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The Life of Harbor

2014 – 2015


ot surprisingly, in my new role at Harbor as head of school, I have a unique perspective of this school. I see that the central values have remained constant throughout the years, with a strong mission statement that reflects those values. At the same time, as I’ve learned through my meetings with former parents, former teachers, and alumni at various events, the depth of devotion everyone feels toward Harbor is striking. Most simply put, they all have loved being a part of this school. Harbor is standing on the shoulders of, and building off, their experiences and accomplishments here.They would be heartened by everything Harbor is doing and to see what a great time this is to be at Harbor. • Enrollment has grown by 38% in the past four years

Adrienne Owen, Chair of the Board


s we start the accelerating slide into the summer, I look back on the 2014/2015 school year at Tulip Knoll with such fondness.This past year was one of smooth transitions for Harbor. In the fall, we said good-bye and thank you to Interim Head, Joe Ferber, and welcomed our 11th Head of School, John Cissel. Mr. Cissel lives the mission of our school, Harbor cherishes childhood, cultivates wonder and inspires confident learners and leaders, and in his first year as head has brought a thoughtful and collaborative perspective to the school and to the board. Several devoted trustees rotated off Harbor’s board in June 2014. I would like to thank current parents Tehmina Haque (P’15, P’17, P’24), Emma Hicks-Pearce ‘88 (P’24), and Mary Sanders (P’15), as well as friends of Harbor Steve Moll and Nathaniel Peirce, for their years of dedicated service and commitment to Harbor Country Day School. I would like to extend a special thank you to Dave Essex (P’12, P’17), former board chair and my mentor for two years on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. In 2014/2015, we were pleased to welcome an enthusiastic group of new trustees: friends of Harbor Matt Bradley, head of East Woods School, and Mitch Birzon, a local attorney; as well as current parents Corinne Hammons (P’20, P’22) and Vincent Della Pietra (P’15).

The Life of Harbor

The Life of Harbor

John Cissel, Head of School

• The board has initiated a strategic plan, soon to be made public • At a time when local schools are cutting back on programs, our curriculum has expanded with the addition of Mandarin, lab periods, a growing service learning program for seniors and more trips into the field, all of which are bringing the classroom experience to life • As our program evolves, the academic committees are examining and fine-tuning what, how and why we teach what we do • The robust Harbor Fund, with widespread participation from our community, is at historic highs Most important, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that our children enjoy every moment of their time here. We strive to stay true to our mission while building, in each child, a solid foundation of basic skills around reading, writing, calculating and collaborating, as they become resourceful, creative problem solvers. Our wonderful 16 seniors, who are matriculating to a wide variety of schools, will enter those institutions confident, courageous, independent and bold — unafraid to ask questions, offer opinions and take risks. To the teachers, students, parents and friends of Harbor — I thank you for all you have done to support its mission over the years with your time, talent and treasure. You are the life of Harbor, and it is because of you that Harbor continues to cherish childhood, cultivate wonder and inspire confidence in all who share their lives with us. Sincerely, John Cissel Head of School

Looking ahead With our new head of school installed and new trustees at the board table, it seemed the opportune time for us to begin to formalize our ongoing strategic thinking and planning. Mr. Cissel started the process by having focus group sessions with faculty, students and parents. Together with Mr. Cissel and a consultant from ELAS (Education Leaders Assisting Schools), the board spent a very cold Saturday in January at an all-day strategic planning retreat.We participated in several board governance exercises and excitedly continued formulating next steps on the journey towards Harbor’s future.We reaffirmed our core values, discussed Harbor’s strengths, identified opportunities, and started to dream about future possibilities. Driven by Mr. Cissel and the board’s Steering Committee, we are currently working on a three-to-five-year strategic plan for dissemination to the Harbor community later in 2015. I look forward to sharing our collective visions with you.

