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High School Library Named for Distinguished Nurse

High School Library Named for Distinguished Nurse photo

Approximately 150 people came out to Amityville Memorial High School on Dec. 10 to pay tribute to an American hero and a local legend. The library media center was renamed in honor of Major Nancy Leftenant-Colón, who had a distinguished career as a nurse in the United States armed forces and in Amityville.

Major Leftenant-Colón was born in 1920 and graduated from Amityville Memorial High School in 1939. She became the first member of her family to pursue higher education by attending the Lincoln School of Nursing in New York City. Her military nursing career spanned from 1945 to 1965, including service as an elite flight nurse with the Air Force. She made history as the first African-American woman to serve in the Army nursing corps, and later as the first woman to become president of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.

From 1971 to 1984, Major Leftenant-Colón was the nurse at Amityville Memorial High School. She became an inspirational figure for students with her well-known line, “The sky’s the limit.”

“It is an honor to welcome home Major Leftenant-Colón,” Superintendent Dr. Mary T. Kelly said in her opening remarks. “She is one of Amityville’s own. She taught students to believe in themselves and believe in their dreams. She is fondly remembered by Amityville alumni.”

Lt. Gen. Stayce D. Harris, inspector general of the Air Force, said the library dedication was an “incredible and most-deserved honor” for Major Leftenant-Colón. She presented her with an artistic piece that blended two photos together on a canvas  — one from Leftenant-Colón’s time as a major, and another of the two women together in 2009. 

Col. Ralph Smith, retired from the Air Force, presented a gold coin, one of only four in existence, commemorating the Tuskegee Airmen and Airwomen to be housed in the rededicated library. Dr. Kelly explained that as part of the upcoming project to renovate and expand the high school, the library media center will be updated and will include a display for Major Leftenant-Colón featuring numerous artifacts.

 

Retired Army Lt. Col. Jacqueline A. Gordon, spoke of the path that Major Leftenant-Colón paved for women in the armed forces. Lenore Braithewaite, of American Legion Hunter Squires Jackson Post 1218 in Amityville, fondly recalled her former school nurse and presented Major Leftenant-Colón with the American Legion’s 100th anniversary commander’s pin.

Several elected officials presented Major Leftenant-Colón with proclamations included Gordon, a Town of Babylon councilwoman, Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory and state Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre.

Keynote speaker Chaplain Joanne Bedford Boyd, spoke highly of her aunt and how she has always been a role model for young people. She cited Major Leftenant-Colón’s desire to succeed and achieve her dreams, and her refusal to back down from challenges. 

Chaplain Boyd explained the value that Major Leftenant-Colón has always placed on education, so it is fitting to have the school’s center of knowledge — the library media center — named in her honor.

Following presentations in the cafeteria, all guests were invited up to the library to see the new dedication sign along with pictures of Major Leftenant-Colón from her military service and her years as high school nurse. Student Council members presented Major Leftenant-Colón with flowers, and there were musical performances by the Amityville Memorial High School jazz ensemble and Edmund W. Miles Middle School ninth-grade string ensemble.



Students Decorate Amityville With Holiday Paintings

Students Decorate Amityville With Holiday Paintings photo

Art students from Amityville Memorial High School and Edmund W. Miles made their community more festive for the holiday season. The community window project was a collaborative effort among the two school, led by art teachers Jennifer Dibble, Jayne Grasso, Heather Rickard and Nicole Scoca as well as Director of Fine and Performing Arts Dr. Fran Fernandez.

The project started with a drawing contest among middle and high school students with high school teachers judging the submissions. The winners attended an outdoor field trip in Amityville in which they painted their drawings on the windows of local businesses on Nov. 29.

The inspiration for the project was generated by high school guidance Transition Coordinator Karen Gross and the Amityville Chamber of Commerce. Participating businesses included Gerald's Market, Great South Bay Dance Studio, Wrapping It Up, Amityville Men's Shop, Park Avenue Grill and Francesco's Pizza

“Students were able to see their personal creations come to life,” Ms. Dibble said, “It was a wonderful experience for them, their art teachers, and the Amityville community.”



High School Students Make a Cross County Connection

High School Students Make a Cross County Connection photo

Members of Amityville Memorial High School’s Warrior Awareness Club eagerly waited at the front door for their guests to arrive on Nov. 15. After a 23-mile ride across Suffolk County, 28 students from Bayport-Blue Point High School and their chaperones pulled up on a school bus and were warmly greeted by their hosts.

