Speak out! Eliminate the GEA Week starts October 20

posted Oct 17, 2014, 6:52 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Oct 17, 2014, 6:53 AM ]

[October 17, 2014] FACT: The Ramapo Central School District has lost roughly $12.5 MILLION in state aid since the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) went into effect in 2010-11.

During the week of October 20, the Ramapo Central Board of Education is encouraging community members to make just three phone calls to ask state legislators to eliminate the GEA and adequately fund public education.

Get involved: For more info on the Board’s Eliminate the GEA Week effort and to sign up to make calls, click here

Get informed: For a summary of how the GEA has impacted Ramapo Central, click here.

Get the big picture: To view a video on the impact of GEA on public education statewide, click here.

Keep up with the Board’s advocacy effort throughout the year. Updated information and links are posted on the Advocacy page.

POW/MIA Honor Chair ceremony on October 17 at SMS stadium

posted Oct 17, 2014, 6:30 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Oct 17, 2014, 6:30 AM ]

[October 17, 2014] The Suffern High School Military Appreciation Club will unveil a POW/MIA honor chair at the Suffern Middle School stadium during a brief ceremony on tonight at 6:50pm, immediately preceding the Varsity football game.

According to members of the Military Appreciation Club, "The ‘chair of honor’ program is intended to create daily reminders of the POW/MIA issue in cities and towns across the nation.  A POW/MIA chair in any location is to remain perpetually empty to help people remember that even though our soldiers may not be here, there is still a space for them."

The honor chair program is sponsored by Rolling Thunder®, Inc., a national organization. Suffern High School’s Military Appreciation club has worked closely with Rolling Thunder Chapter 3 NY to facilitate the installation at Suffern Middle School.

The honor chair will be permanently attached to the stadium, surrounded by chain and stanchions. There is a corresponding plaque explaining the purpose of the honor chair and acknowledging project contributors, which include the Suffern High School football, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys soccer and track & field teams.

Ramapo Central students, staff and community are invited to attend this public ceremony.

Be Smart and Be Seen! It’s National School Bus Safety Week

posted Oct 16, 2014, 11:31 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Oct 16, 2014, 11:32 AM ]

[October 16, 2014] In recognition of National School Bus Safety Week (October 20-24), Ramapo Central Transportation Supervisor Rena Gesner asks families to share the following “bus tips of the day” with their children.

Monday: Be aware, cross with care
Cross in front of the bus after the driver has indicated it is safe to do so.

Tuesday: Keep aisles clear
Sit facing forward, feet on the floor and items placed on their laps.

Wednesday: Respect the “Danger Zone” surrounding the bus
Stand at least 10 feet away from all sides of the bus to ensure that the driver can see you.

Thursday: My stop is a safe stop
Wait quietly and away from the road. Do not run and play at your bus stop.

Friday: Go directly to your seat
Remind children that, to be safe, they should go directly to their seats and remain seated throughout the ride.

Community members also play an important role in ensuring student safety. Motorists must come to a full stop when approaching a stopped school bus with its flashing red lights on—it’s the law!
Thank you for your support in keeping Ramapo Central students safe.

Athletic achievements, expenditures presented at Oct. 7 BOE meeting

posted Oct 9, 2014, 9:13 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Oct 9, 2014, 9:13 AM ]

[October 9, 2014] Suffern High School’s 2013-14 Girls Lacrosse and Girls Track & Field teams, whose seasons ended late last school year, were recognized at the October 7 Board of Education meeting. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas Adams commended all the athletes—who included both national and state champs—for their outstanding performance.

Athletics was also the subject of a report presented by Director of Athletics, Physical Education, Health & Wellness Andrew Guccione and Assistant Superintendent for Business Kelly Seibert presented a report on 2013-14 athletics expenditures.


  • 1,798 athletes participated on 80 teams in 22 District-sponsored sports
  • Of those who participated in athletics, 55% were boys and 45% were female
  • Two modified (middle school) girls teams—basketball and soccer—were added to meet demand
  • Athletics expenditures totaled $1,327,684, reflecting a three-year $107,073 reduction
  • The Mounties won a slew of championships:

  State Champs: Girls Track & Field

  Section Champs: Boys Volleyball, Girls Cross-Country, 

  Girls Lacrosse

  League/County Champs: Girls Cross Country, Girls Swimming, Girls Tennis, Boys Volleyball, Girls Volleyball, 

  Ice Hockey, Girls Indoor Track, Skiing, Boys Swimming, Crew, Girls Golf, Girls Lacrosse, Softball, Boys Tennis, 

  Girls Track & Field

Photo caption: Director of Athletics, Physical Education, Health & Wellness Andrew Guccione presented members of the Girls Lacrosse and Girls Spring Track & Field teams with certificates of achievement at the October 7 Board of Education meeting. Athletes were personally congratulated by Superintendent Dr. Douglas Adams and Board President Theresa DiFalco.

