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December 2013

News from the Board of Education A

t the November meeting, the Board of Education announced its goals for the future of our District. Board President Peter Wunsch stated, “While the many State imposed mandates in finance and curriculum are impacting the schools, every decision we make is based on what is best for our students: their safety, their learning environment, and the content of their course curriculum. Our goals for 2013-2014 and beyond address the needs of the children and our staff.” The Goals are listed on page 3. The Common Core standards, curriculum, and testing are making headlines on a daily basis. NYS Education Commissioner King, as well as the NYS Senate and Assembly Education Committees have held hearings statewide. Superintendent of Commack Schools, Dr. Donald James, is outspoken about the amount of testing and the implementation of the Common Core Curriculum. His stance, as well as the Board’s, is “We are not opposed to the Common Core standards - we don’t necessarily think they are perfect, but we need more time to “un-

pack” and review, and thoughtfully implement them. However, the scripted nature of the implementation of said standards due to the administration of overly-frequent tests at specific grade levels with no allowance for developmental differences is beyond inappropriate and demonstrates a significant lack of understanding of instruction, student learning, and the varying developmental abilities of students. Given the individual nature of learning and the variations in cognitive development, the focus of schools must be on preparing students for whatever they want to do upon leaving our schools. That means focusing on the exit criteria and outcomes and allowing for varying paths and timeframes for students in reaching those goals. In Commack, over the last several years we have developed ways to track progress toward the exit goals with assessments that offer meaningful feedback to support curricular and instructional changes and student success and we should be permitted to continue that work given our results.” There are many ways to support the ad-

vocacy efforts of the Board and the PTAs. A letter, phone call, or email to our legislative representatives, the Board of Regents, or to Commissioner King is helpful, as is participation in forums. Social media sites have many groups dedicated to changing the way the Common Core Curriculum is being implemented. The Board welcomes your input at its monthly meetings and the upcoming Budget meetings. Please sign in to address the Board before or during the meeting to speak about agenda and non-agenda items. You can also contact the Board via email, phone calls, or letter. Written communication is sent to all Board members, and you will receive a response. Most meetings begin at 8:00 p.m. and are held at the Hubbs Administration Building on Clay Pitts Road. Meeting times and venues and the agenda are posted on the Commack Website. After each meeting, presentations and photos are also posted on the website. We wish you a Happy New Year!

Fast, Easy Registration: or call 457-2036

Tax Increase Decreased! In May of 2013, Commack School District residents overwhelmingly approved the 20132014 school budget with an anticipated tax levy increase of 2.91%. Thanks to conservative budgeting practices, Superintendent Dr. Donald James’ “zero-based budgeting initiative,” and the efforts of the Board of Education, administration, and staff to reduce costs and to bring in additional revenue, an additional $1.7 million is being returned to the taxpayers in the form of a lower tax levy, now set at 1.585%. The announcement and a presentation (available on the Commack Website) were made at the Board of Education Meeting on October 24. The Board unanimously approved a 1.585% tax levy (lowering the voter approved 2013-2014 levy of 2.91%). The average rate for Huntington residents will decrease from $367 to $233, and for Smithtown residents, a decrease from $378 to $251. “This is a multi-year process,” Dr. James stressed. “Year after year we fight to keep our

tax increases lower than the State mandated tax cap while also keeping our programs intact. In addition, our unrestricted reserve funds are again below the 4% cap as we continue to use these funds to keep taxes as low as possible. We are also very proud that our academic and co-curricular programs continue to flourish and that Commack has reached even higher levels of academic achievement than ever before – we are the premier district - where students have multiple opportunities to learn and thrive.” Peter R. Wunsch, Board of Education President, stated: “The Commack Board of Education made a commitment to the taxpayers that any surplus in the 2012-13 school year would be used to offset the 2013-14 tax levy. As the result of the implementation of many cost-saving measures, including a substantial reduction in interest expense on our outstanding bonds due to our excellent bond rating, we are able to reduce school property taxes for our community.”

