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July 2017

Science Research Students Advance to International Competition Three Commack High School students, Charity, Abbigayle, and Raphael, represented Commack on the world stage in Los Angeles, California, at the International Science and Engineering Fair. These students earned prestigious Intel Division Grand Awards at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair in March, qualifying them for the international competition with students from around the globe. Charity took 1st Place in Animal Sciences for her project, “Manipulation Odor Driven Behavior in Fruit Flies (Drosophila melanogaster).” Her research involved exposing genetically modified fruit flies to various light and odor conditions, with possible human applications. Charity also won the US Air Force Award at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair (LISEF). Abbigayle's “A Study in Westward Recurving Tropical Cyclone Tracks in the Atlantic” earned 1st Place in Environmental and Earth Sciences. Westward recurving storms in the Atlantic Ocean, such as Hurricane Sandy, have damaging consequences, and Abby studied storm tracks

with an eye towards improving forecasting. Abby also won a Ying Scholar Award, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award, an Association for American Geoscientists Award, and an American Meteorological Society Award at LISEF. Raphael studied “The Effects of Nitazoxanide on Chaperone/Usher Pathway Assembled Virulence Factors in Gram-negative Bacteria,” and won 1st Place in Microbiology. Raphael investigated transport across the outer bacteria cell membrane. In addition to his first place title, Raphael also earned a US Air Force Award at LISEF, and a Ying Scholar Award. “Our science research program continues to excel," stated Dr. Alison Offerman-Celentano, Director of Science. "Our teachers provide opportunities for students to follow their passions through original research, where they learn 21st century skills

that will benefit them for a lifetime, and are so proud of their dignity and poise as they represented our school district in California.” Raphael earned a 3rd Place award, and Abby received a 4th Place award in the ISEF competition! Congratulations to our exceptional students and to our talented teachers, who are instrumental in cultivating our students' successes: Mr. Richard Kurtz, Dr. Lorraine Solomon, Ms. Jeanette Collette, Ms. Andrea Beatty, Dr. Daniel Kramer, and Ms. Stephanie O'Brien.


Commack High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Candidates celebrated two years of intensive studies with a ceremony that highlighted their accomplishments. The 114 seniors completed coursework at the most challenging academic level, which has resulted in them acquiring the critical thinking, research, and

writing skills necessary to succeed in college and career. The ceremony featured student speeches and performances showcasing their diverse abilities and expansive knowledge in various subject areas. Any student may decide to pursue the IB Diploma Program given in grades 11 and 12, or may take individual IB courses as up-

perclassmen. Commack High School also offers an array of other college-level classes such as Advanced Placement, Project Lead The Way engineering and computer science classes, and other courses associated with colleges and universities. Congratulations to the IB Diploma Class of 2017!

Commack High School’s Top Cohort Group The seniors in the individual photos on this page and the following pages have achieved and maintained weighted averages in excess of 100%. Each member of the A++ cohort will be attending a four-year college or university next year, and many of these students have received full or partial scholarships. These students have taken full advantage of the rich course offerings available at Commack High School including International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP), and college level classes. Many of these students have already accumulated college credits, and as a whole, they are well-prepared to succeed at the post-secondary level.

