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June 2016


Commack High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Ceremony celebrated the hard work, dedication, and perseverance of 128 IB Diploma graduates after their completion of two years of studies at the highest academic level. The ceremony showcased their diverse talents

and learning in a variety of subject areas through student-based performances and speeches. Any student may choose the challenge of the IB Diploma Program in grades 11 and 12, or may take individual IB courses during those years. Commack High School

also offers a number of other college-level classes which students may take such as Advanced Placement (AP), Project Lead The Way (PLTW) engineering classes, and courses affiliated with colleges and universities. Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

New Principal at Commack High School The Board of Education of the Commack School District is pleased to announce the appointment of Leslie Boritz as the new Commack High School Principal, effective July 1, 2016. This decision caps an intensive search process for a dynamic leader who will continue to support our District's vision of student achievement through access and opportunity. Mrs. Boritz is a proud Commack alumnus, and has worked as an assistant principal of Commack High School since July 2011. Her twenty-two years of service in the Commack Schools also includes eleven years as an assistant principal at Commack Middle School. Her credentials include Masters Degrees in both Arts and Education and further degrees in School District Administration and Supervision. She is the recipient of many honors and awards, including Commack PTA's Distinguished Service Award. "The list of Mrs. Boritz's contributions

to our District is endless," said Superintendent, Dr. Donald James. "She has served on hundreds of committees, coordinated and designed academic initiatives that benefit our schools and students, and volunteers for countless activities that benefit others. She is well qualified as a leader, with endless enthusiasm and compassion, along with a deep understanding of the culture of our high school and community. We are confident that Leslie will embrace her new position and give it her all." "I have passionately dedicated my life to the students of our community, and will continue to do so," said Leslie. I look forward to continuing the traditions and upholding the high standards of our school, and am thrilled to be the next principal of Commack High School." The current principal, Catherine Nolan, is retiring this year after twenty years in Commack, the last six as principal of the high school. Congratulations ladies!

Leslie Boritz

Elementary Students Place First in the Nation for Science & Math

Mandracchia Sawmill’s third and fourth grade National Science League Team, first in the nation, with advisors Lindsey Persichilli and Jen Turner.

National Science League Teams at both Burr and Sawmill achieved highest national ranking across all three grade levels! Burr’s fifth grade team was the First Place National winner, coached by Leah Bernstein and George Morrish. The Sawmill third grade and fourth grade teams also led the nation in this competition, each team clinching First

Place nationally. That team is coached by Lindsey Persichilli and Jennifer Turner. National Student Leaders for the 2016 contest, who received perfect scores included Sawmill third graders Christopher, Kaitlin, Shivani, and Vanessa. Fourth grade National Student Leaders were Sawmill’s Ava and Jordan.

Burr’s first place Continental Math fifth grade team, with Principal Paul Schmelter, and advisors Michele Quinn and Marianne Dorman.

The third grade Continental Math League Team at Mandracchia Sawmill Intermediate School and Burr Intermediate School’s fifth grade team both took first place in the nation this year! At Sawmill, there were four National Student Leaders who received perfect scores on all three meets. They are: Anthony, Harris, Edwin, and Daniel. Burr fifth grader Sun also earned a perfect score. 2

Burr’s first place National Science League fifth grade team, with co-advisor George Morrish.

National Science League is a component of the Continental Mathematics League, Inc. The multiple choice questions that comprise each contest are based on factual knowledge, as well as students’ understanding of scientific processes. Congratulations to all team members for their dedication to learning and outstanding performance.

Mandracchia Sawmill’s third grade Continental Math Team (we’re #1), with Principal Michelle Tancredi-Zott, Assistant Principal Evelyn Cardanes Smith, and advisors Michelle Goldstein and Stefanie Petrone.

After several practice sessions, each student works independently on his/her meet within a prescribed time period. Paper and pencil are used to solve the questions. Burr Intermediate School has been a participant in the Continental Mathematics League for over 25 years. Students participating in this program are highly challenged on a weekly basis with thought provoking, multi-step word The Commack Courier

problems. Each month the teams compete against other students nationwide. Burr Coaches this year are Michele Quinn and Marianne Dorman. Sawmill Coaches are Michelle Goldstein and Stefanie Petrone. Mrs. Goldstein said, “As educators and coaches of the team, our pride and happiness is overflowing right now! Students who participate improve their problem solving capabilities.”

Commack High School’s Top Cohort Group

Thomas Amato

Theresa Amoruso

Ingrid Angulo

Kelley Beirne

Gabriella Biscardi

Jordan Bloom

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Fordham University Lincoln Center/Rose Hill

Northeastern University

University of Florida

Fashion Institute of Technology

Binghamton University

Gabrielle Cadwallader

Jennifer Chai

Hannah Cheung

Akhila Chilakala

The George Washington University

Cornell University

Georgia Institute of Technology

University of Pennsylvania

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Ed of CUNY

Daniel Choi

Matthew Cohen

Brianna Delgado

John DeMartino

Jamie Ehrhardt

Maria Ellers

Boston College

Ohio State University

Binghamton University

University at Buffalo SUNY

The George Washington University

Kelsey Fisher Clemson University

Rahul Chakravorty Xiaoxuan Chen

Carnegie Mellon University

Courtney Gallagher Kevin Gaughan Hofstra University

University at Buffalo SUNY

Eliza Glaser-Kshensky Hamilton College - NY

Amanda Goedel Vignesh Gunasekaran SUNY Albany

Stony Brook University

Congratulations to the Class of 2016

Shelly Gupta

Sydney Haas

Julia Hedrick

Maxwell Hisiger

Travis Ho

Jonathan Honden

Washington University in St. Louis

University of Vermont

Tufts University

Binghamton University

University of Maryland, College Park

St. John’s University, Queens Campus

SurYoun Huh

Matthew Innella

Austin Izen

Ashley Jalazo

Aryana Javaheri

Mikayla Katz

Johns Hopkins University

Juniata College

University of Michigan

University of Michigan

Brown University

Stony Brook University

Leah Kowalsky

Sara Kurten

Binghamton University

Boston College

Tara Manchio

Julia Manetta

SUNY College at Cortland

Haverford College

Mathusa Lakuleswaran Hyun Seo Lee Hofstra University

Cornell University

Lucas Marmorale Judith Mermelstein University of Michigan

Rochester Institute of Technology

David Li

Calvin Lui

Harvard University

Carnegie Mellon University

Aaron Mizrahi

Erin Nolan

Binghamton University

Suny College at Geneseo

Commack High School’s Top Cohort Group

Caitlin Passaro

Vincent Pennetti

Brian Piccola

Julia Railo

Jessica Rosenthal

Valerie Sampson

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Boston University

Boston College

Stony Brook University

Binghamton University

Elon University

Kailee Sievers

Steven Silverman Alexa Svensson

Mehtaab Sawhney Matthew Shalhoub Deborah Siegel University of Pennsylvania

Anna Tobin Northeastern University

Duke University

Binghamton University

Christian Trenkle Carly Turkiewicz Stony Brook University

Cornell University

University of Delaware

Binghamton University

Marist College

Mailysa Wood

Mirra Yu

Andy Zhou

Bentley University

Carnegie Mellon University

Cornell University

The seniors in the individual photos on these pages have 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 advantage of the rich course offerings available at Commack High School such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP), and college level classes. They are well-prepared to succeed at the post-secondary level. Principal’s Award winners: Brian Farrell, Jenna Goldberg, Jennifer Ryder, Matthew Shalhoub, Deborah Siegel, and Max Watkins.