All homeowners who are enrolled in the Basic STAR program must re-register with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance by December 31, 2013, in order to continue getting the STAR exemption for 2014 and beyond. SENIOR CITIZENS Seniors receiving the Enhanced STAR exemption DO NOT need to register with the Tax Department, but must continue applying annually with their local assessor or sign up for the Tax Department’s Income Verification Program.

The Commack Spirit of Giving S

tudents in Mrs. Cestaro’s grade five class teamed up with Mrs. Russo, art teacher, to create a magnificent display for the book, Gratitude Soup, by Olivia Rosewood. The book encourages the reader to look beyond their “wants” and focus on the gifts they already have in their lives. A tissue paper collage was made using acrylic paint, liquid starch, and multi colored paper. This artistic effect was used by the illustrator of the book. To complete the display, students brought in photographs from home to attach. Burr students in all grade levels wrote what they are thankful for and deposited their thoughts of gratitude into the display pots in the main lobby.


fter reading an article printed in the New York Times about the ‘hidden homeless’ on Long Island, students in Mrs. Angacian’s fifth grade class at Mandracchia Sawmill Intermediate School had an in-depth conversation about what it might feel like to suddenly lose their homes. They each wrote an acrostic poem about the issue and in honor of the spirit of Thanksgiving they made “Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em Care Kits” for the homeless. Each ‘kit’ contained socks, toothpaste, a toothbrush, wipes, mouthwash, hand sanitizer, deodorant, shampoo, lotion, soap, and protein bars, donated for those in need by the Mary Brennen Soup Kitchen in Hempstead.

Hundreds of Thanksgiving baskets were delivered to needy families in Commack and on Long Island thanks to the generosity of our school community and organizations. Indian Hollow students are pictured above with their donations to Island Food Harvest.

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Karin Gerges’ kindergarten class at Wood Park Primary School prepared pumpkin bread, carefully measuring and mixing the ingredients.


The second graders in Jeri Schwartz’ class made colorful turkey decorations at North Ridge Primary School.

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Commack UFSD Board of Education Goals for 2013-2014 and Beyond Curriculum and Instruction Support the continued expansion and acceleration of the curriculum alignment and articulation process in grades kindergarten through 12 in support of increased student achievement in an already high-performing district; and Support the continued expansion of course offerings in the secondary schools to allow student enrollment in the developmentally/academically appropriate programs. Budget, Finance, and Facilities Budget: Develop a fiscally-conservative budget that maintains the integrity of Commack’s programs and aligns with the community’s fiscal and academic expectations. Legislative and Political Advocacy: Seek to increase revenues by working collaboratively with local and state officials and related organizations. Capital Improvements: Continue to maintain and improve the facilities of the District through energy efficiency programs and other capital improvement funds. Personnel Teaching and Learning: Support the acquisition and maintenance of a high-quality teaching and administrative staff; Provide the necessary support in the form of ongoing professional learning opportunities Collective Bargaining: Engage in effective collective bargaining in an effort to create conditions that support high level teaching and learning simultaneously supporting short and long term fiscal goals. Security and Technology Evaluate instructional, administrative and security technology in light of recent improvements to district-wide technology infrastructure. Public Relations and Communication Continue to improve the District’s public relations and communications procedures to insure effective communication with the community at large.

BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETINGS Thursday, January 23, 2014 Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Hubbs Administrative Center at 8:00 p.m.* *The Board will convene at 6:30 p.m. and then adjourn into Executive Session. Public meetings will commence at times stated above.

Schools Closed December 23- January 3 School Reopens January 6, 2014 Click the Community Events link on the Commack Website for more events

Kindergarten Registration Children who will be five years old on or before 12/01/14 are eligible for admission to Kindergarten for the 2014-2015 school year. Kindergarten registration will take place in January 2014. Kindergarten Registration Packets will be mailed in early December. If you feel you may not be on the District census, please call Linda Caccamo in the Registration Office at 912-2028.


