E.W. schools cheer sports achievements

Elaine Kanas

Girls Varsity Volleyball Champs!

The rainy and dreary Tuesday afternoon could not dampen the spirits of all the East Williston students and community members who cheered on our Girls Varsity Volleyball team at the County Championships at SUNY Old Westbury.  It was a great match to watch.  We were all excited to see our girls win the Nassau Country Class C Volleyball Championship.  Now, our team will compete for the Long Island Championship against Mattituck High School on Saturday, November 14. Go Wildcats!!

Congratulations to team members, seniors Lindsay LoBocchiaro, Sarah Graffigna, Olivia Suppa, Alexa Kamberg, Cara Mattioli, Shannon McLean, Marisa Rios, Samantha Cumming and Morgan Tursi; juniors Nirel Gidanian, Kayla Bellan, Raffaela Palmieri, Kathryn Feil and Sabrina Cangemi; and sophomores Jessica Hastings and Jamie Ryan. Congratulations to their coaches, varsity coach Tom Greeley and JV coach Julia Donovan.

Girls Varsity Soccer Nassau Class B Co-Champions!

Congratulations to the Girls Varsity Soccer team, the Nassau County Class B Co-Champions!

The following are the team members: Crystal Barroca, Kayla Barroca, Rachel Bergsohn, Adena Bernot (captain), Tiffany Bernot, Rebecca Besada, Joy Bestourous, Krista Chen,    Alana Conroy, Lisa DiFiore, Nicole Hetzel, Gretchen Keller, Rebecca Khorsandi, Stephanie Klar, Allison LaMonica, Jessie LoBocchiaro, Brianna O’Brien, Samantha Palazzola, Samantha Rothstein, Sydney Silverman, Micki Wain and Hannah Woodward. Congratulations, as well, to varsity coach Paul Paino and JV coach Michelle Santoro.

Cross Country Runners Compete at States

Nine of our student-athletes departed for the New York State Cross Country Championship meet at Monroe-Woodbury High School. These students qualified for this state competition as a result of last week’s county championships in Bethpage.

On Saturday, November 14, 2015 the Wheatley runners will compete against the top runners from across New York State! Good luck to the runners, and thanks to Coach Dan Walsh for his support of the athletes!

The runners participating are: Devin Brancato, Zach Calabrese, Liam Coffey, Lexi Dafgard, Alexa Georgeton, Allie Giordano, Mike Koszalka, Chloe Lanese and Emily Scheisser.

Fall Sports Awards Program

This was a very busy week for our Athletics program.  Lots of news!  On Monday evening I was excited to watch the Fall Sports Awards program.  So many students and teams were highlighted and honored.  I want to list them all!  I will be sharing details in next week’s newsletter.

Reminder – Coffee with the Superintendent – Monday, Nov. 23.

Join me for a Coffee with the Superintendent which will be held twice on Monday, Nov. 23. Once in the morning at 10 a.m. and again in the evening at 7:00 p.m.. Come with your questions, concerns or suggestions or just to say hello.

Internet Safety

Many of you may have read or heard about recent student sexting incidences at the Kings Park and Smithtown School Districts.  On Thursday, you received a Guidance Alert from our Director of Guidance Greg Wasserman regarding resources to help parents talk to children about internet safety, including the dangers of sexting.  As part of our ongoing technology and digital citizenship curriculum, students learn about safe internet behavior. We will periodically share with you sites, as below, where you can access guidelines and supporting materials that can help you reinforce these important concepts at home.  You will find resources to help you talk with your children at https://www.netsmartz.org/Sexting and https://safesmartsocial.com/app-guide-parents-teachers/.

Learning the World of Work

As part of Wheatley’s Special Education Life Skills Program, our young adults are learning necessary vocational skills to successfully enter the work world.  Students receive vocational training as part of their IEP (Individualized Educational Program). They travel to two jobsites a week, for part of the day. On Fridays the class engages in work–related learning right here at school, including such activities as running our School Store and other work within all departments throughout the building.

