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JFK’s Fun Club Tours Panera

JFK’s Fun Club Tours Panera
JFK’s Fun Club Tours Panera 2
JFK’s Fun Club Tours Panera 3
Students in JFK’s Fun Club social skills program recently toured a local Panera Bread, accompanied by special education teacher Marie Tortorici. During the visit, the children had the opportunity to make their own bread and decorate cookies. The Fun Club regularly visits Deer Park businesses to provide the students with a chance to practice social skills in real-life scenarios.

“This experience at Panera was so beneficial for our students,” said Tortorici.   

Deer Park Earns Five SCOPE Awards

Deer Park Earns Five SCOPE Awards
Five district employees earned SCOPE Awards for Excellence this year, and were recognized at the annual SCOPE awards dinner, held on March 18. Dr. Eliana Levey, the principal of Robert Frost Middle School, won in the Administrator Service category. The other winners were DC Raymond Downey Charity/Scholarship Fund founder Rosalie Downey (Community Service), Deer Park High School special education teacher Laurie Osbern (Teacher Service) and districtwide Food Service Director Barbara Stabile (Support Staff Service).

DPHS Recognizes 17 Spring Champions

DPHS Recognizes 17 Spring Champions
The high school celebrated 17 remarkable students at the annual spring Breakfast for Champions in the library on April 4. Recognized in front of their proud families for their exceptional qualities and achievements, the school champions are chosen every fall and spring by each department in the school, alongside principal’s and teacher’s champions. Principal Charles Cobb congratulated the students and his staff to conclude the ceremony.

Breakfast for Champions honorees for spring 2019 were Rafid Ahnaf (family and consumer science), Huda Ameen (guidance), Logan Fontana (technology), Adriana Harrilal (English language arts), Jasleen Kaur (business), Julianna Knice (athletics), Kylie Kuhn (physical education), Ryan Leon (Teacher’s Award), Dylan Monserrat (health), Michael Nacchia (art), Thanh Binh Phan (English as a new language), Jordan Rios (Principal’s Award), Scott Rodgers (world languages), Kelly Schwarz (performing arts), Jada Smith (science), Lloydine St. Martin (social studies) and Diondra Talleyrand (math).

Students Seek Choices at Rewarding College & Career Fair

Students Seek Choices at Rewarding College & Career Fair

The high school held its 14th annual College & Career Fair on March 25, providing essential guidance for student seeking choices for their futures. For the first time, the attendance list included local trade unions in addition to approximately 100 different colleges, organizations and military branches. Members of the school’s National Honor Society assisted in running the event, which also featured a talk by consultant Andrew Herman on college admission for student-athletes.

“Every year, our goal is to continue to build on our past success and include organizations that meet the needs and interests of our students,” said college and career counselor Jessica Negron. “It is so rewarding to see our event come together for students and their families as they explore opportunities for life after high school.”

Four from Deer Park Chosen for Colors Exhibit

Four from Deer Park Chosen for Colors Exhibit

Four Deer Park students – May Moore second graders Carmine Baio and Nayla Isaac and JFK fifth graders Addison Costanza and Gavyn DeFour – were selected to have their artwork showcased at the 21st annual Colors of Long Island student art exhibit, held in March at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook. The May Moore pieces were inspired by the artist Vincent van Gogh, while the JFK artworks were inspired by mandalas representing the universe. The students attended the show with their families, accompanied by art teachers Briana Nussbaum and Michelle Sarco.

Deer Park’s Stellar Music Program Earns Another NAMM Award

Deer Park’s Stellar Music Program Earns Another NAMM Award
The district’s music program earned recognition again as one of the NAMM Foundation’s Best Communities for Music Education. The annual designation, now in its 20th year, rewards exceptional achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

“Deer Park is very proud to be honored as one of the best communities for music education by NAMM for 2019,” said Bradley Murphy, the district’s curriculum associate for fine and performing arts.

