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HBT Closes Out an Evening of Moving Up From the Middle

HBT Closes Out an Evening of Moving Up From the Middle photo

Harry B. Thompson Middle School provided the nightcap festivities, holding court on the stage at the LIU Tilles Center as it followed its sister school, South Woods, in promoting its eighth-graders to the high school.

The HBT jazz band provided the prelude and the chamber orchestra performed the processional, “Pomp and Circumstance,” followed by the presentation of the colors by Tsz Ching Chow and Evan Strominger. Student Chloe Zelenitz led the Pledge of Allegiance after the chamber orchestra’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The eighth-grade chorus would later provide an entertaining interlude titled, “I Lived,” which was the theme of the ceremony.

Board of Education vice president and proud HBT graduate parent Tracy Frankel provided words of wisdom to the entire eighth-grade class of 308. Student Council members Leah Corcoran and Brandon Mazen served as masters of ceremony, with student speaker Ian Brecker providing a keynote address in which he encouraged his fellow classmates to step out of their comfort zones to realize their full potential. 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Rogers, whose offices are located at South Woods Middle School, joked about requiring a passport to visit HBT, but with sincerity, reflected on the fulfillment his visits give him. “Every time I am in Thompson it seems as if I have been invited to see something special,” said Dr. Rogers, who credited retiring Principal James Kassebaum with playing a part in the successes he has witnessed. Dr. Rogers also shared some special sentiments with the class in the form of a letter he wrote, in which he reflected on a year in which middle school students led the charge to be changemakers in their community and to make a positive impact in their school and in the greater community. 

“It’s been a year of sweet voices raised nationally and those raised in unison closer to home,” Dr. Rogers said. “Together, what you have shown is that age is no barrier to impact, and your voices are audible and people are listening. Your voices are already shaping the future.”

In his final middle school promotion address, Kassebaum acknowledged the great work of his faculty and staff, asking those present to stand for recognition by the audience. He then turned his attention to the students, thanking them for making him proud and encouraging them to be open to a life of discovery and overcoming challenges. “Build resiliency and do not accept failure as a destination,” Kassebaum said.

Then, joined by members of the HBT faculty and staff, Kassebaum awarded the middle school diplomas. As they exited the Tilles auditorium as newly declared high school freshmen, the former HBT students held their heads up high with their eyes wide open, ready to be heard by even larger audiences and take on greater feats. 


HBT Principal James Kassebaum Named Administrator of the Year

HBT Principal James Kassebaum Named Administrator of the Year photo
Congratulations to Harry B. Thompson Middle School Principal James Kassebaum, who was recently named Administrator of the Year by the Empire State Supervisors & Administrators Association’s Region 1– Council of Administrators and Supervisors. Region 1 is comprised of public school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and CAS is represented by more than 1,500 public school administrators. 

Kassebaum, who is completing his 41st year in education, has served the students at H.B. Thompson for 24 years, the last 16 as principal. He announced his retirement earlier this spring.

“Under your stewardship, Thompson Middle School has achieved and maintained a well-deserved reputation as one of New York State’s highest-performing middle schools,” wrote CAS President Albert Voorneveld in his letter to Kassebaum, who noted his career involvement as a leader among Syosset principals and his active leadership roles with CAS and ESSAA, as well as with the Nassau County Middle Level Principals’ Association. 

“I appreciate the recognition and am very humbled by this,” said Kassebaum, who plans to continue working with aspiring administrators. “There are many less experienced educators who are advancing in their careers and moving into administrator roles, and the challenges new administrators face have changed and increased through the years.”

“Jim Kassebaum has worked tirelessly for the students of Syosset as both assistant principal and principal for the last 24 years,” said HBT Assistant Principal Kevin Bonnano, who has worked with Kassebaum as an administrative assistant and assistant principal for 12 years. “He has dedicated himself to leading a program that provides students with the best academic, social and emotional learning opportunities. He’s guided his staff through many changes in the educational landscape, always with the goal of making sure each student had an opportunity to reach their potential. We’ll all miss Jim’s passion and dedication.”

