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Orchestra Students Begin Peer Tutoring Program

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Orchestra students from three high schools in the Central High School District have been volunteering at a peer tutoring program.

Fifteen high schoolers work with orchestra students from Grand and Merrick Avenue middle schools twice weekly at each school.

The effort was organized by Kennedy High School junior Fiona Yeung. While tutoring elementary-aged strings students via online instruction, Yeung said she observed challenges students faced during the pandemic.

“Many ofour younger students in the community were becoming more disconnected from music," she said. "Connecting with older students will give the young kids a valuable sense and insight into their exciting musical journey."

The goal is to prepare middle school students for the upcoming NYSSMA festival. NYSSMA is an annual event where students showcase and are evaluated on their solo or small ensemble performances.

Volunteers also include Julia Cohen, Kayleigh Reardon, Daniel Lin, Jeremy Wang and Jocelyn Yeung from Kennedy, Hannah Bickom from Mepham High School and Ian Klimov, Nalani Booker and Katherine Salvatore from Calhoun High School.

Yeung’s vision of helping young musicians has become areality with the support of the district orchestra directors, Emily Kenyon of Kennedy, Michael D’Addio of Grand Avenue and KellyFriedmann of Mepham.

"This tutoring program is a wonderful example of what we constantly strive for in the BMCHSD music department; community, collaboration and enriching the community around us," said Kenyon.

“We are so proud of Fiona and all of the students who are taking the initiative to give back to their community,” added Cheryl Fontana, the district’s director of fine and performing arts. “This truly embodies the One Voice, One Message spirit that the district believes in.”

Interested students can reach out to their middle school orchestra teacher.

Date Added: 3/29/2023

Students, Staff Attend Youth Wellness Summit

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Student from across the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District attended the Nassau County Youth Wellness Summit at the district’s Brookside building on March 28.

Hosted by The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, this summit aims to promote methods and practices for wellness and mental health that can help students with problem solving, goal setting, leadership, and overall well-being.

Theana Cheliotes, a social worker at Wellington C. Mepham High School, said that the summit starts the mental health conversation.

“Many adolescents struggle to have these hard conversations, and the summit serves as a model to teach students it’s okay to talk about these things,” she explained. “By breaking the stigmatization of mental health issues and acknowledging that it is a real and valid struggle, it opens up the dialogue for teenagers to become more comfortable reaching out for help.”

Breakout sessions focused on coping skills, self-esteem, healthy relationships and effective communication.

Cheliotes served on the committee to help organize the day’s events. She also co-led a workshop with Marissa Ohriner, a Tempo school social worker at Mepham, called Through My Eyes that allows juniors to think about the way in which they perceive themselves, others and the world.

“The students were able to gain an understanding of the connection between their thoughts, perceptions, and assumptions,” Cheliotes explained. “We lead a discussion regarding how assumptions made about us from social media, peers, family and culture influence one’s perception. The students engaged in activities that demonstrated breaking free of the labels that may be placed upon them and declaring who they truly are.”

Organizations such as Nassau Guidance and Counseling, Tempo Group and South Oaks Hospital were represented during the resource fair to connect students and staff to services they can provide.

“There is a significant increase in adolescents suffering from eating disorders, substance use, anxiety and depression,” Cheliotes explained. “The ability for families to find care that they need has also been difficult.”

Schools across the county were invited to send three sophomores and three juniors, as well as two faculty members to this no cost event. The main goal of having student engagement during the Summit is to create a network of peer support to bring back to their school.

“Students are able to share the information and knowledge they have learned to serve as an advocate and peer mentor for others in hopes to increase the sense of belonging and community,” Cheliotes added.

Date Added: 3/31/2023

VIDEO: Mepham St. Baldrick’s Event Raises Nearly $68K

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The entire Bellmore-Merrick school community came together March 22 for the districtwide annual Chop Your Locks for charity event benefiting the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, hosted by Mepham High School.

This year’s event has already raised nearly $68,000 for the foundation, which supports pediatric cancer research and outreach.

“We couldn’t be prouder of the efforts of our seniors in Participation in Government to coordinate this event and to inspire their classmates and community members to come together for such an incredible cause,” said event co-organizer and social studies teacher Kerry Dennis.

Together with teacher Chris Patten, and social studies chairperson Robyn Einbinder, members of the department oversaw various details of the evening’s success. Patten also played the bagpipes with the Amity Harbor Pipes Band, of which he is a member.

Students in Jackie Geller’s Leadership classes also volunteered.

This year’s honorees included Geller’s daughter, Giuliana, and another local youth, Gabrielle Brancaccio. In district students Robert LaSpina, Carsyn Volpe of Grand Avenue Middle School and sisters Kate O’Halloran and Kristen O’Halloran of Kennedy High School were also honored.

Mepham senior Thor Bjornsson was the evening’s top fundraiser, earning $4,300 for the foundation.

Cast members from Skull and Bones’ upcoming drama production, “Grease” performed a dance number. The Bellmore-Merrick Broadcasting team, under the direction of Stu Stein, Matthew Russell and Lisa Kalish, provided live-streaming of the event. Members of the Star Wars-themed cosplay group, the 501st Legion, were also on hand.

When it came time for the head shaving, students from the district’s cosmetology program, led by instructor Jaime Pendl, operated the hair buzzers. The program is housed at Calhoun High School.

Click here to view the slideshow.


Date Added: 3/28/2023

Upcoming Drama Performances

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Date Added: 3/22/2023

Kennedy Charity Chapter Donates Prom Dresses

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After a successful donation drive, the Kennedy High School chapter of Becca’s Closet was able to distribute more than 60 prom dresses to local students in need throughout March.

Becca was a high school student in Florida who organized prom dress drives for two years before passing away in an automobile accident. Becca’s Closet chapters are now active in several states.

Junior Ava Mogelefsky, who serves as the chapter’s president, said they have collected more than 300 dresses since the start of the 2022-23 school year. Dresses were also donated to the Boerum Hill School for International Studies for the students attending their Glow Up Gala on March 24.

“I did this by reaching out to the Bellmore-Merrick communities by posting on various Facebook pages and letting people know I’d even pick up the dresses,” she explained. “I was then able to put together a committee of passionate teens to help sort and organize dresses as they came in and we will help style students as they make their dress choices.”

She utilized social media, local social services resources and guidance department advisers to help connect students in need of formal wear for upcoming dances or other events.

“Prom is a time in a teen’s life that ends one chapter and is the most exciting start of a new chapter in life,” Mogelefsky said. “I would like every young person entering that new chapter to feel beautiful and be filled with confidence no matter their body type, style or economic needs.”

Mogelefsky, who is a student in the School and Community Leadership program, used this effort as part of her leadership project.

Interested individuals can contact the Kennedy main office at 516-992-1400.

Date Added: 3/21/2023

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