It’s important that parents know what’s happening in our schools. Vital school to home information is sent via email, text, and phone. More than ever, we are using email to inform you about school matters. • Parents: Update your email information on the Parent Portal. Instructions for updating your email address and for first time sign-ups are on the Commack Website. Just click on the Parent Portal button on the top of the page for instructions. • Community Members: Sign up or update your info by clicking the Email Notification link. • Daily Updates are posted on the Commack Website - or follow us on Twitter @commackschools

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StarƟng the Day in a Kind Way


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I’m he Pay It Forward (PIF) To: hen ts le, w atpan m: om: b o r a t F e r Club at Commack High o w o r s f e e m h Hom el co e like t r ly fe School spread sunshine durreal . You a y l ard I on nd you orw ing homeroom recently. The club It F u y . a e aro f P by y li members spent three days in the love of m with d e t f cafeteria helping fellow students dcra Han select a “kindness card” to send to a friend. The compliment cards were then distributed via the homeroom teachers to the students.


Club Members designed the cards with greeting such as: • I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for being there, thanks for listening. • A friend like you is like the North Star in the night sky, I may not always see you, but I know you’re always there to point me in the right direction. • You inspire me each and every day to try something new; you give me the courage I never knew I had! PIF’s intent was to make many people feel happier by getting an unexpected compliment. It’s part of PIF’s drive to support the school and the community. Club advisors are Kristin Holmes, Katina Price, and Rob Raeihle.

Commack Hosts World Language Workshop C

ommack High School was one of four schools across the state selected to host an item writing workshop for teachers of World languages. Over 40 teachers representing school districts from across Long Island and upstate gathered in the CHS library on September 26th to create authentic listening and reading comprehension questions for the FLACS Checkpoint A and B Exams in French, Spanish, Italian, German and Mandarin. FLACS is the Foreign Language Association of Chairpersons, a statewide consortium of some 230 school districts that has assumed responsibility for collaborating on the development of skill and performance-based assessments to replace the NYS Second Language Proficiency and Second Language Regents exams of years past. Pictured are workshop leaders Jenn Nesfield (Northport), Alba Gallegos (Hewlett-Woodmere), Chairperson Linda Scalise (Bay Shore), and workshop host, Commack World Language Dept. Coordinator, LauraAnne Weiss. 4




ommack Middle School’s student government initiated a school-wide candy drive and donations exceeded 275 pounds of Halloween candy. The candy was part of the Corporal Christopher G. Scherer Leave No Marine Behind Project. The candy collected was sent to troops overseas. The students, staff, and families of Commack Middle School have once again demonstrated the Commack community spirit by sharing and caring for others near and far. In photo, student government members sorted and boxed the donated candy. The Commack Courier

Rallying For Our Troops The Wounded Warrior Project Two Commack staff members took the challenge and competed in the Tough Mudder in New Jersey in October. Guidance Counselor Jeffrey DiLorenzo and Social Studies Coordinator Brian Trapani, along with some friends, showed their support of those who “have given so much for our freedom” by raising funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to “honor and empower wounded warriors” of the United States Armed Forces. The WWP works to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women, to help severely injured service members aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. Tough Mudder events are very difficult 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by the British Special Forces. Billed as the “toughest event on the planet,” Jeffrey and Brian trained for months, and finished the course in three hours and twenty-nine minutes, muddy, sore, but happy. They raised $3,326 for the Wounded Warrior Project, donated by 106 members of Commack faculty and community.

In photo, after the event, are Brian (on left) and Jeff. Congratulations to both of you! As Jeff put it, “We gave back to those who have given us our freedom - the land of the free because of the brave.” For more info: http://

Sending Holiday Cheer

Commack Schools’ annual Support Our Troops Week was a district wide success! Over 75 boxes of necessities were sorted and packed by volunteers at Burr (photo above) and transported to the Marine Corp League North Shore Queens Detachment 240 Armory (photo on right). The Marines will ship the packages overseas and pay for the mailing costs.

Diane Gandolfi’s kindergarten class at Rolling Hills Primary School wished our military a safe tour and, most importantly, a safe return in cute notes written from the heart. “My cousin served three tours, and I know how much these cards mean to our soldiers,” Ms. Gandolfi said.

