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Freeport Schools to become first district in nation to establish audio and video contact with International Space Station

Freeport Schools to become first district in nation to establish audio and video contact with International Space Station photo
Freeport Public Schools has been chosen by NASA to be among 13 institutions across the country to make contact with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Unlike the other 12 institutions making audio contact, Freeport is the only institution in the country that will make both audio and video contact with the astronauts. 

“This is a once-on-a-lifetime opportunity for our students and we are honored to have been selected by NASA for this distinction,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham. “As part of our STEAM initiatives, all aspects of the curriculum districtwide will incorporate lessons focusing on preparing for this unique educational experience and real-world lesson.”

The contact is scheduled to take place between January-May, 2018. NASA will provide the district with the exact date and time approximately two weeks before the contact is initiated. The contact will be for approximately 10 minutes, during which time it is expected to field 10 questions from students across all grade levels.

Currently there are six astronauts aboard the space station, two from Russia, three from the USA (including one woman) and one from Italy. The crew members are studying more efficient solar arrays, the physics of neutron stars, a new drug to fight osteoporosis and the effect of prolonged microgravity on the heart.

“We are excited to take on this incredible challenge and the unique opportunities it provides to expand our STEAM curriculum for our students,” said Director of Science Dr. Vincent Pereira. “I would like to thank the Freeport staff for working tirelessly with me to make this opportunity possible for our students.” 
 

Schools Roll Out Chromebook Initiative

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As part of Phase 2 of the Smart Schools Bond Act and aligned with its commitment to equipping students and staff with additional 21st-century technological resources, the district started the new school year by hosting a Chromebook rollout at the high school. More than 2,300 Chromebooks were distributed to high school students. Teachers and administrators had received Chromebooks last year in Phase 1 to become adept at becoming Google educators.

The incorporation of Chromebooks in each classroom and use of the Google platform is designed to enhance the teaching and learning process and to expand and strengthen collaborative learning environments. Students and staff members have learned how to optimize their Chromebooks, navigate Google Classroom and integrate resources such as G Suite for Education.

“I'm pleased and excited about our technology initiative,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham. “Freeport Public Schools offers our students excellent opportunities to learn and grow. The capabilities of 1:1 Chromebooks along with Google classroom and Khan Academy will be used to enhance academic instruction and learning. Staff and students have already embraced the amazing possibilities and opportunities the Chromebooks provide.”

Additionally, the district was also awarded a grant from Sprint Foundation’s 1Million Project to provide high-speed internet access for any high school student who may not have adequate internet access at home. This is a five-year grant worth more than $200,000 per year. This year, the first 300 students will receive internet access and a device. There will be another 300 students each subsequent year totaling 1,500 students in all.
“Some of the many benefits of the Chromebooks are that they save a lot of time and paper,” said high school junior Jocelyn Mora. “You can log on anywhere and work on Google Docs. It’s preparing us for college because everything is put online, all assignments can be accessed electronically and it’s very conducive to conducting research.”

In addition, Atkinson and Dodd have been equipped with carts of Chromebooks, iPads and laptops, and technology learning opportunities have expanded and have been put in place for all grade classrooms. This past summer, a 2-to-1 program of iPads for all kindergarten and first-grade classroom students was implemented, and all second-, third- and fourth-grade classrooms were equipped with a 2-to-1 model of Chromebooks.

Promoting Peace Throughout Freeport

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As a supplement to the various peace-themed initiatives across its schools, the district hosted its annual Peace Walk on Sept. 16 to spread the message of harmony and nonviolence throughout the world, beginning in the Village of Freeport. The peace walk, led by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham, was attended by nearly 500 walkers, including members of the board of education, central administration, students, staff members, community residents and elected officials Sen. John E. Brooks and Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino.

Dr. Kuncham expressed his gratitude to all attendees and spoke about the need for peace and tolerance throughout the world.

