Udall Boasts Three No. 1 Debaters

Udall Boasts Three No. 1 DebatersDedicated debaters at Udall have continued their dominance in the National Current Events League.

After the first meet, the school’s eighth grade team was ranked No. 2 in the nation, with two students tied for No. 1, Colin Delaney and Christopher Frase.

Additionally, seventh-grader Vincent Prevete was also ranked No. 1 nationally.

High Schoolers Research Micrometeorites

High Schoolers Research MicrometeoritesAs part of Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Educational Outreach Program, students in school districts across Long Island – including the high school’s Madison Esposito and Aidan Pecorale – conducted collaborative research on micrometeorites with Brookhaven lead scientists Paul Northrup, Aleida Perez, Vivian Stojanoff and Juergen Thieme.

Students collected potential micrometeorite samples and analyzed them using two beamlines – the Submicron Resolution X-ray Spectroscopy, or SRX, and Tender-Energy X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy, or TES – at Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source II. These instruments are focused on x-ray absorption and x-ray fluorescence, imaging and spectroscopy. The SRX beamline was utilized to generate maps depicting heavy elemental distribution, while the TES beamline was used to identify light elemental distribution within each sample.

The students later presented a poster of some of their preliminary findings at the Synchrotron Environmental Science Symposium, hosted by Brookhaven National Laboratory. Esposito and Pecorale were officially among the co-authors of a resulting article, “X-ray Fluorescence and Absorption Analysis of Micrometeorite Composition,” recently published in “Meteor Trails”, a journal of the American Meteor Society.

“Our students are getting the opportunity to use instruments and techniques that many scientists work their whole careers to use for this purpose,” said Brian Taylor, West Islip’s director of science and engineering technology. “Thanks to our science teacher Mary Kroll and her tireless efforts in creating partnerships such as these with the world-class research institutions here on Long Island.”

Beach Street Student-Artists Display Their ‘Colors’

Beach Street Student-Artists Display Their ‘Colors’Artwork by Beach Street students Marina Lankford and Faith Whalen was chosen for display at the 20th annual Colors of Long Island student art exhibit, held from Feb. 23 through April 18 at Stony Brook’s Long Island Museum.

This annual student art exhibition provides an opportunity for K-12 students from across Long Island to show their artwork in a museum setting. The students, their families and teachers will attend a reception at the museum on April 18 to celebrate their accomplishment.

“We are thrilled to have Faith and Marina represent Beach Street at this prestigious event,” said West Islip Director of Art and Music Eric Albinder.

Oquenock First-Graders Explore Moon and Meteors

Oquenock First-Graders Explore Moon and MeteorsFirst-graders at Oquenock recently learned about the effects of meteors on the surface of the moon by dropping different sizes of marbles from different heights onto a moon surface model in the STEM lab.

Fifteen West Islip Musicians Enjoy a Day of Horn

Fifteen West Islip Musicians Enjoy a Day of HornFifteen outstanding music students from Bayview, Bellew, Manetuck, Oquenock, Beach Street and Udall participated in the 13th annual Suffolk County Music Educators Association Day of Horn, held at Northport High School in January.

The students enjoyed an afternoon of rehearsals, clinics and interactions with guest artists followed by an evening concert featuring a massed horn ensemble of hundreds of musicians.

High School Artists Look to Place Among ‘Long Island’s Best’

High School Artists Look to Place Among ‘Long Island’s Best’Art students from the high school recently visited the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington to participate in the 22nd annual “Long Island’s Best:
Young Artists at the Heckscher Museum” program. The school has produced several previous winners of the competition, including Best in Show designations.

This prestigious arts-in-education initiative is the only juried exhibition on Long Island that offers high school students the opportunity to exhibit their art in a museum setting. Approximately 80 works of art in various media will be selected and prizes will be awarded at a reception taking place in the spring.

Student Ensembles Perform for SEPTA Fair

A host of 80 harmonious high school students descended on the Bay Shore Barnes & Noble in December to provide holiday performances for the SEPTA Family Holiday Fair. The musical ensembles included a choir, string ensemble and brass choir.
Student Ensembles Perform for SEPTA Fair Student Ensembles Perform for SEPTA Fair
Student Ensembles Perform for SEPTA Fair

A Winter Wonderland of Miniature Golf at Bayview

Bayview physical education teachers George Botsch, Nick Grieco and Vanessa Lillis transformed their gymnasium into a “Winter Wonderland” miniature golf course, giving students the opportunity to practice their golf skills while celebrating the season.
A Winter Wonderland of Miniature Golf at Bayview A Winter Wonderland of Miniature Golf at Bayview

West Islip Boys Finish First in Winter Track

West Islip Boys Finish First in Winter TrackWest Islip Boys Finish First in Winter TrackThe high school’s varsity boys winter track team won the League 3 championship held on Jan. 20 at Suffolk Community College.