Board Committees In addition to planning for the future, the board and its many standing committees are accomplishing great things for Harbor right now. We are strongly committed to enhancing daily “Life at Harbor” through intense work at the committee level, which includes involvement and many contributions of key staff members. The Development Committee, led by Cynthia Wong Lippe (P’21, P’24), is on a quest for 100% Harbor Fund participation from current families, narrowly missed last year. The Development and Alumni Committees collaborated with Harbor’s Parents’ Association in a record-setting 2015 Spring Benefit event in March when Harbor’s previous headmaster of 14 years, Art Strawbridge, was honored by current and past families, students, and faculty. The Finance Committee, under the leadership of Board Treasurer Jim Verdi (P’17, P’19), has been working with Mr. Cissel, Director of Finance Diane Abrams and others on the administrative team to further strategic financial planning in several areas. Specifically, finance is striving to enhance employee benefits, compensation, and the budget for professional development, while enhancing budgets for academic and other program improvements. We have a newly formed Alumni Association under the direction of Carrie Zuckerman (P’11), and Alumni Relations Coordinator, Heidi Giffuni. Many alumni have come home to Harbor this past year and we are doing much to increase the involvement of alumni in “Life at Harbor” today. We held our first annual “Alumni Homecoming” event this past November, and our second annual “Come Home to Harbor BBQ” for alumni and current families this spring. Harbor even has a Facebook page dedicated to our alumni and their families! The Buildings & Grounds Committee (B&G), chaired by Robert Antonacci (P’17, P’17), has been working diligently with administration, leading to ongoing improvements of our beautiful campus. We are currently in the process of renovating the third floor for potential future classroom use, which would provide some much-needed additional space. In the coming months, B&G will be tasked with leading the campus master C ontinued N ext P age


Harbor Highlights • 2014 – 2015

2014 – 2015 • Harbor Highlights


plan segment of our new strategic plan. Under the direction of Board Secretary, George Bubaris (P’05, P’08), the Head Support & Evaluation Committee (HS&E) has worked closely with Mr. Cissel to ensure a smooth transition in his new headship. In addition, HS&E worked with Mr. Cissel to develop annual head goals and evaluate progress during, and at the conclusion of, the school year. The Marketing Committee, led by ViceChair Sue Ryan (P’08), in conjunction with Christine McBrien, Director of Admission and Early Childhood; Kate O’Brien, Marketing and Development Associate; and multiple other hard-working Harbor staff members, works diligently to get the Harbor message out to the Long Island community. Recently, the committee collaborated to create two new Harbor commercials, one for school and one for Camp Harbor. The commercial spots are currently airing on Cablevision and in movie theaters. Marketing is also responsible for liaising with administration to keep Harbor’s website look and content informative and fresh. Nancy Langdon Hickerson (P’12, P’15) leads Harbor’s Trustees Committee, which is responsible for ongoing board trustee education, as well as identifying and vetting new potential trustees, and facilitating the board’s self-assessment.

In conclusion Harbor’s entire Board of Trustees is grateful and proud to be a part of the “Life of Harbor,” and I am truly honored to serve as Harbor Country Day School’s board chair. The board continues to look ahead with great enthusiasm for our beloved school and remains extremely excited and enthusiastic about Harbor’s bright future. Enjoy the summer! With appreciation, Adrienne Owen Chair, Board of Trustees


Harbor Highlights • 2014 – 2015


The Life of Harbor

C ontinued F rom P age 3

A Day in the Life of Harbor

What makes a day in the life of Harbor so special?

We develop the whole child. Our students get a well–rounded education. —Terry Hotzak At Harbor, we can build meaningful relationships with our students. —Rachel Weir We’re given the chance to teach with flexibility and creativity. —Liz Smith We have the opportunity to make lifelong connections with families. —Laura Huang-Ernst Teaching at Harbor is truly a blessing. Not only do we have the opportunity to teach our students all year long, but we also make connections with them that last beyond their years at Harbor. —LaNae Netter Harbor means to me the opportunity to teach the way I believe, helping my students find their way and making this special place like a second home to them. —Kate Tarnok Teaching at Harbor gives me a sense of joy and inspiration. Harbor students are motivated, inspired and innovative. Every day, I feel excited to hear what students have to contribute. At Harbor, you will find dedicated, intelligent, innovative and creative educators and students. —Nicole Fotis Coming to work every day, I feel privileged to work with such talented students. I love being able to connect with each student and make a difference. Every day at Harbor is a new adventure. —Debbie Decker The students at Harbor are fun, creative, upbeat and they love to learn. What I love most about Harbor is the family, the students, the staff, the building, the learning, the activities, the friends. At Harbor, you will find great things going on. —Lynda McKenna Whenever you walk through the halls at Harbor you can feel how excited all the students are to be here and to be learning! Students at Harbor are motivated, creative and inquisitive. My favorite memory of Harbor is making crepes with my 7th grade French students. Their excitement and genuine curiosity to learn new words in French were extremely rewarding. —Katie Aretz


