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Mr. Bonanno Appointed New HBT Principal


Dear Syosset Community,

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Kevin Bonanno as Principal, H.B. Thompson Middle School. Mr. Bonanno succeeds Mr. Kassebaum as Principal, who announced his retirement this spring after 24 years of service to the Syosset community. The Board and Administration extend a sincere thank you to Mr. Kassebaum for his many years of service and dedication to the Syosset Central School District. Although Mr. Kassebaum left very big shoes to fill, we are fortunate to have strong leadership within the District, and I am confident Mr. Bonanno is best qualified to continue the tradition of excellence at H.B. Thompson for which Syosset schools are known.

Mr. Bonanno has served as the Assistant Principal of H.B. Thompson for the past 11 years. He entered the District as a 7th grade social studies teacher in 1998 and later became an Administrative Assistant prior to his appointment as Assistant Principal. He has proven to be an effective and thoughtful leader, who has bolstered the Syosset principles of educating and preparing our students to be responsive to a continually changing world.  

Please join me in congratulating Mr. Bonanno and wishing him well in his new position. 

Dr. Tom Rogers

Security Advisory Committee Meeting August 6, 2018

The Board of Education will be holding the second meeting of the Security Advisory Committee on Monday, August 6, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. in the South Woods Middle School library, 99 Pell Lane, Syosset. Agenda to follow. The meeting is open to any resident of the Syosset Central School District interested in attending and/or participating.

The Syosset Central School District 

2018-2019 Draft District-Wide School Safety Plan

The 2018-2019 Draft District-Wide School Safety Plan was presented to the Board at the July meeting. The plan will be posted online for the next 30 days to provide an opportunity for the public to comment. The purpose of the Plan is to prevent or minimize the effects of violent incidents and other emergencies, and to facilitate the coordination of schools with local & county resources in the event of such incidents or emergencies. The draft Plan can be found here, and should you wish to comment on the Plan, please email

Draft Policies to be Adopted at the August BOE Meeting

The Board reviewed several draft policies at the July meeting, which are scheduled to be adopted at the August 13th meeting. Copies of the draft policies can be found here.

Cornell University Honors SHS alumna and teacher


Syosset High School alumna Samantha Falchook was recently named a 2018 Merrill Presidential Scholar by Cornell University. 

The Merrill Presidential Scholars Program honors Cornell University’s most outstanding graduating seniors, who rank in the top one percent of the class in their respective schools and colleges, while also recognizing the high school teachers who have played a significant role in ensuring their success. Falchook was one of 32 graduating seniors who were selected by their college deans for their intellectual drive, leadership abilities and potential to contribute to society. Each student then nominated a high school teacher and Cornell faculty member who most inspired them as scholars. 

Falchook chose to nominate Carisa Steinberg as her most influential high school teacher. A biology teacher at Syosset High School and a 1997 Cornell University graduate, Steinberg passed on her love of learning to Falchook, who took her advanced placement biology class as a high school senior. “It was a very rigorous course, and that’s where I really developed my passion for learning,” Falchook said. “She created such a welcoming environment, where I felt I could participate and ask questions. That really made the difference.”

Both Falchook and Steinberg were honored at the 30th annual Merrill Presidential Scholars Convocation luncheon hosted in May by Cornell’s president. As he congratulated them on being extraordinary teachers, Provost Michael Kotlikoff remarked to the honored educators “You can take pride in having influenced some of Cornell’s top graduating seniors – and in knowing that they continue to appreciate all you did for them.”


Mysterious Shenanigans Ensue as SHS Students Perform for 5th Graders

Cast of the College Theater
Students enjoying the show

Fifth grade students were treated to a special production of “Mystery on 13th Street” by the Syosset High School College Theatre and Production students. The play, a mystery with quirky characters and amusing plot twists, conveys the message to accept those with differences. The fifth graders were captivated by the talented cast and excited by the opportunity to ask questions of the actors at the end of the performance.

The College Theatre and Production course offered at Syosset High School is the outcome of a partnership between Syosset Central School District and the Department of Theatre at Five Towns College. High school students earn college credits by completing the course, which focuses on theatre history in the first semester and the creation of a “touring company” in the second, allowing the students to create and produce a theatrical piece. Over the last several years, productions by the students have included puppet theatre, original works performed for the general public, and children's theatre. 


Syosset HS Conducts 60th Commencement Exercise

Congratulations Syosset High School Class of 2018 photo

Approximately 560 seniors in Syosset High School’s Class of 2018 took their turn at the podium to accept their high school diplomas during the school’s 60th annual commencement, held at Hofstra University. 

