School Year Begins with New Staff; Enhancements
New staff members, as well as technology, safety and building upgrades, were all part of the new school year as more than 1,550 students in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District headed back to the classroom, Sept. 4.
Oyster Bay High School Principal Ms. Sharon Lasher greeted students with two new Assistant Principals at her side, Mr. Kevin Leach, Assistant Principal for grades 10-12, and Ms. Rebecca Menuzzo, Assistant Principal for grades 7-9. Mr. Leach comes from Uniondale School District where he was a high school earth science teacher who took on various administrative duties, including principal of the summer school program and overseeing a new teacher mentor program. Ms. Menuzzo previously served as an English language arts teacher in the Carle Place School District where she was also the principal of the summer school program. The new administrators replace Dr. Peter Rufa and Dr. Lara Gonzalez, respectively, who have been appointed principals in other districts.
Dr. Marisa Bel has joined the District as the K-12 Supervisor of Languages Other Than English and English as a New Language (LOTE/ENL), replacing Ms. Liliana Policano who retired in June. Interim K-12 Supervisor of Mathematics Dr. Robert Hanna has replaced Ms. Laura McNamara who returned to her previous district. Filling other positions — mainly vacated by retirements — are Dr. Laurie Scimeca, Interim Assistant Director of Special Services; Ms. Ting Pang, physics teacher, Ms. Kelli-Ann Boeschen, family and consumer sciences teacher; Ms. Meridi Alongi, 6th grade English language arts teacher; Ms. Stephanie Alvizures, kindergarten teacher, Ms. Denise Ferrazano, social worker at James H. Vernon School, and Yennifer Muriel, social worker at Theodore Roosevelt School. Ms. Lauren Guillem, Ms. Eileen Pape and Ms. Jamie Pellettiere were hired as special education teachers.
As part of the 2019-20 budget approved by voters last May, each elementary school will have a full-time social worker on staff and the high school will have two full-time social workers in an effort to provide greater social and emotional support districtwide. Social worker Ms. Nicole Silva will serve in the new role of Dean of Students at James H. Vernon School, a position that was also part of the 2019-20 budget approved by voters last May. This position will provide stronger educational and disciplinary support for 3-6 students.
This school year marks phase II of the highly anticipated 1:1 technology roll-out as students in grades 3, 5, 8 and 9 receive their own devices to use as a primary instructional tool. They join students in grades 2, 4 and 7 who were issued devices in the first phase of the roll-out. While all students have had access to devices in the classroom in the past, the initiative provides greater accessibility to all students, in and out of the classroom, and increases the use of technology throughout the curricula. This year, 2nd and 3rd graders will receive iPads, which were found to be the best device, developmentally, for the age group, and 4th-8th graders will be assigned Chromebooks to support their learning goals. Adding a new dimension to learning, the District acquired a class set of virtual reality headsets that teachers will use to provide students with the sensation of being immersed in a place they are studying, such as in the Great Barrier Reef or inside an Egyptian pyramid. Sixth-grade teachers plan to use virtual reality when studying Ancient Civilizations and second-grade teachers are planning to use the technology for science investigations.
Efforts to bring more academically challenging opportunities continue at Oyster Bay High School. This year, eligible students can choose from two courses in Advanced Placement (AP) Research, one that focuses on science and the other in humanities. AP Research is the second of a two-part continuum in the AP Capstone program. AP Capstone is a more advanced diploma program based on two, year-long courses: AP Seminar, which the District implemented two years ago, and AP Research. The program takes an interdisciplinary approach to develop the critical thinking, research, collaboration, time management, and presentation skills students need for college-level work.
New high school electives for grades 9-12 include “Food Preparation and Nutrition” and “Global and Gourmet Foods.” The former invites students to survey the methods of preparing food, the functions of food in the body and recommended dietary guidelines. The latter introduces students to ways in which the culture and traditions of different regions and countries influence food choices. Students will compare cuisines, ingredients used and preferred cooking methods.
In the District’s ongoing mission to improve safety and security measures for the well-being of the school community, speed bumps have been added to the parking lot at the James H. Vernon School to help maintain slow traffic patterns there. In working with the Town of Oyster Bay, safety measures around Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School include making Larrabee Avenue a one-way street going south from 2-4 pm on school days, lowering the speed limit from 35 to 30 miles per hour on Lexington Avenue, and adding sidewalks and streetlights on sections of Larrabee and Shore avenues that are currently without walkways.
Building improvements include air conditioning units in classrooms and in the James H. Vernon School cafeteria, new interactive whiteboards to enhance learning, and a new field house by the playing fields at Vernon School. The field house contains two bathrooms, a small snack bar and a small utility closet. Some new ceilings, lighting, and upgraded casework in certain classrooms or common areas were also completed. The District is working on proceeding with the voter-approved turf field at Vernon to enhance the athletic program.
“While school ends for our students during the summer, our custodial staff, our secretarial staff, our administrative team, and other support personnel work tirelessly to ensure that we are up and running for the new school year,” said Dr. Laura Seinfeld, Superintendent of Schools. “I offer my sincerest thanks to our staff members for all of their efforts and wish our students and faculty a productive and successful school year.”
Oyster Bay High School Principal Ms. Sharon Lasher, center, gets ready to greet students with new Assistant Principals Ms. Rebecca Menuzzo and Mr. Kevin Leach.
Oyster Bay High School students arrive by bus on the first day of school.
School spirit runs high at James H. Vernon School where Principal Dr. Valerie Vacchio continues her tradition of shaking gold and purple pom-poms when greeting students.
The first day of 2nd grade at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School is documented in a fun way.
On her first day in the District, Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Ms. Kelli-Ann Boeschen begins teaching the new class, "“Food Preparation and Nutrition.”
The field house at Vernon School is just about completed.