Harbor Highlights • 2014 – 2015

A Day in the Life of Harbor

I love working at Harbor because of the freedom it provides me with teaching. Harbor students are independent, inquisitive and inspired to learn. Whenever you walk through the halls here, you feel comfortable. Like it’s your second home. —Brian O’Shaughnessy As a teacher at Harbor, I have the freedom to teach and express my passion for learning with the students. The faculty collaborate with each other. Everyone is always willing to help each other. We are also so involved in our students’ learning here at Harbor. Every day at Harbor is a new learning experience for me and my students. They teach me so much and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and my love for learning with them. —Lauren DaLeo What I love about Harbor is the community feeling. My favorite memory of Harbor is seeing the eighth graders and picturing them from when they started here. —Susan Napodano Coming to work every day, I feel open to all of the possibilities of the day ahead. Whenever you walk through the halls, you can feel the joy of the children, and you can see that they are passionate about learning. As a teacher at Harbor, I have the freedom and flexibility to teach the way children learn best. What I love most about Harbor is the warmth of the faculty, staff, students and families. It is my home away from home. —Rachel Weir I love working at Harbor because of the connections we have with our students. Whenever you walk through the halls of Harbor, you can feel a love of learning and you will find real-life experiences in a caring, supportive environment. Every day, I learn more than I could imagine. —Kaitlin Dayton Harbor is a school where the faculty believes in the inherent goodness of children. This is a unique school environment where children feel they are trusted and feel so comfortable being themselves. I believe that every time I interact with a student is a moment to make a difference in that child’s life. —John Cissel 2014 – 2015 • Harbor Highlights


A Year in the Life of Harbor

A Year in the Life of Harbor

A Year Of Wonder, Discovery, Inspiration And Happiness


n October 15, more than 75 Harbor students participated in “A Day in the Life of the Nissequogue River.” During their visit, students from third through eighth grade caught and studied more than 1,400 fish; collected and analyzed water samples to monitor water quality; conducted a physical analysis of the weather, current and tides affecting the river; and conducted a site analysis of the river’s rocks, minerals and other characteristics. All data the students collected has been made public and is being used for various environmental purposes, including tracking the health of the Nissequogue River from year-to-year. In addition, the “Day in the Life” program raised awareness among the students about the importance of protecting and restoring Long Island’s aquatic ecosystems, as water quality issues continue to permeate Long Island.

Sponsored by the Central Pine Barrens Commission, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the visit was part of a comprehensive program wherein students from 35 schools and 26 school districts across Long Island explored three of Long Island’s four major river systems. Harbor students were the only elementary-aged students to participate in the Nissequogue River program. Opportunities like this abound during a typical year in the life of Harbor. Whether students are taking field trips to any of Long Island’s many historic landmarks, learning about marine life at Riverhead’s Atlantis Marine World aquarium, spending the afternoon at a pumpkin farm, sharing their talents at Harbor’s annual science fair or Young Illustrators Challenge, or traveling to the Frost Valley or Greenkill retreat centers to participate in teambuilding and character development activities together, Harbor students have countless opportunities to expand their learning and development far beyond the classroom. As part of the surrounding community for 57 years, Harbor also makes significant efforts to provide students with as many “service learning” opportunities as possible, from collecting donations of pajamas for a Scholasticsponsored pajama drive and participating in the Confucius Institute’s Chinese New Year celebration, to donating more than 1,000 pounds of food to the Smithtown Emergency Food Pantry and collecting more than 4,000 toys for the annual Marine Corps Toys for Tots toy drive.