Following the traditional processional march performed by the Syosset High School orchestra and “The Star-Spangled Banner” from the Adelettes and Choral Pride, Syosset High School Principal Dr. Giovanni Durante delivered the welcoming remarks before addressing the graduates.

This year’s class was highlighted with eight National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, 43 Commended Students, three Regeneron Science Talent Search scholars, one Siemens Competition regional finalist and one semifinalist, and one National Merit Scholar, as well and numerous other award winners in math, science and writing.

“I have seen the great work you have done inside and outside the classroom and I want you all to know I believe in you, I have confidence in you, and I look forward to hearing about all of your future successes,” said Dr. Durante to the Class of 2018, praising them for demonstrating the virtues of Syosset pride: patience, respect, integrity, dignity and empathy. 

The evening also featured inspirational speeches from Board of Education President Dr. Michael Cohen and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Rogers, class speaker Brooke Lewitas, valedictorian Jarrad Li and salutatorian Daniel Israel.

Dr. Rogers confessed that he consulted some class members for inspiration in preparing his address, which ultimately focused on passion. 

“Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg used his 2017 commencement address at Harvard to talk about the ideas on the horizon like universal income and necessity for a basic living stipend should robots or artificial intelligence take away all of our jobs,” Dr. Rogers said. “That horizon does not exactly inspire my most passionate thought, but I don’t think that your generation is so unimaginative that you won’t simply invent entirely new vocations.”

Brooke spoke about the openness of the school staff, its willingness to listen to students and the overall dedication to the student body’s success. “I can honestly say that I am proud to have gone to a school that worked hard in every opportunity to give us an education that would make us into citizens capable of enacting change.” 

Daniel put a humorous spin on the four years at Syosset High School, and how some adapted from the onset of their freshmen years, while others took a little more time to settle into the culture of the high school. “Fortunately, with time, we grew, we discovered, we felt safe with ourselves. It didn’t matter if it was a sport, a subject, or a club or even yet a group, because, it was ours!”

Jarrad told the Class of 2018 how proud he was of all of them and how he was rooting for everyone’s success. “It’s been an incredible ride and it’s amazing to see how far we all have come. What lies ahead is a road of wonderful new opportunities and discoveries. Challenge yourselves. And don’t be afraid of obstacles, as they are there to help you become a stronger and better person. It’s not about whether you get knocked down, it’s about whether or not you get back up. We may encounter many defeats in the future but we must not be defeated. College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so make the most of it. Be the best you can be and never lose track of who you are.”

Class President Andrew Goldman and Vice President Zachary Chan presented the class gift: a special plaque engraved with inspirational messaging that will be placed near the entrance of Syosset High School for every student to see upon entering the building.

Dr. Durante honored students who received scholarly recognitions. Members of Syosset’s PTA/STA presented scholarship awards, as did members of SEPTA.

The commencement culminated with each student walking up to receive their diploma and the traditional cap toss. While the 60th class of Syosset High School said farewell for now, many undoubtedly will be heard from again. 


Elementary Students Move Up to the Middle

Elementary Students Move Up to the Middle 	photo

Fifth-graders in the Syosset School District looked ahead to the next step in their K-12 careers and a new home as all seven District elementary schools conducted moving up exercises to celebrate the culmination of their students’ elementary education, as well as their advancement to the middle school. One thing was perfectly clear: Whether attending H.B. Thompson or South Woods, they will all arrive well prepared for the challenges of the future.

During their respective promotion ceremonies, fifth-graders at each elementary school were honored with multiple awards, from academic awards to recognitions for their participation in Student Council, NYSSMA, the Nassau All-County Artist program and the character education program PRIDE. 

Principals and teachers presented each student with a certificate to recognize their promotion from elementary to middle school. Some recalled this group’s days as kindergartners, while others provided helpful suggestions for the future, such as make new friends and make the most of the increased programs available to them. Most importantly, they all conveyed confidence in their students’ abilities to succeed and become caring, constructive members of society.

Congratulations to all of the fifth-graders!

South Woods Sends Off Its Eighth-Graders

South Woods Sends Off Its Eighth-Graders photo

June 18 was a special evening for all Syosset eighth-graders advancing to the high school, as South Woods Middle School led off the traditional doubleheader of middle school promotion ceremonies held at the LIU Tilles Center.

Following the trumpeters, the presentation of the colors and the processional performed by the school’s orchestra, student Priya Sondhi led the Pledge of Allegiance, leading into the orchestra’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The eighth-grade chorus would later provide an entertaining interlude.