The Cultural Exchange program, an annual tradition in Amityville, is designed to connect students from across Long Island. It creates bonds and establishes new friendships, as the teens typically keep in touch through text message or social media. 

Students from both schools gathered in the cafeteria for breakfast and icebreaker activities that helped them find common interests. WAC PAC adviser Jason McGowan called out two words, like bacon or sausage, or Christmas or Halloween, and students went to one side of the room or the other. There was also great enthusiasm during a rock-paper-scissors competition. 

Each Bayport-Blue Point student was paired up with an Amityville student and they attended classes together throughout the day before coming together again for a pizza lunch. The students will meet up in the spring when Amityville students will visit Bayport-Blue Point High School. 



Physical Education Students of the Year

Physical Education Students of the Year photo
Seniors Carlos Ponce and Ashley Sanz were named physical education students of the year for Amityville Memorial High School by the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Awareness Weekend Builds Bridges at High School

Awareness Weekend Builds Bridges at High School photo

For 97 Amityville Memorial High School students, their school day didn’t have a typical ending on Nov. 9. Instead of going home for the weekend, those students spent the next 32 hours in the school participating in bonding activities and listening to inspirational speakers.

Awareness Weekend has been an annual tradition for 15 years. The 10th-, 11th and 12th-graders who participate say it is a transformative experience that cultivates new friendships and leads to self-reflection.

“You feel welcome,” said senior Jeridania Rodriguez, a first-time participant this year. “This is an opportunity to express yourself in a different environment and no one judges you here.”

An essential part of Awareness Weekend are the family groups. Students are typically paired with others who are not part of their normal friendship circle, and each team has a facilitator. Family groups have follow-up discussions based on the speakers, share personal experiences and participate in icebreaker activities. 

This year’s keynote speaker was Bobby Petrocelli, whose “You Matter” presentation kicked off Awareness Weekend on Friday afternoon. He told students that the world deserves their greatness and that they should never be hindered by something in their past. He spoke of a tragedy in his life, and how bad decisions by one person can have consequences for many.

Chris Memoli was involved in a car accident at 16 and suffered brain injuries as a result of no wearing a seatbelt. He communicates through typing device and shared his story about he overcame tragedy to earn his master’s degree in computer science. Hashim Garrett, a former gang member who paralyzed from waist down, spoke about forgiveness, overcoming adversity and learning from mistakes.

Alisha Armellini, mother of senior Imagine Halyard, said Awareness Weekend has been tremendously valuable for her daughter. During her sophomore year, Imagine was able to share a personal story about a traumatic event in her past. That revelation ultimately had a positive impact on her home life and her emotional well-being. 

“Awareness Weekend saves lives and saves families,” Ms. Armellini said. “It has brought so much goodness to our family. Every student should participate in this program.”

Students and their faculty chaperones spent the night in the school in sleeping bags and on air mattresses in classrooms. Awareness Weekend ended at 10 p.m. on Saturday night with goodbyes and hugs. Special education teacher Jason McGowan, who coordinated the event, said it was inspirational weekend for both the students and the teachers.

“Our 97 participants truly did break down walls and build bridges,” said Mr. McGowan, citing the weekend’s theme. “These students left here on Saturday night as new people. They learned a little about themselves and more importantly, learned from their peers. They also realized is that they are not alone and that they matter.”



Veterans Share Their Stories in Amityville

Veterans Share Their Stories in Amityville photo

History came alive for students in the district as veterans, representing different branches of the military and different conflict periods, shared their experiences. Edmund W. Miles Middle School hosted Veterans Appreciation Day on Nov. 13, and Amityville Memorial High School’s program followed on Nov. 15.

At the middle school, a dozen veterans spent the day visiting social studies classes. Among the speakers were Board of Education First Vice President Juan Leon, Amityville Village Trustee Nick LaLota and district staff members. A few active servicemen communicated with the students through videoconferences.

They discussed their reasons for joining the armed force, basic training, military life, responsibilities, challenges and return to civilian life. Many of the speakers said what they enjoyed most about serving was having the opportunity to travel all over the world.