Zack Abrams Columbia University

Madison Abreu

Jung Soo Ahn

Marlie Allen

Garrett Altman

Brandon Axelrod

American University

Carnegie Mellon University

University of Maryland

Cornell University

Binghamton University

Alaina Belrose

Rayna Berris

Michael Bischoff

Julia Bracco

Paul Bucki

Binghamton University

University of Michigan

University of Florida

Binghamton University

SUNY College at Geneseo

Neena Bui

Nicholas Bunnell

Alexander Burke

Justin Chassin

Gabrielle Cooper

Binghamton University

Binghamton University

Northwestern University

Drexel University 2

Binghamton University

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Jordan Cooper

Abbigayle Cuomo

Gabriel Cutrone

Isabella Daquita

Cristina de la Prida

University of Chicago

Stony Brook University

Northeastern University

Rochester Institute of Technology

Boston College

Lauren DePietri

Julie Donohue

Olivia Dubi

Jessica Fecht

Matthew Fisher

Northeastern University

Drexel University

University of Miami

North Carolina State University

Fordham Universityy

Commack High School’s Top Cohort Group

Maximilian Ghessi

Alyssa Haber

Taylor Hallacy

Jessica Hastings

Lindsay Hohenberg

Ohio State University

Ithaca College

University of Delaware

College of the Holy Cross

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Jamie Kanzler

Alexa Karadenes

Nicholas LaJoie

Anthony LaSala

Samantha Lemza

North Carolina State University

University of Connecticut

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University

Ithaca College

Michael Mackay

Joshua Mann

Tara McCaffrey

Paul McDonough

Amanda McNelis

Stony Brook University

Cornell University

University of Pennsylvania

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Villanova University

Sarah Mellon

Jamey Meotti

Olivia Messina

Kyle Mitra

Paul Mokotoff

SUNY College at Cortland

Binghamton University

Quinnipiac University

Duke University

Syracuse University

Commack High School’s Top Cohort Group

Kristen Monten

Colleen Morley

Stephanie Neitlich

Megan Padgett

Kelly Page

Middlebury College

Miami University, Oxford

University of Delaware

University of Miami

University of Michigan

Anthony Pantaleo

Lauren Parrinello

Louis Pfundstein

Jack Pihlkar

Michael Pont

Stony Brook University

Adelphi University

New York University

Columbia University

Lehigh University

Dua Raza

Julia Regino

Jordan Rothstein

Jason Salerno

Jennifer Sciacca

Cornell University

Quinnipiac University

University of Connecticut

Vassar College

Villanova University

Genevieve Seifert

Lauren Sharpe

Sydney Sirota

Maeve Smart

Chelsea Strickland

New York University

Binghamton University

Stony Brook University

Northeastern University

Indiana University at Bloomington

Commack High School’s Top Cohort Group

Amy Uthup

Ana Vieytez

Jeremy Vlacancich

Emily Weinstein

University of South Carolina

Hofstra University

Amherst College

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Stony Brook University

Robert Windsor

Michelle Wolk

Matthew Wu

Peter Yu

Morgan Zweibel

University of Southern California

University of Michigan

University of Hartford

Justin Tollin

George Washington University

George Washington University

Fond Wishes to Retiring Board of Ed Member After nineteen years serving this community on the Commack Board of Education, Mary Jo Masciello did not seek reelection this May. Mary Jo was a BOE member since 1998 and led the Board as President for 13 years. A former teacher and dedicated Commack PTA member and officer, Mary Jo and her husband raised four children, all Commack graduates. Her focus was always on doing what was best for this community and its children and to provide our students with an excellent learning experience. During her many years on the Board of Education, Mary Jo received many awards, including the SCOPE award for Board of Education service. In November of 2010 Mary Jo was the recipient of two prestigious awards from the New York State School Boards Association: the Master of Boardsmanship Award, and the Leadership in Governance Award. Mrs. Masciello was honored for “the extensive time, effort, and commitment required of board members who strive continually to expand their knowledge of education and their skill in school district governance.” She has spent countless hours focusing on academic development and advancement, attending many school functions, concentrating on school district business matters, and weighing the fiscal needs of the community and schools. She is an avid fan of our students, and a fixture at sporting events, concerts, and most

Mary Jo Masciello Board of Education Trustee 1998-2017 Thank you for 19 Years of Dedicated Service to the Children of Commack

other school gatherings. She has also earned accolades and highest honors from the PTA, including a New York State Distinguished Service Award. Old and new friends alike attended a reception in Mary Jo’s honor and celebrated her tenure at the June Board of Ed meeting, although this remarkable lady is not fond of being the center of attention. Through the combined efforts of six gifted high school art students, coordinated by art teachers Frank Musto

and Rob Raeihle, and Brenda Lentsch, Public Relations Director, a modern day recreation of the photo on the cover of the 100 Years of Commack book was dedicated to Mrs. Masciello. The fixture was hung in the Board Meeting room at the Hubbs Administration Building. In the photo above, Mrs. Masciello with five of the six student artists, from left to right: Andrianna, Ashley, Alexandria, Olivia, Danielle, and Kayleigh (not pictured).

Lunar Landing Project First in the Nation...and Beyond The science research team of Karen, Delina, and Pragati took first place in the Exploration of the Moon and Asteroids by Secondary Students (ExMASS) Competition, and are invited to present their research at the NASA Lunar Exploration Science Forum 2017 in July. Their research project “Mapping Possible Locations for Lunar Ice Mining Using Topographic, Economic, and Elemental Data,” determined feasible locations to mine lunar H2O ice. “It was observed that the highest concentrations of hydrogen and oxygen were located at the lunar poles. Seven appropriate areas were pinpointed between the North and South Poles on the moon, and determined to be the most feasible to mine.” They gathered data from lunar missions, mapped the data using ArcGIS software, and did a cost/benefit analysis of the type of rocket and landing area to determine the best location to mine lunar ice. Lunar ice mining could potentially support both future deep-space travel and a 6

scientific lunar base. Liquid O- and H- is commonly used for rocket propellant. Launching a rocket from the moon would use only 1/6th of the energy as launching from earth, and both energy and costs could be saved due to a fuel source already located on the moon. In addition, the H2O ice could be used as a coolant or to create breathable oxygen for a scientific lunar base that supports human life.” The students were assisted by research The Commack Courier

mentors Dr. Tabb C. Prissel from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University, and Dr. Jennifer Whitten from the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. “This team of sophomores has conducted research that brings us one step closer to deep space travel and to a potential solution to the challenges of lunar colonization. Karen, Delina and Pragati successfully approached this challenge from multiple angles, collaborating with professional scientists to carry out an authentic study with real-world (or ‘other-world’) applications. Our research program, under the direction of Mr. Richard Kurtz, continues to produce innovative projects that allow our Commack students to shine,” shared Director of Science, Dr. Alison Offerman-Celentano. In photo, from left to right: Dr. Offerman-Celentano, Pragati, Delina, Karen, and High School Principal Leslie Boritz.

What a great year we’ve had! I’m so proud of the accomplishments of our fabulous students, teachers, administrators, and support staff. They have reached for the stars, and succeeded beyond expectations! Mrs. Masciello and Dr. James Aside from the national and international awards reflected in these pages, our students earned recognition for their accomplishments in every subject area and in music, art, engineering, and world languages. Our numerous clubs and honor societies embarked on humanitarian efforts on behalf of individuals, community groups, our servicemen and women, our veterans, and the hungry and those in need here and abroad. The generosity of our Commack families is surpassed only by their empathy and positive actions. As we bid a fond farewell to Mary Jo Masciello and our retiring staff members, we look to the future and welcome new Board of Education members and staff. Working together to ensure access and opportunity for all students is our main goal, as well as their safety and well-being. I thank you and our Commack PTAs for supporting our school budget process. Our aim is to continue to expand subject and enrichment offerings, to keep class sizes low, and to provide the top-notch education that the Commack Schools are known for. Our advocacy efforts to increase funding and to reduce the over-testing of our children will continue until the correct balance is achieved. Wishing you and your family a peaceful and safe summer. Sincerely,

Dr. Donald James Free Summer Lunch Program Children who qualify for free lunch during the school year can participate in the Summer Food Service Program. Meals will be provided to all eligible children free of charge. For Income Eligibility Guidelines and program locations, please go to the Lunch page on the Commack Website.

