[March 7, 2014] Parents, administrators and community members served as enthusiastic guest readers from Airmont to Sloatsburg as several Ramapo Central elementary schools held Rockland Read-In activities on February 28. The original Read-In was postponed due to snow.
Sloatsburg parent James Crowley has two daughters in elementary school.
“I try to do this every year,” he said, while waiting outside teacher Francine DiGiacomo’s third-grade classroom with “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover” in hand. “I enjoy reading to them—it’s a lot of fun.”
At Montebello, children were clustered around open books during a “buddy read” organized by teachers Sharon Digga and Marion Groff for their kindergarten and second-grade students.
“We have guest readers throughout the school today—it’s a great way to show students that adults love to read just as much as they do,” reported RP Connor reading specialist Cindy McKeon. “The Read-In is a BIG deal at Connor.”
Over at Cherry Lane, reading specialist Sally Rubin-Richards teamed up with her daughter, Jillian, a reading teacher at Tappan Zee High School, for a remote read-aloud. Cherry Lane’s Sunrise Scholars—as well as other students—viewed a video of the high schoolers reading their favorite picture books and posted messages on their blog. “David Goes to School,” in particular, earned raves from the Scholars.
“I like ‘David’ books,” typed Daviid.
“This was my favorite book,” Daniella agreed.
Darian offered a compliment.
“Your fluency was great,” he wrote.
Photo caption1: Second-graders were active listeners for guest reader Stacie DiPietro in teacher Ann Biondi’s class at RP Connor.
Photo caption2: Sloatsburg parent (and Suffern High School guidance counselor) Ann Marie Casarella read to third-graders in teacher Francine DiGiacomo’s class.
Photo caption3: Kindergarteners and second-graders shared favorite stories during a “buddy read” at Montebello.
Photo caption 4: Parent/guest reader Ryan Kaplan was a hit with Montebello first- graders in teacher Jeanne Ferraro’s class.
[March 6, 2014] On February 26, author David Adler shared a secret with Viola Elementary School students.
“One of the many reasons I love to write is because I write about people I know,” he intimated. “That’s a writer’s trick. Since you know the character, you can write a better story.”
Adler spied several potential new characters during his visit to Viola, including Bridget, a fifth-grader in a bright pink sweatshirt.
“Bridget has given me the best present a person could give: inspiration!” Adler noted as he mused about creating a character with the giggles for a future “Cam Jansen” mystery.
The author’s much-anticipated visit was sponsored by the Viola PTA and sparked school-wide ELA reading and writing projects.
“Each summer, we research authors to bring in for educational enrichment,” explained PTA parent Catherine Scholl. “This year, we were very cognizant of the nonfiction piece because of Common Core. David Adler was a perfect fit. He has K-5 appeal and has written a lot in the genre of historical fiction.”
Under the guidance of Instructional Facilitator Lynda Hammond, members of the Writer’s Group (grade three through five) spent the past two months studying Adler’s work to craft their own “Cam Jansen” mysteries for his consideration. These students had the opportunity to meet with the author and ask for tips to inform their own writing.
“How do you get yourself to write?” asked Sydney, a third-grader. “I have to push and push myself, and then I get bored. I’m writing a story now about slavery, but I can’t go any further.”
“Do more research,” Adler offered. “And keep writing. The more you write, the easier it gets.”
Principal Christine Druss said that Viola had gone “all out” for this author’s visit, which included assemblies and small group lunches with Adler for those randomly selected from a school-wide drawing.
“I was really impressed by how he engaged students at every grade level,” said Druss. “He remembered names and made thoughtful, encouraging comments about what they’d written. He’s even inspired me…maybe I’ll write about our adventures here at Viola!”
David Adler offers some words of advice for budding authors:
- Connect your writing to life experiences, passions and dreams
- Create a character that your reader can relate to
- Write a story that makes sense
- Always revise and edit in a second draft
- Just write! Go for it! Just write!
- Use historical events as the main concept of a piece of your writing
- Research primary sources for emotional thoughts related to the event you are writing about
Photo caption1& 2: Author David Adler shared tips with members of Viola’s Writers Group as part of his February 26 visit.
Photo caption 3: Bridget, a fifth-grader, inspired Adler to imagine a future fictional character.
[March 5, 2014] Suffern High School’s Academic League team completed its season with a second place finish in the Rockland County Academic League Invitational on February 27.
The annual tournament, hosted at Suffern High School, is the culmination of a nine-week series of school-to-school academic competitions. Teams representing Rockland’s public high schools competed in three, 20-minute rounds of competition. Four members from each team competed to correctly answer questions spanning current events, world history, science, pop culture, foreign language, math—and more. Think: “From what town did the Pied Piper chase mice?” or “What is the best and most common type of peat moss?”
The Rockland County Academic League was started over 30 years ago as an extracurricular activity for academically talented students by Dave Silver, a retired Suffern High School teacher.
