District Commends Star Students; Provides Important Updates

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Community members gathered for the Lynbrook Public Schools’ regular Board of Education meeting at Lynbrook High School on March 13. Throughout the evening, a variety of talented students were honored, along with a beloved teacher who recently passed away. 

Starting on a solemn note, the board spoke about the passing of Lynbrook High School world language teacher Antonietta Maddalena Coletta, who touched the lives of many students and staff in the district. Coletta’s daughters were present at the meeting and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak, along with board members, tearfully acknowledged just how special Coletta was. One of Coletta’s former students who graduated from Lynbrook High School in 2015, read a beautiful essay during the meeting about how Coletta made an impact on her life. 

The board recognized senior Leo Glassman, who will play double bass in the National Association for Music Education All-Eastern Honors Concert Band this April. Senior Samantha Farber was also praised for being an All-County Art Senior Scholar recipient. She received the award and had her artwork displayed at the All-County Art Exhibition, sponsored by the Art Supervisors Association on March 10.  

Several student-athletes were also commended. Junior Dom Barbuto was recognized for being selected to join the New York State Sportswriters Association Class A All-State team for football. The board also congratulated the boys basketball team for an exciting season and recognized senior Rylan Blondo for scoring more than 1,000 points in his high school basketball career.

During the superintendent’s report, Dr. Burak provided several updates. She noted that the district received the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Association of School Business Officials International, for its commitment to transparency and high quality financial reporting. Dr. Burak commended Dr. Paul Lynch, assistant superintendent for finance, operation, and information systems, and the entire business office for their hard work. 

A quick recap of the 2019-2020 school budget work session from February was given, along with information about substantial equivalency (equivalent education between private schools and public schools). Dr. Burak and Dr. Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, attended a workshop with representatives from both private and public schools about this topic which has not been enforced by New York State until recently. Local public schools are now being charged to enforce the substantial equivalency requirement which means the district has to go in and review their local private schools to make sure they are meeting the same standards as public schools. Since the district must follow the unfunded state mandate, Dr. Burak mentioned to the board that BOCES is offering a service to do this and recommended that the district look into it. 

In addition, she invited members of the board to an upcoming meeting with Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Judy Griffin. Here, the district will share their concerns about items in the budget, how they feel about the tax cap, unfunded mandates and funding for mental health resources for students.
Following the superintendent’s report, Dr. Beleckas provided a curriculum update about the Every Student Succeeds Act and New York State assessments. He noted that two changes have taken place. Those who do not participate in the 3-8 math and ELA assessments will be counted as level 1 students for school accountability purposes (the school’s report card). The second change is that schools who have one subgroup not meet their Measures of Interim Progress for two consecutive years, will no longer be in good standing with New York State. 

“As always, we respect the rights of the families to make the decisions for their children regarding the state assessments,” said Dr. Beleckas. “However, we did want to share the possible ramifications regarding our schools’ accountability status.” 

Toward the end of the meeting, Dr. Lynch provided a capital projects overview for the community. He noted that the district is currently monitoring 22 separate capital projects which includes six security vestibules and 10 projects associated with the 2017 bond referendum. Projects include the locker rooms at North and South middle schools, wrestling room at the Kindergarten Center, air conditioning in all the elementary schools, an elevator at Waverly Park and five bathrooms at Marion Street. He also highlighted projects that were discussed at the budget work session. For more information on these projects, please visit the Finance and Budget page of the website.

Bravo’s Top Chefs “Like” What LHS Graphic Design Is Cooking!

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Students in Mr. Kunz’s Graphic Design class at Lynbrook High School recently finished a menu design project where they designed menu cards inspired by Bravo’s Top Chef “Restaurant Wars” episode. The two-part episode featured the 9 remaining contestants breaking up into 3 teams to create pop-up restaurants, complete with full menus, design schemes, and staffs of waiters, in less than 48 hours. The students in Kunz’s class used the three teams featured: North East, Third Coast, and Thistle, to create some incredible menu designs. 

The students focused on the contestant’s personalities, their food, and vision for their restaurant to create their unique menu designs.    
When the projects were complete, several of the menu designs were posted to Mr. Kunz’s class Instagram, @LHSKUNZ and the projects were immediately noticed and praised by the top chef chefs and judges from the show! 

Chef Brandon Rosen commented, “Amazing work! So happy to see our restaurant creations get developed and improved by students! The up and coming generation of restauranteurs!!! I love seeing so much creativity in the classroom! When I was in school, I used to love my marketing class projects... which were always centered on food and restaurant promotion! Keep at it! Love the teaching method! Great work!!”  

Chef David Viana commented, “Your kids are truly talented!! Thanks for watching this season! All of us chefs are so grateful.” In addition, Chef Adrienne Wright, who commented, “These are really great! Love creative combinations of entertainment and education!” also featured the students work on her Instagram story.  

Great job to all the students in the class! 

