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Spring 2017 Newsletter Now Available


JFK Staff and Students Recognized for Altruistic "Heart"


Via such initiatives as Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart, physical education teachers at Deer Park’s John F. Kennedy Intermediate School have raised more than $165,000 for the American Heart Association over the past dozen years, including $12,716 this year alone. This fundraising each year earns vouchers for JFK to purchase useful physical education equipment.

Recognizing the school’s altruism, AHA representative Eve Pyser visited the school during the opening ceremony of JFK’s annual Field Day, presenting awards to teachers and top fundraisers.

Rita Murphy Honored as a Teacher of Excellence


High school art teacher Rita Murphy was honored at the second annual Teacher of Excellence Awards ceremony, hosted by State Sen. Phil Boyle at the Bay Shore Fire Department on May 4.

“We celebrated the achievements of 16 outstanding educators and school professionals who have dedicated their lives to teaching and helping their students learn, thrive, and reach their fullest potential,” said Boyle. “Our school communities are so very fortunate to have such passionate educators.”

Murphy, who is retiring this year, began her teaching career in 1990 as a substitute art teacher for both the Comsewogue and Longwood School Districts, before being employed full time with Smithtown High School West. She began teaching in Deer Park in September 1991. 

“I have been teaching for just under 28 years, and I have loved having the privilege and honor of teaching,” she said. “My philosophy has always been that art is ‘play with a purpose.’  I am fortunate to have lived my philosophy, and so I tell students daily: when choosing a career, choose what you love. If you choose what you love, you will always be successful because of your passion.  As I retire this year, I look back on an incredibly and wonderfully fulfilled life.”

Dynamic Drip Painter Brings Excitement to STEAM Expo


Deer Park’s districtwide STEAM Expo, an annual event at the high school held on budget vote night, showcases student achievement in art, music, science and technology. During this year’s Expo on May 16, an expanding crowd of visiting voters, families and community members were electrified by an exciting live demonstration of celebrity portrait “drip painting” by sophomore artist Vincenza Grippe.

After taking Rita Murphy’s mural painting class in her freshman year, Grippe was ready to take her work to the next level.

“On the first day of school in September, Vincenza came to my drawing and painting class and stated that she loved art,and wanted to work on her art skills as much as possible,” said teacher Joseph Mucci. Before long, she had been recommended to paint an outer space mural at STAT Health’s childrens unit. Then came the genesis of her unique technique.

“One day in my drawing and painting class, Vincenza came to me and said she wanted to try a new style of portrait painting that involved drip and splatter techniques,” said Mucci. “We stretched some canvases, and she started painting away. She had some black paint and a few old palette knives. She started basic and small, but the outcome was remarkable. In a few quick weeks, she was painting masterful drip portraits featuring iconic personalities like, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Marilyn Monroe, Biggy Smalls, Frida Kahlo and John Lennon.”

Grippe has recently done other live drip painting demonstrations at events like the Staten Island Art Festival, and has sold several paintings and received numerous commissions. She is currently painting a mural for local paintball facility NYZ Apocalypse. Next year, she plans to enroll in Deer Park’s Advanced Placement portfolio art course.

“Vincenza is one of the best art students I have ever had in almost 17 years of teaching,” said Mucci. “Her talent and work ethic is professional and unmatched. She is mature beyond her years and has a kind heart. She has come a long way in such short time, and her optimism, smile and overall character only add to her unbelievable ability. I truly believe that Vincenza is at the beginning of her creative career as a professional artist.”

Other STEAM Expo highlights included lively and elegant music by the Robert Frost Middle School Chamber Choir and Chamber Orchestra; dramatic performances by high school actors excerpting works like “Romeo and Juliet,” “Barefoot in the Park” and “Cinderella”; and a “Evening at the Improv” performance by Robert Frost eighth-grade theater arts students. Middle school science fair projects were on display in the cafeteria, and technology demonstrations throughout the building included seventh-grade dragster races, AP chemistry projects, and displays of 3D printing, CAD, metals, robotics, home improvement, woodworking, animation and architecture.

