The Connetquot High School Music Department recently hosted the second annual Concert Choir Community Concert at the Parish of the Holy Cross in Nesconset, inviting current students, alumni and distinguished guests to engage in an afternoon of beautiful music.
The event boasted an astounding lineup, consisting of the current Connetquot High School Concert Choir, 73 alumni, and guest singers from both Ronkonkoma and Oakdale-Bohemia middle schools.
According to director Brad Drinkwater, he was blown away by the alumni response and their enthusiasm put forward in the rehearsals leading up to weekend performance. Between the high school choir students, alumni choir, and guest singers from both RMS and OBMS, nearly 100 singers performed 13 pieces of choral music with sophistication and sensitivity for all to enjoy.
During the June 11 Board of Education meeting, dozens of individuals and groups spanning the entire district were recognized for myriad accomplishments. After a beautiful musical performance by the Connetquot High School Concert Choir, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lynda G. Adams began the night’s recognitions.
Three Connetquot High School students enrolled in Vincent Osmer’s Sculpting and Ceramics classes placed in the BAFFA Art Gallery Exhibit in the Ceramic and Sculpture Category, and were presented with certificates courtesy of the Board of Education.
Five students from both John Pearl Elementary School and Idle Hour Elementary School received the highest level, Distinguished with Mastery, for their art submissions in the NYSATA’s Portfolio Project and were recognized by the Board of Education for doing so.
Idle Hour Elementary School teacher/computer science and engineering specialist Patrick Brennan, along with Edith L. Slocum Elementary School library media specialist Laura Barry were recently named as recipients of the 2019 TangerKIDS Grants to directly benefit school programs and were recognized for their accomplishments.
Several students enrolled within the district’s C-Quest Program were recognized at the June 11 Board of Education meeting for being named a fourth-grade winner of the 2019 Walt Whitman Poetry Contest.
Ronkonkoma Middle School sixth grade student Cristian Martinez was recently named Grand Champion in the 2019 Walt Whitman Poetry Contest, and was presented with a token of appreciation for his accomplishment.
Cherokee Elementary School fourth grade student Dylan Vecchiarello was recently named the winner in the New York State Internet Safety Poster Contest and was recognized for the Board of Education for doing so.
The Connetquot High School Cheerleading Squad had an extraordinarily successful season. In addition to being named Suffolk County Champions and UCA Empire Regional Champions, the team place second in the Section XI Championships held at Connetquot High School. The team was recognized by both Dr. Adams and the Board of Education for their successes this season.
Connetquot High School Junior Alan Sabovic has proven himself to be an incredible tennis player, as he was recently named the second player in Connetquot High School history to be named All-State Champion. He was congratulated by the Board of Education for his stunning accomplishment.
Edward J. Bosti Elementary School special education teacher Julie Ahern and teacher assistant Jennifer Munro have been selected as grant recipients for the 2019 Agriculture in the Classroom Grant from Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation.
Additionally, a number of district educators were awarded tenure during the June 11 Board of Education meeting.
In celebration of their theme of “Imagine It! Dream It! Achieve It,” students at the John Pearl Elementary School celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing during an assembly held in the school’s gymnasium.
Throughout the school year, students researched the bravery and accomplishments of the spaceflight that produced the landing of the first two people on the moon. While learning about the many astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, students shared information about NASA, the advantages and disadvantages of colonization of the moon, living in space, along with setting and reaching goals in life. Each grade level was given the opportunity to write and perform songs about their research at the assembly.
John Pearl Elementary School Principal Susan White was very proud of her students and staff members, as she visited each of the displays available in the school gymnasium to congratulate them on a job well-done.
In celebration of all of the wonderful initiatives they took part in this school year, students enrolled in the district’s C-Quest program recently invited their family members to Bosti Elementary School for the school’s annual C-Quest Showcase event.
With assistance from advisers Lisa Manzo and Kevin Keane, the students were joined by their proud family members as they displayed all of the hard work they put into their projects while attending C-Quest.
