Getting ‘Crazy’ with Hats for Udall Spirit Week

Udall crazy hat day

Students and staff at Udall recently participated in the annual Spirit Week celebration, wearing crazy hats, team jerseys, wacky outfits, patriotic colors, and blue and gold combinations.

Crazy Hat Day proved particularly creative and colorful.

Each grade level received points for participation, and at the end of Spirit Week, they competed against each other in a series of fun events, with Udall’s sixth-grade students winning this year’s competition.
Udall crazy hat day   Udall crazy hat day

A ‘Color’ful Community Collaboration

color run
Close to 900 members of the community recently participated in the first annual West Islip Health and Wellness Alliance Color Run, held at the high school. Proceeds from the event will support health and wellness initiatives as well as substance abuse prevention.

In addition to providing a fun day and a chance for the participants to give back, the Color Run is intended to help the Alliance fulfill its goals of reducing substance abuse among local youth, creating a strong collaboration within the community, and cultivating healthy attitudes and behaviors. Regular participation in wellness-oriented events has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer, and family participation can also deter children’s use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

“The Color Run was a tremendous success,” said Tim Horan, the district’s director of health, physical education, athletics, recreation, and family and consumer science. “Children, parents and families had a blast, and the smiles on their faces were priceless. We are already looking forward to next year’s Color Run.”
color run   color run

Girls Soccer Team Named League Champs

Varsity Girls Soccer

The high school’s varsity girls soccer team won the 2017 League IV championship, finishing with an outstanding 14-2-2 record for the season.

Seeded fourth, West Islip shut out Newfield, 1-0, in the first round of the Suffolk AA playoffs before falling to Half Hollow Hills in the quarterfinals.

The Stars Come out for Community Planetarium Show

Planetarium ShowPlaentariumThe high school’s science department hosted a Community Planetarium Show on Oct. 26, giving the approximately 60 children and adults in attendance a chance to learn more about night sky via a presentation by earth science and astronomy teacher Thomas Vitti.

The event was held in the high school's planetarium, which has been in operation since the 1960s. Vitti began the evening with a video that gave the audience an insight into our place in the universe. He then used the Starball projector to take everyone on a tour of West Islip’s night sky. A fan of “Clash of the Titans,” Vitti showed how the zodiac constellations relate to the story of Perseus, while pointing out various important stars, galaxies and nebulae that were also visible.

“Tom’s planning and preparation was the reason for the night’s success,” said Brian Taylor, the district’s director of science and engineering technology. “His star show showcased his passion and personality.”
Luckily, the weather cooperated and Vitti and his audience concluded the night in the parking lot as he identified some of the objects in the night sky that were shown in the planetarium.

Lions Win Divisional Football Title

Lions Football

The high school’s varsity football Lions, guided by head coach Steve Mileti, won the Section XI Divisional Championship for the second year in a row.

“Congratulations to Coach Mileti, his staff and the team for this remarkable accomplishment,” said Athletic Director Tim Horan.

Boys Golfers Capture Second Consecutive League Title

WI Golf

The high school varsity boys' golf team captured the League IV championship for the second consecutive year, winning the Oct. 18 league tournament held at Cherry Creek golf course.

All six starters –Will Fix, Nick Johnson, Joe Peters, Marty Racanelli, Matt Russo and Joe Tammaro – earned All-League honors.

Fast Freshmen Earn Title

Girls Cross CountryT
he high school’s girls’ cross-country freshman runners – Alexa Boniberger, Gia Genna, Jenna Ostrove, Taylor Reilly-Dixon and Joey Vilardi – raced to victory on Oct. 28, earning the League III freshman championship at Sunken Meadow.

Bellew’s Zany ‘Trunk or Treat’

BellewThe Bellew PTA recently sponsored a “Trunk or Treat” event, held in the school’s parking lot.

More than 75 cars were decorated for Halloween, accompanied by dancing, a DJ and lots of treats.

Scarecrows for STEM at Oquenock

Oquenock StemIn an autumnal STEM challenge, third-graders at Oquenock were tasked with designing and building scarecrows by using recycled materials in the STEM lab.

The successful scarecrow designs had to stand on their own and be at least 24 inches tall, and were required to be weather- and wind-proof.

The Fabulous 15 AP Scholars

AP ScholarsA total of 15 high school students from the Class of 2018 – Brielle Arnold, Samantha Barasch, Gregory Bove, Kevin Cassidy, Rebecca Dean, Nickolas De Dios, Jake Dieli, Melodi Dognaey, Alexander Forte, Luke Harris, James Loeffler, Frank Pace, Nicole Sammartano, Angelo Spiratos and Abigail Weintz – were recently recognized as AP Scholars for 2017.