JFK Third-Graders Test Postal Packing Skills in Egg Challenge

Students in Ann Bullis’ third-grade class at JFK wondered if an uncooked egg could be shipped through the mail. Testing their packaging skills in this “egg challenge,” they mailed their uncooked eggs to the school, hoping that the eggs would go through the post office and arrive at the JFK building unscathed. The third-graders then opened the packages and categorized the types of materials that they had utilized to protect their eggs.  

Budget Passes!


Residents in the Deer Park School District voted to support the 2017-2018 budget on May 16, by a vote of 938 to 208. The district thanks the community for participating in this important vote.

Incumbent trustees Al Centamore (862 votes) and Donna Gulli Grunseich (798), both running unopposed, were reelected, and Proposition II, to expend capital funds, was approved by voters, 955-178.

Meet the 2017 Valedictorian and Salutatorian

The high school’s Class of 2017 valedictorian and salutatorian are Omaier Mohiuddin and Alima Hossain, respectively.

An AP Scholar with Distinction, Mohiuddin is a member of the school’s National Honor Society, Math Team, Red Cross Club, Art Club and International Culture Club, and serves as president of the Spanish Honor Society. He will attend Stony Brook University this fall, majoring in engineering. 

Hossain is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Science Olympiad team, Math Team, SADD Club, Red Cross Club and International Culture Club. She also will attend Stony Brook University, majoring in biology.

HS Student Journalists Attend Mock Press Conference


High School newspaper staff members Katherine Cho, Rebecca Fox, Kaitlyn Hart, Fabiha Khan, Catherine Taipe and Alejandro Villa Vasquez attended an April 27 mock press conference with New York State Assemblymen Chad A. Lupinacci and Andrew Raia. Accompanied by newspaper advisers Christine Murphy and Luciana Restivo, the students were able to ask questions about current issues such as LGBT rights, the heroin epidemic, gang violence on Long Island and changes in education.

“We are so proud of the professionalism our students exhibited during this event as they gained knowledge of the journalistic process,” said Murphy.

AP Students Explore Biotechnology at Stony Brook


High school students in Melissa Green’s AP biology classes recently visited Stony Brook University to conduct two biotechnology labs: a bacterial transformation lab, in which they incorporated a gene from a bioluminescent jellyfish into bacteria, causing the bacteria to express that trait and glow green; and a DNA restriction analysis lab, exposing enzymes to various environmental conditions and seeing the effects on DNA.

“This was a great opportunity for our seniors to experience applications in the field of biotechnology,” said Green. “My students were excited to explore new lab techniques using state of the art equipment.”

Sharing Cultural Pride at the International Poetry Fest


At the districtwide International Poetry Festival on April 27, students of all ages from the ENL and world language programs recited original poems in their native languages and sang songs like “It’s a Small World” and “Love Train” using sign language, cultural props and their individual countries’ flags. Some students even came dressed in their countries’ traditional attire.

“It is so important that our students feel proud of their heritage and are given the opportunity to share their culture and thoughts with their peers,” said ENL teacher Marcella Biordi.

“The Poetry Festival was the perfect place to bring poetry and song together," said ENL teacher Vanessa Pizzo.

View a video excerpt here.


JFK’s Scientists of the Future


The annual school science fair at JFK resulted in nine winners who wowed educators with their creative, well-researched projects. For the third grade, Nicola Cespe finished in first, John Holland in second and Caiden Boltz in third. Fourth-grade winners were Aiden Magali in first, Efti Chowdhury in second and Julia Castro in third. The top fifth-graders were Mia Skoubas in first, Julia Holland in second and Ava Giutierrez in third.

The winners went on to participate alongside students from other Suffolk County schools in the Brookhaven National Laboratory Elementary School Science Fair on May 6.

“I am so proud of our students who received recognition for a job well done,” said science lab coordinator Joyce Carmen. “Their curiosity in asking big questions, and their research finding conclusions for their topics took dedication and hard work. Our scientists of the future created projects that were informative and their displays were wonderful.”

Deer Park Again Named a Best Community for Music Education


The district has again been given the Best Communities for Music Education designation, awarded by the NAMM Foundation in honor of the district’s outstanding music program. Deer Park was one of only 4 percent of districts nationwide to be recognized with this prestigious annual award, now in its 18th year, recognizing outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

“This designation is a clear indicator of the hard work put forth everyday by all members of Deer Park's music program,” said Bradley Murphy, the district’s curriculum associate for fine and performing arts.

