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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.

Summer 2017 Newsletter Now Available


Revolutionizing Readers’ Repertoires

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Freeport became one of the first school districts on Long Island to host LitCamp, a new four-week summer literacy program created by nationally renowned author and literacy expert Pam Allyn.

Throughout the month of July, 80 students entering grades 1-4 participated in the innovative and interactive program, which is held in collaboration with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company. The program combines research-based reading and writing lessons that are based on seven key strengths: belonging, friendship, kindness, curiosity, confidence, courage and hope. In honing these strengths, students will be properly equipped to lead lives filled with accomplishment, joy and community. LitCamp is designed to turn the “summer slide” — any loss of reading or learning skills that occur during the summer months — into the “summer leap” by keeping students engaged and engulfed in the world of literacy.

The district welcomed Allyn for a special visit to New Visions School to see her program in action, lead a read aloud and speak with the students, who have been participating in daily Leveled Literacy Intervention lessons with a reading specialist in small groups.

“We are pleased to provide enrichment and support for our students beyond the school year,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham. “Our summer programs allow our students to continue their efforts to reach higher levels of understanding and achievement in literacy, math, science and the arts. We have 2,200 students attending 13 programs affording them a variety of amazing opportunities. These include programs from credit recovery to earning college credits. Our students grow from the support of the LitCamp, science research projects, project-based learning in the English Language Learner program and the Summer Arts Academy. Through use of alternate funding, we are able to offer many of these programs at no cost to our taxpayers.”

District Hosts Summer Literacy Institute

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In July, the district hosted its inaugural Summer Literacy Institute, a series of literacy-based workshops for teachers, administrators and teaching assistants.

The three-day program, attended by more than 100 staff members, featured internationally recognized authors and educational experts Carl Anderson, Amy Benjamin and Matt Glover as keynote speakers; they led discussions on The Writing Conference, Infusing Grammar & Vocabulary Instruction, and Engaging Young Readers and Writers, respectively. Workshops included Pass the Poetry Please, Learning and the Brain, Set the Stage to Engage, Thinking Maps, Never Too Old for Picture Books, How to Grow a Reader and Adapting Writing Workshop for Special Education.

In his keynote address, Anderson spoke about the importance of conferring among teachers and students of writing.

“Conferring is individualized differentiated instruction,” he said. “It’s the hardest and most important part of teaching writing; it’s a structure that allows us to work with kids one-on-one. We’re not there to make the writing better, we’re there to make the writers better; we are the master writers that are sharing what we know with the apprentice writers. The success of a conference isn’t what happens that day. The success of it is if what you taught shows up later in their writing.”

Summer Literacy Institute was a supplement to the professional development throughout the school year as well as the summer months.

Summer Reading in Full Swing

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Incoming fourth-graders in the district were treated to a fun and educational evening that encouraged students to continue reading through the summer months.

The students, who attended the event with their parents at Freeport Memorial Library, participated in a “Breakout” game devised by district school media specialists. The game was based on the book “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” by Beverly Cleary. Each student also received a copy of the book. Tasked with finding the correct answers to higher-order thinking questions, students worked collaboratively to uncover the combinations of five different locks that opened a “Breakout Box.” The object of the exercise was to find the book’s main character, Ralph, and his motorcycle, both of which were contained in one of the boxes.

The event promoted the importance of literacy and teamwork as students prepare for another successful school year.

All You Need Is Love

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Board of Education Annual Reorganization Meeting

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On July 5, 2017, the Board of Education held its annual reorganization meeting. Re-elected trustees Vilma I. Lancaster and Ronald J. Ellerbe were sworn in for their new terms. Michael C. Pomerico and Anthony J. Miller were re-elected by the members of the board of education to continue serving as president and vice president, respectively.

FHS Seniors Celebrate Milestone

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With loved ones applauding their dedication and commitment to success throughout their academic journeys, the high school's graduating Class of 2017 gathered at Hofstra University for its annual commencement ceremony.

Following the Presentation of Colors by the NJROTC Color Guard, the high school’s Select Chorale performed an outstanding rendition of the national anthem. In his address that followed, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham spoke about his faith in the graduates’ ability to change the world and encouraged them to use their fearlessness as a catalyst for success.