“With Academic League, you get to show off without being a know-it-all,” said Jake, a junior.
Brooke, a sophomore, agreed.
“I decided to join because it gave me an opportunity to be academically competitive,” she said. “Also, it’s fun to learn what you don’t know.”
“This has been one of Suffern’s most successful teams since I’ve taken over for Dave Silver,” said science teacher Colleen Stritmater, who has served as team advisor for the past six years. “I’m very proud of how hard they’ve worked.”
Photo caption1: Suffern High School defeated Pearl River in Round 3 of the February 27 Invitational.
Photo caption 2: Suffern High School’s Academic League team finished third in the County for the season and placed second at the Invitational.
[March 5, 2014] Superintendent Dr. Douglas Adams and Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Lisa Weber joined teachers, guidance counselors and administrators in recognizing Suffern High School students who have demonstrated perseverance and grit during the second trimester of the academic year at the Mountie PRIDE Award Luncheon on February 28.
The Mountie PRIDE Award is a valued Suffern High School tradition. Teachers nominate students who have worked hard to overcome challenges and those who consistently go above and beyond to help others.
Awardees’ stories are compelling. One student was lauded as “a model of consistency, intuitiveness and intelligence.” Another earned an A- after deciding to “stick it out” in a difficult class he had considered dropping. Yet another was recognized for taking on the challenge of learning Spanish—her third foreign language.
“All of you are exceptional in your own way,” said Director of Guidance Sarah Kern. “You are the reasons we became educators.”
Congratulations Mountie PRIDE Award winners: Tom Bonkoski, Amanda Bruton, Summer Bussey, Martha Correa, Cathy Courtadon, Jessica Dobkin, Cassandra Duitz, Naomi Emanuel, Stephanie Frias, Vincent Gisonno, David Hernandez, Kaitlyn Hill, Austen Jennings, Kimberly Lu, Autumn Mann, Will Margolin, Joseph Mascia, Joe Montouro, Tyler Newman, Daniela Pereira, Emily Reimer, Ivan Sierra, Olivia Schember. Natalie Shedler, Irene Thomas, Briana Van Dorpe and Steve Woo.
Photo captions: Teachers and guidance counselors introduced their Mountie PRIDE Awardees and presented each with a certificate of recognition at the February 28 luncheon.
[February 28, 2014] The Suffern High School gymnasium was packed during unit lunch on February 26 as students mulled over their many course options for the 2014-15 school year at the second annual Elective Fair. Teachers and students staffed attention-grabbing booths to promote courses ranging from AP Psychology to the New Visions Health Careers Exploration Program.
Among the offerings is a new course, Computer Science & Software Design, to be taught by technology teacher Robert Quinn.
The full-year, honors-level class is an addition to the existing suite of engineering courses offered through Suffern High School’s four-year Project Lead The Way program.
At another booth, a student demonstrated fingerprint analysis techniques while science teacher Christie Barricella described the culminating project.
“Students apply what they’ve learned by creating a crime scene diorama along with a detailed evidence log outlining analysis techniques, suspects and findings,” she said.
The Elective Fair was created an organized by the Suffern High School Guidance Department to enhance student awareness of the many course options available to them.
“Students have the opportunity to meet teachers and other students who are currently taking a particular class, and don’t have to rely solely on the recommendations of their guidance counselor,” reported Director of Guidance Sarah Kern. “The Elective Fair and classroom presentations are all part of a school-wide blitz to generate excitement about scheduling.”
Captions: Students got the inside scoop on courses of interest at Suffern High School’s second annual Elective Fair on February 26.
[February 28, 2014] Proud parents, siblings and staff filled Sloatsburg Elementary School’s cafeteria in February to celebrate students in kindergarten through grade five who had earned Student of the Month honors during the first half of the academic year.
The semi-annual breakfasts are one of several ways the school supports and promotes good character. Each month, photos of Students of the Month are posted on the Character Education bulletin board outside of the school library. Honored students also receive certificates, pencils and have their names announced during morning announcements.
Between bites of his bagel, Beau—a Student of the Month for his third-grade class—reflected on why he had been recognized.
“I think because I do all my work,” he said.
His dad added, “Yes, for taking responsibility.”
During the February 26 breakfast for Students of the Month in grades three through five, Principal Eric Baird noted that families play an important role in their children’s character development.
“We really want to thank you for everything you do at home to support this great behavior in school.”
Caption: Fourth-grader Kori, pictured with her dad, was the January Student of the Month for teacher Jennifer Martini’s class. The January character trait was Trustworthiness.
[February 12, 2014] Exclamations of “ooh!,” “wow!” and “cool!” greeted members of the Suffern High School robotics team as fourth-grade students filed into the R.P. Connor Elementary gymnasium on January 30.
Principal Mary DiPersio had invited the team, which includes Connor alumnae Kristine Stewart and Sarah Pungitore, to share their work and show off their robots.