Fabulous Fine and Performing Artists Honored


The district honored the achievements of its artistic achievers at the April 25 Board of Education meeting, with a awards ceremony led by Bradley Murphy, curriculum associate for fine and performing arts. Recognized were musicians from the All-County, All-State and All-Eastern ensembles; participants in the Long Island String Festival; artists chosen for the Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at the Heckscher Museum, SCALA Children’s Show, and Colors of Long Island student art exhibits; and students participating in the New York State Theatre Education Association Student Conference.

“It’s quite an honor for students to be awarded recognition for special activities in the area of fine arts,” said Murphy. “Each of these students possesses exceptional talent and we are proud to have them represent Deer Park.”

17 Special Students Honored at Spring Breakfast for Champions


Honored for their outstanding conduct, character and compassion, in the classroom and in the community, 17 special students from the high school were recognized by teachers and administrators at the spring Breakfast for Champions ceremony, held April 20 in the school library.

Student champions are selected in fall and spring by each of the school’s departments, along with additional champions chosen by the principal and a teacher. Joined by their families, they received plaques after being lauded by their sponsors. Music for the event was provided by the school’s string ensemble.

Breakfast for Champions honorees for spring 2017 were Lydia Chang (guidance), Andres Colon (Principal’s Award), Adrianna Donnelly (Teacher’s Award), Jenna Fisk (art), Vincenza Grippe (health), Cody Guiteau (science), Anthony Henkel (English language arts), Shane Hewlette (social studies), Zeynep Hulagu (English as a new language), Darien Jenkins (athletics), James LeFevre (math), Gabriel Ortega Amaya (world languages), Jessica Phillips-Harris (technology), Michaela Rapisarda (physical education), Alyssa Shindel (business), Ginele Tanis (performing arts) and Trinity Wade (family and consumer science).

Frost Student Wins Sew to Serve with Compassion

Robert Frost student Gianna Delvecchio recently won the LIFACS Challenge Sew to Serve competition. She and fellow members of the Robert Frost Fashion Club made fleece dogs for sick children.

The LIFACS Challenge competition promotes service learning and supports students in volunteering within their communities.

“Gianna showed immense leadership qualities and compassion by donating the fleece dogs to Good Samaritan Hospital,” said club adviser Cindy Adriaenssens. “My Fashion Club students find it satisfying and rewarding to help others.”

May Moore Second-Graders’ "Little Mermaid" Transports with Talent

Delighting their families and instilling confidence in their own dramatic talents, second-graders in the May Moore Music Club presented a Broadway-style production of  “The Little Mermaid” for two daytime and two evening performances in April.

The young actors began working on the show back in the beginning of October, under the direction of Kristen Lombardo, and practiced and rehearsed their lines over the course of several months with the help of parents and grandparents.

“Kudos to the cast and crew,” said Principal Alicia Konecny. “The costumes, lighting and set were amazing, and the show was out of this world. The audience was truly transported under the sea.”

“They only rehearsed with me once a week for an hour after school, but their enthusiasm and constant energy pushed us along each week,” said Lombardo. “They amazed me, being only 7 and 8 years old. I truly believe that if you raise the bar, and have faith in your students, there is nothing they can’t do. I am incredibly proud of these kids. Their talents have only skimmed the surface of what they can achieve.”

Frost Students Develop Acceptance Through Education


More than 200 students from Robert Frost participated in the Band-Aid Project on April 6 as part of the school’s celebration of Autism and Disability Acceptance Month.

The Band-Aid Project, a movement to increase not just awareness but acceptance of people with autism and developmental disabilities, provides students with first-hand experience of the daily struggles of people with disabilities. This lesson and insight is the first step towards acceptance.

Clad in blue, each participating student applied a band-aid across their mouth to render them unable to speak, and communicated during classes only via non-electronic means. At the conclusion of the day, the students designed mock Instagram posts reflecting their experiences, results which were both informative and inspired.