NYS N Y S Scholarship S c h o l a r s h i p for f o r Academic Academic E Excellence xcellence Nineteen Commack High School students were awarded NYS Scholarships for Academic Excellence. Awards are based on student grades in certain Regents exams. The scholarships provide $500 to $1,500 per year for up to five years of undergraduate study in a New York State post-secondary college or university. Director of Guidance, Jonathan Macaluso said, “Each of these students has excelled academically at a very high level and will be attending some of the most prestigious colleges in the country. I am confident that this fine group of young men and women will continue to impress us as they continue to pursue their academic and career goals.” Congratulations to: Ingrid Angulo, Emily Chen, Jennifer Chai, Brianna Delgado, Jamie Ehrhardt, Maria Ellers, Kevin Gaughan, Eliza Glaser-Kshensky, Matthew Innella, Aryana Javaheri, David Li, Calvin Lui, Aaron Mizrahi, Erin Nolan, Mehtaab Sawhney, Joseph Schmitz, Anna Tobin, Christian Trenkle, and Carly Turkiewicz.

With students are, on left, back row, Jonathan Macaluso, and on right, Assistant Principal Susan Shapiro, and Superintendent Dr. Donald James.

Product Development Teams Win Technology Kudos & Cash!

9-11 Ceremony Honors First Responders Every year since 2002 the Commack School District and the community honor the victims and heroes of 9-11. We made a promise many years ago to never forget. We are so proud of the many Commack community members who attend our memorial event year after year. This year we will honor many of Commack’s first responders, heroes, and volunteers on September 11, 2001 with a 9/11 Candlelight Ceremony, “A Night of Remembrance.” We will read the names of those heroes at the ceremony. Each year for the past five years, Commack High School’s Engineering students have competed in the “NYIT Connect-To-Tech Engineering & Technology High School Showcase Competition.” This competition looks for an engineering project that solves a specific problem and can lead to a product being developed. Presentations are similar to the ones seen on TV’s “Shark Tank.” Our students collected $1,800 in prize money for their wins. Joe Castrogivanni, advisor and technology teacher said, “You really need to sell your problem and your solution, and 6

have a solution that can be demonstrated. You must also demonstrate that your solution that can be innovated into a product.” This year the students won first and second place. Congratulations to the following student teams: First Place: Combatting Storm Surge Inundation - Abigail, Kyle, and Raymond. Second Place: The Mobility Enhancement System - Alexander, Connor, and Ariel. To see more photos from the competition, please visit: u6xHX9ZXKtZgwR3r8. The Commack Courier

Please submit the names of Commack first responders and/or volunteers and their role on 9-11 or the days following by July 1, 2016 to dvirga@commackschools. org or mail to: Burr Intermediate School Attention: Debbie Virga 235 Burr Road Commack, NY 11725 631-858-3623 It’s time for us to support and thank Commack’s own.

What an amazing year we’ve had in our schools! Our students are thriving in the classroom and in the global community. Aside from the many student accolades and awards earned, we have touched those locally and around the world through humanitarian efforts and outreach. This is the lesson we need to teach our children: to care for others as well as ourselves. We can only accomplish these goals with the dedicated support of our staff and our community. We wish a fond farewell to Catherine Nolan, our beloved high school principal, and a warm welcome to Leslie Boritz. More on that in this issue. I’d like to express my gratitude for your continued faith in our fiscal practices and academic programs. We continue to emphasize our practice of offering access and opportunity to every student so that each student can succeed and follow his or her own path in the future. Thanks to multiyear budgeting practices, we have continued to expand our subject and enrichment offerings, kept class sizes steady, and increased security in all of our schools. Commack is truly built on the combined successes of everyone working together. During the summer months, I hope you take advantage of the many varied activities available through the District, local organizations, and towns. We’ll be busy sprucing up the buildings and grounds, and hope to have a new look for our website in place by the start of September. Thanks to our proactive testing, water quality in all fixtures (sinks and fountains) in our schools is now within EPA standards. Please continue to support our advocacy efforts to reduce the over-testing of our children, and check the website for back to school information and calendar events. I wish you 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. lunch/index.asp.

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL Tuesday, September 6, 2016 Photos from the Commack High School Graduation are posted online.

BOARD OF EDUCATION REORGANIZATION MEETING Tuesday, July 7, 2016 Hubbs Administration Center 8:00 p.m.

COMMUNITY EVENTS There are oodles of summer fun activities and camps for kids listed on the Community Events Page : Click on the Community Events Button

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. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (PDF), found online at http://www.ascr.usda. gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 6329992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities and you wish to file either an EEO or program complaint please contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339 or (800) 8456136 (in Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity employer.

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S.O.S. Save Our Species

Commack Middle School joined an international effort to bring awareness of the endangered species of the world and their habitats. On May 20, the school held its annual S.O.S. Sidewalk of Species Day, with students using chalk to sketch a picture of wildlife that is facing extinction, disappearing fast, or have a very small population. Groups of students or individuals re-

served a 6’x 6’ square for their drawings, and worked on this impressive display during their lunch periods and after school. Endangered Species Day has become an opportunity for both committed activists to engage in actions that protect our vanishing wildlife and for others to learn more about the importance of protecting imperiled species and ways that they can help to

Presidential Scholar Honors Commack High School senior, David Li, was named as a semifinalist in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Inclusion in this program is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character, and involvement in community and school activities. David scored 2380 out of a possible 2400 points on the SAT. David has received many accolades for his scientific accomplishments, and recently won first place in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Regional Finals. He was a finalist at Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair last year, and a semifinalist this year. He also was invited to present


his manuscript about one of his inventions, a wireless tracking system for at-home medical equipment during national disasters, at the IEEE Long Island Systems Applications and Technology Conference, and his work has been published in scientific journals. David will continue his studies at Harvard. Congratulations on your many accomplishments.

achieve this. Special thanks go to CMS PTA’s Arts in Education Committee for sponsoring this event. In photos, the entire back courtyard was filled with beautiful drawings, and in the photo on the right, Miriam, Lisa, and Hailey put the finishing touches on their snow leopard.

Undefeated Brainstormers Win Regional Quiz Bowl

Commack High School’s Brainstormers finished off the year and won first place at the Regional Quiz Bowl Competition. The Varsity Team of Captain Samuel, Muzaffer, Mehtaab, Zack, and Tanner went undefeated all year, as did the Junior Varsity Team, which placed fifth overall at Regionals. “This season both Varsity and Junior Varsity Teams were undefeated and demonstrated an unfathomable depth of knowledge and

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great sportsmanship. This was one of our best years and we hope to continue these wins next year,” stated club advisor Katina Price. Brainstormers is a trivia club with topics ranging from Kanye West to Chinese geography. If you’d like to participate, email Mrs. Price at kprice@commackschools. org or you can attend a meeting in the fall. Junior Varsity Team members include Captain Judith, Jordan, Evan, Anoop, and Raphael.