At the November 4, 2015 Board of Education Work Session, a student, Sara, spoke beautiful words of thanks on behalf of herself and her fellow students and teachers, in recognition of Hicks Nursery and their support of our Life Skills class.  Hicks Nursery has provided vocational work opportunities for our students during the summer months. Sara’s presentation to Karen Hicks Courts, Director of Human Resources at Hicks Nursery, who accepted the plaque of recognition, ended with “Thank you for the experience and for helping us learn and grow in our community.“

If you own a business on the North Shore and would like to provide opportunities for our Life Skills students, please contact Director of Pupil Personnel Services Shari Senzer at senzers@ewsdonline.org.  All students come with their own district job coaches.

Moody’s Rating

As you may have come across in last week’s Williston Times, Moody’s has reaffirmed our district rating of Aa1 regarding our financial position and outlook.   This rating is required as the district undergoes the process of refunded debt related to the original 2001 bonds. This refunding will save the district $311K over the next five years. 

Board of Education 

Advisory Committees

The Board of Education has various citizen advisory committees that “utilize the talents, resources and interests available among residents to assist in developing the programs needed for the maintenance of a quality educational program in the schools of the district.” Board Policy 2260 – Citizens’ Advisory Committees.  At the November Board of Education Work Session, Board members reviewed Committee charges and guidelines.  They will continue that discussion during the School Board Report and Discussion at the Nov. 16 Monthly Business Meeting.


Educational Advisory Committee Meeting

One of these BOE Advisory Committees is the Educational Advisory Committee.  The EAC met most recently on Oct. 21. EAC members include:  parents, Sharon Piscopia (Chair), Barbara Creamer, Sarah Mizrahi, Claudia Cafarelli, Yeine Mohebban, Tasneem Meghji and Rich Sun, staff members James Bloomgarden, Meryl Fordin and me, BOE member David Keefe, community member and retired teacher, Ellen Holzman and students Melissa Farhangian and Chintan Datt and BOE liaison Robert Fallarino, Esq.  

During this meeting we received an update regarding the Multicultural Initiative, a discussion regarding standards for measuring success and plans made for a review of the Foreign Language program including further opportunities in foreign language for special education students, before budget recommendations are made to the Board for consideration. For a copy of the minutes go to our district website at www.ewsdonline.org > scroll down left side navigation bar to District Committee Minutes 15-16 > click on EAC Committee minutes.

Is your Flag Flying?!

As part of the Educational Advisory Committee’s Multicultural Initiative you can see the Flags of the East Williston School District project by going to the home page of the district website at www.ewsdonline.org. So far, these are the flags of the countries that we know are represented in the school district from the survey results received last year. If you did not answer the survey and/or if you do not see the flag from your country of origin ‘flying’ on the website, email checklas@ewsdonline.org so we can unfurl your flag of ancestry as well!

Multicultural Steering Committee Minutes

The Multicultural Steering Committee met last week to make plans for this year’s events.  Last year, when the large multi-cultural fair was cancelled due to a scheduling conflict with a Town of North Hempstead program, the Committee had recommended that instead of a large event, in its place we would have two multi-cultural dinners to bring the adult members of the community together to learn more about each other’s cultures, increasing our understanding and appreciation of the diversity within our community and the value it brings to our students and us.  The committee has moved forward with plans for two multi-cultural dinners.  Mark your calendars!  Lunar New Year Dinner to take place on Thursday, February 11, 2016 highlighting Asian culture and Indian Spring Festival Celebration on April 5, 2016.