JFK Rewards Hardworking Young Scientists

JFK Rewards hardworking Young Scientists

Reflecting the hard work and creativity of their projects, winners in this year’s JFK school science fair were third-graders Ava Ortlieb (first place), Emily Luna (second place) and Melanie Holdcroft (third place); fourth-graders Kaylee Puterbaugh (first), Emma Corley (second) and Connor McGuiness (third place); and fifth-graders Adella Lathrop (first), Taylor Gabel (second) and Aubrey Pottinger (third).

“These amazing scientists took the time to ask a big question, formulate a hypothesis, perform an experiment, gather the data and develop a conclusion,” said science lab coordinator Joyce Carmen. 

JFK’s grade-level first- and second-place winners will move on to compete in the Brookhaven National Laboratory Elementary School Science Fair on May 4.

Beef Patty Recall

Food service provider AdvancePierre Foods, Inc. has issued a recall for more than 20,000 pounds of ready-to-eat frozen beef patties over possible plastic contamination. The products, which were produced on Nov. 30, 2018, were shipped to food service locations across the country, including some schools.

According to Aramark, we do not receive this product from our distributor. We will continue to monitor the situation as more updates become available.

DPHS Inducts 73 New World Language Achievers

Deer Park Inducts 73 New World Language Achievers

Diligence was rewarded at the high school’s World Language Honor Society induction ceremony on March 28, welcoming 73 new members. A total of 111 of the school’s students are enrolled in the school’s French, Italian and Spanish honor societies for 2018-2019. Inductees are required to earn an average of 92 or higher in their world language classes, demonstrate an overall GPA of 85 or above, receive outstanding recommendations from school staff, and act as peer leaders.

“In addition to maintaining exceptional grades in their world language courses, these students are dedicated to helping Deer Park’s multilingual and multicultural community,” said Ashley Rosenberg, the district administrator for ENL and world languages. “They have worked diligently to earn this tremendous achievement.”

“When I was a high school principal, this was always one of my favorite nights,” said James Cummings, the district’s assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services and the incoming superintendent of schools. “It is an opportunity to congratulate a group of students who I always felt held a special place in my heart and in the high school. So many students are looking for the easy way out, doing the minimum amount they can do, but the kids we honored did a couple of things. They kept going with a foreign language when a lot of students stopped. Not only did they keep going, they excelled at it. Communication is crucial, and as our world shrinks, being comfortable communicating with other cultures and human beings who might not have the same background or history is the most important skill we can teach our kids today.”

The packed audience of proud families was entertained by music from band director Jerry Cannarozzo and the school’s jazz ensemble, a perfect touch to complete an evening of candle lighting and congratulations.

Spring Newsletter Now Available


Red Cross Club Helps Out Meals on Wheels

Red Cross Club Helps Out Meals on Wheels
Red Cross Club Helps Out Meals on Wheels 2

Five dedicated members of the high school’s Red Cross Club assisted the Suffolk County Meals on Wheels program in Amityville on March 14. Red Cross Club President Yasmeen Sayedda-Hensley and fellow students Dana Ali, Diana Damian, Jasleen Kaur and Gabriella Sroka packaged meals in insulated bags and handed them to drivers for delivery to needy individuals throughout the Town of Babylon. The majority of recipients were elderly persons who could not cook or provide for themselves.

“It was a great opportunity to help out members of our community,” said Sayedda-Hensley.

A Swashbuckling Success for Frost’s ‘Three Musketeers’

A Swashbuckling Sccess for Frost’s ‘Three Musketeers’

Swashbuckling student-actors at Robert Frost put on an entertaining spectacle, presenting Richard Gremel’s play “The Thrilling Tale of the Three Musketeers” on March 15 and 16.

The titular three swordsmen were brought to life by Steven Discenza as Artie, Marcus Fasano as Porthos and Sebastian Lopez as Aramis. Directed by Michael Moriarty with invaluable assistance from set designer Maria Giglio and Sound and lighting director Scott Surdi, the farcical production also starred Maddy Bernstein as Constance, Drea Hendrickson as Queen Anne, Luke Valencia as Prince Frederick, Ayush Manchanda as the Duke, Carson Warkenthein as Bernard, Dimitra Pavlatos as Claudette, Brianne Vasconcellos as the Page and Gianna Sanchez as the Guard.