“My experience today was eye-opening,” said student Jonathan DeJesus. “It really makes you realize that once you can’t talk, you face a whole new set of challenges. With the loss of communication, I felt a gain in respect for everyone who has autism and their day-to-day challenges.”

“The development of acceptance begins with education,” said speech teacher Stephanie O’Connell. “On that day, these students had a glimpse of what having a disability is like. Carrying the message of love and acceptance for all people in our community is the mission of this project, and I know we achieved that. I am proud of our students and to be a part of the Robert Frost community.”

2017 Budget Newsletter - Revised

Please note the attached 2017 budget newsletter with corrected Points of Pride.


Fox and Jenkins Sign Letters of Intent


In a celebratory ceremony at the school’s library, attended by family and teammates, seniors Tori Fox and Darien Jenkins signed national letters of intent on April 19.

Fox, a softball player, will attend the New York Institute of Technology, where she plans to major in health science. A member of the varsity for five years, she serves as team captain and has earned three All-League and two All-Division honors. A veteran of three Class AA playoff runs, she has guided Deer Park’s 10-1 softball team to its current first-place standing and recently reached the prestigious 100-hit mark.

Jenkins, who plays basketball, will attend LIU Post this fall, majoring in business. During his Deer Park hoops tenure, he won two League IV championships, and was named All-County twice, All-Conference three times and All-League three times. For the 2016-2017 season, he was voted MVP by his teammates and finished his career with 942 points.

A Day to Explore and Showcase Languages

For World Language Exploration Day at May Moore, seniors from the high school studying Spanish, Italian and French visited kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade classrooms to teach language lessons to the younger students. The annual project, held this year on March 29, is planned to coincide with March as World Languages and Cultural Awareness Month.

“The high school seniors get the opportunity to create engaging lessons for the primary kids, allowing them to think critically about how languages are both learned and taught,” said teacher Ashley Rosenberg. “Equally as important, the elementary kids gain an awareness of languages other than English. The program ties in nicely with our district’s ENL program, as ENL students at the elementary level are able to showcase their language skills. The entire process creates an environment of cultural exploration, acceptance, appreciation and tolerance.”

HS Patriot Club Provides Cookies and Dodgeballs for Deployed Alumni

The high school’s Patriot Club recently packed and mailed eight care packages to three former Deer Park students and current U.S. servicemembers: Justin Gallo and George Tirado in Afghanistan, and Jonathan Trautwig in Iraq. 

The packages included five cases of Girl Scout cookies sold by Frost student Kaitlyn Incandela, who asked her customers to donate for the Patriot Club on behalf of the former students who are currently deployed overseas. According to Patriot Club adviser Laurie Osbern, at the request of Tirado, the club also used some of its monetary donations to purchase dodgeballs for morale-building recreation time for the soldiers.

Frost NJHS Inducts 67 New Members


At an April 3 ceremony, the middle school’s National Junior Honor Society inducted 24 new eighth-grade members and 43 new seventh-grade members. Each of the eighth-grade members received the medals that they will wear at their June moving up ceremony. The school’s annual ceremony also honored the organization’s current members for their outstanding work during the 2016-2017 school year.

The new eighth-grade NJHS inductees were Hillary Adugyamfi, Amanda Brown, George Byrd, Ash Carter, Ryan Cole, Logan Eisenberg, Kristina Gambino, Kevin Garcia, Ethan Hossain, Ishika Joshi, Edward Lippert, Nicholas Maniscalco, Paul Meyers, Matthew Myrick, Miriam Oke, Tamilore Oshikanlu, Gabriella Picciocchi, Taylor Quinones, Salar Saeed, Kelly Schwarz, Catarina Silva, Joanna Sroka, Giavanna Vangeli and Kevin Yalcinkaya.