In individual contests, senior and co-captain Greg Bove finished first in the triple jump; Bove and fellow senior and co-captain Desmond Benton finished in second and third place, respectively, in the 600-meter run; senior and co-captain Kevin Cassidy tied for third place in high jump; senior and co-captain Peter DeMicco finished first in the 1,000-meter run; sophomore Andrew Paules earned first place in both the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs; and the 4x800-meter relay team of Benton, Bove, DeMicco and Paules earned first in their event.

“Under the guidance of coaches Anthony Yuli and Jim Dooley, the athletes continue to improve every day and saved their best performances for the league championship,” said Athletic Director Tim Horan. “Congratulations to the team on this outstanding accomplishment.”

Udall Students Pioneer New Tech with Google Expedition

Udall Students Pioneer New Tech with Google Expedition  Students and teachers at Udall Road recently interacted with the Google Expedition Augmented Reality Pioneer Program, which uses Google Tango technology to effectively scan and map the physical classroom and accurately project 3D models throughout it. The students then used specialized devices and positional tracking to walk around the objects and view them from any angle.

Select teachers in all three grade levels at Udall participated in the Pioneer Program and viewed images from probability and the phases of the moon to historic Pompeii and the human circulatory system. In one class, the students got an up-close look at the ventricles of a beating heart; in another, students viewed a 360-degree Roman Colosseum as well as armor and a chariot used in warfare.

At the conclusion of the lessons, the students and teachers provided direct feedback to the Google Expeditions Program representative on how the application can further enhance the learning process.

“This technology allows teachers not only further engage with their students, but lets the students interact and share experiences as they do,” said Principal Daniel Marquardt.
 Udall Students Pioneer New Tech with Google Expedition  Udall Students Pioneer New Tech with Google Expedition   

Band Director Presents at SCMEA Symposium

Band director presents at SCMEA SymposiumThe district’s newest music educator, Avery Yurman, recently gave a presentation, “Demystifying Double Reeds,” at a Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association symposium.

This conference took place at Commack Middle School with over 300 music educators present.

Yurman is currently serving as band director at Manetuck and Oquenock.

Guercio and Lettieri Win Suffolk Zone Awards

Guercio and Lettieri Win Suffolk Zone AwardsHigh school seniors Jake Guercio and Rosa Lettieri were recognized as this year’s winners at the 2017-2018 Suffolk Zone Awards dinner, held on Dec. 6 at the Hyatt Regency Long Island in Hauppauge.

The Suffolk Zone awards are presented annually by the Suffolk Zone Chapter of the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance to the top male and female physical education students in each Suffolk County high school’s graduating class.

Guercio is the captain of the varsity football and baseball teams, where he has led West Islip to multiple championships. He has selflessly volunteered as a youth football coach and has been active in ALS fundraisers. In the fall, Guercio will attend Fordham University on a baseball scholarship.

Lettieri is captain of her tennis team and regularly volunteers as a tennis coach. She is an active member of the Thirst Project and has volunteered over 100 hours of her time towards community-based events. Lettieri is considering pursuing an education degree at St. Joseph’s College.

“Rosa and Jake exemplify exceptional athletic performance and exceptional character,” said Athletic Director Tim Horan.

West Islip HEARTT Students Hold Career Fair 

West Islip HEARTT Students Hold Career FairWest Islip HEARTT Students Hold Career FairThe West Islip High School Students with HEARTT group recently organized and held its first career fair open to the entire school building, assisted by HEARTT founder Virginia Scudder and career counselor Ryan Vollmuth.

The school’s students had the opportunity to meet individuals from many fields, including New York State Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino, Suffolk County police officer Richard Park, Long Island Cares representative Hillary Hess and WBAB radio employees.

Beach Street’s Brandenstein Wins American Legion Art Contest

Beach Street’s Brandenstein Wins American Legion Art Contest

Mia Brandenstein, an eighth-grader at Beach Street, was named the winner of the Festival of Lights program cover contest, sponsored annually for 42 years by American Legion Post 1738. She was honored at the Dec. 3 event.

“I was incredibly impressed with all of the beautiful artwork submitted, but Mia’s was spectacular,” said Festival of Lights Committee chairman Kevin Crumlish.

Crane Music Faculty Pay Enriching Visit to High School

Crane Music Faculty Pay Enriching Visit to High School

The Potsdam Brass Quintet, an acclaimed faculty ensemble from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, recently visited the high school, giving a special performance for approximately 350 music students, followed by a question-and-answer session.