“I had the perfect cast for this show,” said Moriarty. “We put on a rather difficult piece, but the kids turned out an incredible performance. When you consistently hear an audience laughing throughout the show, it’s vindication for the cast and crew that they’re doing something pretty special.”

Deer Park Comes Together to Support Down Syndrome Awareness

Deer Park Comes Together to Support Down Syndrome Awareness
Deer Park Comes Together to Support Down Syndrome Awareness 3

May Moore celebrated Down Syndrome Awareness Day on March 21 with a special guest of honor, Adrian Bruno, a May Moore first-grader with Down Syndrome.

Staff and students showed their support by wearing blue and yellow, the official Down Syndrome colors, while elementary teachers and district administrators donned Down Syndrome awareness socks purchased from John’s Crazy Socks in Melville, a business owned by a young man with Down Syndrome. More than 100 pairs of socks were sold, with donations going to the Association of Children with Down Syndrome, National Down Syndrome Society and Special Olympics.

Teacher Alannah Boccard and speech therapist Doreen Bellantoni had previously visited each class at May Moore to speak to the students about acceptance and friendship. During their presentation, the two educators talked about people’s differences and similarities, read the Todd Parr book

“It’s Okay to Be Different,” and explained to the students what it means to have Down Syndrome and how to be inclusive to people with differing needs. The students then brainstormed ways to show random acts of kindness, which were written up and displayed in the main lobby hallway for all to read. 

“This day meant a lot to Adrian and his family,” said Boccard. “It was so nice to have the whole school and district come together to show their love and support.”

James Cummings Announced as New Superintendent

James Cummings Announced as New Superintendent

James Cummings has been named the new superintendent of schools for the district, replacing the retiring Eva J. Demyen. His hiring was announced at the Board of Education’s March 26 business meeting, to the applause of colleagues, family and community members.

Cummings had served as Deer Park’s assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services since 2016. He began his Deer Park career in 1997 as a business teacher at the high school, after four years in corporate sales for Cigna and MCI/Worldcom. He previously served as Deer Park High School principal, Robert Frost principal and associate principal, and the high school’s varsity track, winter track and cross-country coach.

The Sayville resident earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from SUNY Cortland and master’s degrees in secondary education and administration from Dowling College. 

“I am both proud and humbled to be appointed as the next superintendent of Deer Park Schools,” Cummings said. “Having been in this district for over 20 years, as a coach, teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent, I have seen the amazing students of Deer Park accomplish so much. As the superintendent, I promise that I will uphold the great traditions of Deer Park Schools. Equally as important, I will work tirelessly along with our wonderful staff, to ensure that our district stays on the forefront of current educational trends, and that our students are prepared for the ever-changing world that they will be thrust into upon leaving us. I love this community and look forward to serving it in my new capacity.”  

Konecny Named Assistant Superintendent

Konecny Named Assistant Superintendent

The district named Alicia Konecny as its assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services, replacing James Cummings, the district’s new superintendent of schools. The promotion was announced at the Board of Education’s March 26 meeting.

Konecny, a resident of Deer Park and graduate of Deer Park High School, had served as principal of May Moore since 2004. She previously worked as an assistant principal at both May Moore and JQA, assistant principal at JFK, and an administrative intern at JFK. She began her Deer Park career at JFK, teaching third grade and then fifth grade.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in education from Dowling College and her advanced certificate in school district administration from Stony Brook University.

“I am thrilled to continue my career in Deer Park in this new role,” Konecny said. “It has long been my passion and our collective mission to provide each and every student with exemplary programs of study within a safe, healthy and nurturing environment. I am looking forward to providing instructional leadership that ensures that every student is learning and achieving at a level that maximizes his or her learning potential.  I am eager to coordinate the development and improvement of pupil support services and the advancement of support services for students while also being an advocate for creative and innovative programs for students with disabilities.”