Board of Education trustee and proud South Woods graduate parent Rob Gershon provided words of wisdom to the entire group of 256 moving up. Graduates Michael Meneshian and Amanda Obedian served as masters of ceremony, with Principal Michelle Burget and students Francesca Cimenello and Xiara Lemoine reflecting on the last three years at South Grove. 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Rogers shared some special sentiments with the class in the form of a letter he penned. “The high school you are about to enter is a very different place than the one this year’s graduates entered four years ago,” he said, referencing the use of technology and new opportunities that amplify the student voice and provide outlets for creativity, resulting in greater opportunities available to them in the future. 

“At no point in history has the world been changing so quickly and, since we can’t foresee it slowing down, our best hope is to make sure that you can keep up with it,” Dr. Rogers added. “So we have never been more engaged than when we are sharing our thoughts, and so the more we hear your voice, the closer we get to that goal.”

Following Dr. Rogers’ remarks, Burget and members of the South Woods faculty and staff assisted in awarding the middle school diplomas. The aspiring Syosset High School freshmen then exited the Tilles auditorium to applause and waves from proud parents and family, as they moved on to the next chapter of their educational experience, ready to use their knowledge and voices to make a difference in the future. 


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. 


Syosset Girls Golf Team Wins LI Championship!

Girls Golf Team

The Syosset Girls golf team won the Long Island Championship for 2018 by defeating Sayville of Suffolk County by 5 strokes. Junior Malini Rudra was the overall medalist for Nassau County championship. The team competed in the New York state championships June 1-3 at Bethpage Golf course where the girls  finished 5th overall and Malini Rudra finished 7th and earned All- State honors. Congratulations to the team and coach Stephen Naranjo!


Shown left to right: Chloe Catton, Ada Yu, Malini Rudra, Grace Ng, Arushi Gahlaut, Alexa Frank

Administration Meets With Superintendent's Student Cabinets

Student Cabinet 1
Student Cabinet 2
Student Cabinet 3

Syosset Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Rogers and members of the central administration met with the Superintendent’s Student Cabinet, comprised of student ambassadors from each school in the District, to hear the students’ perspective on educational-related issues.

The student ambassadors shared their opinions on various issues including the transition to secondary schools, coding and robotics, and the use of Chromebooks. Students also reflected on the 2017-2018 school year. The District values the input from the students, and the feedback received from the students plays an integral role in future planning.


First Place at Mathematics Tournament by the Sea!

First Place winning team, from left to right: David Wang, Cheryl Zhang, Amanda Huang, Vivian Huang and Jake Mallen
First Place winning team, from left to right: David Wang, Cheryl Zhang, Amanda Huang, Vivian Huang and Jake Mallen

Syosset middle school students had an impressive showing at the Mathematics Tournament by the Sea held at Long Beach Middle School. Forty teams competed in the team event and over 200 students competed in the individual event. The two Syosset teams placed First and Fifth in the team event. After tying for second place along with 5 other students, Cheryl Zhang finished 5th and David Wang finished 6th.

Capital Construction Project Milestone Tracking


SHS Gabby Materas Brings Joy of Dance to Special Needs Students


As a natural born performer, Gabby Materas knows how much joy can be found in music and dance. During the summer leading into her senior year of high school, she had an idea to bring that joy to a group of special needs students at Syosset High School through a program she initiated named “Dancing Days”. Volunteering her time every other day, Gabby not only taught the students a dance routine, but provided them an opportunity to be active and share their love of music. The students were empowered to be involved participants in the program, choosing their own music and collaborating on the dance moves.

According to the Director of PPS Mary-Lou Sapienza, Gabby is “so well-rounded, so sweet, so caring. She lights up any room when she walks in”. Ending each session with a group hug, Gabby has made a personal connection with every student in the program. Gabby was inspired by her special needs brother and his love of music, and says that leading this program has made her feel good about herself and given her a sense of accomplishment. “It was one of the best experiences of my life” states Gabby.

Gabby will be attending High Point University in the fall. She will miss the students very much, and hopes that the impact she made on the students will have a lasting effect.

South Woods Students Score in top 1% Nationally at AMC 8

Congratulations to South Woods Middle School students Alex He and Alex Larson, who both received the Honor Roll of Distinction certificate for scoring in the top 1% nationally in the AMC 8. The AMC 8 is a mathematical examination offered to middle school students. It is designed to promote the development of problem-solving skills, and provides an opportunity for middle school students to develop positive attitudes towards analytical thinking and mathematics that can assist in future careers.