The students’ work was on full display for their guests, showcasing their in-depth research topics which highlighted the anatomy and lifestyle of the frog, and the history of motor vehicles and what they can be expected to look like in the near future.
Lining both the classroom walls and surrounding hallway area were student-projects from the school year, including their fun and creative biographies, along with an art project in which they beautifully created paintings of panda bears.
The district’s C-Quest program is dedicated to enhancing the educational experience of fourth and fifth grade students. Based at Edward J. Bosti Elementary School, C-Quest services the needs of more than 100 students throughout the district.
First grade students enrolled in Keri Farrell’s class at Idle Hour Elementary School recently put on a stunning performance of the play, “Bugz,” for attending family members and kindergarten students alike. Under direction of music teacher Kelly Daugherty and Mrs. Farrell, the students spent months rehearsing their lines and perfecting their choreography before putting on the big performance for all to see. The play featured a beautiful set design, eye-popping costumes and a number of songs which showcased both the students’ vocal abilities and humorous nature. Prior to the big premiere, the students visited The Arbors Assisted Living Facility at Bohemia to treat their “Grandfriends” to a special performance of the show.
A number of elementary-level teachers from the district recently attended the Western Suffolk BOCES Outdoor Education training session held at the Sunken Meadow State Park Outdoor Learning Lab. With these new qualifications, teachers are eligible to register for different instructional curricula that culminates with field trip opportunities in science for students in grades K-12. Additionally, this afforded teachers who were not trained in the past a refresher on new programs offered. According to Elementary STEM Chairperson Bethanie Rizzo, a number of additional teachers will be offered to partake in similar training sessions this upcoming fall as well.
Connetquot High School students enrolled in Lynn Parks’ baking class recently showcased their culinary skills, as they worked in small groups to prepare cakes that not only looked incredible, but also tasted delicious. After carefully measuring out ingredients and placing their cakes in the oven for the proper amount of time, the students utilized their creative abilities to decorate cakes with dashes of frosting and candy. As an added bit of fun, faculty and staff members were able to sample the cakes after they were completed, and chose the winners based on presentation and overall taste.
The Connetquot Central School District community recently rallied together in an effort to benefit both the Friscia and Battista families, who were unfortunately hit with tragedy this school year. Hosted at Bella Bambina’s Pizzeria in Oakdale, dozens of community members attended the event, as they were able to take part in a Chinese Auction and raffle with proceeds being directly donated toward the families. Due to the overwhelming community support, more than $6,000 was raised for the families to assist with financial hardships.
In late May, the Connetquot Business Advisory Council hosted the inaugural Mock Interview Day in an effort to fully prepare students for authentic interviews once they begin to step forward toward their desired career paths.
During the course of the interview sessions, 16 high school students were interviewed by members of the Ronkonkoma Rotary Club, People’s Bank and members of the CBAC themselves. Connetquot Central School District Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lynda G. Adams was on hand to assist the students with the interview process as well.
Based on their efforts, seven students were selected to attend the second round of interviews with Director of Elementary Humanities Eileen Abraham and State Legislator Tom Cilmi, with three being chosen as the overall winners. The district congratulates the following students for their successful participation in the contest: Leshell Santiago (first place), Adrianna Romano (second place), Siera Carabba (third place). They were rewarded with gift cards as prizes.
Connetquot High School alumna Alexa Sheryll recently visited with the kindergartners enrolled in Linda Ziegler Pennington’s class at Slocum Elementary School to speak with the students about her journey toward being named Miss Empire State 2019.
During her time spent in the classroom, Alexa talked to the excited students about her years as a Connetquot student, and the positive effect Mrs. Pennington had on her future career. After reading a book to the students about dealing with bullies, she answered their questions about growing up in Ronkonkoma, her experiences as Miss Empire State, and her real job as director of community affairs for the Town of Hempstead.