Exploring Languages at May Moore

Exploring Languages at May Moore

On World Language Exploration Day, students at May Moore were visited by high school seniors for fun, colorful lessons in French, Italian and Spanish. The annual event, held on March 19, is part of World Languages and Cultural Awareness Month. It gives the younger students a first look at languages other than English and provides the high schoolers with a chance to get creative in learning to educate others.



May Moore Kindergartners Treat Their Teddy Bears

May Moore Kindergartners Treat Their Teddy Bears
Kindergartners at May Moore enjoyed an educational Teddy Bear Clinic on March 5, an injury prevention program sponsored by the Trauma Center at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. Nurses from Stony Brook visited the school to discuss car and helmet safety with the students. At the program’s end, the children donned surgical masks to tend to their injured stuffed animal pals.

Aiding in Acceptance With Frost’s Award-Winning BandAid Project

Aiding in Acceptance with Frost’s Award-Winning BandAid Project

Robert Frost held its fourth annual BandAid Project on March 15. Developed by Frost speech-language pathologist Stephanie O’Connell to coincide with April as National Autism Awareness Month, the daylong event – which won the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission’s Inter-Faith Anti-Bias Task Force Award last year – works to increase acceptance of people with autism and developmental disabilities rather than just awareness and provides students with a firsthand experience of the daily struggles of people with disabilities.

Participating students wear a Band-aid across their mouth for the entire day, and must use pen and paper, gestures and even body language to communicate with their teachers and peers while taking part in all required activities of the school day. At BandAid’s conclusion, the students gather to play a game or complete an activity reflecting on the difficulties they had without the ability to communicate like others.

"Doing the BandAid Project for three straight years was a really good experience, and I looked forward to it every year,” said eighth-grader David Perez. “It’s basically the same as every other day, but once you put the Band-aid on, everything changes for you. When I tried to speak, I felt totally different. I really wanted to rip it off and speak as much as I want, but I knew I couldn’t, because I dedicated myself to finishing the project. It gave me a new point of view on what people with disabilities have to deal with in daily life.”

“This year, at some point during the day, I wanted to cry,” said eighth-grader Karly Haskins, another previous BandAid participant. “It was really hard. I wanted to talk to so many of my friends and tell them what was on my mind. It was definitely a struggle.”

“I was impressed with our students’ ability to reflect on this activity,” said O’Connell.  “I asked them to give me one word that described how it felt to be speechless for the day. Students reported the following feelings: trapped, stuck, sad, embarrassed, annoyed, frustrated, mad, and furious. I acknowledged their feelings and then challenged them to think about what it must be like to feel that way all the time, as it is for someone with a disability. They got it!”

Memory Project Video

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Please take a moment and watch this powerful video showcasing Deer Park High School art students' participation in the Memory Project to benefit Rohingya children.

Learning Through Magic at JQA

Learning Through Magic at JQA

Las Vegas illusionist Christian Augustin brought his new interactive show “The Magic of Learning” to JQA on March 5, linking to the school’s STEAM themes. Incorporating math and physics as well as interesting stories from history, Augustine presented such magical effects as “The Impossible Puzzle,” “Intelligent Electricity” and “The Power of Nine” to entertain and educate students from pre-K through second grade.

Kelly Benson Named New Principal of JFK

Kelly Benson Named New Principal of JFK

Kelly Benson has been named the new principal of JFK, replacing Susan Bonner, who will retire at the end of this school year.

For the past three years, Benson has served as an associate principal at JFK. She previously worked as an elementary school teacher in the Sachem School District and as a New York City police officer. The Wading River resident earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Iona College, her master’s degree in elementary education from Dowling College, and her post-master’s advanced certificate in educational leadership from Stony Brook University.