Cherry Lane teachers create new ELA unit

posted Oct 6, 2014, 10:55 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Oct 6, 2014, 10:56 AM ]

[October 6, 2014] When Cherry Lane Elementary School teachers reviewed the fourth-grade curriculum last spring, they discovered that students were reading a great deal of nonfiction, but fewer literary texts. So, the teachers—Instructional Facilitator Suzanne Pariot, Literacy Specialist Maria May and fourth-grade teachers Kathryn Chertok, Anne Mullen and Andrew Gibson—decided to collaborate on writing a new ELA unit over the summer for rollout in September.

“In order to move closer to the balance called for by the Common Core Standards, we decided to get together over the summer to analyze student data and design an instructional unit that addressed our students’ needs and centered on literary texts,” explained Pariot. “We opted to focus on the general elements of fiction so that students would be able to apply what they learned in this unit to deepen their understanding of any literary text.”

During a recent lesson in Chertok’s class, fourth-graders made inferences based on setting in Kate DiCamillo’s The Tiger Rising.

Isaac recalled a sentence that had struck him. “I was thinking about the page where it said it was dark in the room because it only had one light,” he said.

His tablemates agreed, and Alyssa read a related passage: “‘When his mother was alive, his life seemed full of light.’”

Animated discussion ensued throughout the class period, as students searched their books for evidence to support their thinking.

Teachers say that the new unit is deepening students’ appreciation of literary texts.

“It has been wonderful to watch the excitement students feel when they uncover metaphors, realize the way a character is changing and recognize the way an author intentionally chose details to elicit emotion and create mood,” Pariot reported. “Because this work has been done through carefully crafted questions, students discover these things for themselves instead of being told by the teacher. They are beginning to recognize how interesting reading fiction can be when they slow down to think about the deeper meaning of a text.”

Photo caption: Students searched for evidence to support their thinking during Cherry Lane’s new fourth-grade ELA unit on the elements of fiction.

National Merit and National Achievement honors for 12 SHS seniors

posted Oct 3, 2014, 12:07 PM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Oct 10, 2014, 7:40 AM by Ramapo Central ]

[October 3, 2014] Suffern High School seniors Hannah Consiglio, Samir Dutta and Joshua Gorelick were named 2015 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists for placing among the top scorers nationwide on the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. In addition, nine seniors received Letters of Commendation in recognition of their high scores and outstanding academic promise: Alyssa Burke, Casey Chu, Alex E. Fernandez, Joseph Girard, Dunahay Pereyra, Ryan Sedwick, Imani Solan, Jeremy Solomon and Kate Zendell.

Commended student Imani Solan is also a National Achievement Scholarship Program Semifinalist and scored in the top 1% of NASP participants. The program runs concurrently with the National Merit Scholarship Program and recognizes academically talented Black American high school students.

All Semifinalists advancing to Finalist status will be notified by February.

Caption: Congratulations to Suffern High School’s National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists, National Achievement Scholarship Semifinalist and National Merit Scholarship Commended students!

Not pictured: Casey Chu, Alex Fernandez and Jeremy Solomon.

For Viola third-graders, Sotomayor reigns supreme

posted Sep 29, 2014, 7:35 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Sep 29, 2014, 7:35 AM ]

[September 29, 2014] "She sent us something!" "I have something from Sonia Sotomayor!" “This is so awesome!”

On September 18, a dozen Viola Elementary School third-graders struggled to contain their excitement over the bright orange envelopes they had been instructed not to open by Instructional Facilitator Lynda Hammond. 

Their elation resulted from of a three-part, citizenship module collaboratively written by the District's instructional facilitators last year to help second-graders transition to the expectations of the Expeditionary Learning curricula introduced in grade three.

"The elementaries had always taught citizenship in grade two, but each school had developed its own program," explained Hammond. "So, we decided to take the best elements from each unit and use the New York State ELA mapping to develop a district-wide citizenship module aligned to the Common Core."

Close reading, graphic organizers, looking for evidence and learning to write strong topic sentences were a big part of the modules. At Viola, differentiated groups of students investigated different aspects of leadership and learned about past and current leaders. Those in Hammond's group were so inspired by US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor that a few students decided to write her letters and include questions from the class.

Within a few weeks, those students received replies--and answers to their questions.

"That really motivated the rest of the class to reach out," said Hammond. "So we came up with an idea: We would create a book containing student essays on the qualities that make Justice Sotomayor a leader--and send it to her."

The book made an impact. Over the summer a special package arrived at Viola Elementary School...but none of the children knew about it until now.

When Hammond gave the signal, students tore open the envelope to find personal messages and signed photographs from Sotomayor. Screams and fist pumps filled the air.

"This is a great example of what makes learning relevant and meaningful for students," noted Principal Christine Druss. "It's the answer to 'why do I need to learn this?' Learning to write enables you to share your ideas with leaders and they will hear you and respond."  