The new seventh-grade NJHS inductees were Anthony Aguilar, Austyn Alletto, Sofia Arrascue, Julia Bakar, Grace Boylan, Megan Bush, Cristina Cairo, Madison Cadena, Sarah Catanzano, Miracle Cruz, Daniel D’Amato, Andrew Dolinsky, Damian Ellner, Giovanna Giffone, Nicholas Glancy, Madison Gulinello, Michael Hofstetter, Saima Hoque, Jacquelyn Izzo, Kyle Jefferson, Harpreet Kaur, Madison Kenning, Kylie Kuhn, Jeremy Malaga, Mia Malcoln, Tovia Manning, Michael Milankovic, Christine Nguyen, Deborah Oke, Megan Oswald, Isabella Pissanos, Sydney Pottinger, Logan Rhodes, Christina Russell, Yama Said, Christina Schiaffo, Kaylee Shindel, Nicholas Stamatakis, Francis Theroux, Julianna Vene, Max Rothar Wenzel, Michelle Xuan and Pritheva Zakaria.

DPHS Plans Military Wall of Honor

The high school's Patriot Club is planning a "Wall of Honor" in the lobby of the high school, dedicated to alumni who have served in the military. The wall will display the name, branch of service and years of each individual who has served. The background will be a mural, designed by students from the high school as part of a design contest run in conjunction with the art department.

Veterans, current service members or family members should fill out the following Google Form online and provide either proof of graduation or military service.

Tofu Team Takes Junior Iron Chef by Storm

The high School’s “Team Falcons” quartet of Jenna Fisk, Tamara Robinson, Neurlie Surin and Trinity Wade took Whole Foods in Lake Grove by storm as they chopped, sauteed and cooked their morning away for a chance at the top spot at the fifth annual Junior Iron Chef competition. The purpose of the competition is to help students make connections to healthy eating.

Suffolk County Cornell Cooperative Extension hosted the one-day event where middle and high school students showed off their cooking skills in groups of three to five. A total of 24 teams from schools and other organizations were given one hour to cook a vegetarian or vegan-based dish that they could incorporate in their school cafeteria menu. Each team was given several weeks to plan and prepare a dish using five main ingredients, two of which had to be United States Department of Agriculture commodity foods like beans, grains, fruits and vegetables, which make up part of school cafeteria menus. The recipes could not be desserts, nor could they include meat, fish or nuts.

Deer Park’s original recipe for Pan Asian Tofu Medley, created by Fisk, consisted of marinated pan-seared tofu with a red potato hash and asparagus, garnished with “special sauce.” The students practiced after school and with Deer Park’s food and nutrition class to perfect their recipe.

“The contest was actually tough because I was nervous,” said Surin. “It was my very first time going and I was worried if I’d make a mistake or not.”

“I do hope to do it again, although it was a bit intimidating,” added Fisk.

“It was very exciting and fun to do,” said Trinity Wade. “I really enjoyed competing against other schools and people from all over Long Island. It was very crowded, but as a team we all tried to work it out and we succeeded.”

According to FACS teacher Patricia Skjoldahl, 2017 was Deer Park’s test year, and the Team Falcons plan to return to Junior Iron Chef next year and win.

Deer Park Dozen Exhibited by SCALA


For the fifth consecutive year, JFK participated in the Suffolk County Art Leaders Association Children’s Show, selecting works by a dozen top art students in grades 3-5 for display at the annual children’s art exhibition, held in cooperation with the Babylon Citizens Council of the Arts. The artwork was chosen by JFK teachers Joanne Bibow-Buck and Laurie Schwartz.

Chosen by JFK teachers Joanne Bibow-Buck and Laurie Schwartz, the pieces by Alexa Cachia, Jordyn Hasemann, Mohammed Hoque, Taemi Kim, Sophia Lopez, Mina Marchetti, Wade Metayer, Gabriella Morace, Kaylee Nguyen, Grace Oliveri, Victoria Pulisic and Atilla Zafer Tuzun were exhibited at Babylon’s Old Town Hall for a month through March 12, when SCALA held a closing reception, which the student-artists and their families attended.

May Moore Celebrates Uniqueness with Autism Puzzle


Students at May Moore learned the importance of acceptance and empathy during Autism Awareness Month, with teachers Alannah Boccard and Susan Mirman leading the school in joining literacy and social action.

Each class read a student-centered book about “being different and unique.” Classes then created puzzle pieces to go along with the text they read. With the help of art teacher Michelle Sarco, each puzzle piece was combined to create a large art installation that was put on display in front of the May Moore library and media center.