Thanking Our Bus Drivers

Summer Scholarships

Teacher Kim Helms-Smith and Wood Park's Bus Ambassadors and Safety Patrol Team gave goodie bags to the Wood Park bus drivers to show Wood Park's appreciation to the drivers for their dedication and commitment to getting Wood Park students to and from school every day. The Safety Patrol and Bus Ambassador Programs are part of Wood Park's Peaceful Bus Program. The program is designed to increase positive student interactions on our school buses and creates community and responsibility among students riding the bus. The goodie bags were decorated and packed by Mrs.Gromalski's Little Leaders Club.

Congratulations to Marina and Catherine on winning the Usdan Scholarship Award. Each year, the Commack PTA Council Arts-in-Education Committee awards two $1,000 scholarships to Commack Middle School students for their exceptional talent, commitment, and experience in the performing and/or visual arts. The scholarship will assist them in attending the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts Summer Camp. Featured in the picture are Principal Anthony Davidson, Marina, Catherine, and guidance counselors Denise Pihlkar, Nancy Neibloom, and Jeff DiLorenzo.

First Class Experience from the Suffolk County Police Department

Students in Jeff Trebour’s class and the entire student body at Burr Intermediate School had a special visit from the Suffolk County Police Department. It was a memorable experience thanks to John Barry, 1st Deputy Commissioner, SCPD, whose daughter is in Mr. Trebour’s class. On hand to teach the children what the police department does and what police officers and the department can do for you were officers and vehicles from Emergency Response, K-9 (canine), and local,

highway, and motorcycle patrol. The favorite demonstration was given by the K-9 unit (photo above). Students watched the well-trained and powerful German Shepherds respond to orders and commands “barked out” by their commanding officers. Students learned that the dog’s presence is a deterrent to crime. Their superior sense of smell alone makes them a valuable law enforcement tool that saves lives and improves efficiency in overall police work.

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Students were able to sit in “Big Bear,” an armored vehicle that can carry the Emergency Response Unit officers to deal with situations that require a larger presence, more force, or greater protection for both its officers and communities. If a suspicious package or actual bomb has been spotted, emergency responders may also use a robot to handle the situation (photo on right). Many thanks to all the police officers who protect and help us every day.


The Weather Down Under S y d n e y, a research student at the high school, has been working on a weather reanalysis project, also known as weather backcasting. Backcasting is when weather data, like precipitation or temperature, is able to be recreated without the existence of previous weather records. Sydney’s goal was to take concrete historical data from a weather recording station off the southwestern coast of Australia, and compare it to the data that a model recreated from the same time period. She prepared a poster summarizing her research, and it is the only United States high school student’s poster that will be presented at the ACRE Workshop and Historical Weather and Climate Data Forum, taking place at the University of Maynooth, in Ireland. The ACRE is a conference in which many different meteorologists from around the world meet to discuss a variety of topics, such as data recreation and digitization. Sydney worked closely with Mac Benoy, a meteorologist for the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology, who, “Coached me though this entire project, supplying me with both the historical and

recreated data, and providing Background Information valuable insight and guidance for me throughout the entire experience. He was able to secure my spot at the ACRE FoPurpose Methodology M rum.” Mac Benoy said, “We have Results had the pleasure of working with Sydney on this scientific Year 20CR Model (mm) Recorded (mm) 1870 510.5 643.128 study to deter1871 456.1 812.3682 1872 559.4 680.466 mine how well a 1874 537.6 491.236 1875 487.0 821.0042 leading weather 1876 449.4 460.883 model is able to recreate global Future Implications weather of 140 years ago. This has never been done for the Southern Ocean, an important source of world weather patterns. Sydney’s work combines data she derived from Australia’s earliest weather network (1870) with data from a leading weather backcasting model out of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado. The quality of her work is underscored with the upcoming display of her poster at the annual conference of historic climate scientists at Maynooth University, Ireland.” Judging the Accuracy of the 20CR Weather Reanalysis System: A Comparison with 19th Century Weather Observations

• Debates over anthropogenic global warming, and the potentially ‘looming and significant changes in future climate’ represent one of the dominant narratives of the 21st century. • As the Southern Ocean is an important source of the world's climate, changes in its weather patterns are important input to the analysis of global climatic change. • The starting point for an analysis is an accessible historical record of weather in the Southern Ocean, which would allow comparison with current data. • In the mid 19th Century Charles Todd, a pioneer Australian meteorologist established a network of observation stations which recorded 3-hourly weather data. Important among these was the Cape Borda Lighthouse which recorded weather as it came north from the Southern Ocean. • The 20th Century Reanalysis model is a weather hindcasting system conceived and run by the Earth Systems Research Laboratory (CIRES, Fig. 1: Sir Charles Todd Fig. 2: Original Weather Log University of Colorado). It attempts to recreate comprehensive climate data stretching back 200 years. late • 20CR uses surface air pressure observations as a starting point to simulate the full array of the Earth’s weather patterns including rainfall and temperature at a resolution of 2 degree latitude/longitude. Much of observation data comes from ACRE-facilitated global citizen science digitization projects.

Using rainfall as an indicator, to determine how reliable the 20CR reanalysis system is in recreating the historical climate record of the Southern Ocean during the latter half of the 19th century.

• • • • •

In doing a paired t-test, comparing the recorded data to the data produced by the model, the p-value was 0.04 . Because the p-value is less than 0.05, there is a significant different between the two sets of data Because the p-value is so close to 0.05, the two sets are not drastically different, but still enough to be considered different. The 20CR Model almost always predicted a lower amount of rainfall than the amount of rainfall that actually occurred. Because of a “small” amount of data that was used in the calculation, the p-value from the t-test may not be accurate.

Table 1: Finalized Data

Fig. 3: Graphical comparison of the model and the recorded data

• •

Another data set, containing the years 1894-1899, will be analyzed to further understand the capabilities of the 20CR model. This data set will further illustrate how accurate the model is in re-creating actual historical rainfall.

S d

Photographic Splendor

Junior Brooke is an amazing young photographer. She won first place in the Photographic Society of America (PSA) Youth Showcase; she will be featured in the September 2016 issue of the PSA Journal for her award winning photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge. She was awarded $175, as well as membership and a subscription to the PSA


Journal. This past month, Brooke also swept the awards at the Photographic Federation of Long Island in several categories: "Color Choice" 1st Place, "People" 2nd Place, and "Architecture" 3rd Place. Congratulations to Brooke (with lead art teacher Rob Raeihle in photo), and we hope to see more of her work in the future!

1) Digitize raw weather data supplied in images of Australia Bureau of Meteorology records. 2) Extract data from the 20CR model and compare it with the data that was digitized.