The seniors all received award certificates from the College Board.

AP courses are graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with a score of 3 or above qualifying high school students for college course credit at some schools.

Ten for Tennis at High School

HS TennisTen varsity tennis players from the high school qualified for and competed in the Division II tennis tournament held at East Islip High School on Oct. 6.

The oustanding athletes were Courtney Flynn, Isabella Fortunato, Brooke Geiger, Michelle Kurkela, Rosa Lettieri, Maya Marino, Alexandra Michaluk, Miranda Paterno, Leanna Paulsen and Marion Wegener.


Seniors Help Guatemala with Common Hope 

HS Common HopeThis past summer, a dozen students – all now seniors – from the high school participated with teachers Noreen Matthews an Bob Weiss in the school’s seventh annual service trip to Guatemala with Common Hope. Eric Besanceney, Krista Ciccarelli, Mary Connolly, Alexa DePaola, Melodi Doganay, Mark Gellar, Holly Hohorst, Michelle Kurkela, Jack Magee, Tricia Mueller, Grace Schaefer and Abby Weintz raised more than $8,000 as a team for Common Hope.

The Minnesota-based Common Hope sends teams of volunteers to Guatemala to build houses for families in need. According to Matthews, Common Hope promotes education by supporting Guatemalan families and encouraging parents to keep their kids in school. Most students in Guatemala are forced to end their education at sixth grade due to financial responsibilities.

“While in country, we built a one-room house for a family of six,” said Matthews. “We also visited a school and participated in cultural exchange activities like teaching dancing and painting lessons to the local teens.”
The 12 students were honored at a recent Board of Education meeting.

Making Monsters at Oquenock

Making Monsters at Oquenock

Looking ahead to Halloween, fifth-graders at Oquenock recently created painted monsters, using straws to blow the paint into monster shapes.

The students then named and wrote stories about their monster creations.

The Science of Bubbles at Beach Street

Students at Beach Street recently explored the science of bubbles, conducting labs to practice the steps of the scientific method to determine which dish soap makes the largest bubbles.
  The Science of Bubbles at Beach Street The Science of Bubbles at Beach Street

Elementary Schools Emphasize Kindness

kindness countsKindness is on the calendar at Bellew and Manetuck, with every Monday designated as a “Got Kindness?” day to help emphasize the importance of treating others with kindness.

Bellew began the ongoing Monday initiative, in which students and staff wear blue shirts as a sign of unity. The school also kicked off a 21-day Kindness Challenge in October, encouraging students to complete at least three random acts of kindness a day. Calendars were provided to students to record their deeds, and “kindness coins” were put in circulation at the school, given to anyone who is spotted being kind or showing compassion. If a student receives a coin, they are encouraged to “pay it forward” and pass it on.

“One kindergarten student told me that he did a ‘happy dance’ for his friends to make them smile,” said Bellew Principal Rhonda Pratt. “Without a doubt, our world needs a continuous dose of kindness and our students are the right medicine.”

Bellew’s initiative inspired Manetuck Principal Dawn Morrison, and the latter school likewise began dressing in orange shirts for “Got Kindness?” Mondays. Manetuck kicked off its colorful campaign with a “Cultivate Kindness” assembly where students learned about the importance of spreading kindness.
kindness counts kindness counts kindness counts

Manetuck Third-Graders Design for the Drop

Third-graders at Manetuck recently visited the school’s STEM lab for an experiment in building parachutes.
“The objective was to design parachutes that would transport a payload of one metal washer to the target – the floor – from approximately two meters up in the air with the slowest rate possible,” said teacher Justine Ferrar.
Manetuck Parachute Manetuck Parachute Manetuck Parachute
The young engineers spent one day in the lab designing the parachutes, using materials such as string, plastic grocery bags, paper, aluminum foil and masking tape, then returned to the lab the following day to construct and test the parachutes.

HS Student-Musicians Earn All-State, All-County Honors

HS MusciainsEleven high school student-musicians were selected by the New York State School Music Association to perform on Dec. 2-3 at the annual All-State Music Conference in Rochester, NY, a prestigious event featuring the finest musicians from across New York State. This was a record number of All-State honorees for West Islip.