A few weeks later, two professors from Crane’s string faculty presented a short recital followed by a collaboration with the West Islip High School Chamber Orchestra that included a rehearsal and master class.

Oquenock Celebrates Cultural Pride at International Week

Oquenock Celebrates Cultural Pride at International WeekOquenock recently celebrated International Week, with students, teachers and staff recognizing various cultures.

English language learners at each grade level participated in a variety of projects reflecting their backgrounds, and students, teachers, and staff members wore attire or shirts related to their cultural heritages.

“This special International Week opportunity allowed many students to make connections with teachers, and it also opened up conversations about culture and commonalities among students, teachers and staff members,” said Oquenock ENL teacher Vanessa Daige. “It also allowed our ELLs to showcase their cultural heritages and allow them to be prideful of their cultural backgrounds.”

West Islip Winter Track Stars Rip Up Records

West Islip High School senior Greg Bove broke the school’s winter indoor track triple jump record with a jump of 42 feet, 8.25 inchesWest Islip High School student-athletes Julianna Moses, Klaire Klemens, Christine Delianne and Shannon Horan broke the school’s previous winter track 4x400-meter record at the Marine Corps Invitational at the New York City Armory. West Islip High School’s winter track athletes have been on a tear, ripping up school records with spectacular performances.

Senior Greg Bove recently broke the school’s winter indoor track triple jump record with a jump of 42 feet, 8.25 inches, a jump almost a foot greater than the previous record.

Meanwhile, with a time of 4:20.64, runners Christine Delianne, Shannon Horan, Klaire Klemens and Julianna Moses smashed the school’s previous winter track 4x400-meter record of 4:22.57 at the Marine Corps Invitational at the New York City Armory.

Udall Jazz Band Offers Smooth Solos for Sunrise Seniors

Guided by the school’s band director, Lu Ann Peskanov, West Islip students in the Udall Road Middle School Jazz Band presented a Dec. 21 holiday concert for the residents of the Sunrise of West Babylon assisted living facility. The talented young musicians, ranging in age from 12-14, smoothly demonstrated superior skill on their instruments and even took improvised solos, to the delight of the senior citizens in attendance.

Bellew Students Provide Hurricane Help for Texas and Florida

Students at West Islip’s Paul J. Bellew Elementary School recently lent a hand to help hurricane victims in Texas and Florida, collecting donations of toiletries, cleaning products and non-perishable food items for Island Harvest to transport to families in need.

West Islip Brings the Numbers to Day of Tuba

tuba dayStudents from five of West Islip’s schools – Bayview, Beach Street, Manetuck, Udall and the high school – participated in the Suffolk County Music Educators Association’s 37th annual Day of Tuba and Euphonium, held in November at Smithtown High School East.

West Islip’s contingent was the largest of any district at the event, which featured several hundred students from across the county gathering for rehearsals, clinics and an evening performance.

Pajamas Provide Books in Bayview Donation Drive


Several students in Justin DeMaio’s classroom at Bayview recently participated in Scholastic’s Pajama Drive.

For each pair of pajamas donated to the initiative, Scholastic in turn donates books to children who have none, and gives the pajamas to local organizations that help people in need.

Only Victories for Junior Varsity

hs jv football

The high school’s junior varsity football team, guided by coaches Phil Kane and Frank Riviezzo, ended another successful season while remaining undefeated.

Oquenock First-Graders Use Science to Celebrate the Holidays

First-graders in Tammy Dragelin’s class at Oquenock mixed,
measured and shaped holiday ornaments in the school’s STEM lab.

A Day for Teachers to Focus on Technology


During the district’s Dec. 8 Superintendent’s Conference Day, secondary teachers engaged in professional development activities that focused on the district’s technology initiative, while elementary teachers held parent-teacher conferences.

Bayview Students Bring Happiness with Operation Christmas Child


Justin DeMaio’s classroom at Bayview participated in Operation Christmas Child again this winter, bringing in shoeboxes filled with basic supplies, toiletries and toys for overseas shipment to needy boys and girls, just in time for the holiday.

“This effort brings so much happiness to children who do not have some of the things we take for granted,” said DeMaio.

Bellone Provides Civics Lesson for Udall’s Current Events Club

BelloneSuffolk County Executive Steve Bellone recently visited with students in Udall’s Current Events Club to discuss how local and regional government functions.

During the event, which included a question-and-answer session, Bellone also talked about the importance of civic responsibility for young people, how students can become active in their communities and how aspiring politicians can pursue their dreams.