Si t

Poetry Accolades

Commack High School World Languages students earned accolades for their performance at the Long Island Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Italian Poetry Contest held at SUNY Old Westbury. In preparation for the poetry contest, students memorized and dramatized excerpts from several well-known literary works written by famous Italian authors. More than 250

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students from across Nassau and Suffolk Counties competed in the event this year, and four students representing our District earned special recognition: Level 5 Seniors: 1st place - Kellyann 2rd place - Thomas Level III Sophomores: 3rd place - Raphael Honorable Mention - Lauren

Commack FBLA New York State Winners In April, the Commack Chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America attended the New York State Leadership Conference, hosted by NYS FBLA. This conference is attended by over 600 FBLA student members from New York State. “The students prepared and studied and

boy did it show. We are so proud to announce the winners of the New York State Leadership Conference, 2016,” said advisor Sandra Braun. Any student that earned first through fourth place at the competition has the opportunity to represent Commack at the National Conference in Atlanta.

Publication Design: Banking and Finance: Cyber Security: Networking Concepts: Help Desk: Hospitality Management: Insurance Risk Management: Basic Decision Making: Marketing: Business Ethics: Agribusiness:

Brandon and Jeremy - 2nd place Michelle, Lauren, and Mailysa - 2nd place Rick - 2nd place Rick - 5th Place Lauren - 2nd place Giovanna, Tara, and Olivia - 2nd place Brian - 3rd place Abinaya - 4th place Greg, Brian and Jessica - 4th place Alexis and Abinaya – 4th Place Amy - 5th place

Teaching Children Street Smarts All of the students at Wood Park walked roundtrip from Wood Park to Sawmill on a lovely spring morning in April for the first annual Safety Walk! This program is one component of the collaboration between the Smithtown Youth Bureau Safe Routes to School Program, and Wood Park Primary School, with help on the walk from the staff, the SCPD 4th Precinct, Wood Park PTA volunteers, and the Commack School District security staff. Prior to the students setting off on their journey, Police Officer Dono spoke with the students about many pedestrian safety topics such as how to cross safely in a cross walk, the importance of us-

ing a sidewalk when one is available, how to be aware of cars pulling out of driveways when walking on a sidewalk, the reasons we face traffic when we are pedestrians, how to cross a street, and making sure you’re dressed properly, including tying your shoelaces. In addition to the safety education, Youth Bureau’s Gina Shalhoub also discussed the many health benefits of walking for fun and for exercise. Each of the children received a complimentary “Walk With Me to Wood Park Primary School” activity book from the Smithtown Youth Bureau. Over 120 miles were walked during the school day by the students!

Look up, not at your cell phone

Look left, look right, then look left again before crossing the street!

Walk facing traffic!

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Middle School Student Honors Suffolk County Public Service Award Recipient The Suffolk County Executive Award was created to recognize and honor a deserving student who has combined academic success with a commitment to the community. This year, eighth grader Skyla was nominated as the recipient at the Commack Middle School. Skyla is a hard-working, well-balanced high-honor roll student with the spirit of giving. She has helped new students navigate their way around our middle school, participated in our school play, and is a member of both our soccer and track teams. Skyla has assisted at a special needs dance class at the NXG dance studio, learning basic sign language to better communicate with students who are hearing impaired. Skyla volunteers at a youth soccer camp, teaching drills and creating games to make the practices

more enjoyable for the children. Skyla also collected 25 cleats and donated them to Peace Passers Organization, which provides soccer equipment to communities that have limited access to proper gear. This young lady also recently volunteered at her parish to make wash kits for those in need. Skyla truly understands the concept of “service above self!” Congratulations to Skyla and to all students that make a positive difference in our community. In photo with Skyla are middle school principal, Anthony Davidson, and guidance counselor Christine Nicols.

Office Of State Comptroller Student Achievement Award The Office of the State Comptroller recognizes students who have shown academic excellence and the potential for leadership involvement in activities that have improved the school or community. This year, eighth grader Gabriella, “Gabby” was chosen for the award. Gabby moved to Commack in sixth grade and made quite the smooth transition, establishing herself quickly by getting involved and making connections. She is a hardworking member of the National Junior Honor Society, an instrumental member of the Student Council Executive Board, and she maintains consistent high-honor roll status. Gabby’s commitment requires Gabby also plays softball for our hours of her time, and Gabby is school team. truly an asset to our school and Gabby dedicates so much community. of her time to making our school In photo with Gabby are a better place, and had a big Director of Guidance, Jonathan role working on the annual Is- Macaluso, and guidance counland Harvest Food Drive. selor Kim Denton. 12

Triple “C” Awards Recipients

The “Triple-C Awards” program is sponsored by the New York State Office of the Attorney General, to recognize the “Character, Courage, and Commitment” of New York’s hardworking students. Middle school students who have shown a tremendous dedication to learning, to their community, and to their classmates are nominated annually by their school counselors for this award. Eighth graders and classmates Ava and Amanda are this year’s winners. Dedication, friendship, and teamwork have been the key ingredients to their success stories. Both girls are enrolled in Ms. Cohn’s Global Citizens Enrichment class this year and have taken on a very special project to help children across the world. Ava was inspired and learned the concept of giving when she was very young. Ava and her family have held an annual tradition of providing holiday presents to a special family in need. From those early childhood moments, she was inspired to help people. Ava plays softball and field hockey and excels academically. Amanda comes from a family of Girl Scouts who understand the spirit of service— her mom is a Girl Scout leader and her sister is a Gold Award recipient. Amanda is currently working on her Silver Award by working with “Friends of Freddie Pet Rescue” foundation.

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She helps to make the pets beds from recycled, shredded paper for adoptable animals. Amanda also helped with a book drive and read to a class at a special needs school in Brooklyn. Amanda aspires to be a teacher in the future. Amanda is on the track team, plays basketball and was the field hockey captain. She is a superb student academically. Together, Amanda and Ava worked hard on their Global Citizens class project. They researched a website on the organization Develop Africa, ( a U.S. based non-profit charity organization working to establish meaningful and sustainable development in Africa. They learned about a Dream Home for orphans needing school supplies, and set a goal to collect enough new or gently used school supplies to fill 22 backpacks, one for each child. The girls led a drive by posting flyers, writing an article for the school paper and contacting various companies for donations and discounts. They collected money to ship the backpacks to the Dream Home in Africa. Their passion and dedication to their project is helping to touch the lives of children on a global scale. In photo with Amanda and Ava are Guidance Director, Jonathan Macaluso, guidance counselors Kim Denton and Christine Nicols, teacher Toni Cohn, and Principal Anthony Davidson.