“They have an idea and think, ‘How can I make this work?’” DiPersio explained. “Then, they try out their idea. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. What do we call this?”
“Trial and error!” was the fourth-graders’ enthusiastic reply.
Suffern High School junior Megan Grosmark and senior Jonathan Ovshayev explained the basics of the FIRST Tech Challenge competition and how their team worked together to design, build, program and compete.
“If you’re interested in robotics, don’t wait until you get to the high school—talk to your parents and teachers about getting started now,” urged Ovshayev.
Then, it was time to get hands-on. The fourth-graders split into groups to pore over the team’s highly-detailed engineering notebooks and to talk with team members about their robots.
“It looks hard,” said Julie, as she peered into the body of Team #7488’s robot. “But I think if you learn, then you can do it.”
Suffern High School sophomore Joe Montuoro offered encouragement.
“You can absolutely do this,” he replied. “It just takes time and a desire to learn.”
Connor teachers were impressed by the team’s talent—and their students’ response.
“This connects with so much of what we’re doing in math and through our Engineering is Elementary curriculum,” said teacher Andrea Gess. “And the kids are making those connections…using high-level language to ask questions based on what they’ve learned—everything from electrical circuits, energy sources and angles to the engineering design process itself.”
Support the Suffern High School robotics team this Sunday, February 16! All four of Suffern High School’s robots have advanced to the Hudson Valley FTC Championship Tournament on February 16 at Pace University’s Pleasantville Campus. The event is open the public. For more information, visit the tournament website.
Photo caption: Suffern High School sophomore Joe Montuoro gave Connor fourth-graders a hands-on tour of the inner workings of Team 7488’s robot.
[February 12, 2014] Suffern High School students earned nine medals in seven categories at the 2013-14 Hudson Valley Regional Science Olympiad on February 1 at Byram Hills High School. Suffern’s A team finished ninth overall and second among Rockland teams; B team placed 20th. In all, 41 teams representing schools in Rockland, Westchester and Putnam counties competed in the event.
Science Olympiad competitions are held at the regional, state and national level to improve the quality of science education for grades 5-12, create a technologically literate workforce and recognize outstanding student achievement in science and technology. Tournaments are comprised of 23 categories; each team must select 19 categories in which to compete. Medals are awarded for the top six finishers in each category.
Science Olympiad also provides science-minded students with added academic challenge and the opportunity to pursue their passion. Suffern High School’s teams are coached by science teachers Colleen Stritmater, Bill Ballerine, Natascha Bota, Jim Marina and Michael Purdy. Competition requires a great deal of preparation and hard work; team members typically meet five days a week during lunch and after school.
“I am so proud of our Science Olympiad students,” said Stritmater. “They work hard at applying their classroom learning to real-world scenarios. In one day, a student can design a bridge to hold a maximum amount of weight, uncurl the details found at a crime scene and argue the points of creating a Green generation. Where else but Science Olympiad can that happen?”
Congratulations, Suffern High School 2013-14 Hudson Valley Regional Science Olympiad medalists:
Disease Detectives, 1st place: Samir Dutta and Eytan Rubenstein
Compound Machines, 2nd place: Alex Joo and Samir Dutta
Food Chemistry, 2nd place: Aislinn Keane and Rebecca Philip
Bungee Drop, 3rd place: Mikey Fernandez
Green Generation, 4th place: Catriona Keane and Danya Naumani
Designer Genes, 5th place: Aislinn Keane and Rebecca Philip
Food Chemistry, 5th place: Brooke Greenstein and Juliette vanSchaik
Green Generation, 5th place: Samir Dutta and Eytan Rubenstein
Elastic Launched Glider, 6th place: Hannah Consiglio and Casey Chu
Photo caption: Suffern High School’s Anna Breton and Rebecca Silver tested their MagLev vehicle during the 2013-14 Hudson Valley Regional Science Olympiad on February 1.
[February 12, 2014] In a release posted on Monday, the New York State Education Department announced that the State Board of Regents P-12 Education and Higher Education Committees have adopted measures to delay full implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards.
Read the NYSED press release here.
[February 8, 2014] Approximately 150 students took the Snow Day Challenge issued by Ramapo Central Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Lisa Weber on February 5:
For many writers and poets, the winter months can be a source of inspiration for their work. For today’s challenge, write a poem or short story about winter. You might choose to focus on your favorite winter activities, how you spend the winter months, or any other aspect of winter you choose.
District administrators came up with the Snow Day Challenge as a way to keep students reading and writing despite the weather cancellation. The response was astounding.
“It was really hard to pick the winners!” Weber reported after reviewing each and every work submitted. “We ended up selecting about 15 finalists, approximately two per grade, for grades K-5 and then two students each from both the middle and high schools.”
Weber also extended her appreciation to all participants for taking the time and effort to submit an entry. Students are encouraged to stay tuned for new challenges on future snow days.
Without further ado…click here to view the top entries.