideshow

December 2014 Capital Bond Project Slideshow

Construction Update 6/17/14

Neighbor Letter Re: Construction (Middle School)

Neighbor Letter Re: Construction

6/10/14 - Bond Phase 1 Update

SED Approval - Phase I  - May 6

02/10/14 - Bond Project Update

Capital Project Potential Phasing