“I am very excited to accept the position of JFK principal,” said Benson. “Over the past three years as associate principal, I have built many meaningful relationships with the students, faculty, parents and the Deer Park community. I look forward to continuing to build these relationships in my new capacity. Together we will empower students to develop the skills they need to be able to thrive in society. We will work together to help every child reach their fullest potential and become global citizens. I am committed to provide a safe environment for all students to thrive and grow.”

Deer Park DECA Brings Home Four State Trophies

 Deer Park DECA Brings Home Four State Trophies
 Deer Park DECA Brings Home Four State Trophies 2
 Deer Park DECA Brings Home Four State Trophies 3
A group of 28 business students from the high school’s DECA club recently competed at DECA’s New York State Career Development Conference in Rochester, with two pairs of Deer Park students earning trophies.    

Jasleen Kaur and Amar Qasir came in second place in the Financial Services team event, while Eiman Nawaz and Yasmeen Syedda-Hensley won fifth place in Travel & Tourism. These four trophy winners qualified to compete against more than 18,000 high school students from across the country and around the world at the International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Florida at the end of April.

Additional Deer Park standouts in the business battle against more than 2,000 high school students from across the state included top 10 scorers Isabella Coon and Logan Eisenberg for Financial Services, James Hope for Food Marketing, Saima Hoque for Principles of Finance, Omar Rahim for Human Resources, Alyssa Robb for Restaurant & Food Service Management, Tasfia Shaikh for Retail Merchandising, Chaim Shames for Business Finance, Keryn Shames for Financial Consulting, and Esteysy Yanes-Amaya for Personal Financial Literacy.

“Congratulations to all of the students on a job well done,” said DECA adviser Gregory Menig.

Additionally, Qasir was inducted into the New York DECA Honor Society for his outstanding grades and business studies.

Determined Depre Climbs to the Top for MS

Determined High Schooler Depre Climbs to the Top for MS
Determined High Schooler Depre Climbs to the Top for MS 2
Determined High Schooler Depre Climbs to the Top for MS 3

In an effort to make a difference for the fight against multiple sclerosis, Deer Park High School student Robert Depre ascended the Empire State Building on March 3 as part of the "MS Climb to the Top NYC” initiative. The 15-year-old, together with his sisters Jennifer and Stephanie, who joined him for the 28-minute climb, raised $1,365 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“I participated because I wanted to help people suffering from MS,” said Depre. “It was an awesome experience and I’d definitely participate again next year.”

A Night to Honor Deer Park’s Winter Athletes

A Night to Honor Deer Park’s Winter Athletes

The high school recognized outstanding athletic efforts by varsity teams on winter sports awards night, held on Feb. 28 at the high school’s auditorium. Members of the bowling, boys basketball, girls basketball, boys winter track, girls winter track, swimming and diving, and wrestling teams were honored with certificates and plaques, including Most Valuable Player awards, Coaches Awards, Spirit Awards and Scholar-Athlete awards.

“I want to show appreciation for the hard work and dedication that our coaches and athletes show regularly,” said Athletic Director Dominick Fontana. “For the coaches, it’s getting through a whole season and making it the best possible experience for our athletes, and for our athletes, it’s putting everything else aside to make athletics a high priority in their lives. I would also like to thank the Booster Club’s fundraising efforts.”

Frost Focuses on Music for Black History Month

Frost Focuses on Music for Black History Month

For this year’s Black History Month celebration at Robert Frost, which encompassed February and extended into early March, teachers Lynne Connors and Sara Watkin-Fox focused for the first time on the crucial role of music in the African-American experience.

“What makes our Black History month celebration so unique is the fact that it is a hands-on experience for the students,” said Watkin-Fox. “Each year, we focus on a different theme and the students partner with us to create a celebration that extends throughout the school. Whether it is setting up a historical display case with Mrs. Connors or researching the various musicians, styles and incredible contributions of African-Americans to the world of music with me or working with both of us to raise awareness throughout the school, this is a student-centered project that brings our entire school community together.”

Connors and Watkin-Fox came up with a list of musical genres to cover along with a timeline to cover the topics. Connors then ordered the topics in a calendar, and Watkin-Fox’s classes researched which musicians and songs to use. Each week during Black History Month, student-selected musical choices that span both history and musical styles were played on the school’s PA system, resulting in students dancing and singing in the halls.