September 11th at Atkinson

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Our September 11th tribute began with patriotic songs played by Atkinson band musicians: Anigh Shell, Dylan Woodward and Marlon Teruel Flores, and led by Mr. Federici.  As students and teachers entered the building, they were uplifted and moved by the performance.  At 9:31, students and staff had a moment of silence that was followed by Ashley Retzlaff singing, “America the Beautiful” over the loud speaker.  She did an outstanding job! Throughout the day, the teachers taught a lesson created by our Social Studies Lead Teachers, Karen Heins and Jennifer Ferrarelli, that focused on acts of heroism and specifically, "The Man in the Red Bandana."  We couldn’t be more impressed with the teamwork and showcase of talent among the adults and the students. 

Back to School Night

On September 12th, Atkinson hosted a packed house for Back to School Night.  It began with an impressive turnout for the PTA meeting and Grupo de Padres that took place prior to meeting with the classroom teachers.  We are looking forward to working together with our parents to ensure that Atkinson students receive the finest education while enjoying the 5th and 6th grade experience as a whole.

Notice of Special BOE Audit Committee Meeting - September 27

Attachments:

Select Chorale Astounds for Jets

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As a dazzling precursor to the start of the 2017-2018 school year, the high school Select Chorale performed the national anthem at the National Football League’s New York Jets’ preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Under the leadership of Director Monique Retzlaff, the Chorale continues to earn invitations to prestigious venues at which to showcase its talents.

On Thanksgiving eve Nov. 22, the group will open for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular to kick off the holiday season in festive fashion.

Remembering 9/11

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Schools across the the district held special ceremonies to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Principals Mary Garguilo, Paula Lein and Renée Crump-Dedmon led schoolwide assemblies at the flagpoles at Bayview Avenue School, Archer Street School and New Visions School, respectively. At all of the ceremonies, the themes of solidarity, pride and hope resonated as the principals spoke about the sacrifices so many Americans made that day. Patriotic songs, such as Lee Greenwood’s “Proud To Be An American,” were played as students and staff wearing red, white and blue gathered together. In addition, Board of Education Vice President Anthony Miller, members of central administration, local law enforcement officials and firefighters attended the ceremony at New Visions as part of its annual “Heroes Day” tradition.

The ceremonies were designed to teach students about the importance of honoring the lives lost on 9/11 and paying homage to the nation’s heroes.

Fantastic First Day

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Students throughout the district kicked off the 2017-2018 school year on Sept. 5 by participating in a variety of fun and educational activites. High schoolers reconnected with their peers prior to homeroom and excitedly found their way to their new classes, while the younger students arrived to their schools either holding a family member’s hand or on a school bus.

Dodd welcomed its seventh- and eighth-graders to join district staff members for a photo on the school’s brand new turf field prior to beginning their first day of the school year. The classes of 2018 and 2030 began their final years at the high school and Columbus, respectively, while at the elementary schools, family members were invited to join the students in their classrooms to usher in the new year.

On the district’s first day of the new school year, students at each grade level moved another step closer to realizing their dreams and accomplishing remarkable feats of success.

Welcome Back to the Superheroes of Our Schools

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With great enthusiasm and excitement, district staff members were welcomed back as Superheroes at Superintendent’s Conference Day prior to the start of the 2017-2018 school year. As they return to school on Sept. 5 wearing their invisible capes, staff throughout the Freeport Public School District are primed to continue serving students and helping them achieve their dreams and become superstars.

Such was the overarching theme at the district’s inspiring and informative two-day Conference. Staff members from each of the district’s eight schools gathered at the Freeport High School Performing Arts Center, and were encouraged to continue using their superpowers as educators and role models to unlock students’ potential. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham asked the staff to unleash their superpowers. “You are the heart of this organization. You have my super support and deepest appreciation as our students, our superstars, come back next week.”

Dr. Kuncham discussed many of the district’s accomplishments over the course of the past year and spoke about priorities and goals for the year ahead.

“With your commitment and dedication to our children, to Freeport and to our families, you make any challenge less daunting,” Dr. Kuncham said. “I want to give a super, super thank you to everyone in every school. You have pushed, guided and counseled our children to winning awards and overcoming many personal obstacles. We are moving with direction, momentum, optimism, determination, equity and excellence for every child. That’s our focus: the whole child, the happy child, graduating on time and being college, career, and life ready. Always remember, you are superheroes, and superheroes have one thing in common. They are all in, all the time, as often as possible. They aim for excellence, so you do , and so you will!”