“Our students learned that diversity is what makes us unique,” said Principal Alicia Konecny. “Just like Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, whose herd reassured Elmer that they love him because of his differences, not in spite of them. The children also celebrated by painting themselves in multicolored paint in recognition of Elmer’s unique appearance and personality. This is an important life lesson we try to teach everyday in our words and actions, not just during Autism Awareness Month.”

Knicks Honor Frost Student Jefferson with DeBusschere Award

Kyle Jefferson, a student at the middle school, was recently recognized by the New York Knicks basketball team as one of two recipients of the 2017 Dave DeBusschere Award. The award honors students who excel in the classroom, the basketball court and the community, and who exemplify the character of late Knicks basketball legend Dave DeBusschere.

On March 29, Jefferson and his parents attended a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, where DeBusschere’s sons presented him with the award at center court. He will also be given the opportunity to attend a Jr. Knicks basketball clinic with Robert Frost’s team.

Jefferson, a true scholar-athlete, plays on both the Frost and Saints Cyril and Methodius Church basketball teams as well as two football leagues and a lacrosse team, all while maintaining an A average in school. A member of Frost’s National Junior Honor Society, he was recognized as the school’s Student of the Month for February. He serves as a volunteer for numerous community organizations and events, including Kids Adopt a Shelter, Ascension Lutheran Church, the Islip Public Library, the Deer Park Community Association’s annual fall festival and the Wyandanch Plaza Association’s National Chocolate Day festival.

May Moore Second-Grade Artists Selected for Colors Exhibit

Gianna Montes and Blake Muller, both second-graders at May Moore, were selected to represent Deer Park and have their work displayed in the 19th annual Colors of Long Island student art exhibit.  

Colors of Long Island, sponsored by Astoria Bank, gives K-12 students the opportunity to show their artistic talents in a museum setting. May Moore was one of 179 schools participating in this year’s exhibition.

Accompanied by teachers Briana Nussbaum and Michelle Sarco, both students and their families attended the reception for the exhibit, which runs through April 16 at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook.

“We are very proud of our students,” said Nussbaum. “It was great to see them so excited to be in a special art show.”

HS Students Provide JFK a Lesson in Nutrition

High School child development students visited JFK on March 21 as part of National Nutrition Month. The high schoolers delivered a lesson on making healthy choices for the younger JFK students.

“It is  rewarding to see our high school students interact and teach the lessons they have learned about healthy eating and making good choices to the youngsters in our district,” said Heather Stewart, Deer Park’s curriculum associate for social study and family and consumer science. “The real-world application of learning provided a rich experience for all our students.”

VIDEO: Teddy Bear Clinic at JQA


Five Seniors Inducted into DECA Honor Society

Five high school seniors – Ryan Byrne, Stephen Lew, Michael Mieses, Malique Papailler and Badar Zama – were recently inducted into New York DECA’s Honor Society. Requirements for admission included outstanding leadership and service, more than three years of membership in the club, an 85 or above overall average and 90 or above business average, and having competed at the state level.

HS Earth Science Students Model Weathering Effects

High school students in the earth science inclusion classes of Michelle Astromovich and Dylan Duprez recently investigated and modeled physical weathering effects on substrates.

“In the real world, that substrate would be rocks, and those effects would be wind and water, but in the classroom, it's sugar cubes for substrate, pipettes of water for rain and beakers for pressure,” explained David Knuffke, Deer Park’s curriculum associate for science and technology. “This is a cool example of how we can model real-world processes that happen on time-scales that are just too long for us to see.”

May Moore's Mad Hatter's Tea

May Moore kindergarters decorated fancy hats for a Mad Hatter’s Tea celebration on Valentine‘s Day. Each student read the reasons why they love their special chosen person, and they performed such songs as “Love” by Nat King Cole, “All You Really Need” by Raffi and “That’s Amore!” by Dean Martin.

Storyteller Entertains JQA on Pajama Night


JQA recently held its annual Pajama Night, part of the school’s Read Enjoy and Discover program. The event – whose theme was “Get in the Game – Read!” – featured a performance by storyteller and puppeteer LuAnn Adams, who entertained students and their families with excerpts from her collection “Tales of Great Games and Mighty Feats.”

Deer Park School District