“Shrek” Star Claims Top Prize in Statewide Writing Competition How many eighth graders earn $100 and a ticket to a gala for writing a letter? This year, at least one. John, who recently starred in the Commack Middle School musical production of “Shrek,” can now take a bow for winning this year’s Library of Congress “Letters About Literature” writing competition for New York State. “I am extremely excited because I feel it’s just an amazing honor,” said John about his top placement for grades 7-8. The competition asked students to write a letter to an author, explaining how reading their story changed their lives. John wrote a letter to George Orwell. When asked why he

wrote to Orwell out of all the authors born after the turn of the century that might be a likely pick, John gave an answer that many a bibliophile can relate to. “His books really inspired me.” Orwell is best know for his works such as “Animal Farm” and “1984.” As the NYS winner, John attended the New York State Writers Hall of Fame Induction Gala. Among this year’s inductees are ground-breaking 21st century writers such as Toni Morrison (Beloved) and Stephen Sondheim (Into the Woods). In photo with John are Charles Schulz, Director of English, and his English Language Arts teacher, Laurel Ormiston.

Distracted Driving = Death

The Smithtown Youth Bureau and Stony Brook Hospital joined with students from Commack High School’s Students Against Drunk Driving to build awareness of the dangers of reckless and distracted driving. The SADD members attended a half-day training session in February where they learned how to teach others and presented the prgoram to all tenth grade health classes in April, which is National Teen Distracted Driving Month. Week-long public service announcements on Commack High School’s morning CTN News channel ( chs/tvnews/) also carried the message that distracted driving is the number one killer of teens in America. The program is from a non-profit in California called “Impact Teen Drivers,” and the specific program the students presented to their peers was ‘What Do You Consider Lethal?” Although many schools have programs where they bring in speakers to talk to the students, very few offer a student-to-student program. Video interviews and reenactments of vehicular crashes and the disastrous results of just a few seconds of inattention while behind the wheel provided powerful insight into the impact on the driver or his/her passengers, friends, and families. The message: Don’t text and drive. Make a conscious commitment to avoid any lethal distractions.

Courant Does It Again!

Commack High School’s student newspaper, The Courant, won 13 individual awards at the Long Island Press competition in a variety of categories. This year's island-wide contest had an estimated 2,000 entries, and was judged by professionals in the industry. Congratulations to the following students: • • • • • • • • • • • • •

1st Place Financial News Reporting: Anna 1st Place School News Reporting: James 1st Place Religion/Multicultural Reporting: Alyssa 2nd Place Section Layout: Sydney 2nd Place Entertainment Headline: Katherine 2nd Place Column Writing: Anna 2nd Place Social Media Coverage: Ray 2nd Place Technology Reporting: Ray 3rd Place Illustration: Sydney 3rd Place Entertainment Headline: Katherine 3rd Place Social Media Reporting: Michelle 3rd Place Feature Headline: Megan 3rd Place In Depth Reporting: Zack & James

The Commack Courier


CMS Pen-Pal Project

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? Remember the days of having a pen-pal? Eighth grade students in Victoria Grennan’s Italian classes at Commack Middle School used pen and paper to correspond (in Italian) with students attending Istituto Comprensivo XIII Aprile, located in Soci-Bibbiena, Italy. Mrs. Grennan recalled, “Back in December, I was able to establish a correspondence with an Italian teacher of 8th grade English, who was interested in having our students write to one another the traditional way. Both groups of students were very excited, but many students asked why we were sending letters, when there is so much technology available to us today. When students received their letters, after weeks of anxiously waiting, the word ‘surprised’ could hardly describe their reaction. Two days in class were spent opening some very elaborately decorated letters, sharing information that pen-pals had divulged to their partners, and ogling over GIFTS that were sent by the students in Italy. Needless to say, after this experience, the students were even more motivated to find out about their new friends in Italy.” After a few months of letter writing, an even more exciting experience - Skyping with their pen-pals, and seeing the faces and hearing the voices of the students they had been writing to. A very civilized affair, the students introduced themselves, in both Italian and English, and then asked questions regarding both traditional and modern Italian and American culture. The students celebrated in Italy. compared their school systems, and talked about T.V. shows, “This was such a great opportunity for my students,” said Mrs. the books they read, the music they listen to, places they have Grennan, “meeting and communicating with people across the Atvisited, how they celebrate their holidays, and how Carnevale is lantic and learning and comparing their cultures.”

R o n a l d M c D o n a l d K i d s ’ Wa l k

North Ridge Primary School participated in a hugely successful weeklong Ronald McDonald Kids Walk. The program began with the entire school outside on the blacktop to do some warm up exercises to prepare for the walk. Ronald McDonald then visited all the classrooms to talk to the children about the Ronald McDonald House 14

and thanked them for their donations. The children, teachers, and lunch aides were very enthusiastic about getting as many laps in as they could each day at lunch or recess. Physical education teacher, Mrs. Esposito, mapped out a track and placed a bucket of Popsicle sticks to collect for each completed lap. This helped the children to remember how many laps they The Commack Courier

did so they could inform their sponsors. Mrs. Esposito would then post class totals on a fun bulletin board displayed in the hall. Some students were able to do between 12 and 25 laps a day, the equivalent of walking one to two miles. Thank you to the children and their sponsors. The Ronald McDonald Kids Walk fundraiser was a great way to kick off a summer of healthy activities.

Service Learning: Teaching Children to Care for Others

North Ridge Primary School students in Cyndi Nichols’ first grade class and Donna Sandak's kindergarten class completed their “Service Learner” year by making popsicle frames for their friends at The Bristal Assisted Living Facility in East Northport. They decorated the frames with beautiful shapes, and completed 45 frames to share. These two classes have worked tirelessly all school year long for their community. From Hal-

loween masks for the children in Stony Brook Hospital to a wonderful Valentine's Day concert at The Bristal, each student felt that they had made someone else's day a little brighter! We celebrate their efforts to share a smile throughout their community! In photos above, the Mrs. Nichol’s class is on the left, and Mrs. Sandak’s class is on the right. In the smaller photo, first graders create their gifts for the residents at The Bristal.

Saving the Subways from Flooding Two Commack High School juniors are in the spotlight for designing a metal grate that would block almost all floodwater from reaching the subway tunnels, as it did during the storm surge caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Raymond and Kyle, both Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Finalists, presented their design prototype at the recent competition in Phoenix, AZ, and are featured in the Society for Science online journal Much of the floodwaters enter the subway system via ventilation grates, which are at ground level. Using the same size grate dimensions as those in use now, Ray and Kyle created a scale model using a 3D printer that allows the grates to be closed. When the grate is open, there is air flow to the tunnels below. Unlike the grates used now, the teens’ invention, operated with a tamperproof key, allows the grate to be closed, blocking water from entering. Their research project, entitled “Combating Storm Surge Inun-

dation in New York City Subway Stations” also won the RICOH Sustainability Award, the American Metertological Society Award, and the the Best in Fair, All Categories, at the State level competition (NYSSEF). The students’ invention would not be expensive to implement, and subways world-wide would benefit from using their system, as it is adaptable for use on any size grate. In photo, Kyle is on the left, Raymond is on right.

The Commack Courier



Students in Jamie Coppola and Maria Ruffini’s kindergarten classes at Indian Hollow Primary School celebrated Earth Day by reading about our planet, creating naturethemed hats, and painting watercolor pictures. They finished by planting flowers to brighten up our planet.