Students also utilized Frost’s newly acquired Chromebooks to increase their understanding of the subject, conducting technology and sharpening research skills to listen to and learn about African-Americans' significant contribution to music throughout history.

“The lesson traced the evolution of the African-American contribution to the world of music, starting with African drumming and moving on to a writing prompt on blues, studying how it originated in the time of slavery on the Mississippi Delta,” said Watkin-Fox. “We used technology for the jazz station – an independent study on Louis Armstrong and the history of jazz in this country. Our last station involved creating promotional posters for the Motown recording studio, the first that did not discriminate against African-American musicians. Our students learned about the good as well as the bad, about the racism that many of the musicians had to deal with and the difficulties in getting their music recorded.

“Frost is proud to have showcased several extremely influential African-American musicians including Louis Armstrong, Berry Gordy and Chuck Berry,” said Bradley Murphy, Deer Park’s curriculum associate for fine and performing arts. “Through experiences like this, our students are able to experience the masterpieces these amazing musicians produced many years ago.”

“I learned about different types of music like jazz and the blues,” said seventh-grader Angeline Burnett. “I feel like we should give credit to the African-Americans because they built our structure of music.”

“It was good because we learned about black history and how African-Americans made music throughout the years and through many hardships,” said seventh-grader Jayden Philippe.

Based on student research, Connors created a showcase in Frost’s main lobby, displaying the people’s movement from Africa through slavery and migration patterns, and their music progressing from blues through jazz and into rock, hip hop and rap, as well as different cities in the U.S. where these music genres were birthed. The showcase also featured a poem by student Alexa Cornelia.

“I came up with the poem because I didn’t know black history before, so I made a poem from my heart,” said Cornelia. “People don’t get respected. I made the poem to tell them that they do matter, and not to let anyone change who they are.”

Finally, Connors visited English as a new language classes to discuss her own personal narrative and instill pride.

“As a survivor of segregated schools on Long Island, I can relate to the ENL students’ feelings of being an outsider looking in,” she said. “I started with my family, to show that African-Americans could be prosperous. This is their heritage, and for some it’s their introduction to something they don’t know about.”

Red Cross Club Thanks Local Firefighters

Red Cross Club Thanks Local Firefighters
Red Cross Club Thanks Local Firefighters2

Honoring local volunteer heroes, members of the high school's Red Cross Club recently made and delivered 102 thank-you cards to for members of the Deer Park Fire Department.

A Last Sweet Mad Hatter’s Tea at May Moore

A Last Sweet Mad Hatter’s Tea at May Moore
A lovely Valentine’s Day tradition came to an end at May Moore as retiring teacher Cheryl Bica and her class held her last Mad Hatter’s Tea. Every year, Bica creates a hat for each student using old newspapers and sends it home for the children and their families to creatively decorate. On Feb. 14, the hat-bedecked students perform love songs and personal Valentine greetings, followed by a feast of sweets and drinks.

JQA Families Entertained by Seuss Storyteller for READ

JQA Families Entertained by Seuss Storyteller for READ 2
JQA Families Entertained by Seuss Storyteller for READ 3
During the annual recent Read, Enjoy and Discover program at JQA, storyteller LuAnn Adams entertained students and families with “Tales from Dr. Seuss.”

Legislator Berland Brings Love of READing to JQA

Legislator Berland Brings Llove of READing to JQA
Legislator Berland Brings Llove of READing to JQA 2
Legislator Berland Brings Llove of READing to JQA 3

As part of the school’s 16th annual Read Enjoy and Discover program, JQA was recently visited by Suffolk County Legislator Susan Berland, who read two of her favorites, Faith McNulty’s “Arty the Smarty” and Tamara Kitt’s “The Boy Who Fooled the Giant,” to the excited students.

