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Terwilliger Wins Rensselaer Medal

Terwilliger Wins Rensselaer Medal
Terwilliger Wins Rensselaer Medal 2

High school junior Kenneth Terwilliger was named the winner of this year’s Rensselaer Medal, which honors academic achievement and inspires students to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology.

The Rensselaer Medal, first awarded 102 years ago, guarantees a scholarship of $15,000 per year for four years, if the recipient applies, is accepted and chooses to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

“This is a wonderful and exciting opportunity to have a scholarship to a top school,” said Terwilliger, a member of East Islip’s Boys Leaders Club as well as the varsity soccer and tennis teams He plans to study electrical engineering in college.

“I was thrilled to hear that Kenny was selected for this honor,” said his counselor, Jessica Pignataro. “He is an outstanding student, and he has consistently chosen to enroll in rigorous, AP and honors-level courses. I'm so proud of him, and I look forward to seeing what his senior year will bring.”

A Record Number of Teeny Noms

A Record Number of Teenys

The high school has been fortunate over the past decade to have earned several nominations for the Teeny Awards, the Islip Arts Council’s theater recognition program for high school students. At this year’s 10th anniversary awards, held on June 3 at Bay Shore High School, East Islip’s talented theater students earned a record number of Teeny nominations and several wins for their performances in March’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

Tori Tiernan was named the winner for Best Actress in a Musical, the school’s ensemble won Best Ensemble Performance of a Musical, East Islip’s pit orchestra was rewarded for its high-caliber playing with a win for Best Performance by a Student Pit Orchestra, Michael Silva was selected for the Director’s Choice award and Kyle Westgate-Addessi earned a scholarship from the Islip Arts Council.

Also nominated were Karina Gallagher for Best Actress in a Musical, Katie Spina for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, Andrew Timmins and Westgate-Addessi for Best Actor in a Musical, and Kieran Tohill for Outstanding Male Cameo Actor in a Musical.

“It was an incredible honor for East Islip to receive so many nominations, and the members of the high school music staff are extremely proud,” said Bethany Affelt, the high school’s choral and theater director. “The combination of our students’ hard work, dedication and love for the theater; coupled with our strong production team proved to be a winning combination, and we are so excited for next year’s production.”

Student Achievements Recognized

Student Accomplishments Recognized

Superintendent John Dolan recognized the outstanding accomplishments of numerous students and community members during the June 14 Board of Education meeting, including the middle school's Tri-M Music Honor Society, athletic honorees, local veterans, the “If You See Something, Say Something” award winners, and the students and local businesses in the career development program.

EI's Class of 2018 Graduates

EI's Class of 2018 Graduates

As sunny skies shone overhead, the high school held its 91st commencement on June 21, giving the Class of 2018 a chance to celebrate their achievements and get ready for a new phase of life.

Seniors Alexa Benitez and Stone Locke led the audience in the pledge of allegiance, Gabriella Commisso sang the national anthem, and four gifted senior vocalists – Jake Acocella, Jenna Anderson, Sarah Bloom and Sara Rapuzzi – sang the school’s alma mater.

“It is time for the Class of 2018 to set sail on the sea of life,” said Superintendent John Dolan. Speaking to the graduates, he told them, “Remember your family and the entire East Islip community will forever be your foundation, your lighthouse, your home…giving you comfort in the stormy times and shining brightly on your many accomplishments yet to come.”

Also addressing the new grads were Principal William Brennen and Board of Education President Jessica Carney, who urged them to be genuine. Carney honored 21 alumni from the Class of 1968 who were in attendance, and Kerri Kolensky recognized the top 25 students in the senior class.

Salutatorian Kevin Varga kept his promise to keep his speech short, thanking his teachers and parents and leaving his fellow graduates with a quote from Clint Eastwood, “It doesn’t matter what you do in life, just be the best at it.”

Jason Burke, the valedictorian, said, “Everyone has their weaknesses, but in this class, there are so many strengths – future mechanics, nurses, doctors, engineers, computer scientists, CEOs and musicians. I can’t tell you what you have to do to get there, but I know you all have what it takes. I am positive that when each of you set your goals, you will have the ability and work ethic to achieve your dreams.”

After the diplomas were presented, Class President John Camlet gave a lighthearted farewell address, followed by the familiar traditions of turning tassels and tossing caps.

As a Beethoven symphony finale poured from the orchestra’s strings, EI’s Class of 2018 walked out of the stadium to their new future.


High Schoolers Experience 'Anastasia'

High Schoolers Experience 'Anastasia'
High school juniors and seniors recently visited New York City to view the Broadway show “Anastasia.” The hit musical, nominated for the Drama Desk award, was adapted from the 1997 film of the same name, both based on the legend of Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia.

