Board eyes athletic placement process

Elaine Kanas

BOE Work Session: 

Wednesday, June 3 

The following topics were discussed at the Work Session

New Athletic Placement Process 

 The Board of Education once again discussed the new Athletic Placement Process (APP), a new New York State Education Department guideline to screen students to determine their physical maturity, fitness and skill level to play on high school athletic teams.  The APP has updated the rules for eligibility.

Strategic Plan

As you recall, three years ago the District embarked on a strategic planning initiative in which the East Williston School District stakeholders identified priorities for five years.  These priorities, identified in our Strategic Plan, have been used to help guide budget decisions and new programming during the last three years.  STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) was a key area identified for more emphasis and program growth.  Now finishing the second year of implementation of the Strategic Plan, Wheatley’s engineering program, our new Next Generation Science units at the elementary school, the seventh grade Magnificent Math class with its math research and exploration focus and Robotics club at Willets Road, as well as our maturing and successfully growing Science Research program, are some of the examples of how the Strategic Plan has been translated into action.  At Wednesday’s BOE Work Session, some revisions/enhancements to the Strategic Plan, e.g. intersection of our Computer Science Sequence and Project Lead the Way Engineering sequence, were shared in preparation for updating our Strategic Plan.

 College Admissions

Greg Wasserman, Director of Guidance, provided information on the college admission process this year and the schools our seniors will be attending in the fall.

 Like the BOE Monthly Business Meetings, BOE Work Sessions are always open to the public. 

Theodore Roosevelt 

Public Speaking Contest Champion

Last week I mentioned the Theodore Roosevelt Public Speaking Contest. The Theodore Roosevelt Association created Theodore Roosevelt Public Speaking Contests to challenge high school students to develop and give original five-minute speeches on TR’s life and legacy. The contests build on students’ public speaking, critical thinking and independent research skills, thereby enhancing their academic potential and scholarship, confidence, self-reliance, and leadership abilities. For more information you can go to their website at

I also told you that we were very excited that we had two students who qualified for the finals, which took place on May 28, 2015 in Oyster Bay. 

Congratulations to sophomores Jakob Gilbert and Lianna Golden who were selected to participate in this final round, competing in several cases against upperclassmen more senior than they.  Jakob had me riveted with all of the personal and professional losses TR suffered in his lifetime yet refused to let them define him.  Lianna’s speech was beautifully constructed and delivered as she revealed President Roosevelt’s use of our American coinage as a symbol of America’s growing identity and domination around the world. 

The competition was judged by an esteemed panel of judges that included a member of the Roosevelt family, Elizabeth Roosevelt.  Congratulations to Lianna Golden who won first prize!  Thank you to Wheatley social studies teacher and advisor Dr. John Staudt.

Wheatley Concert

Congratulations to our Wheatley student-musicians and music teachers Angela Luftig and Stan Orlovsky. The May 26 concert was lovely to listen to and the students did a beautiful job. The intermediate orchestra and chorus performed as well as the concert orchestra, honors string ensemble and symphonic orchestra.  

In addition to our students’ involvement with so many Wheatley programs and activities, our music program remains a big draw for our students.  Did you know that we have 261 projected students enrolled in music at Wheatley next year?

During the concert, teachers had the seniors stand and be acknowledged.  In tribute to the coherence of our music program and celebration of our music staff and our students’ commitment, almost all of the senior student-musicians started their musical careers at North Side in the fourth grade when they picked an instrument. They have been playing ever since.

Fourth Grade Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra Concert

Speaking of North Side, I once again truly enjoyed the fourth grade orchestra performances on May 27. Congratulations to Rachel May, North Side instrumental music teacher and Edward Lattari, North Side vocal music teacher, who accompanied the students on piano, and all the children who played beautifully. 

Mrs. May’s comments at the end of the concert captured some of the specialness of this community, a community that supports well-rounded opportunities for all our students…from STEM to the arts to sports to the humanities. Mrs. May said, “How fortunate for all of us that EWSD is a place where the study of the arts and music are so highly regarded and supported. We can all be proud of that effort and even prouder as we teach our students, your children, [and watch them] flourish and grow into wonderful young men and women who can appreciate the arts having experienced firsthand, the benefits of performing in a musical group.”

Wheatley Academic Awards

What a nice evening this is for our Wheatley students, staff and parents when we celebrate so many student successes in so many different areas.  There are academic awards given from each department as well as special awards in memory of important people from Wheatley’s past. At the start of the evening a program is handed out listing the order of the awards but no names!  It adds a fun element to the evening and a sense of suspense as the presenters come to the podium and one by one reveal the recipients.  When the audience exits there is a box of programs for everyone to take home that now has all of the awardee names listed.  You can access the listing of the Wheatley award winners by going to the district website at > Schools tab > The Wheatley School > Academic Awards 2015 on the left side navigation bar. 

 Wheatley PTO Teacher of the Year

One of the highlights of the Academic Awards Night at Wheatley is the naming of the Wheatley PTO Teacher of the Year.  Bonnie Brensilber, co-president of the Wheatley PTO, presented this year’s award recipient with some of the following comments …

This year’s recipient of the award is a teacher who has inspired students to do their best in the classroom. The passion for learning and teaching come through loud and clear in the classroom. This teacher has been able to approach the subject matter in a way that permits students to better understand appreciate it.