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL Wednesday, September 6, 2017 Back to School Packets & the 2017-18 School Calendar will be posted on the website!

BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING Wednesday, August 9, 2017 Hubbs Administration Center 7:00 p.m.

COMMUNITY EVENTS Check out our Community Events page for summer fun activities and camps for kids

Breakfast Program Waiver Consistent with past years, the Commack Union Free School District has applied for a waiver of the school breakfast program. This waiver was requested after a poll of primary, intermediate, and middle school parents determined that the large majority of families would not avail themselves of a breakfast program. Interested parties may address comments or suggestions to the attention of Laura A. Newman, Assistant Superintendent for Business, PO Box 150, Commack, NY 11725. In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form(link is external), (AD-3027) found online at: is external), and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email: sends e-mail). This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

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Burr Students 2017 Flame Challenge Burr Intermediate School was one of ten schools from around the world chosen to participate in the 2017 Worldwide Flame Challenge Assembly hosted by actor Alan Alda. What is energy? Students in Mr. Hand and Mrs. Rosner’s fifth grade classes were asked to judge how renowned scientists answered that question. The hour-long live webcast included student representatives being questioned by Mr. Alda and reporting on how they judged a particular explanation of energy. Mr. Alda did not disappoint the adults in

attendance, and was personable, engaging, and funny as he spoke directly to each student. Students from Burr’s fifth grade National Science League were on hand as well and participated in voting for their favorite entry. This was the first time Burr was involved in the Worldwide Assembly. The program is in its fifth year, sponsored by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, located at Stony Brook University. In photo, Anna and Lilah are interviewed by Mr. Alda.

From Classrooms to Rainforests!

Book Tasting Reservations Only

In photo above, Rolling Hills teacher Karin Gerges and her first grade students transformed their classroom into a mini Amazon rainforest and performed a play based on the book, The Great Kapok Tree, by Lynne Cherry. The story teaches us an important lesson about how we all must take care of our earth’s precious natural resources. In photo below, first graders also learned about the animals and plant life found in the different layers of tropical rain forests. Then the children created their very own blue morpho butterflies.


It was reservations only when teachers at Burr dressed as waitresses and offered “book tastings” to their fifth grade students. Each student read a book of his/her choice and completed a placemat consisting of an illustration, summary, and recommendation. On the day of the Book Tasting, all students reported to the Book Café, a classroom decorated with table cloths, candles, placemats and table numbers. Each student was assigned to a dining table in which to taste the books. Teachers Christine Levine, Cindy Zambito, and Patricia Barabino, served

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the books to the students at each table. The students sampled books and recorded a brief response including thoughts about the book, the author’s hook, and a rating. Each student then shared a bit about the book to the other diners at the table, possibly interesting other students in the book. Many students shared that they were surprised that they liked books they wouldn’t have necessarily chosen, and enjoyed this unique way to get a feel for what they would like to read. Enjoy your summer and grab a bite to read!

READING GARDEN DEDICATED at WOOD PARK Second grade Little Leaders cut the ribbon in celebration of the official opening of the Wood Park Reading Garden.

With picnic tables, benches, colorful murals, plants, and pavers, the Reading Garden is fast becoming a favorite spot for classroom and recreation activities.

The dedication included a musical performance led by Mrs. Klug and the Little Leaders.

Commack Welcomes New Elementary Curriculum Associate The Commack family welcomes Sari Goldberg as the Curriculum Associate for Elementary Education. Sari is a graduate of New York University, with two graduate degrees from Hofstra and the College of St. Rose. She holds certifications in many educational areas, from Early Childhood and Special Education to School District Leadership. She is a Sari Goldberg reading specialist, fluent in the many techniques and programs that promote reading skills and comprehension for all students. “As we continue our work with the math and English Language Arts programs, making them more developmentally appropriate, Sari’s expertise in these areas will benefit all of our elementary children by providing support to our teachers as they engage in this process,” said Superintendent Donald James. Most recently, Sari served as the district-wide Response to Intervention Coordinator in the Locust Valley School District. She and her family live in Babylon, and Sari is “thrilled and honored to join the Commack School District family. I am looking forward to working with the students, families and educators of the Commack community to continue the tradition of “Excellence in Education” that the school district is well known for.”

Smile! Through dedication and unwavering vision, the Wood Park Site Based Management Team was able to bring all members of the Commack Community together to create a wonderful outdoor learning area for Wood Park students. The reading garden was dedicated in memory of former reading teacher, Mrs. Donna Duval, who passed away from cancer in 2007. “The creation of the Wood Park Reading Garden has truly been a team effort,” said Principal Michelle Collison. “Planning began in the fall of 2013, and four years later, the dream has become a reality.“ Many thanks go to: Commack Facilities and Maintenance

personnel, Wood Park’s current and past PTA executive board members, past and present Site Based Management Team members, Mr. Longstreet and the Home Depot team, as well as all members of the Old Castle Paving company. Donna’s son and daughter, Steven and Lauren, as well as administration, staff, PTA, parents, and students were there for the official ribbon cuttting ceremony. Retired North Ridge first grade teacher, Chris Flynn, also spoke about Donna’s dedication and love of children and reading. A memorial stone will be placed under the red maple that was donated in memory of Donna. The Commack Courier

Students in Mrs. Ammirato’s third grade class at Burr Intermediate School participated in the annual Suffolk County Dental Health contest. The contest encouraged the class to discuss proper dental hygiene and how important it is to our overall health. Roan won first prize with the placemat he created that reminds us to brush twice a day for two minutes. Roan was honored at an awards presentation at the Radisson Hotel in Hauppauge and won a $25 gift certificate and a Smart electric toothbrush. This contest gave the whole class something to SMILE about! 9

