The Deer Park Board of Education commended seven exceptional young writers who participated in the National Council for the Teachers of English national writing competition at the Board’s March 22 meeting. Robert Frost Middle School eighth graders Arianna Ahmad, Vincent Cacciola, Victoria Hernandez and Cayden Zappola, and Deer Park High School juniors Mohammad Fahad, Eadie Liu and Stephanie Sheeler were presented with certificates from both the Board and the NCTE.
This is the first year that Deer Park has nominated students to the competition, which recognizes the top 1% of student writers in 8th and 11th grade nationwide. Last year, only 266 juniors and 116 eighth graders were selected. As part of the program, student nominees submitted portfolio writing to the NCTE national jury, who will name finalists in May.
“Our schools’ ELA teachers identified the ‘best of the best’ at Deer Park,” said Justin Uliano, Deer Park’s curriculum associate for ELA, reading and library. “Every NCTE competition student who is a representative of their school is unbelievably outstanding, and every student who is a representative of their state is top-notch.”
Additionally, the Board recognized three influential educators – District Administrator of World Languages and ENL Alicia Rosenberg, Deer Park High School Associate Principal Dina Pannone and world language teacher Nicole Bjarnason – for organizing the recent Passport to Culture Night at the high school, which invited Deer Park students to learn about some of the various cultures and traditions of peers in order to get a better understanding of those around them.
After an opening ceremony led by Bjarnason and Rosenberg, the attendees were treated to a performance by Gabrielle Mayne, Gabriella Ortiz, Fimitra Pavlatos and Gianna Sanchez from the high school’s women’s choir. Student leaders from the French Honor Society, LatinX Student Association, Muslim Student Association, South Asian Culture Club and Spanish Honor Society ran 12 different rooms representing 11 different countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, El Salvador, Greece, Haiti, Jamaica, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru and Vietnam – and the territory of Puerto Rico. In each room, elementary, middle and high school student attendees participated in analyzing the culture studied, as well as participating in or creating a practice or product of that culture. After visiting a room, student attendees received stamps that verified their “visit” to the nation in their personalized passports. Students also visit the International Cafe, where they sampled various delicious foods from the students’ cultures. The night ended with students dancing the night away with the Arts Horizons Dance Around the World assembly.
“The Deer Park community is well known for its immense diversity, and this was an amazing night,” Bjarnason said. “Many thanks to our amazing high school students for sharing their passion for their roots and beautiful diverse backgrounds.”
“It was an opportunity for our students to teach the community, staff members and other students about their culture and where their families come from,” Superintendent James Cummings said.
“It was a night of sharing, of learning and of really just celebrating our students and their heritage,” Board of Education President Donna Marie Elliott said. “It was such a wonderful experience.”
Date Added: 3/27/2023