Dr. Kuncham reminded staff that with great powers comes great responsibility. “You have the superpower of encouragement and the ability to change lives and change futures. I ask you to see that everything is on the line, give it your all,making each triumph that much bigger, bolder and awe-inspring, as Superheroes do.”

Quoting Commissioner James Gordon from “Batman,” Board of Education President Michael Pomerico charged staff members with leaving a lasting impression on students.

“‘You’re going to make a difference,’” Pomerico said. “Thank you for your dedication, commitment to excellence and patience. I wish you a successful school year; be the one to make a difference.”
The first day’s program culminated with an energetic and empowering dance performance by students wearing capes, who inspired staff members to share in their enthusiasm for the start of the upcoming school year.

On the second day, staff members divided into smaller groups and participated in several professional development workshops including Google Classroom and Khan Academy, Google Apps for Google Classrooms, Writing Worshop, NYS Science Learning Standards, Social Studies Curriculum and Instructional Updates, Go Math, Digital Workshops and Positive Behavioral Supports.

Superintendent’s Conference Day was more than just an inspirational precursor to the school year; it was an assembly of superheroes set to embark on another year dedicated to the total development of superstars.

You Don’t Need a Cape to be a Superhero

Atkinson’s teachers are embracing the beginning of the school year and building their powers to inspire, motivate and teach our anxious 5th and 6th grade students!  It’s going to be a fantastic year!

 

Our Inspired Additions

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We are enthused to welcome the newest additions to our faculty: MARIA BALL, CYNTHIA BRUDECKI LAUREN CHIMERI, KIMBERLY COSTANZO, RACHEL EILAM, GABRIELLA FARRUGGIO, RAQUEL GOMEZ, ENZA PASCARELLA, MARICEL PEON-FARRELL, GINA SPARACO, YERALDIN TINEO. You have the influence to positively impact each student’s life and we are confident that you will succeed.  Let’s make this year the best yet!
 

Welcoming Atkinson’s New Arrivals

On August 25th, we were happy to welcome the incoming 5th graders – it was a full house!  Atkinson’s superstar social workers, Ms. Ryan and Ms. Sasso, organized the event and led the introductory activities.  Student ambassadors were heading the building tours and they did a fantastic job modeling positive behavior.  They set a fine example for the new fifth grade students. We are looking forward to providing you with the tools you need in order to be academically and socially successful here at Atkinson.  We challenge you to be role models and to give 100% to all you do!

Atkinson Welcomes Incoming Class

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As part of an annual tradition, Atkinson hosted a fifth-grade orientation for incoming students and their families prior to the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

The program, designed to welcome and introduce students to their school for the next two years, was hosted by administrators and faculty members. Sixth-grade peer leaders also took an active role at orientation, providing a tour of the school to their incoming counterparts and helping to answer any questions they had about the transition from elementary school. The school’s administrative team also assured students that staff are always available to offer assistance and to put them in positions to succeed.

The orientation was an informative precursor to another exciting year for Freeport’s Class of 2025 and their families.

Dodd Incoming Class Set for Success

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Incoming seventh-graders at Dodd were welcomed for an orientation prior to the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

Students were separated into small groups and participated in a variety of activities, including workshops that were designed to promote the importance of daily mindfulness and peace. They also reviewed rules and regulations, received their locker numbers, went on a tour of the school and asked any questions that would set them up for success.

The annual tradition was a helpful and informative forerunner to the next chapter of the students’ academic careers.

Class of 2021 Ready to Roll

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The high school hosted its annual freshman orientation for the incoming Class of 2021 and their families prior to the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

With members of the district’s board of education, administrators, staff and faculty members in attendance, students and their families were welcomed and introduced to their new school. Administrators and department chairpersons spoke about the many programs available at the high school, while members of the Peer Leadership Program led the freshmen on a tour of the building and conducted small group discussions in various classrooms.

“Today, you have officially stepped into Freeport High School, and you have officially stepped into a world of opportunities,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham said to the incoming freshmen. “We have tried to make possible anything and everything you can think and dream of here. We want each of you to take advantage of all Freeport High School has to offer; challenge yourself and experience everything. The next four years are critical. Just make sure you take your liberties and freedoms with full responsibility.”