Solar Flares: Trouble for Earth Commack Middle School eighth grader Chapin took First Place Highest Honors in the New York State Science Congress for his project, “Is there a correlation between coronal mass ejections originating from the sun’s surface and the solar sunspot cyclic waxing and waning?” Chapin’s project focused on one of our closest neighbors, the Sun. Although it is 93 million miles away, activity on our nearest star can have consequences here on Earth. The Sun’s temperature varies on an 11-year cycle, cycling from a quieter period to a more turbulent solar maximum. Sunspots

sometimes erupt into very powerful solar storms which can interact with Earth’s magnetic field and cause problems such as power grid disruptions or even putting satellites in orbit out of service. Chapin’s project is of profound importance because the more we are able to predict these violent solar outbursts, the better prepared we can be to deal with any potential issues that may result. Chapin received a $400 check for his project, and plans on continuing his science research into this topic and many others when he attends Commack High School in the fall.

In photo, congratulating Chapin on his amazing accomplishment are, from left to right: teacher/mentors Sean Mahoney and Jamie Handler, Director of Science Dr. Alison Offerman-Celentano, Director of Math Barbara Gerson, and Commack Middle School Principal Anthony Davidson.

Attorney General’s Triple C Award Winner The Attorney General's Triple “C” Awards Program is a tradition which recognizes the "Character, Courage and Commitment" of New York's hard working students. Whether excelling in academic pursuits, participating in community service, displaying leadership among their classmates, or overcoming personal challenges, they inspire and provide hope for the future. This year, Commack Middle School is delighted to honor eighthgrader, Angelina. An early childhood memory of a person in a wheelchair sparked her interest in wanting to help the special needs population. Angelina is a compassionate, three-year member of our schools Best of Buddies Club. This is a friendship club designed to promote friendships between students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers. Angelina has formed solid, long-lasting friendships with these special students, and helped to improve the social skills and self esteem of her friends, all positive experi10

ences that will last a lifetime. Angelina is also active in fundraising and community service outside of school. She has paired up with her mother to prepare baked goods and gift baskets for raffles and fundraising. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraiser has held a special place in her heart, to honor her “Popi”, her great –grandfather and survivor, and to hold a ten-year memorial dediThe Commack Courier

cated to her father. Together, Angelina and her mom successfully raised $2,300 for this cause. They are also three-year members of the “Combat Cancer Team” for Relay for Life, their efforts helping to raise over $8,000. Angelina has overcome major obstacles in her life, those in which she credits to shaping her life and to making her more self-reliant. She credits her mom and extended family for being constant sources of support in her life. This young lady wants to continue to give back – her late father wanted to be a chef. Her future plans are to attend BOCES in 11th grade, participate in the culinary program and then become a psychologist for children with disabilities. Congratulations to Angelina and to all of our hard-working students who strive to make a difference in our community! In photo: Middle School Principal Anthony Davidson, Angelina, and Guidance Counselor Christine Nicols.

State Comptroller’s Awards for CMS Students

Paws of War

The New York State Office of the Comptroller Student Achievement Award helps to promote the ideals of public service among the leaders of tomorrow. The award recognizes students who have shown academic excellence and the potential for leadership through involvement in activities that have improved the school or the community. Commack Middle School is proud to announce that eighth graders Mike, Joe, Quisitis “Quizzy,” and Jackie are the recipients of the 20162017 New York State Comptroller Awards. Mike is a gentle young man, who is not only a strong student but is also an athlete, a member of the football and lacrosse teams. Mike enjoys making a difference and has participated in courtyard cleanups and helps teachers during his lunchtime. A true community neighbor, he helps to shovel snow, rake leaves, and open pools. He looks forward to the possibility of further serving the community as a volunteer EMT. Joe has overcome obstacles to become the “voice of Commack Middle School” announcements with his smooth, enthusiastic, tone. He is the epitome of school spirit and pride. Joe is actively involved in student government, and

assisted in transition nights and orientation for our newest students. He was in the school’s musical and a member of the Geography Club, and took 3rd place in the CMS National Geographic Bee! Quisitis “Quizzy” is the President and Director of Lighting for the CMS Stage Crew. She tirelessly volunteered her time on weekends to prepare the set designs. Quizzy is a vibrant, hard -working student, who excels in everything she does. She successfully balances her academics with a passion for music, including NYSSMA, Treble Singers, and SCMEA. Quizzy is a talented, energetic athlete, part of our cross country, soccer and track teams. She also devotes time to helping others, preparing food for our local soup kitchens. Jackie is an excellent student, and hit her stride in the Theater class, enjoying the freedom of expressing herself and the creativity that improvisation provides. Jackie has forged many new friendships, and was involved in the school’s musical productions. Jackie is also a member of Cause for Paws. She loves learning about the endearing bonds and trusting service between people and their fourlegged friends.

Burr teacher Keri Cestaro is always finding new ways to involve her third grade class in helping others. Recently, she and her students wrote letters and gathered pet supplies for veterans who are awaiting a new pet from Paws of War. The organization rescues dogs and trains them to become service dogs for veterans who are suffering from PTSD or other mental health disabilities. The children’s letters gave advice on how to take care of the veteran’s new family member. Taylor from Paws of War came to Burr to collect the letters, and to talk about the organization and the veterans they help. Mrs. Cestaro said, “The best comment of her visit was when a boy in my class proudly let her know that our principal is a veteran. Sweet! We know that not all disabilities are visible, and are glad we can help in some small way.”