The children were excited to talk about her pageant experience, her pageant clothing, as well as the volunteer community work she does to fight bullying and to register citizens to vote.
“The children loved her; it was an honor to have her come back to visit my students and the district,” said Mrs. Pennington. “I am so very proud of the woman she has become, and honored to have worked with her as a student. We are all so very proud of Alexa.”
Additionally, The Town of Oyster Bay declared April 16, 2019 as Alexa Sheryll Day due to her altruistic efforts. Alexa will represent New York at the USA National Miss Scholarship Pageant at Disney World this summer.
Earlier this month, hundreds of parents, students, teachers, alumni and friends came together at Connetquot High School to honor the legacy of Jon-Michael Lasher, who passed away earlier this year.
Jon-Michael Lasher was a mainstay in the Connetquot community, first as a talented student-musician, who would later return as a beloved music teacher, and then as director of fine arts and music. In a widespread effort to honor Mr. Lasher and establish scholarships for talented Connetquot students, volunteers from Connetquot, surrounding school districts and communities alike put on a show that would make Mr. Lasher proud.
Art exhibits and demonstrations were lined throughout the high school, along with singers, musicians, musical groups and ensemble groups that performed in the Eric Martinsen Performing Arts Center, entertaining and impressing all of those who came to honor Mr. Lasher. The community and administration truly joined hands in making this night special for those who loved Mr. Lasher.
Raffles for a variety of donated baskets, along with donations from local businesses, and the sale of snacks helped to raise funding for future scholarships. While there were too many volunteers and supporters to list, a sincere thank you goes out to all, especially the following groups and individuals – The Connetquot School District Board of Education and Administration; Middle Country School District Board of Education and Administration; Mrs. Christine Viola, secretary for Connetquot Fine Arts and Music; Connetquot and Middle Country Fine Arts & Music Faculty and Staff; Tri-M Music Honor Society Students of Connetquot High School; Tri-M Music Honor Society Students of Middle Country School District; ORBBA and Middle Country Friends of Music as well as the Connetquot High School Stage Crew and Custodial Staff.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to the family of Jon-Michael Lasher as well, especially to his wife Susan, along with his children Maggie and Thomas. The district is so grateful to Mr. Lasher for the lives he touched, and all that he did for Connetquot’s Fine Arts and Music Program.
Students enrolled within the Universal Pre-K program at Bosti Elementary School recently sang and danced to several upbeat songs in an effort to welcome in the transition from spring to summer during the annual ‘Spring Gathering’ celebration. During the event, tasty snacks were provided after the performances, and students had the opportunity to create their own ‘pottery’ as they planted seeds for flowers to take home. The district would like to thank educator Nichole Johnson, along with teacher-assistants and additional staff members, for coordinating this wonderful event.
Students enrolled in Nadya Kauter’s kindergarten class at Sycamore Avenue Elementary School were treated to a special presentation on safety when Gina Hale recently visited.
Mrs. Hale, whose nephew Lucas Shyman is in the class, is a safety officer in Boston, Massachusetts, and spoke with the students about personal safety, including tips for staying safe at home, while playing outside and traveling in the family car. She then questioned them about fire safety tactics, stressed the importance of riding bikes with helmets and reminded them to stay away from chemicals and abrasive materials.
Mrs. Hale explained to the students that her job involves keeping citizens in her city safe and she often is called upon to help clean up dangerous chemical spills, flooded areas and, occasionally, to examine suspicious packages. She explained her work in great detail to the attentive students, along with the protective clothing that her job requires.
As part of the presentation, students were given work overalls resembling HazMat suits, along with sets of protective eyewear. They were ecstatic to learn that they could bring those suits and glasses back home to show their families at the conclusion of Mrs. Hale’s engaging presentation.
Students, teachers and parents from Duffield Elementary School recently had the opportunity to learn about the culture of a variety of nations from around the world during the school’s annual “Heritage Museum Day” event.