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In the last nine years of this annual drive, Commack has shipped over 15,000 pounds of supplies and gifts to our troops. A special thank you to Commack’s maintenance department for transporting the items and to Debbie Virga for once again organizing such a worthwhile drive.

First graders at Indian Hollow Primary School made beautiful holiday cards for our soldiers with sweet sentiments from the children.


Forming Intergenerational Bonds


ou’re never too young (or old) to make new friends! Second grade students at Indian Hollow Primary School share their youthful enthusiasm, a seasonal craft, and a story with the residents of Gurwin Jewish Fay J. Lindner Residences each month. Dubbed the “Gurwin Senior Reading Buddies Program,” each second grade class visits during the school year, sharing books received from a Newsday Future Corps grant. Each child chooses a book to read with a senior buddy, and Gurwin supplies the craft kits. As you can see in the photos above, both the seniors and the students totally enjoy spending time with each other. They help each other complete the projects, and then the children have the opportunity to practice their reading skills. Second grade teacher Debbie Weinstein (in photo at right) said, “The original intent was to give the children an opportunity to learn about community service while fostering literacy. As you can see from the photos, it really is fun for everyone involved.”

In photos are Indian Hollow students along with their buddies.

A Garden Spot at Commack High School


yan McGrath, a Commack High School science teacher, “Spearheaded a fabulous community service program in which we planted and harvested a garden,” said Leslie Boritz, Assistant Principal. The bountiful har-

vest included cucumbers, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, and lettuce, which was all donated to a local food pantry. “We gave this garden lots of love. The students and staff weeded, watered, and cared for the vegetables

with great dedication. The community reaped the benefits of the harvest,” said Mr. McGrath. Mrs. Boritz quipped, “We are now exploring how to “grow” this program, no pun intended.”

Student Scientist Applies for Patent


rian, a junior at Commack High School, worked with Prakash Narayan, PhD, VP-Preclinical Research at Angion Biomedica, to develop a novel therapeutic for Polycystic Kidney Disease. This disease is hereditary, can affect children and adults, and currently 6

necessitates kidney and/or liver transplantation. As part of his project, Brian also evaluated a panel of biomarkers to determine their prognosticative value in disease outcome. Brian’s work has resulted in a patent application. The Commack Courier

Musical Mastery in Commack All-State Students 2013


even Commack High School instrumental and vocal musicians were selected to participate in the 2013 New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) All-State Winter Conference. The selection of these talented students followed competitive auditions involving thousands of music students from throughout New York State. During a lengthy selection process that takes place during the summer, chair people from across the state gathered to select the finest musicians to perform in various All-State ensembles. The concerts will take place in the Eastman Theater located in Rochester, New York. “It is quite an honor to be selected to perform in an All-State ensemble,” stated Paul R. Infante, Commack’s Director of Fine and Applied Arts. “Each of these musicians possess exceptional talent and we are proud that they are representing Commack on a State level.”

In photo, from left to right: Lead Music and Band Teacher Frank Hansen, Choral Director Wendy Frankonis, All-State students Olivia, Justin, Carmen, Jaeyoon, Courtney, Andelica, and Director of Fine and Applied Arts, Mr. Paul R. Infante. Missing from photo: Rebecca.

In photo, Paul Infante, Director of Fine and Applied Arts, Commack; Dr. Joel Ratner, Coordinator of Performing and Fine Arts, Brentwood, and co-coordinator of the symposium; Terry Nigrelli, Director of Cultural Arts, Bay Shore; Michel Nadeau, Commack Schools Band Director and chair of the Band Symposium; Mike Susinno, Northport Schools Orchestra Director, President of the Long Island String Festival Association (LISFA) and chair of the Orchestra Symposium: and Criag Knapp, Rocky Point Schools Choral Music Director and General Music, and chair of the Choral Symposium.