“You all have worked so hard and come so far to reach this wonderful milestone,” Dr. Kuncham said. “As we celebrate this journey, it is time for you to be bold, embrace risks and act with urgency. I ask you to be fearless. Fearlessness does not mean the nonexistence of fear; it means that fear exists, but you have tremendous energy, faith and courage to live with it and face it. I’m optimistic about you and our country. I have so much faith in each and every one of you, and I can’t wait to see all that you achieve in the years ahead.”

Class of 2017 valedictorian Kimberly Serna, salutatorian Karissa Collins and president Victoria Wright each spoke to their classmates about the memories they have shared throughout their four years at the high school. They attributed not only their success, but the fondness of their experiences, to the strong support system at the school, friendships they have formed and faculty members’ remarkable level of instruction.

Principal Linda Carter delivered an inspiring speech in which she quoted Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.”

“You are leaving a legacy to our underclassmen, who will follow in your footsteps, and this will be your gift to our students,” Carter continued. “You are leaving a legacy of character. You have integrity, resourcefulness, strength, intelligence and determination. You also have resilience, compassion and kindness. As you enter the adult world, remember that your education does not stop after graduation. Learning is a moral duty and a lifelong process.”

One by one, graduates walked onto the stage to receive their diplomas, and collectively moved their tassles from right to left following the announcement of all class names. With their families giving them a thunderous ovation, they then tossed their caps high into the air.
Twelfth-grade Assistant Principal Joseph Mille expressed his appreciation for the Class of 2017, thanking the graduates for the experiences they have shared together.

“I have stated over the years that we are a family, for better and for worse,” Mille said. “The bonds that we have formed can never be broken and will last a lifetime. This group always wanted to be different and special, and you were and are; I knew from the beginning of your ninth-grade years that you were. You have made me a better administrator and a better man, and the doors of Freeport High School will always be open to you.”

Dodd Graduates Set Sights on FHS

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The high school’s Class of 2021 is set to begin freshman year in the fall following its graduation from Dodd. The ceremony, which took place at Atkinson, included families, administrators, members of the board of education and staff members celebrating students’ past two years of hard work and commitment to success. Following a welcome by Principal Johane Ligondé, Select Chorus Director Sherill Spruill led her group through a remarkable rendition of the national anthem.

Student addresses were delivered by Aaliyah Daniels and Allesandro Benitez Pineda, who recognized faculty members who they said were instrumental in their progress and journey at Dodd. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham and Board President Michael Pomerico then spoke to the graduates about the importance of continuing their hard work through high school and beyond, and to begin thinking about where they would like to be in the future.

“There’s an ancient proverb: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,’” said Dr. Kuncham. “You are about to take that important step. The choices you make are going to impact your path. I urge you to push yourselves, to do your very best, and give all you can to your studies, as well as to any clubs, arts or sports that you are interested in. Remember that it is the effort you put into something and the repeated practice that move you to the next level. Set your goals high and choose to reach them.”

“It’s not going to be easy; there will be setbacks, but start thinking now about where you want to be in four years when you’re graduating high school,” said Pomerico. “You cannot wait. What opportunities do you want to take advantage of? What extracurricular activities do you want to join? What classes do you want to take? Take advantage of all that awaits you.” Pomerico also shared the inspiring story of Freeport High School Class of 2017 graduate Ismary Jimenez, who years ago did not speak any English but learned the language, graduated sixth in her class and will be attending Princeton University in the fall. “I would love to be here in four years talking about someone sitting here right now and about the success you have achieved,” Pomerico said.

Following a beautiful rendition of “I Believe” by the Select Chorus, Ligondé spoke about how crucial it is for students to keep their sights set on their goals and to never let any setbacks deter them from their will to conquer them. She referenced the career and motivation of National Basketball Association superstar LeBron James as an embodiment of that advice.

“Our commitment is to ensure that every child who walks through the doors of Dodd walks out a winner,” Ligondé said. “In life, every winner needs two types of goals: short-term goals and a long-term ultimate goal. So I ask you first, what is your ultimate goal in life? Really think about it. LeBron James’ ultimate goal was to win the NBA championship. He achieved this goal, and still strives to be a champion after winning three. Even after this year’s loss, he didn’t give up. What would you ask yourself if you were him? Would you quit? Would you give your 100 percent? Did you use all your resources? These are the questions that you should ask yourself every day at the high school.”
Assistant Principal Paulette Acquavito then spoke about the heart and character of the graduating class as a prelude to the presentation of the graduates by eighth-grade homeroom teachers. Students’ names were individually announced, and each proudly rose from their seat to be recognized.