Rolling Hills Goes on a Science Safari

First grade students from Rolling Hills went on a “Science Safari” at the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport. The students were able to examine various artifacts and exhibits from the extensive William K. Vanderbilt collections. They were amazed to touch antelope horns, deer antlers, wallaby fur, and buffalo teeth. The students discussed the various habitats, eating habits, and adaptations of animals from all six animal groups they studied as part of the first grade science curriculum.

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Sawmill Helps to Build a Playground

Mandracchia-Sawmill Intermediate School has a long tradition of fundraising for charitable foundations. This year’s Angela’s House Fundraiser continued that tradition. The Mandracchia-Sawmill School Based Management Team spearheaded a project that raised $5,300 to build an accessible playground for children with special health care needs. In 1992, Angela’s House was created to offer families and professionals an agency to call to help medically frail children and their families. Angela’s House has helped to simplify home care options for families by coordinating the extensive array of services needed to support medically frail children at home. Angela’s House has worked very hard to create new pro-

italian students achieve level 4 wins

Congratulations to Raphael and Angelina, Italian students who competed in the Annual Secondary School Poetry Contest at SUNY Old Westbury. There were more than 200 participants from 22 districts on Long Island. Raphael took 1st Place - Level 4, and Angelina won 3rd Place - Level 12

4 for their dramatic poetry recitation in the Italian language. Kudos also to Italian teacher Grace Silva, who has dedicated countless hours outside of the school day to support students interested in celebrating language and artistry for the last 20 years.

grams and opportunities, and opened their own residential home in East Moriches in the fall of 2000, culminating a tenyear effort by Bob Policastro. This special home for children is the first of its kind. Named after his daughter, this beautiful home offers a loving environment with 24-hour nursing care. Thanks to the efforts of the staff, parents, and students at Sawmill, fundraising events were held all spring, culminating with the “Sawmill Adventure Race.” Thanks to Sportime of Kings Park for the race equipment, to the Sawmill PTA volunteers who collected all the donations, and to the entire community for supporting these efforts. For more info, or to help:

best of high school journalism awards

The Courant editors attended the “Best of High School Journalism Awards” at LIU Post, and came home with 3 individual awards, the most of all the schools that participated. Judging was based on overall excellence, including accuracy, adherence to journalistic standards, clarity, effectiveness at reaching the au-

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dience and creative use of the medium. Congratulations to: • 1st Place Best Sports Story: Seniors Megan and Marlie • 1st Place Best News Story: Seniors Zack and James • 3rd Place Best Feature Story: Senior Juliana

Storybook Characters Move Into Library Lane

Three new murals adorn the walls of Library Lane in North Ridge Primary School. Students worked with artist Cathy Russell through the PTA Artsin-Education Program and art teacher Carolann Lally on the murals. North Ridge kindergarten students read the book, Corduroy, and created a ceramic Corduroy bear. The first graders read, If You Give

a Mouse a Cookie, and created ceramic cookies, and our second graders read, The Day the Crayons Quit and created ceramic crayons. The books were chosen for their popularity and their interesting cover illustrations with the help of North Ridge librarian, Patty Lopez, and Principal, Katherine Rihm. “We are very grateful to Mrs. Rus-

Helping Hands Helping Paws

Dr. Valerie Noonan’s fourth grade class at Sawmill Intermediate School ran a donation drive for the Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center in Huntington. The shelter’s mission is to save and rescue abandoned dogs and cats. In order to do so, they need supplies such as food, toys, bedding, and paper towels. The fourth graders have all generously brought in their

own donations and reached out to other classes in the school. Many caring students worked together and gathered supplies to help out their furry friends! Thank you to class parents, Maria Orlasky and Jennifer Kranenberg, who were huge contributors in the success of this donation drive. If you are interested in donating or adopting, please visit the website at:

sell for her talent and creative abilities in making our book cover murals a reality,” said Mrs. Lally. “Over the last 20 years she has worked with students here in Commack, as well as thousands of students in schools from both Nassau and Suffolk counties. We look forward to continuing our book mural project with her next year.

Summer Science Studies Commack senior Jordan applied to the very competitive program, Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Science Institute, and was accepted. He will be one of only 19 talented young students representing the United States among a group of 80 participants from around the world. Jordan received a full scholarship that covers the cost of transportation to and from Israel, and his stay at the Institute. During the onemonth program “the students spend three weeks conducting research in the campus labs. The work combines the exploration of problems in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematical and computer science, and instruction in the use of sophisticated lab equipment such as electron microscopes, advanced computers, a high-energy particle accelerator, and lasers.” During the last week,

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students go to a “field school” in the Judean Desert, hiking through unique ecological, geographical, geological, zoological, and archaeological characteristics of the area. “This is such an honor for Jordan, and an amazing trip of a life time,” said his teacher and mentor Richard Kurtz. Jordan will be attending the University of Chicago in the fall. More info at 13

C o m mac m a ck k’s ’ s Tea chers ch ers of the th e Yea Y ea r 2 201 017

Stephanie O’Brien, a Commack High School chemistry teacher, was named Commack’s Teacher of the Year 2017 (center, with the white jacket). Stephanie is a New York State Master Teacher, and she was recently honored with the Empire State Excellence in Teaching Award (see October 2016 Commack Courier). She is a beloved teacher and colleague, who constantly strives to learn new and innovative teaching techniques and the latest educational trends. Congratulations Stephanie and all our nominees! Julie Rizzo Debra Finkel Trish Hall Margie Pascariello Jackie Oster Jeff Trebour Beth Considine Bonnie Foti Carolyn Burton-Gajda Erika Eliopoulos Linda Koross

Indian Hollow Primary School North Ridge Primary School Rolling Hills Primary School Wood Park Primary School Burr Intermediate School Burr Intermediate School Mandracchia-Sawmill I.S. Mandracchia-Sawmill I.S. Commack Middle School Commack Middle School Commack Middle School