South Woods MS Students Are County Trivia Champs Again

South Woods MS Students Are County Trivia Champs Again photo
South Woods MS Students Are County Trivia Champs Again photo 2
South Woods MS Students Are County Trivia Champs Again photo 3
South Woods MS Students Are County Trivia Champs Again photo 4
Two teams from South Woods Middle School captured first place in this year’s CP Nassau Trivia Challenge championship. The South Woods grade 6 and grade 7/8 teams won their respective divisions in the championship tournament, after claiming victory in the schoolwide trivia competition. South Woods teams consistently perform well in the CP Nassau Trivia Challenge, with the grade 7/8 team claiming victory in last year’s tournament.

During the competition, each participating school provides a team of four students who collaborate on multi question trivia test. Each team member raises money for CP Nassau by asking family and friends for a standard donation for their participation. In winning this year’s event, the South Woods teams answered questions on a wide variety of topics. South Woods enrichment teacher Greg Ryan serves as the adviser/coach to both South Woods teams.

Schools from throughout Nassau County participated in the event. Now in its 32nd year, the challenge brings students with great minds and good hearts together to help raise funds to benefit the programs and services CP Nassau provides for over 1,800 children and adults with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. According to CP Nassau’s website, it has become the organization’s most successful fundraiser thanks to the students, parents, teachers and administrators who support the effort.

Syosset High School Assistant Principal Gessner Honored

Syosset High School Assistant Principal Gessner Honored photo
Congratulations to Syosset High School Assistant Principal Ray Gessner, who is this year’s recipient of both the New York State PTA Distinguished Service Award and the New York State Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Educators’ Ellen Swallow Richards Award. 

Gessner has worked in Syosset for 35 years as a social studies teacher and assistant principal. He is being recognized by the PTA for his outstanding contributions to the students of Syosset High School. 

“Ray defines service and is the PTSA go-to person whenever they need anything,” said Syosset High School Principal Dr. Giovanni Durante. “Whether they are setting up for a staff luncheon, need advice on an initiative, or want him to serve on any committee, Ray is there for them.”

In winning the Swallow Richards Award, Gessner is recognized for his work in overseeing Syosset High School’s Human Ecology Department. Swallow Richards was an engineer, environmental chemist and founder of the home economics movement, more recently known as family and consumer sciences. The Human Ecology Department at Syosset High School offers various classes covering areas related to the study of FCS, including child care and development, culinary arts and nutrition, interior design, clothing construction, teacher education and psychology, among others. 

Dr. Durante added, “Our Human Ecology Department has never felt more supported, thanks to Ray’s caring demeanor and desire to help people.”

Meet the Class of 2018 valedictorian and salutatorian

Meet the Class of 2018 valedictorian and salutatorian photo
Syosset High School is proud to announce that Jarrad Li is the Class of 2018 valedictorian and Daniel Israel is the salutatorian. Both have made academic honor roll every quarter since they were both freshman in 2014.

“Jarrad and Daniel are two exceptional students who we have already heard so much about,” said Syosset High School Principal Dr. Giovanni Durante. “In addition to being at the top of their class, they are very involved in their respective extracurricular activities, particularly in the areas of math and science. Both have received numerous accolades to date and  I’m sure there will be more great things to come from both of them. I wish them continued success in the future.”      

Science research is a major area of study for Jarrad academically, having medaled in Science Olympiads 34 times since 2015, with several first- and second-place awards. He is a 2017 Siemens Semifinalist and was awarded third-place at the 2018 Long Island Science and Engineering Fair for his research on materials science/nanoscience and chemical engineering. He won second place at LISEF last year for his biomedical research project. Jarrad is also a recipient of the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad Honors Award, a discipline of science he intends to pursue in his postsecondary career.

Jarrad has also won numerous awards in various mathematics competitions, including first-place in the 2017 Nassau Math Tournament as well as securing a spot on the Nassau Mathematics All-Star team the last two years. He is also a five-time medalist on the Le Grand Concours National French exam.

Music is also a big part of Jarrad’s life. He excels at both piano and clarinet, having achieved perfect New York State School Music Association scores on exams for both instruments. He has also won many prestigious honors for piano, including gold in the International Music and Arts Society’s Young Artists Music and Arts Competition. In ninth grade he was concertmaster and first chair, first clarinet. 

As a leader, Jarrad serves as president and co-founder of the Theta Math Organization and as an officer with the French National Honors Society. He is also past vice president of the Mathletes and served as secretary of Quiz Bowl in 2017. 

Other awards include National AP Scholar with Distinction, the New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence, National Merit Scholarship Commended student recognition and the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Search High Honors award. 

Jarrad also spends his spare time tutoring other students in math and entertaining residents at the Glen Cove Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation by playing the piano.

“I am honored to have received the title of valedictorian,” said Jarrad. “I would like to thank my family, friends, and teachers for making this achievement possible.”

