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SCHOOL SCENE A Special Supplement to the Sullivan County Democrat

A look at activities in the Eldred Central School District



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Honesdale High School senior, Hannah Burlein is an active volunteer who provides pet therapy to the residents with her rabbit.

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Eldred creates Anti-Bullying task force


n a quiet road in Highland sits a Works Project Administration building that is home of STORY AND PHOTO BY PATRICIO ROBAYO the Yellowjackets and the pride of the town, the Eldred Junior/Senior High School. In response to a bullying incident that took place several years ago at Eldred Junior/Senior High School, the district has been quick to respond. Dr. John Morgano, formerly of the Pearl River school district, has come out of retirement to become the Eldred CSD’s Interim Superintendent. He has 40 years of experience working with special needs children and in leading school districts in a positive direction. One of the first things he did was install Jean Maxson as new principal at the Junior/Senior School at Eldred. Dr. Morgano has worked with Maxson at Monroe-Woodbury and this dynamic duo has a combined 80 Dr. Morgano greets students at high school and Elementary school alternating between years of experience in the education schools. “One of my favorite things to do is to greet the students first thing in the morning,” said Dr. Morgano. field. “One of my favorite things to do is to greet the students first thing in the student said during a discussion with schools I have been a part of.” morning,” said Dr. Morgano, who true Dr. Morgano and Maxson. A call was put out to the community to his words, is at the front of the JunEveryone from kindergarten to 12th to help with the response effort. The ior/Senior school at 7 a.m. in order to grade knows each other and it's a dif- result was the creation of a task force hold the door open for the students ferent type of environment...,” added made up of students, staff and parand to say hello. This gives the stu- District Clerk and Secretary to the ents, as well as anyone in the commudents a chance to build a relationship Superintendent Lisa Sibirtzeff. nity that wanted to come in to discuss with him. “There is no town center in Eldred, problems that the school has had in “I not only get to know the students our schools are it, so the kids have to the past and offer ideas on how to this way, but I get to give them a nice deal with each other here,” said Dr. solve it. At the first meeting about 79 start to their day with a smile and a Morgano who has taken steps since people signed up and 35 people actuhello,” said Dr. Morgano. becoming Superintendent to respond ally showed up. One of the benefits the Eldred com- to the bullying incident. “I feel at this One idea that stood out and that munity offers is a small town feel. The school the students treat each other could be initiated fast was the “Bully kids are not “just a number,” as one well compared to some of the other Button,” where a student, parent or

School Scene A Look at Activities in the Eldred School District Published by

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(845) 887-5200 Callicoon, NY 12723 February 6, 2018 • Vol. CXXVII, No. 68

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staff can report an incident of bullying anonymously if they chose to do so. “It’s something I wanted to put into place right away,” said Dr. Morgano. Since the Bully Button went live there have been three incidents reported but were found “unsubstantiated.” Each case was investigated and looked into and dealt with and feedback was given. “At least people know there is an anonymous way to report things,” added Dr. Morgano. “There’s always going to be some degree of inappropriate behavior in a school. My goal is to make the school a fun place to be and have those bullying incidents a very rare thing,” added Dr. Morgano. The ultimate goal of the task force meetings is to present a list of recommendations to the school board so meaningful changes can be made, help prevent bullying and to create a more welcoming environment for the students. Technology has become a new challenge for the school. The use of technology can be used for the benefit of the students such as Smart Board in the classroom and the use of the Google Classroom to handle school work. However, social media in the school can be used as a negative distraction in the classroom. The school recently brought in a New York State Trooper to discuss the dangers of social media, cyberbullying and drugs. “Students need to realize that everything you put on the Internet is forever,” said Dr. Morgano.