In Mary Fox’s first grade class, the children learned about preserving Earth’s natural resources, and gained an appreciation of how everyone can help in this task. They decided to beautify the courtyard by planting flowers. Thanks to the help of the very dedicated and generous parents at Indian Hollow, the courtyard was weeded and the soil turned over so that students could plant. It was a team effort and thanks to all involved, the courtyard looks beautiful.



The Rolling Hills students are pictured planting azalea bushes in the courtyard in recognition of Earth Day. The students observed and discussed the root system and how to best care for their class plant. Pink flowers bloomed in May to welcome spring. Wood Park children teamed up with the Commack Library to create cardboard box structures, learning to recycle and help save Mother Earth’s limited resources.


The Commack Courier

SAWMILL STUDENTS + MATH TOURNAMENT = SUCCESS! Congratulations to Mandracchia Sawmill Intermediate School’s fourth and fifth grade Continental Math League teams for bringing home trophies at the Suffolk Math Tournament. A special congratulations goes to Alyssa for placing second in the fourth grade individual event. In photo are student members of the teams and coach/adviisors: Stephanie Ierano, Patricia Tappin, Roberta Harris, and Fran Lettieri.

They Have What It Takes: Recognition for Business Acumen Five Commack High School students received accolades at the Long Island Business Teachers Association annual Business Education Contest held recently. The students competed against more than 220 of their peers from 20 other schools in competitions such as: accounting, business calculations, business law, business principles, computer applications, marketing, personal finance, sports marketing, web design, word processing and more. Congratulations to: Matthew, 1st place, Business Principles John, 1st place, Computer Applications Patrick, 1st place, Business Law (not in photo) Sabrina, 2nd place, Word Processing Todd, 5th place, Sports Marketing ... and to their teachers, Sandra Braun and Carol Duckfield.

HELPING OUR FURRY FRIENDS For the past three years, Burr Intermediate School students have generously collected donations for their four-legged friends at the Little Shelter in East Northport. In addition to the Little Shelter, students brought in items to support the Guide Dog Foundation of Smithtown, a wonderful organization that provides guide dogs (free of charge) to help increase the independence of people with

disabilities. Arleen Leone of the Little Shelter in East Northport kicked off our annual drive with an assembly for the entire school. She and her puppy Clara stressed the importance of caring for our furry pals, and all the animals of our community. Both organizations were grateful for the efforts of Burr’s staff and students. In photo, Vincent with Clara.

The Commack Courier


Burr’s Brookhaven Science Fair Winners S i i i and d discovery di ti Science inquiry continues to thrive at Burr Intermediate School. In March, students participate in the Burr Annual Science Fair. Two projects from each grade level are chosen to represent our school at the 2016 Brookhaven National Lab Elementary Science Fair, held in May. This year, the students who represented Burr were: Nell and Jake (grade 3), Jillian and Gracen (grade 4), and Rishin and Ryan (grade 5). About 120 schools from across Suffolk County participate in BNL annual event. Volunteer BNL scientists and teachers are teamed up to judge over 500 projects from grades K-6. We are pleased to announce that Burr had three winners!

G iin M Grace, Mrs. Campa’s fourth grade class, won Honorable Mention for her project, “Gender Sterotypes.” Rishin, in Mrs. Rosner’s fifth grade class, won Honorable Mention for his project, “Point of a Parabola: Does it Boost the Wi-Fi Signal?” and Ryan, in Mr. Ball’s fifth grade, class won Honorable Mention for his project, “Virtual Reality.” This is the second year in a row that Burr has had three Honorable Mention winners at the Brookhaven Fair. Four banners

hang in the school, from previous overall winners. Burr Intermediate School continues to win yearly honors at this prestigious fair, which is a testament to Commack School District’s commitment to science. In photo, congratulating the young scientists are Assistant Principal, Donna Forbes, and Sue Rosner, Burr Science Fair Coordinator.

Second Graders Leave Their Legacy

All second graders at all four primary schools worked with artist Cathy Russell on Legacy Projects, sponsored by each school’s PTA Arts-in-Education Committees. Each project will leave a unique and personal “piece” of each child at their elementary school - to revisit at a future time. At Wood Park each student created a ceramic tile, in various shapes and colors, for the Legacy Project. The tiles were designed to be the tesserae (pieces) for a mosaic bench that is the latest addition to the "Sole" Mates mural in the front lobby. These students are moving on, but they sure had fun leaving their "mark" on Wood Park! At Rolling Hills, work has continued for three years on this second grade legacy project, hanging in the windows at the front breezeway of the school. Cathy drew flowers, butterflies, bees, and watering cans on plastic discs that the students colored in with 18

special paints. The discs are connected with wire and as the sun shines through them, the breezeway is washed in color! At Indian Hollow, the second graders continued to work on a Legacy Project located in the Fred R. Horowitz Multi-Purpose Room. For the last three years, students in Mrs. Tumminello’s art classes “Sole Mate” impressions using the bottom of their shoes. These small sole impressions are made in clay, fired, and glazed by the children. This year students created two clouds which accompany a sun and their 50th Anniversary Tree. North Ridge created rainbow tiles, inspired by the Maya Angelou quote, “Be the rainbow in someone’s cloud.” Clay imprints from the soles of their shoes were glazed and fired to create a gorgeous mosaic piece of art that is displayed at the school opposite the entrance to the main office.

The Commack Courier

Not Just Books: Libraries Offer Many Options Some very exciting events occur at the Commack Middle School Library. From Maker Space creations to video conferences, to contests for checking out the most books, librarians Carolyn Burton and Joan Hanley, along with library aides Virginia Maina and Eloise Rojas, had a very busy year. A visit to the library offers a chance to look at Google cardboard glasses, phone prisms, QR code messages, projectors in a box, and robot artists. Maker Spacers have also discovered the Makey Makey, an invention kit that allows users to connect everyday objects to computer programs. Did you ever play a tune on a banana? Makey Makey users have! Maker Space creators attended SLIME - the Students of Long Island Maker Expo. Aside from the inventive items

mentioned above, Heather (photo) walked down the runway in her trash to fashion show ensemble. I bet you didn’t think you could wear a book and read it as well! As you can see, the CMS library has so much more to offer than books and databases. Stop by in the fall when you get off the bus, get a pass for ELO or lunch, and come on in for a visit.

Sea creatures made the top of the list for the students in Danielle Cooper’s class at Mandracchia-Sawmill. During library class with Joan Hanley, the class explored many different types of animals. Insects, pets, farm animals, sea animals, and jungle animals. The class then voted on the species that interested them the most, and became true authors and illustrators. They carefully researched manatees, sea turtles, jellyfish, narwhals, sharks and seals. They also made special depictions for each which are included in their book, “Ocean Creatures.” These hard working authors and illustrators celebrated the publication of their book with teachers and administrators.