Graduation ensemble directors Candice Mordhorst and Adam Rubin led the performance of “Sine Nomine” during the recessional, and the new Dodd graduates walked off the Atkinson field and into the horizons of their promising futures.

Fourth-Graders Move on Up

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Students across the district’s four elementary schools celebrated their successful completion of fourth grade in moving up ceremonies. With their loved ones applauding their success, students received certificates and awards to commemorate their advancement and accomplishments, respectively.

At Bayview, representatives of the class graced the stage to thank faculty members and parents for their remarkable support at school and home, and honored retiring school Principal Odette Wills with heartfelt words of appreciation.

“When I look into your faces, I see the next mayor of Freeport, police officers, firefighters, senators, governors, and I see the next president of the United States,” Wills said. “Understand that the choices you make from this day going forward will determine the type of life you will live. Boys and girls, you know that I love you, I appreciate you and I respect you. There is greatness in each and every one of you.”

In addition, students read aloud author Nancy Tillman’s book, “You’re Here for a Reason,” personally relating it to their own experiences at Bayview. Freeport High School Class of 2017 valedictorian and Bayview alumna Kimberly Serna spoke to students about the fond memories she cherishes of her elementary years, and wished them the best of luck during their transition to Atkinson.

Teachers then announced the names of students, who proudly walked up to receive their certificates and were met with warm congratulatory hugs by Wills.

A Field of Fun at Columbus

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Prior to the end of the school year, Columbus Avenue hosted Field Day to teach students about teamwork and the importance of an active lifestyle. Students participated in activities such as scooter racing, balloon ball hopping and wiffle-ball carrying, and worked in groups to accomplish certain goals. With staff members and parent volunteers providing assistance, students enjoyed participating in the outdoor tasks and learning how to work with one another.

Staff Celebrate Success

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As part of an annual “Celebration of Success” tradition, the final meeting of the Board of Education featured each of the eight principals recognizing a faculty member at their school who demonstrates excellence and goes above and beyond in their craft. Each month, a theme was assigned to each school, and an extraordinary teacher who exemplifies that theme was selected. At the board meeting, the principals delivered speeches about the honorees, who were then presented with celebratory plaques by Board of Education President Michael Pomerico. The ongoing tradition is another way for the district to celebrate the hard work and dedication of staff members throughout its schools.

Spectacular Chorale

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Continuing a trend of astounding performances at prestigious venues throughout the year, the Select Chorale at the high school was invited to perform under the leadership of director Monique Retzlaff at Carnegie Hall and National September 11 Memorial and Museum on separate weekends. At Carnegie Hall, the group performed Ola Gjeilo’s “Sunrise Mass” to a standing ovation by a full house, and performed remarkable renditions of patriotic, secular and sacred selections at the memorial. The latest invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall represents the eighth consecutive year that the Select Chorale has had the honor of showcasing its talents on its grand stage.

View the Dodd Middle School Graduation on Livestream

Click on the link to see the 2017 Dodd Middle School on Livestream.

Learning the Power of Yoga

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In celebration of International Yoga Day on June 21, students learned about the power of mindfulness and peace by participating in yoga-related exercises. The exercises, which were led by seventh-graders at Dodd, were designed to give younger students an opportunity to experience the wide array of benefits of yoga.

“You can accomplish anything you set your mind to if you are at peace with yourself,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham to students prior to the exercises. “Yoga helps you focus, it makes you more mindful and it calms the soul. I encourage you to incorporate yoga into your daily lives; even a few minutes a day can work wonders.”

Under the direction of their principal Johane Ligondé and health teachers, the Dodd students visited Atkinson, Bayview and Archer to conduct interactive yoga lessons. They began with a ‘Get Loose’ exercise in preparation for the Sun Salutation, comprised of the 12 basic yoga poses, each of which was demonstrated by alternating Dodd students. Following the Sun Salutation, the seventh-graders discussed and demonstrated the Power of the Breath — also known as Straw Breath — a breathing technique used to clear the mind.