“The staging of this production was amazing, from the elaborate palace sets to the train car, with the screens in the background giving a sense of travel as scenes of Russia's lush landscapes blended into Paris's magnificence,” said English teacher Linda Leach, who accompanied the students. “The universal themes of love lost and found, familial relationships torn asunder due to war, and discovering who you are all played out to music sung beautifully by Christy Altomare and Zach Adkins.”

A Special Day for EI’s 13 Olympians

A Special Day for EI’s 13 Olympians

The East Islip Special Olympics team took the field for the third consecutive year, competing on May 19 at the Long Island Spring Games North hosted by Bethpage High School. Despite heavy rain, the student-athletes maintained their focus and competitive spirit, resulting in the team bringing home a total of 24 medals.

East Islip had a team of 13 this year, consisting of six middle schoolers (Riley Carrillo, Madeline Director, Jake Kozak, Janissa Lloyd, Julia Modico and Michael Pacheco-Uvidia) coached by physical education teacher Laura O’Donnell, and seven high school students (Delany Conlon, Danny DiOrio, Robert Phillips, Jake Pippatone, Michael Quagliara, Sara Spruyt and Kelly Stupplebeen), coached by physical education teacher Julie Susskind.

The team trained for approximately two months to prepare for their track and field events – 50-meter dash, 50-meter assisted walk, 100-meter dash, turbo javelin throw, softball throw and tennis ball throw – with each athlete competing in two events. With their hard work and dedication, alongside the commitment of the coaching staff and support of the volunteers, the year was another huge success for East Islip’s team, which earned 11 gold, 11 silver and two bronze medals.

The team members and their families had gathered for a pregame breakfast the day before, hosted by the East Islip Athletics Department, and the district’s Special Education Parent Teacher Organization showed its support with the purchase of a new team banner. Volunteers included East Islip teachers and staff such as Paula Brinker, Renee De Vries, Josephine DiMaggio, Christine O’Connell, Marissa Rymer, Donna Tuck and Diane Wahrenburg; family members of competing athletes like SEPTO President Noni Kozak, Thomas Di Orio and Anthony Matteran; community members like EI alumni Alfio DiMaggio, Frankie DiMaggio and Teresa DiMaggio; and even a middle school student, Antonia Tuck, who was the first student volunteer since the team was organized.

“This day could not happen without the support of volunteers,” said O’Donnell. “They stand side by side with our athletes throughout the entire event, and this year they too stood in the rain. They were all amazing.”

Also on the field rooting for the athletes were East Islip Middle School Principal Mark Bernard and Superintendent John Dolan.

“It’s great for the kids to see the administrators out here cheering them on,” said Susskind. “Having the principal and superintendent at an all-day Saturday event shows support for the program and everyone involved.”

“It just gets better every year,” said O’Donnell. “Even in the pouring rain, there’s nothing better than the high five at the finish line or the pride each athlete exudes while holding up their medal. We couldn’t be more honored to share this day with everyone on the team. I’m already looking forward to next year and hoping more students and more volunteers join.”

Senior Basketball Players Visit Former Teachers

Senior Basketball Players Visit Former Teachers
Senior Basketball Players Visit Former Teachers 2
In advance of graduation, seniors on the high school boys basketball team members brought flowers to their elementary school teachers to show their appreciation and give the educators a chance to see the end result of their teaching process. Among them was Patrick Connelly, who surprised Kim Loeffler, his former teacher at Ruth C. Kinney Elementary School.

A Year of Musical Dedication

A Year of Musical Dedication
A Year of Musical Dedication 2
A Year of Musical Dedication 3

An entire school year of hard work, passion and dedication to music from both students and teachers was celebrated in style at East Islip’s annual spring concert series. The performances, all held at Rydzeski Hall, included the middle school on May 7 and 9, JFK on May 14, RCK on May 16, and the high school on May 22 and 23.

"Our spring concert series, featuring students from grades 3-12, began with our third-graders performing on the recorders and singing, and ended with our seniors performing their final number on the East Islip High School stage,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art and music. “Smiles and tears of joy were shared among our students, teachers and community members as the music department took our breath away with each performance. We are so very proud of all the students and teachers who shared their musicianship this spring season.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of both of my beginner and advanced orchestras,” said JFK Orchestra Director Jaime DeMaria. “They performed with energy, dynamics and – most importantly – heart. I am so honored to be their teacher and wish the fifth-graders all the best as they continue their musical journey to the middle school.”

“I am exceptionally proud of the performances of the seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra students,” said East Islip Middle School Orchestra Director Judith Fischer, whose students performed material ranging from Rimsky-Korsakoff to The Beatles. “I truly believe that their concerts were an outstanding example of the hard work we do each and every day in class. Congratulations on a job well done.”



Seniors Honored on Awards Night

Seniors Honored on Awards Night

At the high school’s annual Senior Awards Night, held on June 5, more than 90 scholarships and awards sponsored by local organizations were presented to the school’s outstanding seniors as an audience of proud parents and family members looked on.