A Skill-Building Win for West Islip’s Robotics Team

roboticsCompeting against 23 other high school teams from across Long Island in a exhibition tournament at Half Hollow Hills High School West in Dix Hills, the West Islip robotics team formed part of a winning alliance and took first place.
Each fall, West Islip’s team competes with the previous year’s robot, which serves as a way for returning members to hone their skills and enjoy one last hurrah with the robot before beginning a new build season in January. This preseason competition also allowed new members of the team to prepare for the primary March tournament held at Hofstra University.

“As always, I am very proud of the hard work and dedication by the team leaders, technical mentors and parent mentors for the robotics team,” said Brian Buonomo, West Islip’s lead teacher for engineering technology. “It is a tremendous undertaking. Building a robot and winning are only a small part of what our students gain from this experience.”

Peanut Butter and Jelly Gang Strikes Again

The high school’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Gang struck again, succeeding in their annual holiday initiative to help feed New York City’s homeless.
Stemming from the ranks of the school’s West Islip Students with HEARTT community group, the students made, bagged and handed out 450 peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunches this November to appreciative hungry and homeless persons in need. Led by group founder Virginia Scudder, the HEARTT students were assisted in making the lunches by LI Ninjitsu Center instructor Shihan Allie and his students.

Referencing Rockets at Beach Street

Andrea Miller’s class at Beach Street recently worked on a rocket design project.

The students used virtual reference sources to research the best designs for fins, nose cones, and the rocket body sections, then created a name for their company.

After they collaborated to choose the best designs, they produced a slide show with an explanation of their choices.

Once the slide show was complete and the designs created, they made and launched actual rockets. After the launch, the class assessed the designs.

Udall’s Council Shows Caring in Donating Food to the Needy

The student council members of West Islip’s Udall Road Middle School completed their annual food drive by collecting food items and donating them to needy families in the community.

The students devoted their time to stay after school and pack the boxes for the families so that they were ready for delivery prior to Thanksgiving.

Six West Islip Junior Commissioners Keep It Clean with KIC

Keep it CleanHigh school students Gregory Bove, James Landhauser, Samantha Landhauser, Thomas Landhauser, Edward Smith and Samantha Soevyn were recently inducted as Keep Islip Clean Junior Commissioners at a Brookwood Hall ceremony.

Bellew’s Gratitude Chains Symbolize Thankfulness

Bellew GratitudeDuring the month of November, students at Bellew spent time writing expressions of gratitude. Classroom teachers were asked to select one student from each class to present their writing at Bellew’s fourth annual Gratitude assembly, held on the day before Thanksgiving. Students invited a special person or family member to attend and hear them read. The special guests were seated in the front rows and were presented with a flower after each student had spoken.

The assembly concluded with the connecting of the gratitude chain. Every Bellew student completed a paper link and wrote down what they were thankful for. The classroom chains were then connected at the end of the assembly to symbolize thankfulness for the people and opportunities the students have in their lives.

“The Gratitude assembly brings our school community together and gets to the heart of what our students are thankful for,” said Principal Rhonda Pratt.

Bellew Gratitude Bellew Gratitude

Gymnasts Succeed As Both Team and Individuals

Gymnasts Succeed As Both Team and Individuals

West Islip’s varsity girls gymnastics team finished sixth in the Suffolk County team championships, held on Nov. 7 at Smithtown East High School.

Additionally, five members of the team – Averie Alessi, Kimberly Arena, Emily McGrade, Delaney Rivera, and Alyssa Woltmann – qualified for and competed in the Section XI individual county championships on Nov. 9 at Hauppauge High School.
hs Varsity gymnastics   Gymnasts Succeed As Both Team and Individuals

Vocal Motion Provides Uplifting Pink Flags Performance

Vocal MotionProviding emotional and sonic uplift, the Vocal Motion group from the high school recently performed at the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition’s Pink Flags of October ceremony to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

With a backdrop of hundreds of flags flying on the front lawn of Good Samaritan Hospital, the group of talented juniors and seniors, led by choral director Christina Dimitriou, captivated the audience with versions of “New Beginnings” and “The Power of One.”

Beach Street’s Stehlik a Third-Time Composing Winner

Sophia StehlikThe remarkable composing skills of Sophia Stehlik, a sixth-grader at Beach Street, were honored by the New York State School Music Association for the third consecutive year.

Her original musical composition “The Haunted Mansion” will be featured at NYSSMA’s 22nd annual Electronic Music Composition Showcase at their Winter Conference, held in December in Rochester.

Stehlik previously won EMCS recognition, while a student at Bellew, in 2016 for “Avalanche” and in 2015 for “The Circus Train.” For the latter, she was the youngest student to ever receive this honor.