The program was an informative forum for the new students to ask questions and learn about all of the opportunities available to them as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

District Welcomes its Newest Educators

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The district welcomed aboard 34 new teachers with an orientation at Caroline G. Atkinson Intermediate School on Aug. 21.

Dr. Mary Bediako, assistant superintendent for personnel and special projects, formally introduced the newest members of the district’s teaching staff to the Board of Education and administrators.

In his welcoming remarks, Board of Education President Michael Pomerico recognized that being an educator is not an easy profession and stated Freeport is a great place to live and Freeport Public Schools is a wonderful district. He shared that both his daughters benefited from attending the schools in Freeport.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham also imparted sage advice to the newest cohort of educators. “Your work goes beyond the title of a teacher,” Dr. Kuncham said. “You are artists who inspire creativity in our children; you are healers who end ignorance by bringing knowledge to our students; you are the link between knowledge and education; and you are the astronauts and pilots giving the wings to our children’s dreams. You are our champions. While they may not remember everything, you could become that amazing, favorite teacher our students will talk about for the rest of their lives.”

The new teachers then took a pledge to create a welcoming and enriching classroom environment for all students. Before leaving on a bus tour of the district’s eight buildings and historical sites, each of them received a district-issued Chromebook. The new teachers will receive an additional three days of intensive professional development to prepare them for their positions in the district.
The district will open its doors to students on Sept. 5.

District Hosts Summer Google Institute

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As a supplement to the wide variety of professional development opportunities throughout the district during the school year, staff members participated in a Summer Google Institute program in August. The three-day program, held at the high school, was comprised of a series of workshops that focused on ways for staff to optimize their Chromebooks, how to navigate and use Google Classroom, how to incorporate resources such as G Suite for Education with curricula, and several other topics regarding the Google platform.

Workshops included “Creating Collaborative Learning Environments,” “Innovation for Using Creative Apps for Chromebook,” “What’s APPening,” “Chromebooks and G Suite in the Classroom,” and “Manage Your Class Workflow with Google Classroom,” were conducted by Instructional Technology Coaches Daniel Kaufmann and Rick Lapi.

The Summer Google Institute was designed to engage staff members for the purposes of maximizing their Google resources, and provided them with useful training that they can continue developing as they prepare for the start of the new school year.

Summer Arts Academy Astounds

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Students throughout the district exhibited their remarkable talents in the annual Summer Academy of the Arts Showcase and Exhibit, a culmination of 15 days of arts-related instruction during July. With instruction provided by faculty members throughout the district and assistance from 50 intern volunteers in grades 9-12 at the high school, 250 students in grades 4-8 had the opportunity to supplement their learning of a wide array of fields, including orchestra, visual arts, band, chorus, mariachi, media arts and dance.

The theme of this year’s program was “All You Need is Love…,” the title of a Beatles’ 1967 hit song. In addition to several Beatles’ classics that were featured throughout the show, the program was also comprised of songs by other bands and musicians that were based on the importance of spreading love. The culminating program, hosted by Director of Arts and Community Relations Ruth Breidenbach and attended by families, district staff members, administrators and members of the Board of Education on July 28, followed a format of performances by students that were separated by segments of fictional game show “The What’s Poppin’ Show,” based on the Beatles.

The Summer Academy of the Arts culmination was a platform for students to demonstrate what they learned during the 15-day program and a dazzling example of staff members’ commitment to continue providing extraordinary instruction during the summer months.

Teachers Rock!

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Stephanie Arnell was one of 15 teachers nationwide to attend the Rock and Roll Forever Summer Institute at NYU on July 17-20.
    
The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation was established by Steven Van Zandt. TeachRock is the Foundation’s national middle and high school curriculum initiative, created to address the challenges of an environment in which schools face cuts to arts funding. The initiative includes interdisciplinary, arts-driven materials designed to keep students engaged.
    
Arnell worked with the foundation to share her experiences with the TeachRock curriculum and the students of Freeport Schools. She wrote new curriculum for the TeachRock website, and will pilot a new project entitled, “Sonic Highways: Freeport” with her students in the fall.