Among the topics discussed at the meeting were ways to build interest and publicity about the upcoming dinners so that community members and parents from many different cultures will participate in these two dinners.  A discussion was had regarding staff participation to heighten awareness about the customs of the various cultures within the community as well as to encourage sensitivity to holiday observances and timing of academic demands (e.g. assignments, tests, etc.)  Ideas for icebreakers were discussed and the role of Wheatley students in helping to organize and facilitate the event were thought about.  Ideas included enhancing the experience with cultural artifacts (e.g. statues, vases, anything that has cultural significance) from the home, as well as dance and clothing and home videos of wedding and/or special holiday celebrations and brief student presentations for the adults attending to provide cultural insight.

For a complete set of the minutes go to the district website at www.ewsdonline.org > scroll down the left side navigation bar to District Committee Minutes 15-16 > click on the Multicultural Event Steering Committee minutes.

Committee members include: Chair of the Committee and World Languages Chairperson Joan Anderson, Bachir and Zahra Al-Okla, Karen Bartscherer, Joy Bestorous, Susan Checkla, Krista Chen, Aileen Chowdhury, Jessica Chu, Barbara Creamer, Alexandra Dafgard, Chintan Datt, Melissa Farhangian, Meryl Fordin, Lianna Golden, Arihant Jain, Priti Jain, Andrew Jin, Dr. Elaine Kanas, Gretchen Keller, Erica Kim, Jane Kim, Tina Leong, Janice Luu, Qin Ma, Samrah Mitha, Sharon Piscopia, Jordan Pollack, Lavanya Reddy, Tanuja Reddy, Keval Shah, Neha Shah, Isabel Simoes, Nick Vazquez and Sara Zulfiqar

Dr. Gately Presents

Dr. Danielle Gately presented on Saturday, Nov.14, at the Molloy College Conference, “For Us By Us, Teaching with Technology in the Digital Age.”

Follow-up to SEPC Fall Event

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, the EWSD Special Education Parent Council hosted an evening roundtable discussion/presentation titled “How to Quell Parental Anxiety to Raise More Healthy, Strong, and Resilient Children.”  

This presentation was led by a guest speaker, Melissa Jennings, LCSW-R.  Ms. Jennings is the founder and director of Jennings Counseling Services, a group psychotherapy practice located in Williston Park.  Assistant Director of Pupil Personnel Services Tom Sposato shares that Ms. Jennings spoke about the five main tenets of mindful parenting.  

These tenets include making space for just being every day, mindfully managing your stress, embracing the model of the “good enough” parent, honoring your children’s sovereignty and cultivating kindness and compassion.  As part of mindfully managing your stress, whether for the adult or child, Ms. Jennings used the acronym S.T.O.P. to help guide us through a stressful situation.  

This stands for stopping or pausing, taking a breath, observing your breath and surroundings and proceeding with action that is now more specific and appropriate for the situation you are in.  Ms. Jennings also demonstrated several relaxation techniques with the group, including bee breathing, snake breathing, and abdominal breathing.  

As with all relaxation techniques, the importance is rehearsal so that during a stressful moment, these techniques are more intuitive and easier to perform.  Bee breathing involves breathing in normally, a deep breath, then making a humming or buzzing sound like a bee upon exhale.  

Snake breathing is a similar process, however upon exhale, an “ssssss” sound like a snake is produced.  Abdominal breathing is placing one hand over your heart and the other over your abdomen, breathing in and out slowly, and noticing the rise and fall of your chest.  These techniques are performed until the stress/anxiety level has reduced.  These basic, simple, and practical techniques can be used in our everyday lives, for both ourselves, staff and students.  On behalf of SEPC, we thank Ms. Jennings for her contribution to our community. 

Tenure Awarded to Joanna Schrager

Congratulations to Joanna Schrager who received tenure as a teaching assistant at the Board of Education Special Meeting before the Work Session on Nov. 4.  

Ms. Schrager will be recognized and honored along with the other candidates who receive tenure during the 2015-16 school year at the April 18, 2016 Board of Education Monthly Business Meeting.  