Numerous accolades have also been bestowed upon Daniel in the area of science research. This includes capturing first place in the Andromeda Division of the 2017 New York State Science and Engineering Fair and second place at the WAC Invitational Science Fair. Daniel’s research through the years includes developing a neural network to analyze Alzheimer’s disease, constructing a Java program to validate quantum key distribution, and studying the effects of microgravity on humans. He has participated in the Science Olympiad dating back to his early years in middle school, placing in the top five in various categories the last four years.

Despite his knack for science research, Daniel’s true passion lies within the numbers as he intends to advance his studies in a mathematics-related field at the post-secondary level. He has been a member of Matheletes since 2010 and currently serves as vice president. In the last two years he has won a Silver Certificate in the Nassau County Interscholastic Math League and a Silver Medal at the Al Kalfus Long Island Math Fair. 

Silver also shone on Daniel in the form of a medal upon his completion of the Le Grand Concours National French Exam.

Daniel’s leadership experience includes his current service as president of the high school Quiz Bowl and Web Development and Bridge clubs. He is also the vice president of the Programming Club, in addition to the VP of Mathletes. 

Other awards for Daniel include the National AP Scholar of Distinction Award, the New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence, the Outstanding Research Literacy Award and the Elmer Heinecke Award for Sportsmanship, Leadership and Team Spirit.

Daniel also uses his free time constructively, tutoring other students in math and volunteering as a tour guide at the Gregory Museum in Hicksville. He also serves as a liaison to the museum.

“Being named salutatorian and academically representing my school is a true honor, “added Daniel. “While I did work long hours and nights for the past three and a half years, I never thought that it would lead to this position.”

Jarrad plans to major in chemical engineering and will attend Princeton. Daniel will major in Math and Business Administration with a concentration in Finance at Northeastern.

Pictured from left, Syosset High School Principal Dr. Giovanni Durante congratulates Daniel and Jarrad along with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Rogers.

Syosset HS Students Look to Adopt a Survivor

Syosset HS Students Look to Adopt a Survivor photo
Syosset HS Students Look to Adopt a Survivor photo 2
Irving Roth, a Holocaust survivor and nationally recognized Holocaust educator, recently visited Syosset High School to speak with ninth-grade AP Social Studies students about his Adopt a Survivor Program. The program connects students with Holocaust survivors to preserve and extend the testimony of their personal experiences within the historical context. 

Through Adopt a Survivor, students become surrogates and keep survivors’ memories alive through an interview process. The program will be implemented at Syosset High School as a collaboration between the school’s library media center, social studies department and the Holocaust Resource Center of Temple Judea in Manhasset. The program was coordinated by Syosset High School library media specialist Lynn Ortlieb and social studies teacher Sophia Bae.

Pictured in the main photo, Roth addresses students at Syosset High School while in the alternate photo, pictured from left are Bae, Ortlieb, Roth, library media specialist Sarah Wasser and Social Studies Department Chairperson Tom Fusco. 

Students Earn Gold in the Annual National Russian Essay Contest


Congratulations to Syosset High School students Jasmine Li and Mathew Chvasta for winning gold medals in the 36th Annual National Russian Essay Contest. The ACTR National Russian Essay Contest provides high school and middle school students the opportunity to demonstrate their writing proficiency in Russian. Jasmine is a junior and Matt is a senior, who both started taking Russian just a few years ago. Congratulations on this achievement!

Mathew Chvasta and Jasmine Li are congratulated by Syosset High School principal Dr. Giovanni Durante (far left), Russian teacher Olga Varkonyi and World Language Coordinator Dr. David Balsamo.

Interests Come Alive at South Grove

Interests Come Alive at South Grove

Kindergartners and first-graders at South Grove School in Syosset recently enjoyed 17 different hands-on workshops through the Interests Alive! enrichment cluster program. Through the program, interest-based clusters are formed and students can participate in hands-on workshops directly related to their specific interests while developing key academic and social skills.

Prior to conducting Interests Alive! workshops, children were asked to select seven clusters that interested them the most and were placed in one of their top choices. A member of the kindergarten and/or first-grade instructional team led each cluster.  Nearly every space of the building was buzzing as students participated in differentiated learning experiences.  Students had the option to participate in a dance company or showcase their talents through “South Grove Idol.” Some exhibited their craftiness through crochet or shell art, or by building wooden frames, dream catchers, mandalas or Lego structures. Painting and photography were other artistic outlets available through the workshops. Some students honed their entrepreneurial skills while focusing on nutrition by joining the “Healthy Snack Corporation.” There was also a yoga workshop and a nursing team for the school’s aspiring nurses and doctors. 