READ is a collaborative effort among parents, students and staff to build a reading partnership between home and school and to help foster the love of reading at home. READ programs encourage parents to read with their children every day over a two-week period during the month of February. The JQA students read more than 11,000 books, meeting the school’s goal of 10,000.

High School Clubs Promote Positivity on P.S. I Love You Day

High School Clubs Promote Positivity on P.S. I Love You Day

In a joint effort for P.S. I Love You Day between two high school groups, the Student Council Club, led by counselors Rachel Glaubach and Jessica Negron, and the Community Service Club, led by Christine DiProperzio, decorated the showcase in the main lobby, displaying posters and pictures made by students. P.S. I Love You Day, held on Feb. 8, promotes positive messages of love, acceptance and community and to take a stand against bullying. Club members also put individual quotes on classroom doors, all student lockers and all staff members' office doors, and also wrote some quotes on bathroom mirrors so that as students looked at themselves, they would be reminded how wonderful each of them truly are.

Sophomores Meet the Challenge of AP Capstone

Sophomores Meet the Challenge of AP Capstone

The 2018-2019 school year featured the debut of a rigorous, challenging new program for the high school’s students. A total of 31 sophomores are enrolled in AP Seminar, taught by ENL/ELA teacher Joe Buscarino. The course is part of the College Board’s vaunted AP Capstone program, which serves as excellent project-based learning, helping students prepare for a college environment where they will be working not just by themselves, but with a group or team trying to solve a problem.

“As a district, we are always looking to expose our students to opportunities to get college ready,” said Jeanne Kozlowsky, district administrator for secondary curriculum and instruction. “When AP Capstone became available, we came together as an administrative team to look at it and thought it would be a wonderful option for our high school students. We are developing a college-level course for high schoolers that will prepare them in research and methods of identifying proper sources and arguing based on different economic, political or cultural interpretive lenses.”

“It’s really a great chance for those students who want to challenge themselves, to surpass what they think their limits might be and push the envelope a bit,” said Michelle Kwon, the district’s curriculum associate for ELA, reading and library. “It’s also important that as a district, we support the fact that on college applications, AP Capstone is now a check-off box, so we wanted to give our students the ability to list it.”

Deer Park made the decision to offer Seminar to 10th graders on the honors track, through the English department, as the first section of the AP Capstone program. In the fall of 2019, the school will offer the second Capstone segment, AP Research, to juniors and seniors through the science department.

“I’m glad we decided to offer Seminar to sophomores, because it enables them to use those research skills throughout all content areas and gives them time in high school to practice those skills before college,” Kwon said.

Buscarino’s Seminar curriculum analyzes and interprets nonfiction and fiction sources; utilizing T.S. Eliot's "Notes Toward the Definition of Culture", the class explores different cultural views of the individual, the group or class, and then the larger society as a whole. The literature corresponds to this organization and reviews different interpretive lenses to expound and elicit knowledge from the students. In order to develop the course,

Buscarino and Kwon attended a mandatory seminar in Maryland last summer, undergoing extensive training for five days.

“They really gave us the tools to create this course, which isn’t typically set in stone – the teacher develops what they need as far as curriculum goes,” Buscarino said. “They gave us 75 or 76 different skills that need to be taught during the course, and however you get to those skills is up to you.”

“It’s not a traditional classroom setting with a teacher up at the board,” Kozlowsky explained. “The students decide what issues that they are passionate about and really want to learn more about. Every time you pass by Mr. Buscarino’s classroom, you see his students working collaboratively, and assessing some challenging topics and real-world issues.”

“The students are very proud that they’re in the class,” Kwon said. “They always say that their brain hurts when they come out of class, but in a good way. It’s an environment that’s supportive but challenging at the same time. There’s a formula to the course, but because of student choice, there’s also a lot of flexibility. In this class, the skills are a priority, so how the students want to use and apply and manipulate those skills is based on student interest. It’s an interesting challenge even for the teacher, because there are moments when they can only give so much support, and it’s up to the students to support and critique each other.” 