Currently Ms. Schrager is working with the Wheatley technology staff and students.  She is assisting teachers with the use of technology, procuring supplies, managing the Google management console, troubleshooting technology issues and helping students effectively use technology. She played an instrumental role in the planning of the successful STEAM Fair this year.  Prior to her current year at Wheatley, Ms. Schrager worked at North Side alongside instructional technologist Rochelle Sroka, working in the K-2 computer classroom and assisting and collaborating with Mrs. Sroka. Congratulations! 

National Honor Society Induction Ceremony

Wheatley’s Chapter of the National Honor Society held its induction ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 12 and welcomed 79 new members into its ranks.  Students inducted in the National Honor Society have met the requirements of the organization’s four pillars: Scholarship, Leadership, Character and Service. In a wonderful ceremony organized by Wheatley’s NHS advisor Allison Chanin-Bermudez, current National Honor Society officers spoke about each pillar of the society. Samantha Leong, NHS Secretary, spoke about Scholarship, Jordan Pollack, NHS President, spoke about Leadership, Amanda Sivin, NHS Vice President, spoke about Character and Luke Cuomo, NHS Treasurer, spoke about Service.

Additionally, the evening included a moving keynote address by Jennie Fortunoff, a member of the Board of Directors of the Lustgarten Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for pancreatic cancer. Finally, the Honors String Ensemble, under the direction of Angela Luftig, performed for all.

Officers Samantha Palazzolo and Andrew Schloss called up the inductees to receive their certificate and lapel pin.

Congratulations to the following inductees: Reuben Alexander, Maya Alfia, Sanjay Allahdad, Isabella Araujo, Ariana Arralde, Claire Baker, Benjamin Barnett, Carly Brensilber, Stephanie Buchheim, Zachary Calabrese, Noah Cassar, Yat Hei Cheng, Aileen Chowdhury, Alana Conroy, Katie Conte, Matthew Cristina, Laura D’Angelo, Olivia DeLay, Antonio Deodato, Joseph Dinetz, Kathryn Feil, Eric Fox, Lauren Frantz, Nirel Gidanian, Jakob Gilbert, Lianna Golden, Samuel Goldman, Jack Goldman, Zachary Groveman, Sahaj Gulati, Jenna Gursky, Brittany Haber, Abdullah Hassan, Samantha Hurtado, Andrew Hyon, Arvin Jadonath, Steven John, Jolie Katz, Arashpreet Kaur, Gretchen Keller, Rebecca Khorsandi, Jane Kim, Ashley Kim, Jacob Klee, Rachel Koty, Nirav Kumar, Allison LaMonica, Diana Lee, Ashley Lessen, Lauren Levine, Allison Levy, Theodore Lewis, Michelle Lin, Antonio Liparoto, Gil Lotzky, Stephen McCleary, James McPhillips, Alexa Mizhiritsky, Julia Mongelluzzo, Lindsay Mosca, Dylan Nektalov, Darren Novel, Jax Nussbaum, Brianna O’Brien, Raffaela Palmieri, Ashley Pannullo, Sumu Pitchayan, Austin Pomerantz, Taylor Ribotsky, Naomi Schlesinger, Justin Spar, Jennifer Spar, George Tsakonas, Micki Wain, Joshua Wolff, Jeffrey Wu, Angela Yang, Kevin Yi and Sara Zulfiqar.

Congratulations to our 2015 inductees!

Virtual Backpack Flyer Update

Just a reminder: Please check the VB periodically for the latest postings. (On the district homepage, www.ewsdonline.org > scroll down left side vertical navigation bar to Virtual Backpack > click on VB.)

The following is a listing of the new flyers posted on the VB this week:

•The 12th Annual Conference on Best Practices in the Education of Children with Down Syndrome

Have a Good Weekend

As always, please email me at kanase@ewsdonline.org or call me at 333-3758 with any questions, suggestions and/or any topics you would like to see in this newsletter.

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Elaine Kanas

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