“The military is so much more than combat and war,” ninth-grade social studies teacher Jack Zider said. “We wanted to give our students an appreciation for our veterans and their many roles in serving our country.”

Veterans also spoke to students in their social studies classes at the high school. Social studies department Chairwoman Dawn Mizrachi said that their personal experiences provided students with a deeper understanding of history.



Boys Soccer Team Captures State Title

Boys Soccer Team Captures State Title photo
A dominant season for the Amityville Memorial High School boys soccer team culminated with a state championship. The Warriors defeated the Somers High School Tuskers, 2-1, in the NYSPHSAA Class A Finals on Nov. 11 in Middletown. 

After going undefeated in the regular season, along with one tie, the Warriors breezed through the playoffs. They beat Hauppauge High School, 3-1, on Nov. 1 to win the Suffolk Class A championship and captured the Long Island title three days later with a 5-0 win over Mepham High School. In the state semifinals, Amityville defeated Rochester Brighton 2-0 on Nov. 10 to set up their match with Somers. 

Led by coach Mike Abbondondolo and assistant coach Chris Gannon, the Warriors captured their second championship in school history, with the first coming in 2015. Henry Martinez scored both goals in the clinching game, but Amityville got contributions from up and down the roster in its playoff run including Rolman Guardado, Kymani Hines, Angel Zavala and goaltender Kyle Barsic. 

Science Research Students Take on Ambitious 3D Printing Project

Science Research Students Take on Ambitious 3D Printing Project photo
While 3D printing has become increasingly popular in recent years, students in the Amityville Union Free School District will be getting a unique experience with the technology. Middle and high school students in the Independent Science Research program will be taking part in a nano 3D printing project in partnership with Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Teacher Alexis Charles and students drafted a proposal that was accepted by BNL to use its nanofabrication facility. The project required Ms. Charles to visit several times over the summer to be trained on the machine because she will be the one allowed into BNL’s “clean room.” Students will dictate the procedure to create a microscopic structure to grow cells.

Students involved in the project include John Hermann, Randy Jerez, Keiry Martinez, Maurice Pettway, Keniese Price, Rene Santos, Trea’von Smith, and Z’Dhanne Williams.

Amityville’s science research students work closely on other projects with Farmingdale State College biology professor Dr. Andrew Michaelson, and from him they learned about two dental procedures that have a high rate of failure. Indirect pulp capping has a 10 percent rate of failure, and direct pulp capping fails at 20 percent, which Ms. Charles explained is high for such costly procedures. 

The students are looking to grow dentin cells, and if their project is successful, it could revolutionize the procedure and increase the rate of success. Dentin cells are the part of teeth sensitive to hot and cold. The cells would be grown in vitro — outside of the mouth — which is why a small structure is required. Students will design the structure using computer assisted drawing software.

Ninth-grader Rene Santos said that creating the structure will pose some challenges because of its small size. Once it is made, it has to be carefully dried as an air gun would blow it away. Additionally, it will require a high-powered microscope to see. 

Ms. Charles said that in order to have the proposal accepted by a panel of three BNL scientists, it had to meet two standards. It had to contribute merit to the scientific community and also be feasible to make on the available equipment. Scientist Ming Lu has joined the project and is providing support to the group, such as giving students tips on how to overcome common problems encountered when designing an on object of a microscopic scale. 

In preparation for the upcoming project, the science research students have already had some experience designing objects using CAD software. They have learned about the difference between 3D printing and nano 3D printing, the latter using a gel to create a microscopic object as opposed to a plastic filament that builds layer by layer. 

“This type of project isn’t what the average ninth- or 10th-grader does,” said freshman Randy Jerez. “It’s a blessing to be in a group like this at such as young age, and to be able to make a difference in the dental industry.”

Ms. Charles said that the project has attracted students with many different interests, and that there is a place for everyone to contribute. Some are interested in the scientific and medical aspects, while others want to contribute their creativity and imagination to the design process. 

She added that the group is hoping to have the project substantially complete so they can compete in next year’s Long Island Science and Engineering Fair. 

Kicks and Serves for a Cure in Amityville

Kicks and Serves for a Cure in Amityville photo

The Warriors took on the fight against breast cancer as Amityville Memorial High School athletic teams raised nearly $750 during October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Money was donated to various causes that support research and assist patients.