“While this type of programming emanates from the field of gifted education, we are proud to offer it to all of our students as part of our schoolwide enrichment program,” said South Grove enrichment teacher Michele Webb. “Now approaching its 20th year, Interests Alive! reflects Syosset School District’s dedication to ensuring high learning standards and meaningful opportunities for all ages.”

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.” 

Eleni Fregakis Wins LIASEA Jodi Shapiro Scholarship


Syosset High School student Eleni Fregakis has been named a 2018 winner of the Jodi Shapiro Memorial Award. Eleni was honored at the LIASEA annual luncheon and received a $500 scholarship. Eleni was nominated by Director of PPS Mary-Lou Sapienza. According to Sapienza, “Eleni has a character like no other. She strives to make the world a better place. She is naturally caring and compassionate and has the courage and energy to take action whenever she sees a need”. In addition to being a dedicated student, Eleni is an active member of the community, volunteering her time at the Mary Brennan Inn and Ronald McDonald House. Eleni plans to work in the field of retail fashion after graduation through the OPWDD Employee Training Program.

The Jodi Shapiro scholarship awards are designed to encourage and support outstanding students who exhibit extraordinary abilities in sports, arts, community service and extracurricular activities beyond the classroom. The Awards Committee of the Long Island Association of Special Education Administrators has established this award to recognize students who have been in a special education program for 60% or more of the school day, successfully met goals on his/her IEP and will meet the requirements for completion.



Sabrina Guo Named 2018 National Scholastic Arts & Writing Gold Medalist

Sabrina Guo photo

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers awarded South Woods Middle School student Sabrina Guo a gold medal for her poetry collection “Through my Window”, placing her in the top 1% of the nearly 350,000 works of art submitted. After receiving a Gold Key in the regional competition, her work was judged at the national level by a panel of creative industry experts and recognized to be among the most outstanding works in the nation. Sabrina will be honored the National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall in June.

Sabrina’s work has also been honored by the NYS PTA through the “Within Reach” Reflections contest. Sabrina’s entry titled “Joyous Ensemble” earned her an Award of Merit and will be included is an exhibit this fall at the NYS PTA convention. Sabrina is a published author, blogger and book reviewer, with her work published in both Stone Soup Magazine and Bazoof! Magazine. In addition to her gift for writing, Sabrina is a talented musician and represented South Woods Middle School as the overall 2nd chair in Violin 1 in the Long Island String Festival Association.


Syosset Places in the 6th Annual Nassau County Comptroller’s Entrepreneurial Challenge


Fourteen Syosset business students competed in the 6th Annual Comptroller’s Entrepreneurial Challenge held at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola.  The Challenge consisted of student-led teams from public schools across Nassau County creating a fictional organization’s comprehensive business plan and elevator pitch. More than a dozen schools and 26 teams took part in the event, with an overarching theme of Civic Innovation in two categories: Technology and Social Entrepreneurship. The program was geared to inspire students to not only create a successful business plan, but also give back and make a positive impact in their communities.

The Syosset team, named Solarity, took home an Honorable Mention award for their fictional business using recycled car batteries to create solar panels. In addition, Matt Appelbaum and Koroush Moghaddassi were chosen for an internship opportunity in Comptroller Jack Schnirman’s office.

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.


Assistant Principal named NBSLS Administrator of the Year

Assistant Principal named NBSLS Administrator of the Year photo
Congratulations to Syosset High School Assistant Principal David Steinberg, who has been named the Nassau BOCES School Library System Administrator of the Year. NBSLS established the award to honor educational administrators in Nassau County who have made a significant contribution to school librarianship.

The award specifically honors administrators who foster growth of school library media specialists; exhibit great educational leadership, professionalism, and a strong understanding of current practices and future trends, while working toward implementing these practices; and seek funding to improve library programs.

“In less than one year in his role as our high school library department coordinator, David Steinberg has transformed our program,” said Syosset High School Library Media Specialist Sarah Wasser, who nominated Steinberg for the award on behalf of the school. “He understands that the school library and librarians play an integral role in advancing education to meet the ever-changing world in which we live.” 

Steinberg is being recognized for his support of the Syosset High School library staff and his leadership in ensuring the library remains a key resource for research and learning in all areas of the curriculum. This includes overseeing the integration of new technology and empowering library staff with sufficient training and tools to best guide students through their learning, while also assisting students in navigating the library and the rich amount of information available to them. Additionally, Steinberg and the library staff have been influential in promoting the library as an environment where student collaboration – as well as teacher collaboration – comes naturally. 

A committee comprised of NBSLS Program Supervisor Donna Rosenblum, Director of the School Library Media Program at LIU Post Dr. Bea Baaden and several library media specialists in Nassau County selected Steinberg for the award. He was recently honored at the May 16 NBSLS meeting, where a brief reception was held. 