The juniors and seniors chosen were Gregory Bove and Joseph Hudson for the All-State Symphonic Band; George Lee for the All-State Symphony Orchestra; Lisa Esposito, Lauren Leonardi and Molly Perrone for the All-State Treble Chorus; Joseph Gusmano for the All-State Vocal Jazz Ensemble; and Jake Dieli, Matthew Falkenmayer, Erik Kier and Jefferson Xu as alternates.

Additionally, 18 students were chosen to participate in All-County band, chorus and orchestra ensembles in the annual New York State Council of Administrators of Music Education All-County concert, to be held on Nov. 17 at Hauppauge High School. Students were selected by NYSCAME from the best musicians of Suffolk County, based upon their NYSSMA solo evaluations.

HS MusiciansThe All-County selections were: Bove and Evan Trommer for All-County Band; Hudson, Kier, Lee, David Mahany, Stephen Malinowski, Alec Vogel and Xu for All-County Orchestra; and Erin Bevan, Mackenzie Bornmiller, Esposito, Falkenmayer, Shae Krucher, Leonardi, Perrone, Anthony Venezia and CJ Zito for All-County Chorus.

“Bravo to all our outstanding musicians,” said Eric Albinder, the director of art and music education.

Beach Street Spirit Dance Celebrates Sixth-Graders’ First Month

Beach Spirit

Sixth-graders at Beach Street enjoyed a Spirit Dance on Oct. 6, celebrating the students’ first month of middle school and serving to increase school spirit.

Udall Artist Chosen for Permanent NYSSBA Display

Udall Artist
Cassidy Scheben, a sixth-grader at Udall, was selected to have her artwork “Birch Trees” permanently displayed at the New York State School Boards Association headquarters in Latham, New York.

Scheben was one of only three students selected by NYSSBA from the Art Teachers Association student art exhibit showcasing the talent & creativity of New York’s public school students.

A Community Full of Pride Enjoys Homecoming

The West Islip school community came together on Oct. 7 for a perfect day of pride and parading, fun and football.
The celebrations kicked off with an early afternoon parade, led by the high school’s marching band. Mr. and Miss West Islip couldn’t be missed, waving to the crowd from their red Ford convertible. Jake Dieli was homecoming king to Lisa Esposito’s homecoming queen; Allison Roberts and Anthony Dimino were the runners up this year.
In the banner competition, the seniors came out on top with an apropos “Lion King” theme. In second place were the freshmen, with a “Frozen” creation. The sophomores and their “Peter Pan”-themed banner finished third. Rounding out the colorful competition was the juniors’ “Finding Nemo” effort.
West Islip’s undefeated varsity Lions came out roaring as the homecoming football game began, and didn’t let up through four quarters, clawing Deer Park’s Falcons by a commanding 38-0 shutout score. Quarterback Mike LaDonna had a big day, completing 70 percent of his passes and running for 97 yards. Dominic Sagginario scored on a 63-yard run, Joey Rota racked up 61 rushing yards rushing and a TD, while Matt Moynihan had a gritty performance, finishing with 14 tackles and a sack.
Led by drum major Dieli, the school’s marching band performed at halftime along with the color guard team and cheerleaders.
“This was a great day in West Islip, and a great week at West Islip High School,” said Dr. Anthony Bridgeman, the school’s principal. “We have a great school and community. A school full of pride!”
Homecoming   Homecoming
Homecoming   Homecoming
Homecoming   Homecoming

The Wonders of Water

HS Water
Students in high school biology teacher Christine Mulroy’s class were so excited about what they were learning during a
demonstration of the properties of water that they took photos to share with their families.

Manetuck Dons Pink for Citizenship

Students at Manetuck wore pink to kick off their recent exploration of the character education program trait of citizenship.
Manetuck Dons Pink for Citizenship Manetuck Dons Pink for Citizenship

Bayview Honors Heroes with Operation Goodie Bag 

In honor of Sept. 11, Justin DeMaio’s class at Bayview conducted Operation Goodie Bag. Each student wrote two letters and decorated two bags, which they also filled with candy. The bags were later distributed to friends and family members who are part of a police department, fire department, nursing or the armed forces.

“We chose these people because they are true heroes,” said DeMaio. “We never want to forget the people who lost their lives on that dreadful day in 2001 and we want to make sure that anyone who helps others is in fact worthy of hero status.”
 Bayview Honors Heroes with Operation Goodie Bag  

National Merit Honors for Two West Islip Students

National Merit Honors for Two West Islip Students National Merit Honors for Two West Islip StudentsHigh school senior Melodi Doganay, an exceptional student, was recently named a National Merit Semifinalist in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

She was recognized in a Sept. 13 announcement for her excellent test results in the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, where she competed in an initial screening against more than 1.4 million students from over 22,000 high schools. Doganay will continue to compete for the finalist level to earn one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth approximately $33 million, which will be offered next spring by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which has held this prestigious academic scholarship competition since 1955.