Oquenock Students Share a Special Thanksgiving Feast

Oquenock Thanksgiving

A mighty Thanksgiving feast was shared by first- and fifth-grade pilgrims and Native Americans at Oquenock on Nov. 21, including turkey with all the trimmings.

Walsh Named as Director of Intervention Services

Michelle WalshThe district has named Michelle Walsh as director of intervention services. In this role, she will support in the implementation of several districtwide programs, with responsibilities including the response to intervention process, homebound instruction, ENL services, and reading and math intervention. She will also supervise several departments in the district and provide professional support to new teachers.

Walsh, a Garden City resident, worked for the last two years as intervention services coordinator for West Islip. She was previously employed by the Jericho School District as a special educator, reading specialist and elementary classroom teacher. She began her career in public and private schools in New York City.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from SUNY Oswego, and master’s degrees in reading and special education as well as an advanced degree in school administration from Queens College. Walsh is currently a first-year doctoral student at Hofstra University’s learning and teaching program.

“As a parent and educator, I understand the impact that schools and the bigger society can have on the development of a child,” said Walsh. “Thus, I strive every day to create meaningful districtwide and schoolwide supports that help children and families reach success

Presentations at Middle Schools Focus on Bullying 

Sponsored by the Women of West Islip organization, motivational speaker John Halligan visited Beach Street and Udall Road middle schools during October, presenting his assembly program “Ryan’s Story” to students.

The presentation, centering on the tragic death of Halligan’s son, seeks to prevent bullying, cyber bullying and suicide.


Magnifying Matter at Manetuck

ManetuckFifth-graders at Manetuck recently used microscopes to magnify matter and make more detailed observations in the school’s lab.

These young scientists tried to determine through various observations which of several substances – baking soda, citric acid, sugar, salt and plaster of Paris – was the material that was found at the scene of the crime in their mystery matter booklets.

Robotics Team and Fall Festival at Sagtikos Manor: an Unlikely Alliance

In an unlikely but successful pairing of modern and historic, the high school’s robotics team recently volunteered at the colonial-themed Fall Festival at Sagtikos Manor. Participating were John Barrett, Machlin Fellman, Tyler Foran, Hunter Hallahan, Alex Holder, Jack Langhorn, Jake Maresca, Frank Pace, Thomas Parson, Aiden Pecorale, Joe Perrone, Nicholas Rodriguez, Andrew Spiratos and Angelo Spiratos.

As the event began on the great lawn of Sagtikos Manor, the bucolic setting revealed the bright blue shirts of the robotics team interspersed among old-time artisans such as quilters, broom-makers and metalsmiths.

 Prior to the weekend, team members had helped bring tables up from the basement and dig holes to install lawn ornaments, and that morning, the students had arrived early to set up tables, stands and the pumpkin patch and ready the grounds for the festival. Once it began, they did a variety of tasks including manning tables and instructing attending children on how to milk the resident cow, Buttercup.
“It was an unexpected alliance,” said parent and team mentor Kathleen Barrett. “The Fall Festival showcases life during the 1700s, and the robotics team develops award-winning technology. Together, they combined to provide an appreciation of the past with some help from our future.”

West Islip Hosts 16 Gymnastics Teams for Invitational

HS GymnasticsThe high school varsity gymnastics team welcomed the Suffolk County Coaches Association Invitational on Nov. 4, marking the eighth consecutive year West Islip has hosted the tournament.

This year, 16 Suffolk districts teamed up to raise $2,800 for the Diabetes Foundation.

“Congratulations to head coach Karyn Storan, her staff and the West Islip gymnasts for coordinating another successful event,” said Athletic Director Tim Horan.

Bellew Celebrates Top-Notch New Auditorium

Bellew AuditoriumBellew AuditoriumFor the grand opening of a new auditorium, Bellew recently held a celebration that included a ribbon cutting ceremony as well as performances by Bellew’s chorus, orchestra and band.

With the support of West Islip’s school community, work on the new auditorium was part of the district’s 2015 capital project bond referendum. It was coordinated by James Bosse, director of buildings and grounds.

Billy DeWitt, a fourth-grader in Bellew’s Leadership Club, wrote an expression of thanks – complimenting the auditorium's new "velvet-like seats, architecture and shiny walls” – and presented it on stage to Superintendent Bernadette Burns, Board of Education President Steve Gellar and Vice President Annmarie LaRosa and the entire student body. At the ceremony’s conclusion, students brought out handmade letter signs spelling out “Thank You.”

“We are very fortunate to be a part of a school district that recognizes the importance of providing students with top-notch facilities,” said Principal Rhonda Pratt.

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.