The girls varsity soccer team played their Kicks for Cancer home game on Oct. 15 against neighboring Copiague. It culminated a fundraising effort which included selling raffle tickets for various prizes and hosting a bake sale. The girls wore special uniforms with pink lettering along with pink socks hair ribbons. The fence adjoining the field was adorned with pink streamers and pink and white balloons. 

“They were enthusiastic about it and wanted to help the cause,” said head coach Angela Steiger. 

That same afternoon, the girls junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams held their Dig Pink games against Islip. The team sold baked goods, pink lemonade and pink “Just Cure It” shirts to raise money. Amityville was among dozens of high schools participating in the Dig Pink initiative which supports the Side-Out Foundation.

Building Bonds at Amityville Beach

Building Bonds at Amityville Beach photo

From A to Z, Amityville Memorial High School seniors lined up by first name during an activity at Amityville Beach on Oct. 10. The trick was, they had to do it without talking.

It was one of several bonding activities that seniors participated in during Awareness Day, an annual fall event for the senior class. Special education teacher Jason McGowan, who organized the day, said it was an opportunity for students to get to know each other better before they graduate and head off in different directions. 

A popular activity was the rock-paper-scissors competition. Students randomly paired up, and winners continued playing until a champion emerged. During Link It Up, each student found a peer who shared something in common like his or her birthday months or favorite food. Mr. McGowan posed questions to them to prompt discussions.

Later in the day, students formed groups of eight to 10, and that became their “family group” for the day. They were encouraged to join up with people who weren’t in their normal circle of friends. 

Noah Odige is in his second year at Amityville Memorial High School, so as a newcomer to a class that has largely been together since kindergarten, he enjoyed the experience. In addition to getting know his classmates better, Noah said Awareness Day helped strengthen existing friendships and created new ones.

“It’s a great bonding experience for the seniors,” he said. “It makes us stronger as a class.”

In November, the school will host Awareness Weekend, which is open to students in grades 10-12. The Friday afternoon to Saturday night event will include bonding activities, guest speakers and a sleepover in the school. 



District Breaks Ground on High School Expansion

District Breaks Ground on High School Expansion photo

Amityville Memorial High School will soon be doubling in size. District officials and students celebrated the beginning of a major expansion project with a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 9.

The addition to the early 1950s school is the marquee project in the $69.9 million bond approved by voters in March 2016, which includes upgrades to all five of the district’s schools and administration building. The new wing at the high school will include a gymnasium with locker rooms, science labs, classrooms and added cafeteria space. Enhancements to the current building will include a renovated library media center, a new music and art suite created from the existing gymnasium and locker room, new windows, and mechanical system upgrades.

Preliminary work began in September with the installation of construction fencing and site preparation. The concrete foundation will be poured and soon after the calendar turns to 2019 the steel frame should begin to rise. 

“This was a community effort,” said Superintendent Dr. Mary T. Kelly, who spoke about the planning that began in 2014 to identify facilities needs in the district. “A lot of study went into this process. We’ve needed this space for a long time, and a lot of great changes are about to begin because of this. It will be a state-of-the-art high school.” 

Joining Dr. Kelly in the celebration were board of education trustees, central office and high school administrators, students, the marching band and representatives from BBS Architects and Park East Construction. The expansion and renovations are expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2020-21 school year, at which point the ninth-grade will move from the middle school to the high school.



Fall Festival Kicks off Homecoming weekend

Fall Festival Kicks off Homecoming weekend photo
Warrior pride was on full display at Amityville Memorial High School’s second annual Homecoming festival on Oct. 12, an event that brought the entire community together.

Students of all ages, teachers, administrators, board of education trustees and parents were among those who attended. Each school was represented, along with middle school and high school student clubs, the Amityville Teachers Association, Amityville Parent Teacher Council and community organizations. There was a large turnout of Amityville athletes, who came to the fair following their afternoon practices. 

Activities included fall-themed games like pumpkin bowling and a spider ring toss. There were burgers and hot dogs, a pumpkin decorating station and an Amityville Pride photo booth complete with props.

The event was coordinated by the Homecoming Festival Committee comprised of board of education members, administrators and staff. Fine Arts Director Dr. Fran Fernandez said the purpose of the event was to promote unity and get the community excited for the following day’s Homecoming celebration.  
 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018