Among the many winners were Kaitlyn Burk and Courtney Herrera for the Kimberly Coffey Foundation Memorial Nursing Scholarship; John Camlet for the East Islip Fire Department Albert Nemecek Humanitarian Award; Lauren Christie for the EJ Autism Foundation Scholarship; John Clyne and Cierra Colon for the Gregory R. Huether Memorial Scholarship; Julia DiNatale for the Kiwanis of the Islips-Bay Shore Scholarship; Evan Mauner for the Kerri L. Becvar Memorial Scholarship for Music; Mikaela Naccarato for the Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP Community Service Scholarship; and Kevin Varga for the East Islip PTA Council Roy Goddard Scholarship.

“We are very proud of our students and we wish them the very best in their future endeavors as they begin their journey of life,” said Guidance Director Israel Malinowitzer, who hosted the ceremony. “We are also grateful for the continued support from our scholarship sponsors, as their dedication to our students has helped reduce some of the costs for college for our seniors. We look forward to continuing our Senior Awards Night so that we can present these scholarships to our future graduates.”

Keenan Wins SCMEA Scholarship

Keenan Wins SCMEA Summer Scholarship

High school junior Victoria Keenan was recently announced as the winner of the $500 SCMEA Burnhart Rydzeski Summer Scholarship, providing her the opportunity for music study at the Ithaca Summer Music Academy this summer. Keenan, a violinist, has previously been selected to perform with the All-County Orchestra and Long Island String Festival Association concert. She also plays in the school’s pit orchestra for musicals.

'Smashed' Cars Convey Important Message

Smashed Cars Convey Important Message
Smashed Cars Convey Important Message 2
Smashed Cars Convey Important Message 3

The high school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions Club recently held its annual "Smashed" program, partnering with Gershow Recycling and JoMacs Towing to get out an important message to students and the community. Two smashed cars were installed on the school’s front lawn along with a sign display saying, “It’s choice not chance that determines your destiny – don’t text or drink while driving!”

“We are approaching the 100 most deadliest days, and it is important for students to know that drinking and driving kills,” said SADD adviser Bridget Lopiccolo.

Meet Salutatorian Kevin Varga

 Meet Salutatorian Kevin Varga
The high school’s Class of 2018 salutatorian is Kevin Varga. An AP Scholar with Distinction, he is a member of the school’s National Honor Society and serves as captain of the varsity golf team. He was named a Commended Student by the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program, was named a National Grid Engineering Pipeline Program Scholar and earned the High Minds in Motion Scholar-Athlete Award. Varga won the Rensselaer Medal merit scholarship last year for his outstanding academic achievement in math and science; he will major in civil engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

Girls Golf Team Plays at County Tournament

Girls Golf Team Plays at County Tournament
Girls Golf Team Plays at County Tournament 2
Girls Golf Team Plays at County Tournament 3

The high school’s girls golf team ended the season on a high note, finishing second in League III with a record of 7-3 and qualifying for the county tournament as a team.

During the two-day tournament, held at Middle Island Country Club, team captain Sofia Ferrezza also qualified for the second day as an individual. Other Lady Redmen golfers participating in the competition were Nicole Muroff, , Jaclyn Schiano, Jamie Smith, Sophia Stryjewski and Cassidy Triolo.

Meet Valedictorian Jason Burke

 Meet Valedictorian Jason Burke
The high school’s Class of 2018 valedictorian is Jason Burke. An AP Scholar with Distinction, Burke is a member of the school’s National Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society. Playing on the varsity golf team, he earned the White Letter Award as well as the High Minds in Motion Scholar-Athlete Award. Burke will attend Northeastern University in Boston this fall, majoring in computer engineering and computer science.

Marine Copters Touch Down at EI

Marine Copters Touch Down for Fleet Week

As part of Fleet Week NYC, East Islip’s high school and middle school once again welcomed U.S. Marine Corps Aviation to the district. Two Marine helicopters from New River, North Carolina filled the sky on May 24 and landed with great fanfare on the middle school field, providing fascinated secondary students with an opportunity to talk to the pilots and view the inside of the helicopters. The Corps had previously visited East Islip during Fleet Week for the first time in 2011.

The first helicopter to land was the AH-1W Super Cobra from HMLA-167, with a crew of four Marines, followed by the massive CH-53E Super Stallion out of HMH-366, holding approximately eight Marines and two Corps photographers. Both of these helicopters are exclusive to the Marine Corps, specifically constructed for the organization’s needs. Helicopter landings are performed yearly as part of Fleet Week for community outreach.