Still Collecting to Kick Kid’s Cancer

This year, the Commack School District collected almost $80,000 in its annual fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s Foundation. North Ridge Primary School students brought in loose change and bills to donate to St. Baldrick’s, as well as a number of students who had their heads shaved at the event. The children in the class that brought in the most money (Ms. Oliveto’s kindergarten class brought in $350.06) received a St. Baldrick’s

T-shirt and a gift certificate for a free slice of pizza and a soda at Filetto’s. The second place class (Ms. Eberhardt’s first grade class, $288.04) also received a T-shirt, as did Ms. Rowan’s class, which contributed $154.29. In total, the school collected $1,420.15 in change and bills. School psychologist James Fawcett leads the charge at North Ridge, and is a real hero for kids with cancer.

Going Batty at IH

The first graders at Indian Hollow learned about living things this year. To extend that learning, Mrs. Beth Wrede from the Long Island Science Center, visited the students to present a great program all about bats! Most people don’t realize that bats are helpful to the environment and quite peaceful animals. The children were able to examine several bat skeletons as well as participate in an echolocation experiment. Mrs. Wrede brought a slide show, which helped educate the students on what various bats look like and where they live. Each student also got to make his/her own clothespin bat to use as a magnet or a bookmark.

The Commack Courier


SAAWA Competition

The first SAAWA Science Fair was held in April, followed by an Awards Ceremony on May 15, 2016. The fair was intended to be a celebration of science, ingenuity, and the creative spirit. SAAWA, the South Asian American Women’s Alliance, presented a platform for students to compete as equals, and where they would be evaluated only on the basis of how well they have managed to express their interests and thinking in comparison to their peers. Charity won first place in biology at the fair, and the team of Megan, Kelly, and Julia took third place in biology. Ibrahim Khan won third place in physics. This year's fair received en-

tries from 129 participants from 13 schools across Long Island. Each presentation was based on actual experiments and field observations performed by participants using established scientific methods. The research for each entry had been conducted for a maximum of 15 continuous months (June 2014 - December 2015) by individuals or teams of up to three students. Entries were by subject and a team of 18 judges led by Professor Suresh Sahni, of Willliam Patterson University, NJ, evaluated the entries. In photo, from left to right: science teacher, Jeanette Collette, students Charity, Megan, Kelly, Julia, and Ibrahim, lab assistant Andrea Beatty, and science teacher Richard Kurtz.

Tulip p Festival Artists

Four Burr students entered the 16th Annual Tulip Festival School Art Contest, held in Huntington the first Sunday in May. Their depictions of tulips were created with colored pencils during their art classes under the guidance of art teachers, Carolann Lally and Geralyn Russo. Fourth grade student, Anthony, came in first place for his grade and fourth grader Logan came in second! Jack, fifth grade, and Lucia were also entrants in the contest.

Anthony received a $50 gift card courtesy of Astoria Bank, and Mrs. Lally, also received a $50 gift card to be used for classroom needs. Reproductions of the winning works of art were displayed at the Heckscher Museum of Art and at Heckscher Park, Huntington, during the Tulip Festival. Pictured here are the 4 students with art teachers Ms. Russo, Mrs. Lally, as well as Assistant Principal, Mrs. Donna Forbes, and Principal, Paul Schmelter.

Junior Achievement Award for Students’ Museum App Alexis, Michelle and Giovanna placed third in the Annual Junior Achievement Business Plan Competition. Each young lady received a monetary award of $750, prestigious plaques, and a beautiful placement award for the school. During the concluding round of an intensive threemonth business education program and competition, six finalist teams (out of 125 teams) presented their proposals for innovative arts and entertainment products and services to 20

a panel of high profile business judges at the all-day event held at KKR offices in midtown New York. Following a series of knock-out preliminary rounds, our Commack team “MuZam” took third place, impressing judges with their idea for an app that supplements and/or substitutes for tour guides in museums. Using the MuZam app, visitors of the museum can learn more about the history and background of the art in front of them. In photo with students (on right) is advisor Sandra Braun. The Commack Courier

Sending A Cube Into Outer Space

Cubes in Space™, an idoodlelearning Inc. Program in collaboration with NASA’s Langley Research Center and Colorado Space Grant Consortium, offers global design competitions for students 1118 years of age to develop STEM-based experiments for launch into space. Commack High School students Kyle and Kazuo’s project centered on invertebrate microorganisms called rotifers. This year, nearly 500 educators and thousands of students from 22 countries participated and proposed experiments for a spot on a NASA sounding rocket or high-altitude scientific balloon mission, of which a total of 160 designs were selected. Kyle and Kazuo’s project was one of them.

Students and educators were exposed to engaging online content and activities in preparation for the design and development of an experimental payload to be integrated into a small cube. Throughout the experience, students developed key 21st century skills; communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. The experiments will be launched via sounding rocket in June 2016 from NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia or by high-altitude scientific balloon in August 2016 from NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. In photo with students is science teacher and mentor, Richard Kurtz.

More Science Kudos...

Resolving Cause of Floor-Fractured Craters

Commack High School science research students Mike, Trevor, and Nicole used satellite data from the lunar surface to explore the contributing factors of fractures in the floor of the Moon. Commack was one of the top four scoring schools in the Exploration of the Moon and Asteroids by Secondary Students (ExMASS) poster and research competition, managed by the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration.ExMASS is an academic, year-long, national standards-based lunar/asteroid research program that envelops students in the process of science. Floor fractures are found in relatively few craters on the moon and the cause of their formation is a mystery. There are two proposed ideas for the cause of these fractures. The mechanism causing floor-fractured craters has been hypothesized to be either magmatic

intrusions or viscous relaxation. Due to the lack of gravity data in earlier studies, a definite answer was not determined. Recently, gravity data from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) has provided new insight into how floor-fractured craters form, and based on the data, the students concluded that magmatic intrusion is the cause of floor-fractured craters. This experiment is important because it allows for a better understanding of lunar surface activity. The student’s research poster will be displayed this summer at the Exploration Science Forum held at the NASA Ames Research Center in Iowa. In photo, from left to right: science research teacher/mentor Jeanette Collette, Mike, Trevor, Nicole, science research teacher/mentor Richard Kurtz, and lab assistant Andrea Beatty.

At the June Board of Education meeting, the Board recognized students who won math and science awards at the following competitions: • • • • • • • •

National Physics Olympiad Junior Science & Humanities Symposium NYSSEF National Chemistry Olympiad International Science & Engineering Fair LISEF Regional Science Bowl STANYS

Congratulations to these students and the many others who work so hard to succeed! The Commack Courier


Silver Anniversary Celebration The Commack School District hosts a celebration to honor those who have worked here for 25 years, and those about to begin a new time in their lives (retirement). This year, 20 retirees and seven Silver Anniversary honorees were recognized at the Annual Retirement and Silver Anniversary Gala, held at Commack Middle School. Reza Kolahifar, Personnel Director, was the Master of Ceremonies, and the ladies who work with him in personnel planned this delightful event. Honorees were presented with plaques and flowers to commemorate their service to the District and its students. Thank you to Frank Hansen and the Commack High School ICA Jazz Messengers for their sweet music. We wish all our honorees a fulfilling future, and thank you for your many years of dedication to the students tudents of Commack. In photo with this year’s honorees are Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Donald James, and Executive Director of Personnel, Reza Kolahifar. Silver Anniversary niversary Honorees: Gloria Fernandez, Paul Fieman, Larry Natale, Kathleen Olesen, James Oliveri, Jeri Schwartz, and Deborah Slesinski. Retirees: Ellen Aquilino, Ann Bonosoro, Joyce Conneely, Carmela DeMaio, Janet Doktor, Sari Farber, Patricia Foster, Barbara Isaacson, Janet LaRosa, Fran Mazeika, Margaret Monckton, Catherine Nolan, Eileen Rogers, Karin Schierwagen, Kathleen Terrell, and JoAnn Waggoner.

