Schedule of final budget presentations

Elaine Kanas

Budget Presentation 


The public will have an opportunity to vote on the 2015-16 budget, on May 19 from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. in the Wheatley gymnasium.  

Remaining below the allowable state property tax cap levels, the budget-to-budget increase is 1.68 percent and the levy-to-levy increase is 1.80 percent. This is the lowest budget and levy increases in more than two decades. If you want to know more about the budget, you can attend the following presentations:

• May 11 – Public Budget Hearing at 7:30 p.m. in Room 450

• May 12 – Wheatley PTO Meeting at 8 p.m. in Room 450

• May 1 – North Side PTO Meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at or by phone at 333-3758 or Robin Lufrano, Acting Assistant Superintendent for Business at or by phone at 333-1707.

National History 

Day at Cooperstown

It was an exciting day at Cooperstown for the New York State National History Day Competition.  We have been following the path of the National History Day projects at Willets Road and Wheatley and our students who have been representing the district in a few of my newsletters.

I’m happy to report that two of our competitors will be moving on to the National Tournament. 

Congratulations to junior Joy Bestourous who took first place (New York State champion) in the historical paper category for her paper, “Hassan al-Banna: The Father of Fundamentalism.”  

Congratulations as well to Jordan Pollack who took second place in the performance category, Alvin Ailey: The Leader Who Danced through History. 

Our other competitors also took home impressive awards.  

Congratulation to Krista Chen on her third place honors for the historical paper category, “Henry Dunant, The New Age of Humanitarianism.”  

Congratulations to Willets Road student Ashley Vincenzo who received third place honors for the individual website category on Jonas Salk.  Krista and Ashley will compete in Nationals if one of the first or second place winners in their category is unable to compete.

A special congratulations to all our state competitors: Alex Horowitz and Ilana Nimkoff, Junior Group Documentary on Ruby Bridges, Rebecca Zeltsman and Maggie Caraddo, Junior Group Website on Harriet Tubman, Nikki Koch, Alana Osroff, Gabriella Santoli and Cindy Zhou, documentary on Charles Davenport and the History of Eugenics.

Thank you to our teachers who accompanied our student historians, Diane Ilkiw, Patrick Shanahan, Jo Beth Roberts and Andrew Ardito.

Environmental Action

Club – Earth Fest

The Wheatley lobby and courtyard were awash  last Friday with loads of activities relating to Earth Day Awareness sponsored by the Wheatley Environmental Action Committee with presentations also taking place yesterday.  

I was participating in a literacy staff development workshop with our leveled literacy intervention teachers for the whole day in room 450 but got the chance to experience some of the great student activities during breaks and lunch.   

I will be sure to write about the Environmental Action Committee activities next week, as well as to share an update on the new literacy intervention program LLI that we implemented at Willets and Wheatley this year.   

PTO District-wide 

Grant Dinner Fundraiser

What a night! The PTO Coordinating Council and dinner committee did a fabulous job coordinating and hosting the district-wide Grant Dinner.  

The event was held at Chateau Briand where there was dinner, dancing, shopping, ice cream sundaes and great raffles and silent auctions galore. It was a really fun evening for parents and staff to get together in support of our East Williston School District children. Thank you to our PTOs for all you do and for doing it with such style! 

Art on Display

One of the special things about our district is the community support for the wide-ranging opportunities available to our students. 

These opportunities, from STEM to the humanities, from the arts to athletics, with a consistently strong interest and support of students’ social and emotional development, provide many possibilities for our students.  

Last week I wrote about the Big Band Night/Puttin’ on the Ritz where our students performed beautifully for our senior citizens and empty nesters, while our Tri–M Music Honor Society students hosted a lovely dinner for our community guests.

Before the concert our senior citizens and empty nesters were treated to a rich and in-depth student art show.   

The art show highlighted the breadth of work being done in the many art electives offered at The Wheatley School.  The exhibited artwork was created by grade eight through grade 12 students and represented work from Introduction to Art, Explorations in Traditional and Digital Art, Studio in Art, Drawing & Painting I & II, Sculpture, Photography I & II, Portfolio, Advanced Photography/Portfolio, Advanced Portfolio and AP Art: Drawing/2D Design.  

Wow!  So much fine work.  

Congratulations to our students and to our Wheatley art teachers, Julia Donovan, Nicole Girgenti and Melinda Gomez and to our North Side art teacher Robin Isaacs and Willets Road art teacher Colette Hardy and Ms. Gomez who lay the foundation for our students’ work at Wheatley.

Tenure Appointments

At April’s Board of Education monthly business meeting, one administrator, two teachers and two teaching assistants were awarded tenure amidst congratulations and appreciation for their excellent work.  

During the tenure appointments, administrators had the opportunity to share, in public, remarks regarding the candidates.  