Buscarino has proven up to the challenge, and continues to hone his vision for the course by collaborating and sharing ideas with a network of other Capstone teachers from around Long Island, as well as with teachers and administrators from all over the country and world.

One major difference between AP Seminar and typical AP courses is that Seminar does not feature just one final exam. Parts of the exam are completed throughout the school year, including a group assignment and presentation, an individual research and essay, and an individual presentation with oral defense. The final portion is just a percentage, affirming the course’s representation of the idea of process and multiple ways of assessing students.

“It’s challenging in that you really have to get the students prepared much earlier than in a traditional AP class, but it really is more than just taking a test,” Kwon said. “It is a truer test of mastery of skill.”

“If I had to rename this course, I’d call it Research 101, just because it’s really taking a look at finding your own sources and then developing or synthesizing ideas based on those sources,” Buscarino said. “It’s critical thinking.”

Message from Board Trustee Keith Rooney

Message from Board Trustee Keith Rooney

I wanted to drop a note and thank you all for your support. After volunteering and serving on the Board of Education as vice president and trustee for the last 12 years, I will not be seeking reelection in May 2019. Serving Deer Park has been an honor and something I will always cherish. As a member of Deer Park High School’s graduating Class of 1985, I always took pride serving this great community. I have been a resident of Deer Park for all of my life, and my wife and I have raised our three children in Deer Park’s schools. My current role at National Grid requires me to travel almost weekly, making this role harder to sustain. I’ve been on a lot of teams during my life and couldn’t be prouder to have worked with Deer Park’s school board, superintendent, staff, administration and dedicated employees. Together we have developed a great future for all our students. Serving on the special education and energy committees has also been one of my most rewarding life experiences. I’m excited about the future of this district and will always be proud of all we accomplished together. Thank you all for your friendship, support and dedication to our great employees and students! Falcon for life!

Keith Rooney
Board of Education Trustee

Frost’s Fourth P.S. I Love You Day Shows Students That They Matter

Frost’s Fourth P.S. I Love You Day Shows Students That They Matter

Purple shirts were sighted everywhere on Feb. 8 as P.S. I Love You Day was celebrated at Robert Frost for the fourth year in a row. The shirts served as reminders to stand against bullying and prevent suicide.

P.S. I Love You Day was started in 2010 by West Islip teenager Brooke DiPalma, following the tragic suicides of her father and a senior at her school. The event, held each year on the second Friday of February, promotes positive messages of love, acceptance and community, symbolized by the color purple.

Guided by teachers Dani Iadevaia and Denise Tassey, the school’s student council posted notes with inspirational messages on every student's locker, made candygrams, and wrapped purple ribbon around the trees in front of the school.

“We participate in P.S. I Love You Day because the world we live in right now focuses so much on the negative things that happen around us,” said Tassey. “Unfortunately, our students know about suicide and have lost someone they love to it. We have students who think their lives don’t matter when they do matter. Every single one of us on this earth matters, and our student council wanted to make sure of that. We also challenged students every day that week to do something nice for someone, whether it was a smile at someone they didn’t know, to sit with someone they don’t know, or just help out someone who looks like they could use help. So many people were wearing purple that day, and it was just so amazing to see that we can make a difference and help people – even if it’s just a few – know that they are loved.”

High School Holds Lifesaving Blood Drive

High School Holds Lifesaving Blood Drive

Donating their time and their blood to help those in need, altruistic Deer Park High School students visited the school gym on Feb. 14 to participate in the annual blood drive.

“I’m here to save a life,” said junior Hannah Harrilal. “It’s for a good cause.”

Learning to Keep Smiles Healthy at JFK

Learning to Keep Smiles Healthy at JFK

Third-graders in Heather Buksa’s and Jennifer Zylberberg’s classes at JFK recently learned about the importance of taking care of their teeth. A dental hygienist from West Islip’s Vitagliano Orthodontics visited the school, giving the students a chance to ask questions and practice caring for their teeth with hands-on activities. The students were also excited to receive “bunny ears” supplies to help achieve healthy smiles.

Deer Park School District