A Day in the Life of the Nissequogue River

A year in the life of Harbor Country Day encapsulates many more experiences than one can possibly imagine. And when combined, all of those experiences create a year filled with wonder, discovery, inspiration and — above all else — happiness.


Harbor Highlights • 2014 – 2015

2014 – 2015 • Harbor Highlights


Smithtown Emergency Food Pantry

Frost Valley and Greenkill Retreats

Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive

Harbor Highlights • 2014 – 2015

A Year in the Life of Harbor

A Year in the Life of Harbor 12

Annual Science Fair

2014 – 2015 • Harbor Highlights





have gone to Harbor for the past 11 years, for all of my academic life. I have learned many lessons here — good and bad, academic and otherwise.

In fifth grade, we skyped with students in Toledo with Senora Williams, mummified an Egyptian pig and learned the Greek alphabet in history with Mr. Cissel, played the Stock Market Game in math with Mrs. McKenna, and took our first trip away with our class to Frost Valley YMCA.

I will certainly always remember the things I loved most about Harbor: school-wide events such as the art show, playing outside the Setauket Neighborhood House, the Graduating eighth-grader Donna Sanders. book fair (there are probably few who still remember the days when the book fair took place in the gym, with a theme, and an author who came and read and signed his books for us), the excitement of Trunk or Treat. I’ll treasure my memories of getting dressed up in our Halloween costumes during school for the All School Parade, coming back at night to listen to scary stories with Mrs. Netter, and getting as much candy as possible while we played with friends.

Sixth grade came with many new, exciting things, like English class with Ms. Brunet, where I read many books that I’ll never forget; cool experiments and review basketball with Mr. O. in science; advisory activities; and skits and presentations and our comparative religions unit in history class. Last year, seventh grade, was equally memorable, with our class trip to Gettysburg, dancing the Cumbia with Senora Williams for our second year in a row, our rocket launch in science, writing and singing many songs in history with Mrs. Fotis, making and watching amazing movies based on equally amazing books in English, the school musical The Secret Garden (it was a hit!), and everything in between.

And then there was the fashion show, where we all lined up and got to model an outfit, dance, and eat ice cream and drink Shirley Temples, and listen to the Upper Schoolers sing or perform in a small talent show. Another tradition was the St. Patrick’s Day Fun Run in Smithtown, where half of the fun came from getting to see your friends and teachers outside of school, and getting to eat green bagels in school the day before — to celebrate, of course.

And finally came eighth grade, my last year at Harbor. This year has been exciting and memorable — from sports, games and tournaments, to Math Olympiads and National Junior Honor Society, to multicultural day and our trip to Greenkill — and a good note on which to end my time at Harbor Country Day School. I will always remember the years I spent here during my “lifetime” at Harbor — the friends and teachers I’ve met along the way and the memories that I will carry with me forever. —Donna Marie Sanders ’15