Fred W. Stabbert III Joseph Abraham and Matt Shortall Willow Baum, Margaret Bruetsch, Kathy Daley, Rich Klein, Richard Ross, Patricio Robayo, Jeanne Sager, Ed Townsend, Mike Vreeland Liz Tucker Lillian Ferber Barbara Matos, Lainie Yennie Susan Panella Susan Owens Patricia Biedinger Michelle Reynolds Margaret Bruetsch Janet Will Ruth Huggler, Rosalie Mycka, Elizabeth Finnegan, Petra Duffy, Nyssa Calkin, Claire Humbert, Peter Melnick Linda Davis, Kohloa Zaitsha, Billy Smith, Phil Grisafe




Eldred andjustnot goes because a green it’s school STORY AND PHOTOS BY PATRICIO ROBAYO



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ne of the great things about the Catskills is the natural environment that surrounds us. Eldred keeps in touch with nature by using their local environment as a teaching tool in the classrooms. Animal skulls donated by local taxidermists or ones brought in by students are just a couple examples of the students getting familiar with what’s around them. The skulls are cleaned and carefully constructed to their original form. The specimens are also identified and labeled. Students identify the


animals to discover what species they are and learn about their natural habitat to create a museum type of display, showcasing all the information the students had gathered. “Depending on the condition of the skulls it can take a couple of periods of classes with the reconstruction and cleaning,” said Mrs. Sutherland, Living Environment/Biology teacher. “We are also working with leaf identification.” This process of observation allows students to learn about the local environment around them. At the same time, it allows the students to express themselves artistically with the design and creation of the leaf books.” Alongside the animal identification, the students have access to a flora classroom that Mrs. Padua, the high school earth science teacher has established. Plants of various kinds have been either bought or donated to the class and line the classroom. The students learn about the different types of plants and how to take care of them. This process lets the students become familiar with the local plant life. It has been known that plants can make up an important part of an indoor environment. This flora classroom can provide an opportunity for the students to care for plants they might not otherThese two students work together to create display cards for their classroom museum of local ani- wise have access to. Equally important is learning mals’ skulls that were found by students or donatwhat it means for something to ed to the school.





be environmentally friendly, which the students at George Ross Mackenzie Elementary School learn at an early age. Kids in the fifth grade class participate in an Arctic STEM challenge. STEM Challenges, according to the school, are “a fun way to incorporate Next Generation Science Standards into a science routine.” The students learn critical science and engineering practices such as asking questions and defining problems, developing and using models, as well as planning and carrying out investigations. The process involves using mathematics and computational thinking, construction explanations and designing solutions. In the fourth grade, Ms. Trotta had students’ skills using project-based learning in groups in order to solve a problem. One example she used in

her class was getting gummy worms into the hole of a gummy life saver using a paperclip. The students were then paired up randomly and were given this task of solving the problem without touching the gummy worms. Also in the fourth grade, Mrs. Schadt and Mrs. Trotta’s classes are participating in a grant writing project through the National Park Service. The project is called “Kids to Parks Day National School Contest,” which was created to help educators engage their students with their local parks. The students will be working with Susanna Kasper from the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River on the grant writing process. Additionally, the students will focus on the education, stewardship and healthy aspects found in our national parks.


Mrs. Mary Ellen Sutherland’s high school science class is creating a museum type of display for the classroom that is filled with donated animal skulls.






Brian Nivison, far right, encourages his students to try different instruments. Eldred was recently named a Best Community for Music by the National Association of Music Merchants.

Students excelling in music at Eldred STORY BY PATRICIO ROBAYO


here is a long history of studies that show how important music and arts are in schools. Eldred was named Best Community for Music by the National Association of Music Merchants. They also have been a Grammy signature school semifinalist since 2013. The audition-based a cappella group, the Eldred Key Elements, were recognized for their performance debut at Carnegie Hall, which one student described the experience as, “life changing.” The Eldred Key Elements are made up of students in grades seven to 12, performing arrangements from various musical genres including pop, jazz, country and


alternative/rock. The Key Elements are the best of the best vocalists of the school, including many