Sponsored by the English as a New Language department, colorfully dressed students and parents visited the classrooms to share facts about their heritage, and answered questions from their classmates. Throughout the school’s hallways, dancers, singers, musicians and make-up artists shared their talents and expressed their pride in culture of their national origin.
Connetquot Central School District Director of ENL/World Languages Denise Hannaoui was on hand to enjoy the presentations, and congratulated the students and teachers for their outstanding efforts. Mrs. Hannaoui was joined by members of the Connetquot High School Foreign Language Honor Society, along with adviser Cheryl Sosa, as they showcased displays that they created about countries around the globe.
Helen B. Duffield Elementary School Principal Mrs. Lisa Farrell was on hand as well to witness the day’s events, and thoroughly enjoyed the student-dancers who shared their Pakistani costumes and dancing routines, the East Asian hand decorations and face-painting tables, along with the Taiko Drummers of Japan who entertained all attendees.
In celebration of summer being right around the corner, students at Connetquot High School recently hosted a Luau-themed craft fair right from the comfort of their classroom setting. With assistance from teachers Amy Doerrie, Siobhan Guido and Danielle Orobello, the students created a number of beautiful handmade crafts which were available for purchase to both staff and students alike. In addition to creating the exquisite crafts such as beach-themed wall décor and wooden American flags, the students were able to practice their customer service skills and handled money as cashiers.
As a means of celebrating the numerous talented student-artists throughout the district, Connetquot High School recently hosted the end of year Honors Art Show, recognizing artistic achievements on both the elementary and high school levels. After an introduction from Director of Fine Arts and Music George Rockwin, students were individually called up to the front of the auditorium and presented with tokens of appreciation courtesy of their respective art teachers and school principals. While the elementary-level artwork lined the walls of the Eric Martinsen Performing Arts Center, the high school students’ work was on full display within the cafeteria, highlighting successes in photography, sculpting and graphic design work.
Students enrolled in Heidi Edmonds’ and Jennifer Pluth’s seventh grade English classes at Ronkonkoma Middle School recently showcased their creative literary talents during a Poetry Slam event. To celebrate the activity, Ms. Pluth’s classroom was transformed into an appropriate café setting for the day, as the students recited their work before an audience of fellow classmates. The young poets were able to explore various types of figurative language and poetic devices, trying their hand at free verse and narrative poems alike.
On May 11, friends, family, coaches and administrators gathered at Connetquot High School to induct 13 former student-athletes and coaches to the high school’s Athletic Wall of Fame. A committee of veteran coaches, teachers and administrators culled the nominations and selected the newest members of the prestigious Connetquot Athletic Wall of Fame.
The district congratulates Christine Bentz Dellavechia (’83/tennis, basketball, volleyball); Kristopher Cuozzo (’85/football, lacrosse); Rob DiLello (’86/football, baseball); Nicolle Dionne (’94/gymnastics); Bob Drzal (basketball coach 1991-2014); Phil Karlstad (’76/community/sports photographer); Sean McCabe (’12/wrestling); Chuck McAuley (athletic director/coach); Nick Monastero (’05/lacrosse, football); Mike Pellegrino (’11/football, lacrosse); Marianne Santoro Loose (’85/track, basketball, volleyball); Philip Stolfa (’95/soccer, lacrosse) and Michele Waring Rocco (’95/track, soccer).
A delicious brunch was served prior to the inductions, which were handled by Director of Health, Physical Education, Athletics and Recreation Mark Dellecave, along with committee member and assistant football coach Mike Konsevitch. Each inductee was introduced with a “snapshot” of their accomplishments when they wore the school’s red and white colors, and as another token of appreciation, the inductees were presented with a replica of the plaque which has now been added to the Connetquot Athletic Wall of Fame, located outside of the “new” gymnasium.
Board of Education trustee Mark Warshaw was on hand to congratulate the inductees on behalf of the board and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lynda G. Adams.