n Superintendent’s Conference Day in November, our Commack music teachers, along with 450 music educators and music administrators from Suffolk County, attended a music symposium hosted at Commack Middle School by Mr. Paul Infante, Commack’s Director of Fine and Applied Arts, and Mr. Michel Nadeau. Mr. Nadeau is the band director at Burr Intermediate School and the band chairperson for this symposium. He is the founder of the annual elementary band directors symposium, which was the impetus of this event. The symposium was co-sponsored by the New York State Council of Administrators for Music Education/Suffolk Chapter and the Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association. This very informative day began with Dr. Joel Ratner

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speaking to the assembly about “Common Sense for the Common Core,” and methods for “staying true to musical performance” as the Common Core is implemented into the curriculum. Mr. Terry Nigrelli presented “Digitally Record Your Ensemble on a Limited Budget for A.P.P.R,” followed by breakout sessions for chorus, orchestra, and band. Chorus and general music sessions were conducted by Craig Knapp and Judy Leopold, as well as a D’Addario strings presentation on “Building a Chamber Music Program into Your String Program,” presented by Long Island String Festival Association board members. Band clinicians included Gary Hodges on all percussion instruments, and Naomi Drucker, clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic, who gave a master class with student clarinetists.


Science Innovation, Invention, and Discovery


inth and tenth grade science students are dreaming up new products to patent and market in their Science Research 1 classes, under the tutelage of inventor Brian Fried and science teacher Richard Kurtz. Brian founded and runs the monthly Inventors and Entrepreneurs Clubs in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and has graciously agreed to mentor our young inventors. Students pitch their product ideas, and Brian Inventor Brian Fried guides them to determine if their idea has already been “done,” to write invention briefs, to identify markets, locate manufacturers, and to apply for patents. This is a remarkable opportunity to learn by doing (authentic learning), and who knows what wonderful products these students will create for our future? For more info:


avid took first place at the American Physics Society Symposium (New York State Section) in the high school category for his entry, “The Impact of a Parabolic Reflector on WiFi Reception at Different Angles: A Compromise between Signal Strenth and Angle.” David said, “It was a tremendous experience for me. I learned a lot from the talks, particularly the one given by Prof. Harold Metcalf. I was also able to meet Dr. Noe.” David won $150, which he plans to donate to the high school for its science programs. In photo with David are Director of Science K-12, Alison Offerman-Celentano, and science research teacher, Richard Kurtz.


eer to peer advice and interaction took a front seat when students from the high school science research program lent an assist to the middle school science research club’s students. The objective of the visit was to help the middle school students develop science research questions. “One of the challenges for our middle school students is focusing their broad interests into a single question that they can explore. The high school research students help our students turn their science project ideas into a research question,” stated Science Research CMS Club Advisor Sean Mahoney. After a short presentation about the high school research program,

high school and middle school students sat down together to talk science. At first, there wasn’t much conversation, but once the students got more comfortable with each other, they began to talk about their research. Mr. Mahoney continued, “It is truly rewarding to see the middle school and high school students working together and I am very thankful to the high school students for taking time outside of their regular school day to help our younger students.” Students will be able to continue this collaboration when the middle school students visit the high school in January. The meeting was facilitated by science teachers Richard Kurtz, Sean Mahoney, and Deborah Bard.

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Commack Middle School Students: Respect, Responsibility and Relationships in Action


he Commack Middle School Positive Behavioral Intervention Support (PBIS) Team unveiled a new initiative with the motto, “Respect, Responsibility, and Relationships.” The PBIS Team, led by Paul Schmelter, Assistant Principal, are using the initiative to promote positive behaviors throughout the school. From the very first day of school, when each bus was boarded by a staff member who introduced the bus driver to the students and welcomed the students to the start of a new school year, the 3Rs has been a success. Classroom teachers reinforce the school’s expectations for student behavior and provide “real school-world” examples of how positive character traits can be exemplified throughout the school day. When a student is “caught” demonstrating respectful and responsible behaviors, the sighting teacher might mail a “Leading the Way” postcard to the student to acknowledge him/her for leading the way with positive behavior. Hundreds of these cards have already been mailed to CMS students. The Art Service Club supports the “Hospitality, Too” soup kitchen in Brentwood. Club advisor and art teacher Grace Barrett designates six meetings a year for students to prepare hot meals that are donated to the soup kitchen. The food used to create the meals comes from donations from the students and staff. The Leaders Club, under the direction of physical education teacher Theresa Bassett, allocates funds for the perishable items to be used in the meals such as cheeses for baked ziti and meat for frigadellas (a combination of meatballs and meatloaf). Family Consumer Science Teacher Angelina Napoli oversees the baking of seasonal cookies that are gift-wrapped and donated to the soup kitchen as well. In addition to the hot