“I am grateful to have been recognized by our dynamic and innovative team of library media specialists with the NBSLS Administrator of the Year Award,” Steinberg said. “Over the course of the year, they have embraced the challenge of reimagining their roles and the library’s physical space. Their work has culminated in enhanced supports for all learners – students, teachers and administrators – and in a mindset that will ensure a continuous improvement cycle. This award represents our collective work as a team and I look forward to our future work.”

Steinberg is pictured here with library staff members: from left, Ann Anderson, Lynn Ortlieb, Dave Steinberg, Sarah Wasser and Bonnie Davies.

South Woods Middle School student Sabrina Guo named 2018 National Scholastic Arts & Writing Gold Medalist

South Woods Middle School student Sabrina Guo named 2018 National Scholastic Arts & Writing Gold Medalist photo
The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers awarded South Woods Middle School student Sabrina Guo a gold medal for her poetry collection “Through my Window,” placing her in the top 1 percent of the nearly 350,000 works of art submitted. After receiving a Gold Key in the regional competition, her work was judged at the national level by a panel of creative industry experts and recognized to be among the most outstanding works in the nation. Sabrina will be honored the National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall in June.

Sabrina’s work has also been honored by the NYS PTA through the “Within Reach” Reflections contest. Sabrina’s entry titled “Joyous Ensemble” earned her an Award of Merit and will be included is an exhibit this fall at the NYS PTA convention. Sabrina is a published author, blogger and book reviewer, with her work published in both “Stone Soup” and “Bazoof!” magazines. In addition to her gift for writing, Sabrina is a talented musician and represented South Woods Middle School as the overall 2nd chair in Violin 1 in the Long Island String Festival Association. 

Sabrina is pictured being congratulated by South Woods Middle School Principal Michelle Burget (right) and Assistant Principal Theresa Berke

South Woods Students Receive Science Congress Awards

South Woods Students Receive Science Congress Awards photo
Several South Woods Middle School students were honored at the Long Island Science Congress awards ceremony held on May 22 at St. Anthony’s High School in Huntington Station. Congratulations to South Woods students Sachi Sethi and Michele Shleimovich, who received Honors trophies. 

Additional congratulations to students Zohaib Alam, Noa Gluck, Lawrence Liu, Asmita Mittal, Anika Shah and Lawrence Zeltzer, who were recipients of Honorable Mention ribbons as well as Lea Gabbay, Griffin Gurewicz, Ethan Hatz, Eesha Kaushik, Amanda Obedian and Lyba Siddiqui, who received Merit ribbons.   

Michele and Sachi are pictured (left to right) displaying their award and project entitled “The Earworm Effect.”

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. 

Board of Education Gets First Hand Look at the Impressive Work of Syosset Students


Board of Education members got to experience the breadth of programs and exciting work being done by Syosset students first hand as they toured the schools on May 9th. The District’s focus on educating the whole child with a well-rounded foundation was apparent, as well as the commitment to expand coding and technology related opportunities.

The secondary schools showcased the diversity of programs offered and the global perception of the students. The day started off with a sampling of “South Woods as One”, an interactive, living museum created by the middle school students to address human rights, acceptance and cultural awareness. Later at H.B. Thompson, Board members got to listen in on eighth grade students engaged in a Socratic Seminar on Appeasement during World War II. And at Syosset High School, Board members were treated to a performance by the Lincoln Center Chamber of Music Competition winners, after which they heard from the DECA students about their very successful appearance at the State Career Conference.

Coding and cross-cutting concepts were a focus in the elementary schools. Berry Hill fifth grade students showed off their Hatch skills to create 3D replicas of structures from ancient civilizations; kindergarten students from Walt Whitman educated the group on how to program Beebots; first and fifth graders at Robbins Lane presented Google websites they collaborated to build; and fifth grade students at Village showed off their work with their Chromebooks and in robotics. Emerging scientists at South Grove demonstrated how technology infuses with the Next Generation Science standards, as the kindergarten students used technology to help research the five senses of the human body. The benefits of reading aloud and shared reading and writing were on display as second grade students at Baylis engaged in a lively conversation circle in the newly remodeled Library Media Center. Board members had a look at an innovative classroom design at A.P. Willits, where fourth grade students where engaged in the engineering process while they explored earth systems, including the impact of earthquakes and volcanos.

Throughout the day, the Board members were continually impressed by the amazing Syosset students, who were so happy to engage with them and proud to show off their hard work. We would like to thank the Board members for taking time out of their busy schedules to visit all our buildings, and the principals and staff for an exciting, expository day.