Another outstanding West Islip senior, Julianna Moses, was named a Commended Student by the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program.
“Both Melodi and Julianna are very hard-working and driven students both in terms of academics as well as in character,” said West Islip’s principal, Dr. Anthony Bridgeman.

Manetuck Students Show Patriotism on Sept. 11

Students at Manetuck dressed patriotically on Sept. 11, wearing red, white and blue and displaying the American flag in honor of Patriot Day and the lives lost on 9/11.

Gielarowski Named Assistant Principal at High School

Craig GielarowskiCraig Gielarowski has been named the new assistant principal at the high school.

Prior to coming to West Islip, Gielarowski worked for 12 years in New York City Department of Education as dean of students, curriculum coordinator and science teacher, winning numerous educational awards. While balancing career, family, and school, he also dedicated 17 years of service as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician.

A Long Island native and Levittown resident, Gielarowski attended Nassau Community College, where he earned an associate degree in criminal justice. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in adolescent education in biology at Long Island University. After teaching for several years in New York City, he attended the College of Saint Rose, where he earned an additional master’s degree in educational leadership.

“As the new assistant principal of West Islip High School, it is my sincere pleasure to become a member of this wonderful school community,” said Gielarowski. “West Islip enjoys a rich history of academic and cultural excellence that is the result of a collegial partnership between the school staff and parents who provide a diversity of experiences for the students. During my first weeks in the district, I have indeed experienced this commitment to excellence in education through the establishment of an academic, vocational and social environment in which all children can learn and succeed. I am truly honored to be appointed to this position and am looking forward to working with the dedicated staff and community to provide the best possible educational program for our students.”

All About Apples at Oquenock

Apples at Oquenock

Michelle Quigley’s third-grade class at Oquenock created a picture graph after tasting four different kinds of apples in the school’s STEM lab.

The class read a story about the five-pointed star hidden inside each apple, completed the apple tasting and made the graph showing their favorite apples.

They finished the lesson with apple math problems and wrote sentences using their five senses to describe the different apples.

Excitement in the Air at West Islip’s First Day of School

Students across the district arrived at their schools on Sept. 5 for a welcoming new year full of educational growth and friendship. It was a memorable first day for all, from the high school, to Beach Street and Udall, to the four elementary schools: Bayview, Manetuck, Oquenock and Bellew.

“We are off to a great start at PJB and there is a lot of excitement in the air,” said Bellew Principal Rhonda Pratt.

“Our students and staff returned for the 2017-2018 school year energized and refreshed for the learning experiences ahead,” added Manetuck Principal Dawn Morrison.

A Joyful Morning of Sun and Celebration for the Class of 2017

Shrugging off early morning rain, the high school’s Class of 2017 marched into the Lions football stadium on June 24 under sunny skies and the proud gaze of hundreds of family members and friends.

“The word that captures the essence of this class is empathy,” said Dr. Anthony Bridgeman, the high school's principal, praising the students’ character. Following his words of encouragement were memorable speeches by valedictorian Madeleine Gaffney and salutatorian Jack Duffy.

“Today serves as the first necessary building block in the construction of our lives outside of this school and this town,” said Gaffney. “This may be a difficult goodbye, but this is just the beginning. There’s so much out there, and now we are forced but prepared to face it. Keep an open mind to new ideas, but always remember where you came from, for we will always be Lions for life.”

“You must never forget what got you to where you stand now,” said Duffy. “Every day we wake up as slightly different people, from the cells in our bodies to our minds gaining experience. We always change little by little, making progress continuously in the moment, and that’s OK. Change is good, you gotta keep moving forward. Just remember all the people you used to be, and never forget the Lions den that started it all.”
Superintendent Bernadette Burns urged the new graduates to be kind and considerate.

“Go from this West Islip High School and do great things as good people,” she said. “Make good choices, for they will define who you are.”
In his speech to the graduates, Board of Education President Steven Gellar suggested that they be both be themselves and never settle for less.
“Being true to yourself and putting forth your best effort are an essential foundation for a life well-lived,” he said.

After diplomas were conferred, the new alumni sent their blue and white caps soaring and headed off to an afternoon of celebration.