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food and cookies, each sixth grade team volunteered to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at one of the meetings this year. The first meeting netted 352 sandwiches! The students and staff members involved with this project accept the responsibility of preparing the meals, cookies, and sandwiches because they know the value of helping people who need help. New friendships and relationships are fostered as students from different grade levels work together for this very worthwhile cause. Mr. Schmelter was so impressed by the efforts of these students that he and members of the PBIS Committee presented buttons that these students are proud to wear to inspire their peers and to promote “Respect, Responsibility, and Relationships.” PBIS committee faculty and their combined clubs.

Left to right: Angelina Napoli, Grace Barrett, Jessica Scott, Paul Schmelter, Donna Sita, Caitlin Terrell, Andrea Allen, Mary Ellen Herbold. Also on the committee, but not pictured: Not pictured: Susan Boyce, Erica Walerstein, Kevin Jordan, Mark Schwartz, Barbara McFadden, Corey Fein, Eric Jensen


Career Day at BURR


hat do you want to be when you grow up? Students at Burr Intermediate School got a chance to meet with parents and community members who volunteered to tell them about their chosen professions. Burr students learned about a variety of careers including: law, medicine, culinary art, computer programming, and even the FBI! More than 30 professionals participated in the morning sessions, held in grades three through five classrooms. “The feedback from staff and students was fantastic!” Mrs. Pratt, Principal, commented. “It is wonderful to expose our youngsters at an early age to possible career choices

that might tweak their interests and talents.” Career Day volunteers (photo above) gathered for refreshments and a photo before being escorted by their children or a family member to speak to the students. Erica Fajfer and Jamie Reardon’s class got a lesson in federal law enforcement tactics (photo, right), and New York City Fire Department firefighters Mr. Forte and Mr. Ott brought along some of the safety equipment (which protects the firemen up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit) they wear each day. In photo on left, students Ryan Ott and Cody Forte try on the gear.

Voting and the American Way


ommack High voting.” He argued for poSchool’s Debate litical equity by ridding the Team competed in the barriers for voting for the Long Island Forensic poor, elderly and handiAssociation’s monthly capped, perhaps even debate at Jericho High moving elections to the School in October. L. weekends or mandating Scott Mulligan, Vice compulsory voting. President of CHS’ DeNegative: bate Team, competed “Democracy cannot sucin the Junior Varsity Linceed unless those who excoln-Douglas category, press their choice are preand went on to win all pared to choose wisely.” four of his debates. The Voter apathy was, and will rules require that he remain, the greatest threat make his arguments: to democracy, infringing twice in the affirmative, L. Scott Mulligan took top honors in debate, congratulated here by So- upon autonomy, basic and twice in the nega- cial Studies Coordinator Brian Trapani (left), and Social Studies teacher and personal freedoms of tive. As a result, Scott and Debate Team Advisor Charles Bauer. the citizen, and promoting took first place honors uninformed and apathetic Affirmative: in the Junior Varsity Lincoln-Douglas “Nobody will ever deprive the Ameri- votes. People will vote for politicians category. can people of the right to vote except randomly in protest of compulsory votHis arguments were based on the the American people themselves, and ing, violating the spirit of freedom that following contentions: the only way they can do this is by not is so vital to democracy. 10

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Rolling Hills Annual Autism Walk


he Rolling Hills family ly holds a Fall Festival each year, a fun and frolicking affair. Prior to the festival, everyone participates in the Annual Autism Walk, benefitting the Nassau/ Suffolk Autism Society. Pictured along with the children are Rolling Hills Principal, Mrs. Janet Studley, and second grade teacher Mrs. Toni DiIorio.

