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Cultural Exchange Program Comes Full Circle

Cultural Exchange Program Comes Full Circle photo

Amityville Memorial High School students are making friends all over Suffolk County. Through the school’s popular Cultural Exchange program, they welcomed peers from Bayport-Blue Point and East Islip high schools earlier in the year. In February, it was their turn to be the visitors.

Recently, students from Amityville’s Warrior Awareness Club, known as the WAC PAC, spent the day in East Islip. Students were welcomed with a big breakfast and took part in icebreaker activities. Each Amityville student paired up an East Islip student and followed the schedule of his or her host. East Islip staff members made T-shirts for all participants.

“I had a lot of fun spending the day my partner,” said Amityville sophomore Allany McCatty. “I enjoyed participating in her classes and I look forward to keeping in touch with her.”

Added senior Noah Odige, “It’s always interesting to see how other schools function throughout the day and I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to get a glimpse into the life of an East Islip student.”

This was the first visit by Amityville to the home of the Redmen and they loved it, according to WAC PAC adviser Jason McGowan. Amityville hosted the East Islip students back in January for the inaugural visit. 

The WAC PAC also sent 30 students to Bayport-Blue Point High School for their visit to the home of the Phantoms. Amityville students and staff were greeted by the orchestra as they walked into the cafeteria. 

Bayport-Blue Point School District administrators led icebreaker activities in a conference room and students, who initially met in Amityville in November, were reintroduced to each other over breakfast.

In a true double exchange, Amityville senior Letizia Cazzaniga, an exchange student from Milan, Italy, was a part of the program and she connected with her partner, Emily. Sophomore Abel Tejada was paired up with Mr. McGowan's son, Trey, and won a badminton tournament together in physical education class.

“I loved spending the day in their high school,” junior Bryan Canales said. “All of the students were friendly toward us." 

After gathering together for a pizza lunch, the Amityville and Bayport-Blue Point students parted ways but not before exchanging phone numbers and social media information.

“Teenagers are teenagers, and that’s the point I am trying to make with this program,” Mr. McGowan said. “Even though we are a few zip codes away, connections can be made regardless of your background. It was beautiful to see the laughter and the hugs as we left each school. The major goal of this program is for students to learn about diversity by experiencing dissimilar school populations. Rather than discussing diversity in a typical classroom lesson, participants have the opportunity to experience it first-hand.”

Amityville Artists Earn All-County Nods

Amityville Artists Earn All-County Nods photo
Amityville Artists Earn All-County Nods photo 2
Four students from Amityville had their work selected for the Suffolk County Art Leaders Association’s annual All-County exhibit. Their art was recently displayed at Old Town Hall in Babylon.

The featured student artists included Edmund W. Miles Middle School ninth-grader Ulric Farrier (block printing) and Amityville Memorial High School juniors Brianna Desire (photography) and Astrid Dixon (drawing/mixed media). Additionally, senior Maiya Bryant displayed her artwork within the senior scholarship portion of the SCALA All-County exhibition. 

Students completed their work under the direction of art teachers Jennifer Dibble, Jayne Grasso and Nicole Pappas.

Students Present Drone Study at LISEF Fair

Students Present Drone Study at LISEF Fair photo
Amityville Memorial High School students Darius Mobley Jr. and Z’Dhanne Williams recently presented their research project at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair held at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. Their topic was, “Are autonomous drones more efficient than human programmed drones in rescue missions?”

After conducting extensive research on present-day drone usage, Darius and Z’Dhanne conducted their own study comparing flight times of autonomous drones with the flight times of drones driven by human operators. With help from fellow robotics club members Raiphy Jerez and Trae’von Smith, they concluded that while the autonomous drones had a faster flight time by 15 seconds on average compared to human programmed drones, they lacked responsiveness and were more likely to have disrupted flight due to lapse time in communication with the computer server. The students set up an obstacle course in the cafeteria to conduct their study.

High School Musicians Shine at Day of Horn

High School Musicians Shine at Day of Horn photo
Three French horn players from Amityville Memorial High School represented the district at the annual Day of Horn festival, hosted by the Suffolk County Music Educators Association.

Participating students included seniors James Carey and Michael Gordon, and sophomore Tristan Angus. Hundreds of French Horn players from across Suffolk County schools participated in this festival at Northport High School, which included workshops, rehearsals and a performance by all musicians in a Massed Horn Ensemble concert.    