Christine Mankes Donna Phillips Kerry Vitola Stephanie Zweibel Carol Barbagallo Wendy Frankonis Douglas Marks Michael Marusevich Ryan McGrath Stephanie O’Brien Christina Semple

Commack Middle School Commack Middle School Commack Middle School Commack Middle School Commack High School Commack High School Commack High School Commack High School Commack High School Commack High School Commack High School

MEDIA JOURNALISM STUDENTS MAKE A SPLASH AT THE BASH! Commack High School students from the media journalism program participated in the first annual Broadcast Awards for Senior High (BASH) in Southold. Schools from around the Island gathered to celebrate students’ achievements in media journalism and to hear from professionals in the field, including keynote speakers Miguel Marquez from CNN and Drew Scott from News 12. Every morning, the CTN News (Commack Television Network) is broadcast in homerooms in the High School. The CTN News is also viewable by 14

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parents via our Commack Website. Commack students received four awards at the event. Journalism students Ben and Matthew were awarded 3rd Place for Best Community News Packages. Jared and Jacob won 2nd Place for Best Entertainment Feature. Additionally, Jacob was awarded 1st Place for Best Opening Segment and Michelle and Celia received 1st Place for Best Public Service Announcement. Each of the students that participated in BASH was taught and mentored by Mr. Bill Patterson, the TV Journalism teacher at Commack High School.

Third Place in the National Italian Exam

Ninth grader Michael took 3rd Place on Level 2 of the National Italian Exam. In March 2017, 1,477 students from 20 states took the Level 2 National Italian Exam sponsored by the The American Association of the Teachers of Italian, an international organization of scholars specializing in and contributing to the research and teaching of Italian studies. The exam tests student knowledge of the Italian language and prepares students for the AP Italian Language and Culture Exam. Pictured, from left to right: World Languages Coordinator LauraAnne Weiss, Michael, Italian teacher Katherine Treubig, and NIE Organizer and Italian teacher Grace Silva.

It’s All About History

The Commack History Bowl Varsity Team competed in the National History Bowl and Bee in Washington, D.C. in April. The team of Samuel, Alex, and Raphael placed as quarterfinalists and team captain Samuel achieved quarterfinalist status in the individual competition. Congratulations to these young historians!

Silver Anniversary & Retirement Celebration

Marking a milestone of 25 years of service in the Commack School District, staff and family gathered in May at the Middle School for the annual Silver Anniversary celebration. This year’s 16 retirees were also honored and received a

clock (not that they will need it now). Reza Kolahifar, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, took on the role of Master of Ceremonies, assisted by the personnel department office staff, who decorated and took care

of every detail leading to this memorable event. Thank you to our honorees for their years of service and dedication to the children of this District. We wish you smooth sailing on calm seas in the future!

Silver Anniversary Honorees: Joanne Aloi, Joann Scharbach, Lisa Brennan, Lisa Sigloch, Lori D’Amico, Victoria Stack, Patricia DeNezzo, Stacey Stewart, David Doran, Jr., Janet Studley, Debra Finkel, Carol Van Dyke, Kerry Reinhardt, Robert Van Allen Retirement Honorees: Nancy Castaneda, Joseph Castrogivanni, Renee Landsman, James Mitchell, Ronald Danler, Susan Eberhardt, Barbara Erath, Catherine Farrell, Diane Havern, Maria Iacovelli, Lunnie Mui, Leslie Salander, Thomas San Martin, Jeri Schwartz, Edward Storck, Joanne Ziello The Commack Courier


CHS Theatre Productions Win Five HuntingTONYS Commack High School’s theatrical productions were unstoppable at the seventh-annual HuntingTony Award ceremony. The ceremony, which honors high school performing arts productions and participants, was held at the John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport. Commack High School was awarded five HuntingTony awards out of 128 nominations among 25 award categories. The Fall 2016 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream took home

Best Costumes in a Play. Matt Fisher, taking on a role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, received Best Supporting Actor in a Play. Commack’s Musical 2017 production of “My Fair Lady” was awarded Best Ensemble in a Musical and Best Technical Production. The night came to an end with Adam’s performance of “The Rain in Spain,” which awarded him Best Male Vocalist. Out of the nine high schools honored for their theatrical produc-

Spring Fling

Color the Wor ld

Physics students in the High School’s IB and Regents classes constructed and designed catapults to launch a hackey sack 32 feet over a wall one meter tall. The catapult could not be more than 60 cm tall or have a mass over 4kg. Some students chose to build their catapults out of wood, while others used PVC, hoping that their choice of materials would make for a successful launch. Students demonstrated their understanding of projectile motion and 100% of the students’ catapults successfully reached the distance and height.


tions, Commack received the most awards. Commack High School’s actors, actresses, stage crew, and performances were recognized and applauded throughout the ceremony, giving the participants due respect for their talent and dedication.

Spanish students in Carolyn Ingram’s IB classes hosted the high school’s first Pulsera Project sale. The Pulsera Project is an organization that educates, empowers, and connects Central American artists with students in the United States. The non-profit purchases handmade woven bracelets at fair trade prices from nearly 200 artisans in Central America, then sends the bracelets to American schools to be sold. The profits from the sales are invested back into the artisan’s communities to create lasting change and awareness of social issues. Mrs. Ingram’s students raised $1,170 and “colored Commack” with beautiful handwoven bracelets. For more info:

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Let ters from Home to a Commack Grad Michael Fiorentino is a former Sawmill student and Commack High School graduate, now 25 years old. He is fulfilling his lifelong dream by enlisting in the U.S. Army to serve his country. The students in Danielle Leahy and Lisa Recek's class wrote letters to thank Michael for his service. They asked many questions and commended him for wanting to protect our country. Michael’s basic training graduation is complete, and he is stationed at Fort Sills U.S. Army Base in Oklahoma. Michael will train there for his military occupation specialty as a Fire Support Specialist (FIST). That division serves as “the eyes of the battle field,” finding targets to hit and relaying the locations back to the launchers and larger ammunition. He has also qualified for airborne school (jumping out

of planes), and will go to Fort Benning Army Base in Georgia to train for three weeks to achieve his airborne patch.