The day’s program was a supplement to the practice of yoga and cultivation of mindfulness in the district that is taught throughout the year. Programs such as YES (Youth Empowerment Seminar) and YogArt, which combines elements of art and yoga, are district staples. On International Yoga Day, whether it was students teaching or learning about yoga or the power of mindfulness and peace, participants were able to unite their minds, bodies and spirits.

District Fosters Cop Connection

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As part of a tradition, the district participated in an annual Adopt-A-Cop culminating event at the Freeport Recreation Center prior to the end of the school year. The program featured students and staff from across the district’s schools having the opportunity to interact with and learn about the work of police officers in the Village of Freeport. Throughout the year, schools foster the connection among students and local law enforcement officials; students learn about the importance of respecting police officers and understanding their roles to serve and protect the community.

Community Supports Class of 2017

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A sense of pride and anticipation filled Freeport High School during the 49th annual Scholarship and Honors Program, where families and members of the community gathered to recognize the outstanding members of the Class of 2017.

Through the generosity of the community, more than $78,000 in scholarships was presented to graduates who successfully met the criteria in the areas of scholarship, leadership, athletics, the arts, the ability to overcome adversity and community service. 

Freeport High School Principal Linda Carter welcomed all in attendance and thanked the donors for their support and donations. “We are so grateful for your continued support and your amazing generosity to our students. We truly appreciate all that you do for our students each year,” she said.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham also acknowledged the generosity of the scholarship donors and congratulated the students who were the recipients. “Thank you to all of our donors for making this evening possible through your generous donations,” he said. To the students being recognized he added, “You are being recognized for expanding your intellectual capacity, for your zest for life, your character and leadership, for overcoming adversity and your persistence and dedication to excellence. We commend you for your achievements.”

Before the awarding of the scholarships began, Board of Education President Michael C. Pomerico spoke to the graduates and donors. “Your hard work and commitment to success are what brings you here this evening. Your tenacity and drive will enable you to achieve much more in the future. Thank you to all of our donors, who have helped our students achieve their goals.”

The school-community partnership that has grown stronger over the years was quite evident, as one by one the scholarship recipients heard their names and their scholarships announced. It was truly an evening to remember as family members proudly applauded as the graduates were recognized.


Business Brilliance

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The high school’s Distributive Educational Clubs of America club hosted a special installation ceremony for new officers who will lead the team for the 2017-2018 school year under the direction of adviser Nela Hawthorne.

DECA is an international association of high school and college students and teachers of management and entrepreneurship, business, finance, hospitality and marketing sales and service. The ceremony featured the team’s current officers speaking about the wide array of skills they have acquired and honed as a result of their membership, and how their experiences have shaped them as they prepare to begin their college careers. The new officers — co-presidents Jaidiver Morales and Sadiki Skeete; co-vice presidents Justin Budhu and Jhon Sandoval; historian Audrey Arias; treasurer Krystel Chombo; secretary Miranda Perez; and Parliamentarian Jennifer Perez — raised their right hands and pledged to represent the team with pride and dignity.

The ceremony also featured students being inducted into the Freeport Chapter of the New York State Business and Marketing Honor Society, and a special plaque presented by Hawthorne to Principal Linda Carter, who was named an honorary DECA member.

Splendid STEAMers

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Archer Street hosted Family STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) Night for its second-, third- and fourth-grade students and their families. The event, which was funded through a Freeport Educational Foundation grant, was comprised of a series of fun and educational workshops led by teachers and student volunteers — ‘Techsperts’ — who demonstrated their knowledge of particular workshops by offering their assistance.

The workshops featured a variety of activities, including coding, creating jitterbugs using circuits and motors, robotics, making instruments from recycled materials and a Makerspace room. The goal of each session was to offer students and their families many opportunities to work together and hone important skills.

FHS Journalist Awarded Scholarship

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High school junior Maya Brown has been selected as the 2017 recipient of The Press Club of Long Island’s Hank Logeman/News12 High School Journalism Scholarship. The $2,000 scholarship, in memory of United Press International reporter and Mineola pressroom veteran Hank Logeman, is presented annually to a high school journalist who has demonstrated outstanding efforts to promote high school journalism on Long Island.
Brown is co-editor of the student-run school newspaper, “Flashings,” and has participated in Stonybrook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists.