Without having to book an international plane ticket, sixth and seventh grade students from Ronkonkoma Middle School recently interacted and learned about a handful of exotic animals, courtesy of Nature Nick of Nature Nick’s Animal Adventures.
For his presentation, Nature Nick brought along a number of animals to showcase including “Bananas” the toucan, “Bubbles” the African Barbary falcon, “Meatloaf” the Flemish giant rabbit, “King Arthur” the Western crowned pigeon, along with “Fabio” the Chilean flamingo.
In addition to offering rich descriptions detailing the animals’ native land, diet and life cycles, Nature Nick also allowed a handful of volunteers to hold the animals for a few moments, which they clearly enjoyed.
Hundreds of administrators, staff and students from Ronkonkoma Middle School recently lined Peconic Street in Ronkonkoma to show overwhelming support for Chris Pendergast and the ALS Ride for Life participants as they honorably paraded throughout the community.
Under the direction of school guidance counselor Tara Sullivan, who organized the event, the group made their way along the front of the school building as spectators cheered. Students were kind enough to create banners and posters which featured words of encouragement. Bohemia resident Paul Weisman, who also battles ALS on a daily basis, was among the individuals who also walked alongside Mr. Pendergast.
ALS Ride for life was founded in 1997 by Chris Pendergast and his supporters. Each May, during ALS Awareness Month, those diagnosed with ALS ride their power wheelchairs across Long Island all the way to Manhattan in order to raise awareness of the disease, which currently has no cure.
Second, third and fourth grade students from Cherokee Street Elementary School were recently treated to a thrilling presentation about the importance of maintaining optimal physical health and powerful antibullying techniques courtesy of the Flowstyle BMX Trick Team.
Led by X-Games alumnus and Bicycle Motocross Icon Stephen Cerra, the Flowstyle BMX Trick Team incorporated a series of thrilling flatland stunts with important topics which will assist the students with living a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis. During the exciting program, Mr. Cerra showcased stunts such as “The Hitchhiker,” “Whiplash” and “Hang Five,” and let the students know that these tricks were not mastered overnight, but instead required hours upon hours of practice and hard work.
In between showcasing their impressive array of stunts, Mr. Cerra stressed the importance of bicycle safety with the students, suggesting that they always wear a helmet when riding, and remain fully aware of their surroundings at all times. Additionally, he taught them the “Three R’s” of antibullying techniques, consisting of “Recognize,” “Refuse” and “Report.”
At the end of the presentation, students were quizzed on their ability to recall the names of the tricks performed, and were rewarded with signed posters upon answering the correct responses.
Connetquot High School students enrolled in Vincent Osmer’s Sculpting and Ceramics classes recently took a field trip to Long Island University, CW Post Campus to engage in the traditional Japanese style of ceramics known as “Raku.” During their visit, the 18 students were busy participating in the Raku process, which included glazing their pieces, loading the kilns, prepping the fire pit and cleaning their work afterward. Additionally, the students were granted the opportunity to speak with artist and professor Frank Olt who talked about ceramics and working in a studio environment at the collegiate-level.
The district would like to congratulate Patrick Brennan, Idle Hour and Sycamore Avenue elementary schools’ computer science and engineering specialist, for winning the 2019 TangerKIDS Grant, as he received a check in the amount of $1,800 to fund future STEM-based endeavors for the district’s students.
“It is wonderful and yet not surprising that Tanger Outlets awarded Mr. Brennan this grant; his love for teaching, paired with his knowledge of engineering and computer science is evident through all his work in and out of the classroom,” said Connetquot Central School District Elementary STEM Chairperson Bethanie Rizzo. “Mr. Brennan is part of an amazing team of computer science specialists who provide these innovative learning experiences to students grades K-5.”
According to Mrs. Rizzo, the funds from Mr. Brennan’s awarded check are going to be used toward purchasing Ozobot Evos and Bee Bots, which will further enhance the students’ knowledge of computer programming and coding.
