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Northport student selected as a National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalist

Northport student selected as a National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalist photo
During the second week of September, Northport High School announced that student Julianne Starzee was named a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship program. 

To qualify for this achievement, students must show dedication to excellence in academics, and take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test. This test serves as a screening process for the 1.6 million students who enter each year. Starzee, who took the test last October, scored among the top 16,000 students nationwide. Semifinalists will now compete for the final 7,500 National Merit Scholarships by continuing their academic excellence, and by scoring well on the SAT. 

“I feel really accomplished because I worked very hard,” Starzee commented. “It feels great to be recognized for that hard work!”

Notice of Regular BOE Meeting - Sept. 28


Taking Technological initiative at Northport High School

Taking Technological initiative at Northport High School photo
Over the summer, when school is far from the minds of most students, senior Matt Baron, along with a group of his peers, built and installed a new display case for the school’s tech projects. The main project to be showcased was Kujo—an impressive robot built last year by the school’s robotics club Team 5099. Kujo took third place at the annual robotics competition at Hofstra University in April 2016.

Baron, who has been a Boy Scout since first grade, was looking to find the right project to tackle to help him achieve Eagle Scout rank. He concluded that the ideal project would be something that would give back to the FIRST Robotics program, which he’s been a part of since freshman year.

“Doing something for my team felt like the right idea,” Baron commented. “I wanted to show a commitment to my community.”

Matt took leadership in all aspects of design, engineering, fundraising and construction. He and his peers worked tirelessly until the project was completed. This project leaves a legacy for future students, who will proudly be able to display their innovative projects at Northport High School for years to come. 

“We are proud of Matt’s efforts,” David Storch, district chairperson of science and technology said, “and we thoroughly appreciate his fine work and contribution to our learning community at Northport High School.”

Notice of Regular BOE Meeting - Sept. 14


Jumping into the school year for Northport-East Northport Students

Jumping into the school year for Northport-East Northport Students photo

On Sept. 6, students returned for the 2017-18 school year. Despite the drizzle, children attending the elementary schools were all smiles as they disembarked the busses, greeted by the faces of familiar friends and teachers. At Ocean Avenue Elemntary, Principal Sabina Larkin greeted students warmly as they hopped off busses or let go of parents’ hands, and headed into the school.

“We’re excited to get started right away,” Larkin said. “We waste no time jumping right into the school year!”

In the district’s elementary schools, daily “morning meetings” have been set into place, to help build community in classrooms. These meetings help teachers focus not only on educational learning, but on social and emotional learning. Students sat in circles and spent time getting to know their teachers, and one another. 

Northport and East Northport middle schoolers jumped right into their first day as well. New sixth graders studied their schedules and traversed the hallways to find the right classrooms, toting their new Chromebooks. 

“I’m excited to be using a laptop in school,” sixth grader Quinn Mclaughlin said. 

Northport High School students, who are more than accustomed to the first day of school, traveled the hallways in pods, with existing and new friends. Later on in the week, an ice cream social for the freshmen will be held, to help them further get to know one another—and to further spread Northport-East Northport School District’s mantra, “Kindness matters.” 

“Kindness matters is especially important at the high school level,” Assistant Principal Terrence Hinson said. “We want to teach them that this is no place for hate, and the things they say and do can seriously affect others.”   

Getting to know one another at Bellerose Avenue Elementary

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Bellerose Avenue Elementary School opened its doors on Aug. 30 for the annual kindergarten playdate. Principal Lori Beekman welcomed new students as they approached the playground to meet their fellow classmates. Upon arrival, students were signed in at a colorful table covered in bottles of bubbles, pencils and school spirit memorabilia.

 Many youngsters clung to their parents at first, but soon were comfortable to run off with their new friends—playing wallball, blowing bubbles, and traversing the jungle gym. Parents had a chance to meet and mingle in an informal setting, and watch their children interact.

Out of the 45 new kindergarteners enrolled in the 2017-18 school year at Bellerose, most of them were in attendance. School Counselor Alan Tener, along with PTA representatives, hosted building tours to acquaint all new students to Bellerose.  
“It’s a nice way to get them acclimated to school before it actually starts,” Beekman commented, “so their first real day won’t seem so daunting.”

Summer Clinic Builds Singing Skills

Summer Clinic Builds Singing Skills Photo

For the first time in the district, a week-long Districtwide Summer Choral Clinic was established from Aug. 14-18 for students in grades 5-12. Over 200 students participated in the program which included a half day and full day choir camp for fifth and sixth-graders.

The district originally hosted a traditional four-week, one hour-every other day summer music program for elementary and middle school students but restructured the program this year to meet the needs of more students. As a result, the number of vocal music students in grades 5-8 increased by 355 percent. 

Led by Northport High School tour choir directors Ellen McCarthy and Nicholas Hart, Northport Middle School music teacher Erica Nottingham and guest clinician Ben Johns from Eastman Music Conservatory, the program allowed students how to learn to play world drums and explore proper vocal techniques and history. They also learned various musical theater techniques such as how to stage a choral number and overall stage presence. 