Syosset Forensics Named Champion of NYS Tournament


Syosset Forensics competed at the New York State Grand Championship Tournament at Hofstra University. Across all events, Syosset had over 30 competitors break past preliminary rounds. Contestants who placed in the Top 6 of their events included: Ronit Dhulia, Diya Chadha, Malini Rudra, Asher Gladstone, Rebecca Weisberger, Jack Liu, Sohail Mohammed, Sahil Rustami, Nishant Bhaumik, and Ryan Moon. In addition, Saba Merzhad and Iree Mann won the state titles in their respective events of Novice Lincoln Douglas Debate and Dramatic Interpretation. As a team, Syosset won numerous sweepstakes awards, placing 2nd overall in Public Forum debate, 1st in Student Congress, 3rd in Speech, and 2nd in Lincoln Douglas debate. When all was said and done, Syosset was named champion of the tournament. Congratulations to the entire team!


Artist Honored for ‘Magnificent’ Work

Artist Honored for ‘Magnificent’ Work photo
Artist Honored for ‘Magnificent’ Work photo 2
Congratulations to South Grove Elementary School fifth-grade student Kate Lin for winning first place in the American Society for Microbiology’s Annual Agar Art Kids Contest. The contest is open to kids 12 and younger who participated in public Agar Art workshops hosted by one of ASM’s 10 community lab partners. Kate designed her winning entry, “The Magnificent Butterfly,” at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center.

ASM submissions of artwork are created using living, growing microbes ‘painted’ on agar, a gelatin-like substance that serves as food for the microorganisms. The is not the first time Kate has been recognized for her talent as an artist. As a second grader, she won an illustration contest and had her work featured in a book that was part of the popular Katie Woo book series. 

Kate is pictured alongside a framed picture of her Katie Woo illustration. “The Magnificent Butterfly” is pictured in the alternate photo.

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. 

Syosset Park Development Updates

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A Night to Honor Commitment and Dedication to Syosset Central School District

A Night to Honor Commitment and Dedication to Syosset Central School District photo

The Syosset CSD recently honored its silver anniversary staff members and retirees for the 2017-18 school year during the annual District Reception held in the Syosset High School auxiliary gymnasium.

Board of Education members and close colleagues shared memories and stories of each honoree, highlighting the individual’s years of outstanding service and dedication to the children of Syosset. Each honoree was also presented with a special certificate of appreciation.

Master of Ceremonies, Syosset High School Principal Dr. John Durante, remarked that in Syosset, “we are a part of something that is so much larger than all of us. We take pride in knowing we are making a great place even better. All of the award recipients have made Syosset a better place.”

Superintendent Dr. Thomas Rogers commented that the Syosset District is “an organization that feels like a family,” as he noted former employees that had come back to honor their former colleagues. He stated that the retirees “set the bar incredibly high, creating a standard that has made Syosset an extraordinary school district.” Dr. Rogers congratulated H.B. Thompson principal James Kassebaum on his retirement, calling him “a leader of leaders” and stating the District will be losing a role model. 

Attendees at the event were treated to a performance by the Syosset High School Chamber Orchestra, as well as a solo performance on piano by Syosset High School student Siyu Yang, who earned a standing ovation from the impressed audience.  

Ann Anderson – Syosset High School
Doris Caifa – Robbins Lane Elementary School
Kevin Cooley - Facilities
Diane Crosby - Syosset High School 
Nellie Egrie – SHS Continuing Education
Walter Enfield – Village Elementary School
Joyce Ettinger – Robbins Lane Elementary School
Daniel Goldbeck - Syosset High School
Sally Hawkins – A.P. Willits Elementary School
Sandra Hoffman – Berry Hill Elementary School
Tania Johnson – H.B. Thompson Middle School
James Kassebaum – H.B. Thompson Middle School
Margaret Liss – A.P. Willits Elementary School
Jacqueline Lucci – H.B. Thompson Middle School 
Jessica Mack – District Occupational Therapist
Timothy Mendolia - Syosset High School

Katherine Balnis – South Grove Elementary School
Marnie Cole-Swirsky – Village Elementary School
Christine DeStefanis – South Grove Elementary School
Michael Dolley – Syosset High School
Susan Dolley – H.B. Thompson Middle School
Sandra Hoffman – Berry Hill Elementary School 
Bonnie Honya – Syosset High School
Maureen O’Connor – Berry Hill Elementary
Wendy Tepper – Village Elementary School
Alison Zorn – A.P. Willits Elementary School 

Congratulations to all and thank you for your years of service and dedication to the Syosset Central School District!


Facilities Planning Information

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Sunday, July 22, 2018