The TangerKIDS Grants program is designed to assist schools in Tanger Outlet Center’s primary markets by providing grants for special projects and needed programs or equipment. Grants can also support groups within the school, including fine arts, music or athletic programs.
Despite only being a sixth grade student at Ronkonkoma Middle School, Cristian Martinez has already garnered an impressive number of accolades due to his profound work in the world of poetry.
Most recently, Cristian was awarded the title of Grand Champion at the Walt Whitman Student Poetry Contest of 2019 for his poem a “A Glimpse of Tomorrow” out of a total of 2,500 other entries. Due to his successes, his poem will be published in the anthology, “Whitman’s Apprentice Anthology.”
He will also be published in the “Poets to Come Anthology” for his original work “Unanswered Questions,” along with two poems in the “Leaves for Me Anthology” for his other works “The Glory” and “My Mentor Robert,” and the Suffolk County Poetry Review for his poem, “Winter.”
In addition to his multiple publications, he won first place for his poem, “Clouds Have Secrets” in the Princess Ronkonkoma 2019 Poetry Contest.
Cristian was also a featured poet at his first poetry reading which was held at the Barnes & Noble in Lake Grove in April. He shared that this experience was amazing because he was able to read several poems on different themes that he is concerned about.
As a culminating activity for National Autism Awareness Month, Edward J. Bosti Elementary School recently hosted their inaugural “Bubbles for Autism” event, as hundreds of students and staff members from the school community gathered in the back of the school to support autism awareness.
“As a sign of community and respect for students, family members and friends living with autism, members of our community gathered on the field in the outline of a large heart and blew soap bubbles,” said Bosti Elementary School Principal Laura Kimball.
Mrs. Kimball expressed her gratitude toward Nichole Johnson for coordinating the event, Joanna Zalewski and the “Recycling Rangers” for donating the bubbles, along with Michael Oldis, Jusin Maas and Mike Johnson for their invaluable help throughout the course of the day.
April is recognized as National Autism Awareness month, as schools and students across the country go above and beyond to promote autism awareness.
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The Connetquot High School Concert Choir recently visited Minnesota, where they participated in several musical performances alongside internationally-renowned musicians.
During their visit, they took part in a workshop at St. Olaf College led by choir conductor Dr. Anton Armstrong, who is known in the choral music world for his talents. Based on their high level of achievement and musical successes in the past, the CHS Choir joined the world-famous St. Olaf Choir in their rehearsal, and were given the opportunity to sing for them as well. The students were also able to collaborate with the Concordia Choir students in conducting classes and rehearsals, singing a pre-planned song together and impressing all in attendance.
While in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, the Connetquot choir attended a performance by and later performed with the Rose Ensemble, a vocal group specializing in “early music.”
Jordan Sramek, Rose Ensemble’s founder and artistic/executive director, showered the CHS Choir with words of praise for their performance.
“The events that took place on the trip to Minnesota were once-in-a-lifetime experiences for the students of the Connetquot High School Concert Choir,” said Concert Choir Director Brad Drinkwater. “Not only have they transformed into more skilled, knowledgeable and complete human beings, but the choir itself has elevated its standing amongst the top high school choirs in the country.”
Second grade students from Cherokee Street Elementary School recently increased their engineering skills with assistance from a representative of the Long Island Maritime Museum during the recent “Launch It” event.
The goal of the day’s lesson was to use the provided materials in order to build a catapult which could safely send a clay ball through the air and onto a designated area, located a few feet away from the launch site. The students were supplied with a handful of quarters, which could be used in an effort to “purchase” materials which would assist with creating their catapults. The materials at their disposal included paper clips, rubber bands and spoons, which could all be utilized to assist in creating the perfect catapult.
Working in small groups, the students created drafts of what they envisioned their launchers to look like, including design features and the proper materials required to bring them to life. After designing their launchers and “purchasing” the right materials, the students engaged in a trial and error method in order to successfully launch the clay ball from the starting point to their destination.