Splendid Stetson

Splendid Stetson Photo

High school junior Zoe Stetson was presented the Rensselaer Medal Award by Principal Linda Carter and Director of Science Dr. Vincent Pereira for her exceptional achievement in Advanced Placement Physics. The award, which Stetson was nominated for by teacher Dr. Robert Capalbo, guarantees a $25,000 per year merit scholarship for four years if Stetson decides to enroll at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute following high school.

The district extends its congratulations to Stetson for her outstanding work and wishes her continued success.

Recognizing 757 years of dedicated service to Freeport students

Recognizing 757 years of dedicated service to Freeport students Photo

During the board of education meeting on June 7, the board and administration recognized the district’s retirees for the 2016-2017 school year. Mixed emotions filled the room, as colleagues, families and friends gathered to congratulate these dedicated professionals for their combined 757 years of service to the Freeport School District, students and community.

“Thank you for the goals that you have accomplished and for creating the foundation that has made our school district a success,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham. “Each of you have affected and inspired our students and your colleagues, so we salute you. You are leaving a lasting legacy. The best part of your life is just beginning.”

Thirty-one retirees were individually recognized for their accomplishments and personal memories were shared as each was presented with a plaque to commemorate this momentous event. Congratulations to the following retirees shown with their years of service:

Laura Baines, teacher, 16 years; Joyce Beckford, security, 10 years; Nancy Berg, teacher, 29 years; Wanda Braxton, clerical, 10 years; Linda Carter, principal Freeport High School, 12 years; Joseph Cinquemani, custodial, 21 years; Maria Duran, teacher, 34 years; Marilyn First, clerical, 23 years; Brenda Floyd, security, 8 years; Carolyn Geraci, clerical, 15 years; Carlos Goday, custodian, 12 years; Nancy Hanrahan, teacher, 33 years; Mary Ann Helfrich, cafeteria, 33 years; Linda Hendrickson, teacher, 48 years; Mary Anne Keane, teacher, 30 years; Barbara LaPlaca, teacher, 16 years; Rosa Lienhard, teaching assistant, 10 years; Janine Martorano, teaching assistant, 27 years; Susan McNulty, clerical, 18 years; Cathy Montuori, teacher, 28 years; Ruth Muniz, teaching assistant, 31 years; Bonnie Murphy, teacher, 32 years; Diane Notti, teacher, 36 years; Susan Reinke, teacher, 34 years; Lisette Santiago, teacher, 31 years; Lisa Scicchitano, teacher, 29 years; Fara Strekas, teaching assistant, 17 years; Judith Summers, teacher, 36 years; Carmen Tarantino, teacher 16 years; Randolph Thomas, custodian, 32 years and Odette Wills, principal, Bayview Avenue School, 30 years.

Giblyn Fundraises for the ‘ride’

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As part of an annual tradition, students and staff at Giblyn helped to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and offered their support for patients by welcoming the ALS Ride for Life group to their school.

Giblyn, is in its fourth year participating in the fundraiser, presented a check for $2,100 to Ride for Life and founder Chris Pendergast. Students performed encouraging songs and displayed signs and banners of encouragement for the riders, who recently completed a journey from Yankee Stadium to Washington, D.C. in commemoration of its first ride 20 years ago.

The check presentation was a follow-up to the group’s visit to Giblyn in the fall, which provided students with information and background about ALS and Ride for Life. Both events are designed to supplement the school’s ongoing character education, and teach students about the importance of perseverance, compassion and hope.

Music and Rides

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Fifth- and sixth-graders at Atkinson were recognized for Superior Performance at the High Note Festival in New Jersey. One hundred eighty-five students — from the Wind Ensemble, Concert Orchestra, Mariachi and Select Choruses — performed remarkable selections for a panel of music adjudicators. The students received a trophy representing the highest level of achievement at the festival.

Following the awards ceremony, the students celebrated their achievement with a trip to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey.

Book Fairies at Columbus

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More than 500 pre-kindergartners and kindergartners at Columbus had the opportunity to select books to take home during a visit from nonprofit organization Book Fairies. The book fair promoted the importance of literacy and encouraged students to continue fostering their love of reading outside the classroom.