In speaking about Dr. Danielle Gately, director of secondary curriculum and social studies, I highlighted her collaborative work with building administrators and instructional staff in supporting the fifth grade transition to an elementary model, her work supporting our secondary literacy intervention, and her support and oversight of many of our leadership team initiatives.  

Her strong communication and collaboration skills, enthusiastic commitment to supporting a culture of professional learning and her exemplary work ethic were also highlighted. 

Wheatley principal Sean Feeney shared remarks on the part of Secondary ELA Chair Stephen Collier and himself regarding Daniel Burke, Wheatley English teacher, identifying him “as a natural in the classroom who wins over his students and his colleagues” with his easy manner, his willingness to work hard and the joy he brings to everything he does.”   

Dr. Feeney went on to highlight Mr. Burke’s skill in training students to read and think clearly, express and support opinions and debate issues as well as highlighting the significant role Mr. Burke has played in the use of technology in our district. Feeney commented that Burke’s “collaborative nature, his keen sense of self-reflection and his fearlessness in the face of new ideas will ensure that he continues to play a critical role within the English department and school. 

Dr. Feeney’s remarks about Colin McKenna, Wheatley English teacher, on behalf of Mr. Collier as well, describe Mr. McKenna as running an active hands-on classroom where “students learn by doing, often working collaboratively or using computers to create, analyze and communicate.”  

As Dr. Feeney shared, Mr. McKenna’s classroom “is designed to allow students the opportunity and space to learn, think and express themselves independently.”  Dr. Feeney noted that Mr. McKenna “seems to be able to teach anything, from his rhetorical analysis of dense historical documents in AP to his lively classes on beat poetry and rap music in SWS … reinvigorating everything he has been involved in.”  He was noted as a “true educational leader who will help us continue to adapt and shape our schools as we move forward.”

Director of Pupil Personnel Services Shari Senzer described teaching assistant Susan Donofrio as a “true professional … committed to the district, approachable and upbeat with students responding to her support.” Her skillfulness in addressing the special needs of students and her overall warmth and kindness were all highlighted, as well as her positive relationships with families, in support of home-school partnerships.

Teaching assistant Ryan Proper was described by Mrs. Senzer as a “talented, highly skilled, student-centered educator who always has the best interests of the students he serves at heart … [and] striving to meet his students’ needs at all times.”  Mr. Proper was described as “consistently showing his patience, warmth and kindness … even when situations become challenging” and always able to follow his cooperating teachers’ lead in effectively instructing struggling students. 

Congratulations, Dr. Gately, Mr. Burke, Mr. McKenna, Mrs. Donofrio and Mr. Proper.

Parenting Tips

I had the pleasure of attending the jointly sponsored Roslyn/East Williston Parent University.  

Thank you to East Williston’s Director of Guidance Greg Wasserman, North Side social worker Ashley Gleeson, Wheatley guidance counselor Lauren Silverstein and district parents Nancy Williams and Jamie Cutinella and the Roslyn staff for their expertise and efforts in putting together this informative evening.  

Each participant selected two workshops from a variety of offerings.  I attended “The Stresses of Adolescence:  How to Help Your Child Cope (Grades 6-12)” and “Computers in Hand …The ABC’s of Social Media” presented by our own Director of Guidance Greg Wasserman.

Some takeaways from The Stresses of Adolescence Workshop were an illumination of the differences between the three adolescent “minds,” the emotional mind, the rational mind and the wise mind.  

The emotional mind is when reason and logic are not there, just pure emotional reaction.  The rational mind is when problems are being intellectually approached, a focused approach using knowledge.  The wise mind is the happy medium where emotion and rationality support each other in decision-making.  

Often adolescents are caught up in the emotional mind, and a parent’s goal is to help move them to the “wise mind” where they are not operating out of pure emotion.  

Also interesting was the idea that the concept of “perceived audience” has changed. In the past, students may have perceived that people were watching or judging them.  

Today, the presenters described there is less perceived than actual audience for the contemporary adolescent due to the constant presence of social media.  The workshop was presented by members of the Psychological Services Center at Long Island University – Post campus. 

Mr. Wasserman’s presentation on popular youth technology was very enlightening and I will be reaching out to him and our guidance department to periodically share some of these social media applications and programs our students are involved with, in this newsletter, in addition to the Guidance Alerts and the Guidance web and Facebook pages.

As part of his presentation, Mr. Wasserman provided Rules ‘N Tools® and Enough is Enough® from the following websites,  and  These sites have useful guides to the online behavior you may see your children use and become interested in at various ages and appropriate guidelines for you to follow at each stage. They are very informative.  

At Mr. Wasserman’s presentation I also learned that for young children there is such a thing as The Children’s Internet which offers children a safe, age-appropriate internet experience, available for a monthly fee. The Rules ‘N Tools® guide on the above-mentioned websites provides parents with appropriate information and guidelines for students up to 18 years of age.