“I really love the dancing,” said incoming fifth-grade Bellerose Avenue student Jessica Proffe. “I got to be a little bird in the song ‘So Long, Farewell’ and I haven’t used my voice in this way in a while.” 

Members of the Northport High School Tour Choir also participated in the clinic to build their vocal skills as part of the upper level choir. They participated in various team building exercises and icebreakers throughout the program. 

“This was the first year that we included fifth and sixth-graders into the choir clinic,” said Hart. “We are hoping that the program continues to grow and are always looking for different ways to add to and improve the clinic.” 

At the conclusion of the week, the students showcased their talents during an evening concert in the Northport High School auditorium for family and friends. Students in grade five and six donned colorful wigs and performed “Get Back Up Again” from the film Trolls, a special choreographed performance of “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music and “We Know the Way” from Moana.

The upper level choir which included mostly students in grades 9-12 with a few seventh and eighth-graders, performed “Sicut Cervus” by Palestrina, “Fa Una Canzone” by Vecchi, “Wade in the Water,” “Summertime” arranged by Roderick Williams and “Somewhere” from West Side Story. The program ended with a powerful rendition of “The Gift to be Simple” which included all the singers in the clinic. 

Budding Entrepreneurs

Budding Entrepreneurs photo

Twenty-five students in grades 1-8 recently participated in the Northport Youth Business Academy, a new week-long summer program at Northport High School that focused on exploring business ideas and learning how businesses contribute to the community.

Under the guidance of Northport High School business teacher Kristen Cogan, students learned valuable skills such as writing a resume, tying a tie and executing a proper handshake. They also had the opportunity to start their own business by creating a name, logo and business plan. This included determining their target audience, resources and product price. Students designed their products during the week and learned how to promote their creations, track their finances and manage a team.

Five Northport High School students also took part in the program by helping the students with their businesses.

“It was wonderful to see young people start to think in an entrepreneurial way and gain a general understanding that the business world touches everyone, no matter what career path you're interested in pursuing,” said Cogan. “It was also wonderful to see my high school students teach and mentor the younger students. They were able to take what they've learned and do something amazing with that knowledge.” 

At the conclusion of the week, family and friends were invited to a tradeshow where students showcased their ideas. They presented their “companies” with business cards and a sales pitch and challenged their loved ones to a game of Kahoot!, an interactive game of business trivia that the high school students designed. 


Paralympic Athlete Mikey Brannigan Honored as Hometown Hero

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Mikey Brannigan, a Northport graduate and Paralympic gold medalist, was honored at Northport High School on Aug. 9 for his Paralympic records and medals, but above all, his good character. Brannigan, who was diagnosed with autism at age 3, is the only Paralympic athlete in history to hold records in the 1500m, 3000m and 5000m simultaneously.

Superintendent of Schools Robert Banzer and Northport High School Principal Dan Danbusky were joined by other district administrators, staff members, local dignitaries and students to celebrate Brannigan as a hometown hero and inspiration.

Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci, Sen. John Flanagan, Assemblyman Andrew Raia and Sen. Carl Marcellino each shared remarks about Brannigan’s accomplishments and presented him with citations and proclamations. Awards were also provided on behalf of Legislator Dr. William Spencer and Legislator Robert Trotta.

Brannigan’s coach, Sonja Robinson, was in attendance as well. “Mikey is anchored in the character traits that make him a champion, and he learned that here in Northport,” she said. “He loves competing and he loves the sport, but above all he is the personification of a good sportsman.” She noted that after every race, no matter how he does, he shakes his competitors hand.

“He has touched so many lives in so many ways that it’s really inexplicable, but it’s also very inspiring,” said Mr. Banzer. “Yes, we have the medals and the honors, and he works tremendously hard along with his coaches and parents to push himself to be the best, but it’s really his character that just exudes for all of us here in Northport.”

Congratulations, Mikey!

Music Students Showcase Talents

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Family members in the district beamed with pride on August 2 and August 4, while watching their children perform the skills they learned over the course of several weeks in the Northport Music and the Arts Summer Program.

Held at Northport High School during the evening of August 2, several groups showcased their musical abilities including the elementary orchestra, elementary band and intermediate orchestra. In addition, those involved in the dance group performed an exciting flash mob during the day, in the halls of East Northport Middle School.

Families were invited for demonstrations on August 4, the final day of the program. Here, the students took to their classrooms and under the guidance of their music teachers, showed off what they had learned.

Clay Creations

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Students recently got their hands dirty during the district’s Community Services Summer Recreation “Art – Clay” program. The 13 students from grades 3-8, joined the class to explore their creative abilities under the guidance of instructors Thuy Pham and Christine LaRosa.

The weeklong program allowed the class to learn the different techniques of working with clay. Through guided instruction, the students created various types of vessels such as bowls, plates, vases and boxes. In addition, they worked on a project focused on their favorite foods in which they sculpted a plate out of clay and molded different types of food to place on top of it. The students then had the option to paint their pieces with acrylic paint.