“Congratulations to James, Michael and Tristan for setting this additional musical goal for themselves,” said Director of Fine Arts Dr. Fran Fernandez. “Also, special thanks goes out to their families and their present and past music teachers for their guidance and support.”

High School Researchers Spread Knowledge

High School Researchers Spread Knowledge photo
High School Researchers Spread Knowledge photo 2
High School Researchers Spread Knowledge photo 3
High School Researchers Spread Knowledge photo 4
After months of intense research, 35 students in the Advanced Placement Seminar course at Amityville Memorial High School presented their findings during a symposium in the auditorium on Jan. 31.

The first half of the year in the 10th-grade course was devoted to team research projects. Teacher Allison Reichel assigned each group a broad topic, and students then had to select a focus. Among the areas that students explored were video game violence, immigration policies and the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes. 

Ms. Reichel said that every team member was charged with looking at the problem “through a different lens.” Students then worked together to analyze their collective research, propose potential solutions and create a multimedia presentation.  

Noah Laforest and his teammates looked into the negative influences of social media. He said he learned that the research process is very intense and requires hard work and commitment.

“I liked how well my team and I worked together, and it make me enjoy working with others more,” he said. “It helped me see other people’s opinions and perspectives.”

The second half of AP Seminar will be devoted to individual research projects. The course is the first half of AP Capstone, a college readiness program now in its third year at Amityville Memorial High School, with AP Research offered for juniors. In that class, students will work on individual projects by selecting a topic, identifying gaps in existing research, compiling data and making their own contributions to a particular field. 

Students who earn scores of three or higher in AP Seminar, AP Research and four additional Advanced Placement exams can earn an AP Capstone diploma. 

Track and Field Athletes Qualify for States

Track and Field Athletes Qualify for States photo
A pair of Amityville Memorial High School track and field athletes are ready to compete for state titles. Seniors Nina Babington and Alton Kimbrough Jr. will participate in the New York State championships on March 2 at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island. 

Nina will take part in the shotput and discus events. Earlier this year, she set her personal best mark in shotput with a distance of 39 feet, 9.5 inches, which ranked her sixth in the state. This is her third season on the varsity squad.

Alton will compete in shotput, also setting his career high by throwing a distance of 54 feet, 3.25 inches, good for third in New York. He has been on the varsity team since eighth grade.

Both students are three-season athletes. Nina plays soccer in the fall, and is a member of the winter and spring track and field teams. Alton plays football in the fall followed by two seasons of track and field. 

High School Celebrates Black History and Culture

High School Celebrates Black History and Culture photo

Amityville Memorial High School students expressed themselves through art, song, dance and poetry to celebrate Black History Month during an afternoon assembly on Feb. 15. The entire student body gathered for the program which included numerous captivating performances.

The auditorium stage was flanked by two large black, green, red and yellow banners with inspirational words such as beauty, love, power, strength and wisdom. The show opened with the high school chorus performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the black national anthem. 

 Host Justin Bethea asked his classmates to show their enthusiasm by shouting “ashay” after each performance. The percussion ensemble played an African beat on the drums and the dance team delighted the crowd with a Caribbean dance. 

Nate Odige showcased his Haitian pride painting, which paid tribute to both the nation’s history and the spirit of its people. Elliot Herrero sang “Big Love” by the Black Eyed Peas, Kayla Barrett danced to “Still I Rise” and Noah Odige and Tiana Spence performed 2Pac’s “Changes.”

The performances were intertwined with history lessons. A slideshow presentation on African-American success highlighted several individuals, such as Claudette Colvin, Bayard Rustin and Augusta Savage, who made great contributions to society but aren’t as prominently known. Students also learned about the origins of black newspapers. 

Student Rachelle Louis-Jean spoke about Major Nancy Leftenant-Colón, an Amityville Memorial High School graduate, who later returned as the school nurse after a distinguished career as a military nurse. The high school library was recently named in her honor. 


High School Announces Top 2019 Graduates

High School Announces Top 2019 Graduates photo
Amityville Memorial High School has announced the top graduates for the Class of 2019. Raiphy Jerez, with a grade point average of 108.61, is the valedictorian and Aleyna Kokogu is the salutatorian with an average of 105.11.

Raiphy will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study electrical engineering. He is a member of the math club and the National Honor Society, and is president of the Key Club. 