Thank you for serving your country Michael, and please be safe!

Burr Buddies Kindness Rocks Garden

Burr Buddies is a new club started at Burr Intermediate School this year, loosely based on the International Best Buddies Program. It is a friendship club to build one to one relationships between people with and without strong social skills. The club paired dynamic fifth grade ambassadors with third and fourth grade students who would benefit from social interaction with a positive role model. The club met 10 times and engaged in many meaningful activities including building a Kindness Rock Garden, planting bulbs, learning meditation, a visit with a therapy dog, and

a guest speaker to teach sign language. Each time the group met, they formed bonds and made meaningful connections, gained self confidence, and increased self esteem by sharing time together. The Burr Buddies Club is proud to present the Kindness Rock Garden (photo). “We met with our buddies and prepared positive phrases which we painted on colorful, flat rocks, said Club Advisor MariThe Commack Courier

anne Dorman. “These homemade, inspirational rocks are meant to cheer up, encourage and otherwise support all students who come upon the rocks in our garden. We decided to let our rocks bloom in the courtyard of Burr for all to enjoy. Our hope is that those that stumble upon our garden when having a bad day with turn a frown into a smile.” 17

Elementary Students Take Top Two Spots in the Nation for Fifth Grade Science Burr’s fifth grade National Science League Team took First Place for the third year in a row. The team is coached by Leah Bernstein and George Morrish. Sawmill’s fifth grade team also led the nation in this competition, taking Second Place! That team is coached by Lindsey Persichilli and Jennifer Turner. National Science League is a component of the Continental Mathematics League, Inc. Students attend meetings, conducting experiments, and preparing for multiple choice questions that comprise each contest, based on the students’ understanding of scientific processes. In photo is Burr’s first place National Science League fifth grade team, with coadvisor George Morrish.

Science Fair Honors

Science inquiry and discovery continues to thrive at Burr Intermediate School! In March, students participated in the annual Burr Science Fair. Two projects from each grade level were chosen to represent Burr at the 2017 Brookhaven National Lab Elementary Science Fair in May. About 120 schools from across Suffolk County participate, and volunteer Brookhaven National Lab scientists and teachers are teamed up to judge over 500 projects from grades K-6. Burr had a winner: fourth 18

grader Lucas won Honorable Mention for his project, “Long Island Farmer’s Battle Between Dirt and Water.” Burr Intermediate School continues to win yearly honors at this prestigious fair, which is a testament to the Commack School District’s commitment to science. In photo, standing: teacher Sue Rosner, Director of Science Dr. Alison OffermanCeletano, student Max, and Assistant Principal Donna Forbes. Seated: students Alexandra, Sebastian, Lucas, Terence, and Jillian.

A Kenyan Safari

What would it be like to experience a Kenyan safari? Students in Mrs. Cooper’s class at Mandracchia-Sawmill Intermediate School discovered the animals they would encounter on just such an adventure. Gennaro, Zachary, Tyler, and Gianna embarked on a year-long exploration into the wildlife of Kenya. With the help of Sawmill librarian Joan Hanley, they carefully researched 25 different animals. Facts were recorded in a “Safari Journal” during each library period. Art teacher Barbara Palmadesso

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guided the safari participants through the creation of Kenyan animal inspired dioramas, clay sculpted heads, and paper masks, which became the focus of PowerPoint slides depicting each student behind their beautifully detailed creation. Enrichment teacher Lindsey Persichilli helped the class record facts about their animals on their individual slides. These slides became the basis for their final Kenyan safari celebration. Asante (thank you in Swahili) to the safari adventurers for their hard work!

SSummer ummer U Usdan sdan A Art rt SScholarship cholarship

Congratulations to Alana on winning the Usdan scholarship award. Each year the Commack PTA Council Artsin-Education Committee awards a $1,000 scholarship to a Middle School student for their exceptional talent, commitment and experience in the performing and/or vi-

sual arts. The scholarship will assist Alana in attending the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts Summer Camp this summer. Featured in the picture are guidance counselors Denise Pihlkar and Chris Nicols, Alana, and Assistant Principal Frank Agovino.

WAC Invitational Science Fair

A consortium of 13 schools’ research teachers and over 400 students dedicated to “the importance of science as a verb” present research on varied projects to esteemed judges from universities and hospitals across Long Island and New York City. Sponsored by WAC Lighting, we congratulate

our science research students on their accomplishments: Back Row: Matt, Daniel, Anoop, Aria, Charleson, and Anthony Middle Row: Melike, Max, Jeremy, Brandon, and Christine Front Row: Sarah, Nicole, Jared, Gabi, Eliana, Alexa, Nick, and Dylan

Treble Singers Perform Original Composition

Commack music teacher Amy Dank and the Commack Middle School Treble Singers performed an original piece from composer Rich Campbell. Mrs. Dank heard a recording of “The Wind” and decided to do the piece with the Treble Singers. “The Wind” was inspired by a poem of the same name by Robert Louis Stevenson. Mr Campbell has family that lives in Commack and was proud to be working so closely with a community that is near and dear to his heart. The piece was commissioned by OAKE (Organization of American Kodaly Educators) and premiered in San Diego. Thanks to the PTA Arts-in-Education Committee, Mr. Campbell was invited into the school to rehearse and work with the students prior to the performance as well as to answer questions from the students.

ppenings! a H w o ll o H n ia d In

Surprise read

Learning to eat healthy!