Congratulations and Commendations 

Wheatley U.S. Presidential 

Scholar Semifinalist

Congratulations to senior Rohan Gulati who advanced in the Presidential Scholar competition.  Rohan was one of approximately 4,300 graduating seniors invited to compete in this prestigious competition. He is currently one of 565 semifinalists selected to move on.  Congrats and best of luck in the final round!

Girls Varsity Basketball Team Named Scholar Athlete Team Champs

The Girls Varsity Basketball team was honored at the Board of Education business meeting on April 27 for their New York State Championship in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Scholar-Athlete Recognition Program.  

With a cumulative GPA of 97.976, the team was named New York State Scholar Athlete Team Champions. Congratulations to the team and coach Ashley Rogala, a Wheatley math teacher!

 Wheatley Runner Commits

 to The Citadel

Congratulations to Wheatley senior Katherine Keller who recently signed a letter of commitment to Division I The Citadel to compete in their cross-country and track programs. Katie, a captain for the Wildcats, has been honored by the Nassau County Cross Country Coaches and the Nassau County Girls Track Coaches Association. She has been named All-Conference (2012, 2013, 2014), All-County-Class (2013) for Cross Country and All-Conference High Jump (2012, 2013, 2014) for Indoor Track and All-Conference High Jump (2013, 2014) and Conference Champ 4 X 800 (2014).

 Wheatley Soccer Player 

Receives More Accolades

As mentioned in an earlier newsletter, Wheatley senior Alana Leahy, captain of the girls varsity soccer team, signed a letter of intent to attend Fairfield University to play Division 1 soccer on scholarship.  

The Wheatley Girls Varsity Soccer team recently received more good news.  After completing a season in which the team won their second consecutive Nassau County Class B Championship, Alana was named to the All-County and All-State soccer team.  

A four-year starter and two year captain for the Wildcats, Alana has been honored by the Nassau County Soccer Coaches and the New York State Girls Soccer Coaches Association for her outstanding contributions to the Wheatley soccer team.  

This recognition is well deserved. Outside of the Wheatley athletic program, she is a valued member of the East Meadow Explosion soccer team, which competes in the top division of Elite Clubs National League representing her team at numerous regional and national championships.

Eight Gold Medalists 

Recognized by the National

Spanish Exam Competition

Eight Wheatley students were awarded GOLD status for their performance on this year’s National Spanish Exam. This academic competition tests skills in listening and reading comprehension, vocabulary and structure.  

This year’s gold winners include:  eighth graders Khavi Ahmed, John Scudero, Mana Shukla, Vedant Singh and Brandon Zhu; freshmen Adeel Anwar and Sana Haroon; and junior Jaclyn Stroud.  

The students’ scores placed within the top 5 percent of all students who took the exams in their respective levels. The National Spanish Exam is sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.   

The Long Island Chapter of the organization will honor these students at a special awards ceremony on May 29th at North Shore High School.

In addition to the gold winners, Wheatley students were awarded 17 silver, 17 bronze and 54 honorable mention certificates. “Attaining a medal or honorable mention for any student on the National Spanish Examinations is very prestigious,” said Kevin Cessna-Buscemi, national director of the exams, “because the exams are the largest of their kind in the United States with over 157,000 students participating in 2015.”  

Joan Anderson, chairperson of the World Language Department added, “I am grateful to the dedicated teachers who continue to encourage our students to challenge themselves beyond the classroom. Our students have proven to be very competitive in both local and national language competitions. We are very proud of their accomplishments.”

First Place in French 

Poetry Contest

Two students from Wheatley won first place in their respective categories at the annual French Poetry Contest held at The Portledge School on April 23.  

Senior Bonnie Lerman, a poetry contest participant since the 8th grade, won top honors in Level IV for her recitation of “Quand tu dors” by Jacques Prévert.  Zachary Schloss, a first-time participant in the eighth grade, also won first prize among all 8th graders in Nassau County.  Zachary chose to recite “Soleils couchants” by Paul Verlaine.  

More than 150 students from Nassau public and private schools participated in this year’s competition, sponsored by the Nassau Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French.  

Students’ recitations were evaluated on interpretation, pronunciation, intonation, memorization and poise. “I am very proud of Bonnie and Zack” stated Wheatley French teacher Jean-Francois Henley.  “To have both a senior and an eighth-grader win first prize reflects the wonderful range of talent possessed by French students in the district.  Mrs. Anderson, Chairperson of the World Language Department added, “We are all so proud that our students have met with such success in interscholastic academic competitions, year after year. 

As teachers, we know how strong our students are in our class settings, but it is so important for them, as students, to meet and compete with peers studying French in other schools.”

Willets Road Scrabble 

Team Host Tournament  

Willets Road hosted a middle school scrabble tournament with Roslyn Middle School, South Side Middle School and the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County.  Congratulations to the first place winners, Alex Horowitz and Emily Yagoda and the second place winners Ansh Jhaveri and Teddy Koutsoftas!

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.


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Elaine Kanas

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