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NYSSMA solo festival, All-County, Area-All State, and even All-State level participants. They also create unique concert experiences like the Prism system where musicians are set up in different spots in the gymnasium and the audience will have a full musical experience in surround sound. Music is a form of a language and should be almost treated that way,” said Mr. Brian Nivison, Instrumental and AP Music Theory teacher at the Junior/Senior High School. “I think the music program benefits the student,” said Nivison. “What they learn can serve them in

other parts of their life. I want them to have the best of the best in terms of music, ” said Nivison. “What we teach them is taste of quality in music, something that will be around for another 100 years,” added Nivison. “Students see that it is not only notes on the sheet but there is history about the music.” Student Aid Senior Elizabeth Halstead, helps Nivison in the music room. “Music is an escape for some students and for me I come from a musical family.” Halstead looks to continue her musical aspirations by going to a college that has a music program, and she hopes to become a chorus director. Nivison applauded Halstead along with Chris Smith, a junior, who helps with the music program at the school, as well as getting the class organized. The school district recently hired some new music teachers with Mathew Camara who handles PreK-12 Vocal Music in the Eldred Junior/Senior High School and Kristina Martorano for the Mackenzie Elementary General and Instrumental Music. “I have seen the school grow over the last decade, and it has been great to be a part it,” added Nivison.





Left: High school students are equipped with a laptop they use during school to help with research and general assignments. Right: All classrooms are equipped with smart boards that teachers use to utilize the latest in visual and auditory learning. Docs. Google Docs is an online word processing program where students and teachers can share writing documents along with making comments and corrections. Collaboration happens in real time and at the speed of today's technology. “All of the teachers in the school have a Google classroom set up and we get notifications on our phone about assignments,” said some students. “You can share with another student’s notes and ideas during project work. For example we had 10 pages due with a group of us,” added the student who wanted to discuss a way technology has helped her on a project. “Google Docs helped us with writing and allowed us to be working in real time together. Since Google Docs is free it’s easy to use and has timestamps so the teachers can view activity progress on the

school also have access to small laptops that are given out during the day. So the students have access to computers to be used during classrooms and to be used throughout the day for information. These are some of the things that Eldred has done to keep up with the advancement of technology. The use of the technology has allowed schools to

Eldred’s utilizing technology in the classroom STORY AND PHOTOS BY PATRICIO ROBAYO


he Eldred Central School District has embraced technology. Every classroom is equipped with a “smart board” where teachers can display lesson material, show video and play real time audio in the classroom. The smart boards are used instead of overhead projectors, which have been replaced with a large monitor that is connected to the teacher’s computer. The junior/senior high school uses programs like Google Classroom where teachers can post lesson plans and assignments where a student can check in and see the latest information in the class. “It is good to have the technology right there in front of them,” said Mr. Brian Nivison. “We can read the sheet music and instantly see and hear what the music sounds like on the smartboard.” The use of technology is especially

Students are able to utilize computer stations to work on assignments. They sometimes spend their lunch periods in the many computer rooms.

helpful if a student happens to miss a day. The student has the option of having the material available in order to catch up on that day’s notes and assignments. Technology is also used in a group setting where students need to collaborate on projects and use programs like Google

project.” According to the students, the parents also have access to the Google Classroom, so they too can be informed on what is happening in the virtual classrooms. Students at the junior/senior high

make a connection with today's technological youth who will eventually turn into the technological adults of tomorrow. “We are in the service economy,” added Dr. Morgano. “We are no longer making toasters, students need technology.”





Growing Through Grief

Congratulations & Best of Luck to all our Eldred Athletes & Cheerleaders for a successful season. Go Get ’em Yellowjackets!


August 24, 25 & 26, 2018



A FREE day-camp full of healing activities for children ages 5 to 17 grieving the death of a loved one that has occurred within the last two years. Through play, art, music, and activities, it is a safe place of acceptance, understanding and grief education. For more info call Bereavement Director Kim Warner


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Camp is held at the YMCA of Sullivan County

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Get the inside look at all the students, teachers and administrators are doing at Eldred Central School District!