“This was a wonderful way to thank our military men and women and to honor all of our military branches as we prepared for Memorial Day,” said Israel Malinowitzer, the district’s director of careers and student services, who helped to arrange the visit with Marine Corps Recruiting Station New York and Staff Sgt. Jason Rodriguez from Marine Corps Recruiting Sub Station Smithtown. “It was a beautiful day, and we are very grateful to our Marines for their service. It gives me great joy to present these types of events that showcase our Marines and the hard work they do every day to protect our country and our freedom.”

Successful Showcase for STEM

Successful Showcase for First STEM Night

In a massive celebration of all things science and technology, the East Islip School District recently hosted its first STEM Night, welcoming more than 200 guests to the East Islip High School to see students from all of the district’s schools promote their work and organizations, including the high school’s and East Islip Middle School’s robotics and STEM Club students, the East Islip National Honor Society, and John F. Kennedy and Ruth C. Kinney elementary schools’ fourth-grade science fair winners, and other fifth-grade elementary STEM students.

Students enrolled in the high school’s Medical & Health Technology Career Academy, AP Capstone program and other scientific research classes showcased the projects they have been working on all year.

Representing East Islip’s K-5 STEM program that began this year, students demonstrated how to build bridges and create towers and skyscrapers with the use of wooden blocks.

The high school’s robotics team members were on hand to show off their newly designed 3D chassis robotic bodies that were created and designed in CAD classes and developed on the 3D printer. Visiting students from all grades were allowed to play with the new robots and learn how to operate them.

Ken White, the operational director of educational management at Brookhaven National Laboratory, served as the keynote speaker.
Additionally, representatives from the East Islip Public Library manned a booth to showcase 3D printing and virtual reality technologies. Students were able to put on the library’s new 3D video viewfinders to virtually visit different places in the world.

“This event was a huge success and the parents and students had a great time learning about STEM and how it will help their children to be successful in their future careers,” said Israel Malinowitzer, East Islip’s technology director, who coordinated the event with Math and Science Director Janet Jones.

“We weren’t really sure if we would have any visitors at our table, but were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and interest the young people had,” said Jason Terhune of the East Islip Public Library’s computer services department. “We appreciated the opportunity to showcase our public library to the community.”

Nine Awards Earned at Long Island Media Arts Show

Nine Awards Earned at Long Island Media Arts Show

The high school earned nine “Best in Show” awards at the 2018 Long Island Media Arts Show, recognizing the creative talent and dedication of its students in the fields of electronic illustration, photography and video.

“Best in Show” electronic illustration and photography winners at the recent event, held at Five Towns College’s Performing Arts Center in Dix Hills, were Sophie Bingham, Julia Desiderio, Jenna Donnelly, Tyler Franklin, Jake Kenney, Christopher Palmer, Zoe Stengel and Bryan Stupplebeen.

“This was my third year at the Long Island Media Arts Show and I’ve enjoyed it each year, seeing what other students create,” said Stengel. “It’s an honor to have one of my pieces chosen for a ‘Best in Show’ award all three years.”

“It was exciting to have my passions and hard work recognized,” said Desiderio.

“It was my first time attending the show, and I was so thrilled to be chosen for Best in Show,” said Stupplebeen.“This show is such a wonderful opportunity for students to showcase their work and get critique from professionals,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “Everyone did an excellent job, and I am proud of so many visual arts students being acknowledged for their exemplary work.”

“It was a great day,” said teacher Joy Taylor. “I’m so happy that our students were recognized for their talents. What a great experience for them.” 

In the video field, junior Nick Conzo earned a “Best in Show” video award for “Smoke and Mirrors.” Other students who presented their work included Andrew Johnson and Stephanie Milito (“Disconnected”), Eddie Sallie (“I Got a Name”),  Christian Acevedo and Josh Vogel (“Oceanman”), and Kat Bingham and Evan Mainer (“I’d Love to Change the World”).

“Our video production class had another great showing this year,” said teacher James Connell. “I was proud of all the students who presented, and we have a great group of returning students next year who will help the program continue to grow into the future.”

Rockin’ the Runway for SADD

Rockin’ the Runway for SADD

High school seniors donned formal wear for their turn on the runway at the school’s recent Fashion Show. The colorful event is sponsored annually by the Students Against Destructive Decisions club and PTSA to raise money for SADD and its worthwhile programs and scholarship.

The school’s teachers and numerous local businesses partnered with the PTSA and SADD to donate to raffle baskets. Cosmetology professionals Stephanie Domingo, Brynn Hlinko and Barbara Lhotan donated their services to do hair and makeup for the female models, RSVP Tuxedos of Bay Shore provided tuxes for the male models, and East Islip alumnus Joe Kiesel served as DJ.

“What a wonderful night this was,” said SADD adviser Bridget Lopiccolo. “The students really rocked the ‘red carpet’ for a great cause. Special thanks to the PTSA for all their support and to the teachers for really helping to make this event a great success.”


Thursday, July 19, 2018