Serving at times like a motivational speaker, this teacher believes that no student is beyond help. With an enthusiasm that can be contagious, this teacher helps make believers out of students and colleagues alike. 

Overseeing a classroom that is a whirlwind of activity, this teacher engages students in their learning – leaving lasting memories. With a consistent and persistent message of believe, this teacher helps students thrive. 

Outside of the classroom, this teacher is a wonderful model for students and colleagues alike. With ongoing efforts aimed at improving instructional practice and capabilities, this teacher will continue to grow in the profession and expand our ability to reach our students.

Congratulations to Wheatley math teacher Robert Gadamowitz!

Our Staff Shares Their Expertise 

We are very proud of our staff’s expertise, which is also recognized in the broader educational community through their invitations to present. 

This week several of our staff members presented at the Teaching for Tomorrow Conference sponsored by the New York State Middle School Association held on May 27, 2015 at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue. 

Members of our staff presented 

the following workshops: 

Magnificent Math Research presented by Willets Road library media specialist Diane Ilkiw and Willets Road seventh grade math teacher Kristin Griswold:  This interdisciplinary course combines literacy and mathematics. In addition to enrichment, students are encouraged to explore a variety of mathematical concepts through research. Once a topic is selected, students are guided through the research process using Google Research and vetted resources. Using Noodle Tools, students are then able to create an annotated bibliography in order to structure a sound outline and research paper. This project culminates with the creation of a technology-based project, which is presented to teachers, parents, and fellow classmates. 

Integrating Technology Into Presentations presented by Willets Road and Wheatley educational technology specialist Audra L. Beberman, Educational Technology Specialist: Making a presentation is one way of assuring yourself that your students have mastered a given subject. But how many of us want to read a dry research paper on the same subject over and over? And…What if the art of research is what you’re trying to teach? That’s where technology can help. By using Powtoons, Prezi, ThingLink or Google Slides your students can make engaging, exciting and captivating presentations on any subject. 

Learning From Twitter presented by Dr. Danielle Gately, Director of Secondary Curriculum and Social Studies: If you are a connected educator or have not yet connected beyond the walls of your school… Join this dynamic discussion about the opportunities social media offers to build and maximize your Professional Learning Network in ways that will inspire you! Participants learned how to use Twitter, Google tools, Explain Everything, Pinterest, and a host of other digital tools to enhance their professional development, improve instruction, strengthen student engagement, and ignite their passion for learning.

Peru Update

Our 18 Wheatley students touring Peru arrived home safely on May 26 (one day later than anticipated due to plane delays). The students all appeared enthusiastic about this learning experience where they authentically practiced their Spanish-language learnings.

A tremendous thank you to East Williston Spanish teachers Isabel Simoes and Angel Rivero who chaperoned the trip, and to Foreign Language Chair Joan Anderson who coordinated communication and support stateside, each day. 

As a start, here are just some samples of the unique learning experiences the students shared on this trip:  a visit to the school, El Colegio San José de Monterrico in Lima, Peru where each student was given their own class schedule to follow; a trip to Cuzco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire and Machu Picchu.

Congratulations and Commendations 

Willets Road Students 

Compete at Math Olympiad

On May 19, 2015 Willets Road and North Side students competed in the Nassau County Math Olympiad Tournament sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).  

Students in both the Willets Road and North Side Math Clubs participate in various in-club paper competitions throughout the school year and in-club monthly Math Olympiad competitions. The Willets Road students with the top 5 cumulative scores in each grade attended the tournament.  The North Side students, who are math club members in good standing, with the top 5 cumulative scores from math club competitions and monthly Math Olympiad competitions attended the tournament as well.

The Math Olympiad competitions involve over 150,000 students from 6,000 teams worldwide, representing 49 of the 50 states and over 30 countries.

 Congratulations to fifth grader participants Charlotte Iannone, Siddhant Jain, Ian Kim, Justin Wong and Ryan Wu.  Congratulations to sixth grader participants Adam Aldad, Sarah Hassan, Victor Li, Eric Ness and Temitope Oshodi. Thank you to Willets Road sixth grade teacher/Math Club advisor Diane L. Viola. 

Congratulations to fourth grade participants Grant Callahan, Ben Casella, Ely Hahami, Dekai (Steven) Xu and Changbokai (Charles) Zhang.  Thank you to North Side math support teacher and Math Olympiad Club advisor Lisa Minerva.  

National Technical Honor Society

Congratulations to Wheatley senior Danny Schiesser who was recently inducted into the National Technical Honor Society at Nassau BOCES.

Photography Contest Winners

Congratulations to Wheatley juniors Cindy Zhou and Caroline Connolly for receiving Honorable Mentions for their photographs titled “Lily Pads” and “Wander” respectively in the Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center 2015 Photography Contest.  Over 600 photographs are reviewed by professional photographers in this annual event.  Both Cindy and Caroline are in Wheatley art teacher Julia Donovan’s Photo II class.

Girls Varsity Softball

Congratulations to the members of the Girls Varsity Softball team and their coaches Wheatley physical education teacher Christina Cambria and Willets Road social studies teacher Patrick Shanahan on a great season.  Unfortunately, their journey ended in the Nassau County championship round. 

Have a Good Weekend

As always, please email me at or call me at 333-3758 with any questions, suggestions and/or any topics you would like to see in this newsletter. Enjoy the long holiday weekend.

About the author

Elaine Kanas

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