Photo Credit: Tara Darvassy

“To be, or not to be: that is the question.” H

amlet came alive as students from James Desmond and Kevin Dineen’s English 12 IB classes participated in Commack High School’s first annual International Baccalaureate (I.B.) Hamlet Festival. The gathering of students, teachers, and administrators for an all-day performance of scenes marked the culmination of a close study of Shakespeare’s famous play. Through this project, students were given the opportunity to demonstrate their deep understanding of “The Bard’s” work through an original and creative performancebased assessment. I.B. English student, Jaclyn Sandler, says she gained “a significant amount of insight regarding what goes into the process of reading, editing, and acting out a play.” In the days IB English students Rebecca, Jackalyn, and Sarah perform Act leading up to the festival, students worked in small groups to IV, Scene V, from Hamlet, which is commonly referred to as “The choose, rehearse and enact scenes of their choice, with a Ophelia Madness Scene.” focus on creativity and critical thinking. Mr. Desmond and Mr. Dineen hope to make the I.B. HamOver the course of the day, audiences were treated to let festival an annual event. According to Mr. Dineen, “it was many different interpretations of scenes from the play. Engwonderful to see our students come together and work to lish Coordinator Theresa Donohue observed that “students were invested and engaged,” while “teachers served as facil- make this festival happen. It created a lasting impression of itators of the learning and allowed kids to explore and make Shakespeare’s work, and the memory of this day will stay with them far beyond their time at Commack High School.” meaning.”

Courtyard Cleanup at CMS


n a brisk November afternoon, members of the Commack Middle School Leader’s Club got together to clean up the interior courtyard. The students brought their energy and enthusiasm, and worked in teams to quickly fill over twenty bags with leaves and debris. After their labor, the club enjoyed some hot chocolate and candy canes. “The students really enjoyed helping clean up the leaves as well as the good company,” observed club advisors Theresa Bassett and Mike Kullack.

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


GO COMMACK! A Picture Perfect Season


t was a great fall for our athletic program! Commack’s Varsity Football team made it to the semi-finals, earning the Division I Title with an undefeated season 8-0. Girls Varsity Soccer and Gymnastics teams, as well as the Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team were the League Champions (see box at right). Varsity Homecoming day was Commack awesome, with the Kickline, Cougars Cheerleaders, and Marching Band performing, the traditional presentation of flowers to the seniors’ families, the parade, Homecoming King and Queen festivities, and the Alumni of Distinction presentation. Thanks go out to Jim DelGuidice, Bill Patterson, Commack’s Building and Grounds crew, the booster clubs, and everyone who made the day so perfect - especially the fans! Capped off by a win for our football team, great weather, and Cougar spirit, it couldn’t Homecoming have been better. Court Alumni of Distinction plaques were presented to Alicia Dinnerstein (North 1984), Carolyn Burton-Gajda (North 1981), and Chistopher McNamara , who joined the Air Force as a senior and completed his education there. For the full bios of our 2013 honorees, please click here. For more photos, click here.

Alumni of Distinction

#MACK FALL SEASON WRAPUP Every fall varsity team qualified as a Scholar Athlete Team! 4 League Champs: Football Boys XC Girls Soccer Gymnastics 2 League MVPs

Cougarette Kickline and High School Marching Band

6 Coaches of the Year Multiple All-State, All-Long Island, All County, All Conference, and All League athletes (see list on the Athletic Page on Commack Website)

Cougar Cheerleaders

Commack Board of Education: Peter R. Wunsch - President Steven Hartman - Vice President Trustees: Deborah Guber, MaryJo Masciello, James Tampellini

Superintendent of Schools: Dr. Donald A. James

Commack Courier Online December 2013