Character ed

Going ‘batty’


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NYS Scholarships for Academic Excellence Fifteen Commack High School seniors were awarded the NYS Scholarship for Academic Excellence, which provides up to $1,500 per year for up to five years of undergraduate study in a New York State college or university. The scholarships from the NYS Education Department are based on student grades in certain Regents exams. “These students are to be commended for their academic accomplishments,” stated Director of Guidance, Jonathan Macaluso. “They are the leaders of tomorrow, and I am confident that they will succeed in college and beyond.” Congratulations to: Julia, Abbigayle, Gabriel, Maximilian, Michael, Joshua, Tara, Jamey, Paul, Kristen, Kelly, Dua, Sydney, Michelle, and Peter.

Sawmill Butterfly Garden Project Sawmill’s Butterfly Garden got a beautiful upgrade this spring, thanks to some helpful, hardworking volunteers. Mr. Longstreet and a crew of Home Depot employees cleaned and weeded the butterfly garden in the front of the school, and added some new plants for all to enjoy. Along with fifth grade volunteers, they raked, trimmed, bagged,

Earth Day Flower Pods @ Rolling Hills

The kindergarteners in Diane Gandolfi's class at Rolling Hills Primary School created "Flower Pods" for Earth Day. They recycled construction paper by tearing it up into small pieces and mixing it with water in a bowl. The class mom mixed it further in a food processor creating a mushy 20

consistency. The students squeezed out the excess water by pushing it through a strainer, and pressed the mixture into a flower mold. To this they added some seeds and more of the paper mixture on top. Once dried, they popped the pods out of the molds and the students took them home to plant right in the garden.

mulched, and watered to create a small paradise for butterflies and people alike. It wasn’t easy, but our fearless workers rolled up their sleeves, dug in, and didn’t let the heat stop them from getting the job done right! Thanks so much to all who volunteered their time and energy and to Home Depot for their donations.

North Ridge: Gifts for Feline Friends

Two kindergarten classes at North Ridge Primary School chose to help the cats at the Last Hope Animal Rescue organization for their service learner project this spring. Donna Sandak and Cyndi Nichols’ students made two different types of cat toys to keep the felines happy as they await their forever homes.

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Last Hope, Inc. is a not-forprofit organization that is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of death-due pound, stray, and abandoned animals. Although the children loved the cat toys they made, they knew that their handmade toy was going to make some cat very happy! For more info: https://

Music Students Take High Honors at All-County Festival

CHS LISFA/SCMEA Commack music students in grades five through twelve participated in the annual Long Island String Festival Association (LISFA) and Suffolk County Music Educators Association (SCMEA) All-County Festival Concerts. Music teachers from school districts across Suffolk County nominate their students to participate. The Long Island String Festival Association and the Suffolk County Music Educators Association are county music organizations that offer students the ability to perform with students from other districts in annual AllCounty Concert Festivals. These honor groups rehearse two to three days in preparation for the concerts. Over 100 musicians from Commack participated in these prestigious festivals. “Once again, the students performed at their usual high level of musicianship, and we congratulate them for earning this outstanding recognition! It is a tremendous achievement to be selected, as thousands of students are nominated to participate in these well


known festivals,� stated Paul R. Infante, Director of Fine and Applied Arts. The photos contain many of our students who were chosen as outstanding musicians in Suffolk County.

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It was a unparalleled year for our Commack scholar athletes! During the 201617 school year our athletes earned All League, All Conference, All County, All Division, All Long Island, and All State honors. Amanda McNelis won the State Pole Vaulting Championship. School records were broken in Girls Track in the 4x400 relay and the Triple Jump. We had a Newsday Player of the Year and Coach of the Year. We had a News 12 Scholar Athlete and an Individual State Champion. Our Varsity Baseball Team took the County Title for the first time in 20 years! And... the Girls Varsity Badminton Team and Girls Tennis team also took the Suffolk County Championship. Our Boys Varsity Track Team went undefeated to win the League II Championship and

its first ever County Championship, and the Girls Varsity Golf Team tied for League I Co-Champs and were county finalists. Nick Munsch took first place in the County for wrestling, and our Cougarette Jazz Team took first place in the Nationals. Our athletic programs continue to give back to the community in many ways including fundraising events for charities, youth and community athletic clinics, and physical education workshops. Thank you to the community, our coaches and athletes! For the names and schools of the students in the photo above who are all going on to play college sports, and for all the athletic news, please visit our website: www.commackschools. org/cougarathletics.aspx and check out our Twitter feed @ CommackSchools.

#SCORE! Boys Varsity Baseball Suffolk County Champions

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Boys Track Team Suffolk County Champions Girls Badminton Suffolk Champions

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Notice of Nondiscrimination The Commack Union Free School District does not discriminate on the basis of an individual’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, creed, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship status, age, marital status, partnership status, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, sexual orientation, gender (sex), military status, veteran status, domestic violence victim status or political affiliation, and additionally does not discriminate against students on the basis of weight, gender identity, gender expression, and religious practices or any other basis prohibited by New York State and/or federal non-discrimination laws in employment or its programs and activities. The District provides equal access to community and youth organizations. Commack Board of Education: Steven Hartman - President Jarrett Behar - Vice President Trustees: Jennifer Carpenter, William Hender, Pamela Verity

Superintendent of Schools: Dr. Donald A. James

Commack Courier July 2017  

The Top Cohort group of the Class of 2017, IB Diploma Candidates, and all the great stuff that happens in the Commack School District.