A Lifetime in the Life of Harbor

A Lifetime in the Life of Harbor

My Lifetime at Harbor

From the excitement of getting to stay after school and decorate gingerbread houses (and eat most of the candy, I may add), to getting to come back to school at night for the long-prepared-for chorus concerts, to all the little things, like the special days when Mr. Guido and his friends would come in and cook us meatballs for lunch — these are the experiences I will cherish. I remember watching the Upper School plays at All School Meeting, and finally being able to be a part of the cast upon entering the fifth grade. I remember Lower School meetings with Mrs. Spahr, and later Mrs. Gair, in the second floor hallway, and sitting as a class and eating at the three long tables in the old lunch room. I’ll always carry with me the memories and lessons I’ve learned from the many classes I’ve taken over the years: technology class and type-to-learn programs; library class, listening to stories and voting on the Harborcott award with Mrs. Napodano; music and chorus with Mrs.Weir; and filling up our carefully decorated portfolios in art class with Mrs. Grass. How could I forget some of the fun things we did over the years in nursery with Mrs. Bergman and, later, in preschool with Mrs. Sjogren? Kindergarten was with Mrs. Polina. Dinosaur Day was a hit that year, getting to sing songs and design shoe boxes surrounding our dinosaur (mine was a Pteranodon, I remember), along with the class trip to the St. James Firehouse, and dressing up for Thanksgiving.Then there was first grade with Mrs. Netter, sending Flat Stanley all around the world, presenting our projects on “Reptile Day,” and designing our 100th Day of School projects. In second grade with Mrs. Huang-Ernst, we created Hawaii projects (mine was on the Luau), learned to hula dance, and got to take home Hello Kitty to bring on adventures with us. Third and fourth grade were favorite years of mine. In third grade, with Ms.Woods, we got to research, buy, and care for our very own class pet, Shelley the turtle; read the many books of Roald Dahl and design projects about them; learn how to write in cursive; and, very important, we learned that “Said is Dead.” Fourth grade with Mrs. McBrien was an exciting, creative year, with a trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, creating our imaginary lands and globes in class, the Revolutionary War Wax Museum (I was Abigail Adams), and our memoirs project. Fifth grade — my first year in the Upper School — meant I got my first locker in the Upper School Lounge, changed classes for the first time, and (for the girls at least) I got a new uniform to boot! 14

Harbor Highlights • 2014 – 2015

Eighth Grade Class of 2015 — Secondary Schools Attending Sophia Amato.................................The Knox School Isai Bala.......................................... The Knox School Lara Boyle.......................................The Knox School Emily Canavarros...........Ward Melville High School Trevor Corsello...................Chaminade High School Emily DellaPietra..................Commack High School or Friends Academy Alexander Gieraltowski....St.Anthony’s High School Emma Greco......................St. Anthony’s High School

Emma Hickerson........................... Friends Academy Anum Khan.....................Ward Melville High School or The Stony Brook School Reece Korn............................Commack High School Donna Marie Sanders....... The Stony Brook School Jeremy Shaffar..........................Sachem High School Emily Valadez......................The Stony Brook School Isaac Widmer.......................The Stony Brook School Vincent Zhang...........................Sachem High School 2014 – 2015 • Harbor Highlights


A Lifetime in the Life of Harbor

Class of 2015 Then

Eighth Grade Class of 2011

Poem by Art Strawbridge Walking the Harbor halls So proudly polished and bright Walking the Harbor halls Eight years since, a delight The floors are gleaming And the walls color teaming A wonderful welcoming sight Children warmly greeted Before they are seated And ready to start on their day.

Colleges & Universities Attending

Class of 2015 Now

Brenden Belluardo................... University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Julian Berlingieri................................................. Northeastern University Lara Carrion................................................................ Fordham University Christa DeAngelis......................................................... Bentley University Genevieve Falabella.................................................... St. John’s University Oliver Hill.............................................................. Georgetown University Sophie Norgaard......................................................University of Alabama Sarah Pryor...................................................................Gettysburg College Morgan Schwartz.................................................... University of Vermont Sky Silverstein........One more year at St. George’s Preparatory School, RI Sara Kay Stewart.................. One year left at Ross School, STEM Program Joseph Zappulla...............................................................Emerson College Justin Zuckerman................................................................Marist College

The teachers are trusting Without work there is nothing It’s our motto It is needless to say Eight years have flashed by We note with a sigh Children and parents move on But the school has a core The same as before Nothing of spirit has gone And in the Head’s chair No need to stare Sits a man of wisdom and grace. With a keen hawk-like eye Harbor will fly As he sets his own tone and pace. No better man to have at the helm No one can deny It’s easy to see He’s just the right fit He even wears a bow tie. So hail to Harbor ever onward Lead us all the way

Former headmaster of Harbor Country Day School, 1993-2007, Art Strawbridge and family. 16

Harbor Highlights • 2014 – 2015

With our hopes and dreams before us Continue, we do pray.

The Heart of Harbor

The Heart of Harbor 18

Harbor Highlights • 2014 – 2015

2014 – 2015 • Harbor Highlights


A Day in the Life of the Nissequogue River, October 2014

17 Three Sisters Road, St. James, New York 11780 631-584-5555 • •

Harbor Country Day School Harbor Highlights Spring, 2015