Reading Program Prepares Students for New Year

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Pulaski Road Elementary School was bustling with students this summer from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade in the district’s Summer Reading Program. The 20-day program allowed students to better prepare for the new school year by taking part in fun, educational games and activities that promote literacy.

Students met for two hours a day from Monday through Thursday and were placed with a teacher who gave them what they needed to strengthen their reading skills. The days consisted of small group instruction, which allowed for personalized attention and hands-on and multisensory activities. The students utilized centers which they rotated through, to explore different avenues of learning and participated in creative educational games such as fishing for words and bowling.

In addition, the program encompassed technology into the learning environment by providing reading exercises on the SMART Board and personal computers for students to learn through the educational platform, Compass Learning Odyssey.

District Coordinator of Reading & AIS Tara Gaiss and Program Principal Scott Pellegrino have run the program for the past five years and watched it evolve into a beneficial outlet for students to challenge themselves to succeed.

“The Summer Reading Program engages students in small group, multisensory reading activities with the goal of not only reducing summer loss but closing the gap in the specific areas of challenge for each student,” said Gaiss. “As part of our pre-summer goal setting process, we take great effort to pinpoint the specific areas of challenge and then work for 20 days to target these skills in creative and exciting lessons.”

Ready, Set, Design

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As part of the district’s Community Services Summer Recreation Program, students in grades 5-7 put their creativity to the test in the Video Game Design course held at East Northport Middle School this summer.

Led by Northport Middle School technology teacher Christopher Smith, the introductory course allowed students to design, develop and program simple 2-D games and personalize them to their liking. Students picked which time frame worked best with their summer schedule with four weeks of the course being offered. Each course took place for four days from Monday through Thursday for two hours.

Students gathered in one of the school’s computer rooms where they were taught the basics of computer programming to create their own characters, enemies, power-ups and levels to place into their games. They worked at their own pace and added sounds and background music to their creations.

At the end of each of the courses, the students took home their games to share with family and friends.

District’s Art and Music Program Heats Up During Summer

District’s Art and Music Program Heats Up During Summer Photo

The district’s Summer Music and the Arts Program kicked off on July 11 for its four-week program of learning and exploration. With its highest enrollment to date, this year’s program has marked new opportunities for students in grades 3-11, whether they are just starting a new instrument, exploring their creative abilities or strengthening their music skills at the intermediate level.

The Summer Music and the Arts Program was first established in 1957, specifically for music students. Throughout the years, the program expanded its offerings to allow students to sign up for a variety of different sessions in the art department as well. This includes a Pre-Advanced Placement Drawing and Painting class and a Pre-International Baccalaureate Art class for Northport High School students. 

Under the direction of Program Director Michael Susinno and Director of Fine and Performing Arts Dr. Izzet Mergen, the program expanded to accommodate more students this summer by providing a new half-day schedule where students could take part in different sessions and then be shuttled to the district’s summer recreation program. The program saw a 53 percent increase in enrollment this summer with the implementation of the new half-day schedule. 

With most students in grades 3-7 participating, the program offers 12 beginner classes which are available to help introduce instruments to students and 12 intermediate classes which gives students the ability to receive more instruction and personalized attention. In addition, there are six art classes and one dance class offered as well. 

A number of current faculty members from the district serve as instructors, as well as Northport High School graduates, retired staff members and other New York State Certified teachers from outside the district. An additional ukulele and guitar teacher was also added to the program this summer due to popular demand.

Technology has been utilized by many of the instructors as part of the learning experience. Many of the classes encompass SmartMusic, an educational platform that allows the sheet music to be displayed on the SmartBoard with their instruments connected. The students receive instant feedback as they play with green or red markings displayed when a note is played correctly or incorrectly. 

Susinno, a Northport-East Northport graduate, has taken the program to heart due to his involvement since 1988.  

“Past participation as a student, as a high school volunteer, as a teaching assistant, as a teacher and now as the liaison helps me to see the program through the students' eyes as well as through all of the staff roles as well,” said Susinno. “When Bob Krueger began the program in 1957, he set a wonderful wave in motion. I can only hope that he'd be proud of the program as it is today and that he's smiling from his current concert podium!”

Summer Program Welcomes Incoming Kindergartners

Summer Program Welcomes Incoming Kindergartners Photo
For its second year in a row, the district welcomed incoming kindergarten students into the Summer Reading Program at Pulaski Road Elementary School. 

The 20-day program, which is typically geared at students in kindergarten through eighth grade, was created to help students in the district strengthen their reading and writing abilities. For the class of 12 pre-kindergarten students, the program focuses on preparing them for the kindergarten level in September. 

The small group, led by teacher Jamie Landry, has been engaged in various multisensory activities this summer such as rice tables, which helps the students better understand letters. In addition, they have participated in activities that focus on school readiness skills, language concepts and pre-reading strategies.