Photo caption:  Viola students proudly display their letters and personalized photos from US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Cherry Lane celebrates National Blue Ribbon School Day

posted Sep 29, 2014, 5:59 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Sep 29, 2014, 6:00 AM ]

[September 29, 2014] Hundreds of Ramapo Central community members turned out to celebrate Cherry Lane National Blue Ribbon School Day on September 20. The PTA-sponsored extravaganza kicked off with a 1.2-mile parade featuring the Suffern High School Marching Band, Suffern High School Flag Twirlers, Town of Ramapo Police Department, Tallman Fire Department, Cherry Lane alumni, Board members, administrators, teachers, staff, students, families and scout troops.

The daylong event marked Cherry Lane Elementary School’s designation as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education last year. This prestigious recognition is reserved for schools that set a standard of excellence in striving for the highest level of achievement.

“Cherry Lane being named a National Blue Ribbon School is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Principal Eric Baird. “This doesn't happen by accident. It is a result of years of hard work, and hard work on the part of students, staff, parents and the school community.”

“It's a great honor to host this celebration,” noted PTA co-president Christine Gigante. “I'm proud to be part of this community and this school district. This is a wonderful place to live.” 

During the event ceremony, Cherry Lane’s second principal, Bob Drennen, expressed his pride and reminisced about moving to the current school site in September 1964. Former principal Dr. David Leach welcomed the “Cherry Lane scholars” and “all-star teachers,” noting that there is no better reason to host a parade than to celebrate academic achievement.

Airmont Mayor Veronica Boesch, New York State Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, New York State Senator David Carlucci and U.S. Congresswoman Nita Lowey extended their congratulations and presented the school with proclamations.

Fifth-grade students spoke about caring, citizenship, respect, fairness, trustworthiness and responsibility, the school’s pillars of character education. Administrators point to an emphasis on educating the whole child as a key component of Cherry Lane’s success. 

At the end of the ceremony, the National Blue Ribbon School flag was raised as the crowd cheered. The festivities continued with barbecue, music and a “cool and classic” car show. 

Principal Baird would like to express special thanks to PTA leadership and the planning committee members for their extraordinary efforts: Liz Brodsky, Katriona Burrow, Samara Cantor, Christina Clark, Patty DelDuca, Lisa Fox, Melissa Gelardi, Christine Gigante, Isabel Glim, David Grammerstorf, Wendy Hock, Cira Hook, Kristen Langenmayr, Anne Marie Lucia, Pam Maida, Jen Marchesani, Michele Nash, Maria Paternoster, Roni Silver, Jen Spero and Laura Valvo.

Click here to view Cherry Lane National Blue Ribbon School Day photos.

Brick by brick, Montebello builds positive behaviors

posted Sep 22, 2014, 10:15 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Sep 22, 2014, 10:16 AM ]

[September 22, 2014] At the start of the school year, students in Montebello Elementary School’s Connections class were excited to discover an empty building plate and a bucket full of LEGO in their classroom. Special education teacher Jennifer Cancro explained that the class would use positive behaviors to create a collaborative, classroom build.

Through cooperation, kindness and effective self-regulation, children earn bricks to place on the group structure. By the end of the second week of school, the class had already completed a gravity-defying, 100-piece creation.

Cancro, a LEGO fan herself, credits summer inspiration for the idea. “I knew that the kids love LEGO and I wanted to tap into something of high interest,” she explained. 

Each completed structure is photographed before being broken down for a rebuild. New bricks are added to the bucket for successively larger build. “This approach provides a strong visual connection: the more positive behavior, the bigger their build becomes,” Cancro added.

Photo caption: Using LEGO to build positive behavior is one way special education teacher Jennifer Cancro is innovating in her Connections classroom at Montebello Elementary School.

Bota named a STEM Teaching Fellow

posted Sep 18, 2014, 9:03 AM by Ramapo Central

[September 18, 2014] Suffern High School science teacher Natascha Bota is one of ten outstanding local high school science teachers selected to participate in the Hudson Valley STEM Teaching Fellowship program, a collaboration of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, NASA and Teachers College through US Satellite Laboratory. 

This competitive award provides a yearlong, professional development experience which consists of weekly coursework, workshops led by award-wining science teachers at the nonprofit STEM Leadership Center in Rye and a two-week summer lab research experience at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown. At the end of the program, Fellows will receive a leadership certificate in STEM Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

The Fellowship aims to develop master science teachers who will inspire and prepare students for college and STEM careers.

“We are working to develop lesson plans aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards,” Bota explained. “It’s about pulling in more data into instruction and having students grapple with analytics. I just finished a lesson oyster reef regeneration that draws on real-time data from NOAA, Google Earth and other resources. We’re shifting from saying ‘this happens because’ to giving kids the opportunity to make those discoveries themselves.”

Ultimately, the goal is to boost scientific literacy and fuel innovation.

“Regeneron is all about using cutting-edge science to understand biology and develop new drugs," said Regeneron Chief Scientific Officer and Regeneron Laboratories President George D. Yancopoulos, MD, PhD. "We believe it is important to raise the level of science education in our communities to graduate students who are scientifically literate, as from this soil will spring the scientists of tomorrow.”

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