Looking back on his years at HBT, Kassebaum takes great satisfaction from the growth of his staff through the years. “Our staff has always had that day-to-day energy and work ethic to place our students in the best position to grow and succeed. We have also been fortunate to have a tremendous amount of support from the community, central office and our Board of Education, which has helped us to stay ahead of the game in educating our children.”

Kassebaum also takes great pride in the growth of his students, a part of the job he will really miss. “Kids like to come back and visit and they always talk about their experiences here. I’m very proud to have been a part of their development as sixth-graders transitioning into a new school and guiding them onto the next chapter in their lives. Working with adolescents has kept me young at heart.”

In addition to continuing his work mentoring young administrators, Kassebaum looks forward to spending new-found time on some of the things he enjoys, including boating, hiking, and baseball umpiring, and perhaps a trip to a seat at the top of the Green Monster at Fenway Park in Boston,  while also tending to projects around the house. He leaves with a great sense of accomplishment and confidence in the future that lies ahead.

“I’m turning over the keys … but the building and our wonderful programs are in great hands.” 

H.B. Thompson students compete in NYS National History Day

H.B. Thompson students compete in NYS National History Day photo

Seven H.B. Thompson students earned the privilege to compete in the New York State National History Day competition in Cooperstown, NY in April, and four will be advancing to the National level in Maryland this June. The students were identified as top performers in their chosen category at the Long Island National History Day Contest prior to advancing to the State level.

Caroline Hsu earned First Place Junior Historical Paper, and Amanda Huang, Vivien Huang and Claire Tong together earned Second Place June Group Exhibit.

Established in 1974, the National History Day Contest encourages more than half a million middle and high school students around the world to conduct original research on historical topics of interest. 

NYS National History Day competitors are pictured with Administrative Assistant Christian Harrigan, teacher advisors Jennifer Giamundo, Lauren Allen and Janna Nunziato (back left) and HBT Principal James Kassebaum. Sitting, left to right: Caroline Hsu, Claire Tong, Vivien Huang, Amanda Huang; standing, left to right: Joshua Burrows, Jake Miller, Sabrina Chen.


Seven students from H.B. Thompson qualify for National History Bee National Finals

Seven students from H.B. Thompson qualify for National History Bee National Finals photo
Seven HB Thompson students qualified to compete in the National History Bee National Finals to be held in Atlanta, GA in June. After qualifying by taking an on-line test, the students advanced to the New York National Finals qualifier in April.

The National History Bee competition is designed to motivate and reward students for studying history.  Students from across the U.S. will compete in June at the National level for the title of National History Bee Champion.
National History Bee competitors are pictured with Administrative Assistant Christian Harrigan (far left) and HBT Principal James Kassebaum. Sitting from left to right: Noah Silverman, Ben Beige, Pragya Shankar. Standing from left to right: Sam Finkel, Griffin Hon, Mark Kimoto. Missing from photo: Jake Mallen. 

Both Middle Schools Receive No Place for Hate Designation

Both Middle Schools Receive No Place for Hate Designation photo
Both Middle Schools Receive No Place for Hate Designation photo 2
Congratulations to the students and staff at Harry B. Thompson and South Woods middle schools, as both have been named No Place for Hate schools for the 2017-18 school year by the Anti-Defamation League.

ADL’s No Place for Hate initiative identifies schools and communities that demonstrate a long-term commitment to combating bias, bullying and hatred while  leading initiatives for creating and maintaining a positive climate. HBT’s Peers as Leaders and Buddy Club was instrumental in coordinating schoolwide activities that qualified the school for the designation this year, while South Wood’s Action, Acceptance and Awareness Club was a driving force in solidifying its school’s stature. This is the second consecutive year HBT has received the designation.

Syosset High School also hosted a school-wide assembly to kick off its campaign to receive No Place for Hate designation in the 2018-19 school year. Principal Dr. Giovanni Durante spoke about how he was inspired by the work of the students, and several students recounted their own experiences with bias and students standing up for their peers. The school unveiled a banner of its own for students to sign and pledge to uphold the qualities of a No Place for Hate school.

Representatives from both HBT and South Woods middle schools are pictured here displaying their respective No Place for Hate banners, which were awarded by the ADL. In the alternate photo, students and faculty from Syosset High School display the banner for their campaign to earn No Place for Hate designation next year. 

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018