Aleyna, who is still in the process of selecting a college, plans to study biology or pre-medicine. She is a member of the math club, Key Club and National Honor Society and president of the National Art Honor Society.

Rounding out the top 10, in order of rank, are Leslie Washington, Meghan Luders, Kerianne Victor, James Carey, Courtney Evans, Carlos Ponce, Kayla Barrett and Patrick Abate.

“They are the best of an outstanding senior class,” Principal Maria Andreotti said. “They make us proud in everything that they do and I know they will continue to do so.”

Studying Abroad in Amityville

Studying Abroad in Amityville photo
A love of language brought Letizia Cazzaniga nearly 4,000 miles from Milan, Italy to Amityville Memorial High School. The senior said she is thoroughly enjoying her year as a foreign exchange student and her immersion in American culture.

Growing up in Italy with a mother from Lebanon, she learned to speak both Italian and Arabic as a child. Since then, her linguistic interests have grown and Letizia is now fluent in five languages including English, French and Spanish, along with a little Portuguese.  

“I really like languages,” she said. “Being here and studying here for a year is good for my skills.”

Several of her courses foster her language development including dystopian literature, journalism, college French and Advanced Placement Spanish. She is taking algebra, plays the violin for the orchestra and sings in the chorus. Letizia was excited to participate in the winter concerts. She noted that schools in Italy typically do not have instrumental music instruction.

She said two differences about going to high school in the United States are the earlier start time and changing classes. There is also a greater emphasis on critical thinking while in Italy the focus is learning material and studying for tests. When she returns home, she will have one more year of high school remaining. Letizia hopes to attend college in Paris or the Netherlands and said possible majors include architecture or interior design.

Her host family in Amityville and the students at the high school have been very welcoming, she said. Letizia spent much of her holiday break visiting sights in New York City including the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Christmas tree and World Trade Center memorial site. She has also been to Washington, D.C. and North Carolina since her arrival. 

While she misses her family and friends in Milan, Letizia said she is able to stay in contact with them through telephone and Facetime. Family members who live in Texas have come to New York to visit her. 

“We are very pleased that Letizia decided to spend the year with us here in Amityville,” Principal Maria Andreotti said. “We have amazing programs and activities at the high school and are happy Letizia will get the share those experiences with our students. Through knowing her, students are learning more about Italy, and, as an Italian-American myself, I take great pride in that as well.”

Student Musicians Tapped for Regional Ensembles

Student Musicians Tapped for Regional Ensembles photo

Several students from the district have been chosen to participate in regional music festivals.

Amityville Memorial High School sophomore Alex Diaz and Edmund W. Miles Middle School seventh-grader Madeline Shingleton were selected to Long Island String Festival Association ensembles. Alex played the viola with the secondary school orchestra on Jan. 12 at St. John the Baptist High School. Madeline will showcase her skills on the cello with the seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra on Jan. 27 at Hauppauge High School. 

Dr. Fran Fernandez, the district’s director of fine and performing arts, said the selection process for LISFA ensembles was extremely competitive. Students were chosen based on their New York State School Music Association evaluation scores from the spring 2018 festival and on teacher recommendation. 

Alex and Madeline were also among six Amityville students selected for the Suffolk County Music Educators Association’s All-County music festival in March. Alex will represent the high school while Madeline will join bass clarinet player Donovan Graham McRae from the middle school. Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School choral students Tiffany Asbell, Sydney Carter and Brianna Cuevas will share their vocal talents.   

Music teachers for the students include Megan Ashe, Michael Bonasera and Bianca Ferrante.

High School Student Shutterbugs Honored

High School Student Shutterbugs Honored
A pair of student-artists from Amityville Memorial High School had their work selected for the Advanced Visions 15: High School Artists of Excellence showcase at LIU Post. 

Juniors Brianna Desire and Jonathan Gambella are enrolled in Advanced Placement art classes with teacher Jayne Grasso. Brianna’s digital photography piece, “Space,” and Jonathan’s digital photo, “Johnny Pump,” are on display in the S.A.L. Gallery, located in the B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library at LIU Post. The students will be honored during a closing reception on Jan. 9. 

“We are so proud to have two of our talented artists represent Amityville at this regional exhibit,” said Director of Fine Arts Dr. Fran Fernandez. “Congratulations to Brianna, Jonathan, their families, and their past and present art teachers on this fine accomplishment.”
Tuesday, March 19, 2019