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“Book Love” Continues with Read-Alouds by HS Public Speaking Students

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Deer Park High School students recently performed readings of children’s books for second grade classes at John Quincy Adams and May Moore primary schools. Christine Harbison’s public speaking students continued the ELA Department’s “Book Love” initiative, sharing the enthusiasm for books and encouraging students to develop lifelong reading habits.

Each public speaker practiced the skills they are learning in the course while also hosting discussions with students about social-emotional topics raised in the books. One class even performed a mini-meditation session after reading a book on mindfulness.

“It’s always great to speak for live audiences, but it was extra-special for the speakers to be special guests for young students in the district," Harbison said.

Date Added: 3/30/2023


Board of Ed Honors Student Writers and Influential Educators

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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

Deer Park’s Schools Explore Differences at Diversity and Inclusion Assemblies

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Deer Park elementary school counselor Angeline Ramos recently presented three Diversity and Inclusion assemblies, in which students were able to learn about diversity through engaging activities and discussion, as well as the importance of inclusion.

The entire student body at John F. Kennedy Intermediate School participated in two sessions on Feb. 16, featuring a performance by the Deer Park High School step team, directed by teacher Brianne Hertzog. Assemblies were then presented to second graders at John Quincy Adams Primary School on March 1 and May Moore Primary School on March 2.

“Our students explored the differences that make them unique, and how we can include each other regardless of our differences,” Ramos said.

Date Added: 3/24/2023

Deer Park HS Honors Hardworking Winter Sports Teams

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Deer Park High School held its winter varsity sports awards night on March 9, honoring the outstanding student-athletes of nine teams: cheerleading, kickline, boys and girls basketball, wrestling, boys bowling, boys swimming and diving, and boys and girls winter track. Members of each team were presented with certificates and plaques recognizing Most Valuable Player awards, Coaches Awards, Spirit Awards and Scholar-Athlete awards.

“To our coaches and our athletes, obviously everything revolves around what you do, so thank you for all the time that you spend, all the sacrifices and all the hard work through good times and bad,” Athletic Director Dominick Fontana said. He also lauded the efforts and support of the student-athletes’ parents, the district board of education and administration, and the diligent Booster Club.

Date Added: 3/23/2023

Harvard Club Honors Two Deer Park Teachers

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The Harvard Club of Long Island has announced the dozen Long Island teachers who will receive the 2023 Distinguished Teacher Award; among them are Robert Frost Middle School social studies teacher Kevin Cogan and Deer Park High School history teacher Victor LoMonaco. The 2023 award winners were honored at the Harvard Club’s annual University Relations Luncheon on March 18.

“This award honors teachers who transform lives,” said Dr. Judith Esterquest, chair of the Distinguished Teacher Selection Committee. “Devoted teachers honored by these awards offer Long Island students their deep expertise, extraordinary talents and countless hours of attention. By capturing the minds and imaginations of our children and preparing them for challenges that were unknown even a few decades ago, these teachers shape the future of our country.”

Cogan has been teaching social studies in Deer Park for over 21 years, and also coaches soccer, basketball and track. He earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from King’s College in Pennsylvania and his master’s degree in secondary education from Dowling College.

LoMonaco has taught in Deer Park for 20 years, the last 14 teaching AP world history. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Stony Brook University and his master’s degree in education from Dowling College.  

Date Added: 3/22/2023