A Fond Farewell from Commack High School Principal, Catherine Nolan Dear Members of the Commack Community, Upon deep reflection and with immeasurable gratitude, I am retiring at the conclusion of this school year, effective July 1, 2016. It has been my honor and privilege to serve the children of Commack High School for the past twenty years, first in the area of Special Education and then in Administration as Commack High School’s Principal. As the Educational Leader of our premier high school, I have experienced unquantifiable pride and joy as I worked alongside the very finest district and building-level educators and leaders as we cultivated our students’ minds, hearts, and very souls, supported by our Superintendent’s and Board of Education’s unwavering commitment to excellence. I have been enriched by the countless relationships built throughout my tenure at Commack High School. I wish to thank the entire Commack community – my second family – for entrusting your children to me. Due to your sacred trust and belief in our shared vision as to what is best for children, you afforded me the opportunity to build strong young lives, steeped in purpose and a sense of giving back to humanity. I am immensely grateful and humbled to know that my life’s work has bettered the lives of others – in some small way. By challenging our students’ minds with rich academia embedding choice and challenge, they continue to find success. Intentionally nurtur22

ing the whole child by focusing on their social and emotional health, we cultivate a resilient mindset creating competent and confident learners – learners who will go forth into the world to accomplish great things, with a growth mindset, a “can do” attitude that propels them forward. Thank you for sharing your children with me throughout the years. Know that they have enriched my life beyond measure as I now embrace this next phase. I cherish the memories. As we transition in this area of building leadership, rest assured that your children are “in good hands.” Our district leadership will conduct a timely and comprehensive search, to include various stakeholders’ voices in the process, to select my successor who will continue to support our vision, but most importantly, build young men and women who reflect and define us as an educational community. With Gratitude,

Catherine D. Nolan

The Commack Courier

The Great Barrier Reef at Burr

Did you know the Great Barrier Reef is so huge; it is the only structure, made up of living creatures, that can be seen from space?

Third graders in Amy Mazur and Kristen House’s classes studied the continent of Australia and learned about its culture, the wildlife, and the Great Barrier Reef.

Escaping from the Classroom

High school science teacher, Ryan McGrath, used the recently popularized Escape Room concept and adapted it for his chemistry classes. The basic premise is that you and your team are “locked” in a themed room and the only way out is to solve a series of problems and puzzles hidden all around the room. He had his Regents students create

Both classes worked diligently to create and assemble their own coral-reef mural and shared some important facts to help preserve and protect the reef.

PTA Reflections Winner

challenge questions for their counterpart class and his Pre-IB chemistry students. He then created an outdoor classroom experience in the greenhouse and the courtyard. Over the course of a couple of weeks, students created questions, thought up puzzles and clues, and organized a “Mad Chemist’s Escape” challenge. The Commack Courier

Congratulations to Sawmill fifth grader, Jake, who is a recipient of the National PTA Award of Merit in Film Production in the National PTA Annual Reflections Competition. Congratulations on surpassing the competition at the local and State levels. In photo with Jake are PTA President, Tara Darvassy, and Assistant Principal, Evelyn Cardenas-Smith.


Experiencing Future Career Options: Shadow Day

On Tuesday, April 19, 2016 over 140 Commack High School sophomores participated in a unique shadowing experience across various businesses on Long Island. This event, coordinated by Diane Nelson, Career/Internship Teacher, pro-

vides 10th grade students with an opportunity to learn about a chosen career field and the work world. Mentors shared with the students the various responsibilities of their job and offer insight into skills, education, and career pathways needed

to secure gainful employment. Seventeen students shadowed elementary and special education teachers, the occupational therapist, speech therapist, and the librarian at our own North Ridge Primary School.

That’s Show Business! Commack’s theatrical productions were a hit at the sixth annual Hunting-Tony Awards ceremony, held at the John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport. There were 25 different categories, and Commack won five Hunting-Tony awards including: Fall 2015 Production Lead Actress/Play:


Musical 2016 Productions Lead Actor/ Musical: Featured Actor/ Musical: Best Stage Crew: Best Musical:

Adam Jared Sweeney Todd Sweeney Todd!!!

Please join us in celebrating the achievements of these students and of all the talented students who worked hard on both main stage productions this year. Advisor Karen Malone said, “We are so proud of their success, and we are equally proud of the way the students supported each other at the ceremony.”

All That Jazz Celebrating “National Jazz Appreciation Month” in April, the Commack Middle School Stage Band and Jazz Band had a visit from the Five Towns College Jazz Band. The Five Towns band members sat among our band members and played our music with us. Music teacher and band leader Mark Burr said, “It was great to have college students sitting next to middle school students playing together. After we played all of our music, the Five Towns band played a small concert of their music for our students." 24

The Commack Courier

Students Honored at All-County Music Festival Commack High School

Commack Middle School


Sawmill Music teachers from school districts across Suffolk County nominate their students to participate in the annual Long Island String Festival Association (L.I.S.F.A.) and the Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association (S.C.M.E.A.) All-County Festival Concerts. 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 All-County 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 The Commack Courier

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 above contain many of our students who were chosen as outstanding musicians in Suffolk County. 25

POSTAL PATRON Commack Union Free School District Commack, New York, 11725

It was a phenomenal year for our Commack athletes! During the 2015-16 school year we have seen our athletes earn All League, All Conference, All County, All Long Island, and even All State honors. 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 Girls Basketball Team won a second straight Long Island and Suffolk County


Basketball Championship. Our Girls Fencing, Gymnastics, and Softball teams also won a Suffolk County Championship. 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. Commack High School has once again qualified as a New York State School of Dis-



tinction with ALL 32 varsity teams earning a 90% or above academic grade point average. Congratulations to all of our athletes! For the names and schools of the students in the photo above, who are all going on to play college sports, please visit the Athletic Page on the Commack Website.

We are Commack! #MACK

Girls Badminton League 1 Champions Girls Varsity Softball Suffolk County AA Champions

Boys Varsity Baseball League 1 Champions

Boys Track Team League 1 Champions

Commack Board of Education: Steven Hartman - President Janine DiGirolamo - Vice President Trustees: Jarrett Behar, MaryJo Masciello, Pamela Verity

Superintendent of Schools: Dr. Donald A. James

Commack Courier June 2016  

The annual graduation issue, highlighting our high school students and their accomplishments. Of course there's coverage of all of our other...

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