LHS Announces 2019 Valedictorian, Salutatorian

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Lynbrook High School seniors Kaylie Hausknecht and Sam Cohen were recently recognized as valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, for the Class of 2019. Both are outstanding students who aside from their strong academic skills and achievements, have made a positive impact on the Lynbrook community. 

As valedictorian, Kaylie has collected many accolades while attending Lynbrook High School. Junior year, she was one of only five finalists selected in a pool of students from across the country for her entry in the Genes in Space contest. Among her many achievements as a senior, Kaylie was recognized as a National Advanced Placement Scholar, a Regeneron Science Talent Search semifinalist, a Coca-Cola semifinalist and a finalist in the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Competition. She is highly involved in the high school as a science research student and is the president of the National Honor Society, National Science Honor Society and Science Olympiad team. 

As salutatorian, Sam has earned numerous individual awards as an exceptional writer in Lynbrook High School’s newspaper club, Horizon. Here he makes his mark as Horizon’s editor-in-chief. He also joins Kaylie as a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Competition and is president of both the Tri-M Music Honor Society and the Student Government Association. Sam’s leadership roles continue as treasurer of the National Honor Society and marine club board member. His passion for music is evident, serving as jazz band pianist, concertmaster in the school’s orchestra and violinist in the school’s chamber orchestra.

In addition, both students are co-captains of the mathletes team and co-presidents of the Math Honor Society. They take pride in serving their community both inside and outside of school, tutoring others and volunteering. Kaylie volunteers with SIBSPlace and a local Hebrew School, while Sam has shared his gift of music with others at North Shore LIJ during the summer. Both students will bring their talents to Harvard University in the fall. 

Principal Joseph Rainis praised the students for being top of their class. “It could not have happened to two nicer people,” he said.

Congratulations, Kaylie and Sam! 

LHS Journalists Win Big at Quill Awards

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Members of Lynbrook High School’s newspaper Horizon, recently attended Adelphi University’s Press Day and took home top awards during the annual Quill Awards portion of the day. Horizon staff won first- and second-place awards in five of the six categories that they entered while competing against 29 schools across Long Island and Queens. More than 300 high school students and staff attended the annual event. 

Each school was limited to enter six of the 15 award categories with only one nominee in each category. The Horizon staff earned first place for “Most Outstanding Newspaper,” while Horizon member Ela Ratkiewicz earned first place for “Best Opinion Piece” for her story, “An Obvious Choice: Gun Control or Our Lives.” The entire Horizon staff was also recognized as the second place winner for “Best Online Newspaper.” Horizon Online or lhshorizon.com, was launched in 2017. 

In addition, Horizon member Jane Hoeflinger received second place for “Most Outstanding Reporter” for a portfolio of her work and editor-in-chief Sam Cohen earned second place for “Best News Article” for his piece, “Too Much! Too Little! Just Right: The Story of LHS’s Regents Weighting Policy.” 

The district congratulates the entire Horizon staff and Horizon advisor Jessica Sanders on another successful competition!

Lynbrook BOE Honors Students and Retirees; Provides Network Update

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The Lynbrook High School cafeteria was filled with administrators, staff, students and community members during the Lynbrook Public Schools’ Board of Education meeting on Feb. 13. The board commended the district’s two Regeneron Science Talent Search semifinalists and accepted the retirements of seven beloved staff members. The community also heard important updates about the district’s network, curriculum and capital projects. 

Lynbrook High School seniors Juliana Condoleo and Kaylie Hausknecht were honored for being two of the 300 top scholars in the high school science and math competition, the Regeneron Science Talent Search. Beth Murray, a representative from the competition, presented the two students with certificates. They will each receive $2,000 with an equal amount going toward Lynbrook High School to be applied to science, technology, engineering and math education. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak praised the students on their outstanding achievement and invited them to the podium to speak about their selected science projects. 

Seven staff members were also commended for their service and dedication throughout their years in the district. Joann Baumann, Susan DeSena, Camille Duran, Madeline Jabin, Carol Lindner, Christopher Pipia and Donald Seibert were each praised by a board member as they prepared to retire at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. After learning about each future retiree’s career, positive impact in the district and plans for the future, attendees gave them a standing ovation. Building administrators from each school were also present to show their support. 

In addition to the evening recognitions, Dr. Paul Lynch, assistant superintendent for finance, operations, and information systems, provided an update about the district’s network. At the end of January, a serious virus impacted the district due to people clicking fraudulent links. Dr. Lynch praised the district’s technology staff who worked diligently to restore the network.

“The very good news is that our network is incredibly stable so it was only limited to desktop computers,” he said. “We were able to continue instruction through our laptop program because of the way we segment our network. It did not carry over to the other end.”  

Since the virus was so prevalent, Dr. Lynch explained that a domain change was made to ensure the safety of both students and staff from cyber-terrorists who aim to steal banking information and data. The domain change was in the works prior to the virus but the district decided to implement it now due to the circumstances.

All district email addresses which previously ended in @lynbrook.k12.ny.us are no longer active and have been replaced with lynbrookschools.org. After February break, staff members will use this new domain with their first-dot-last name. Dr. Burak informed the community that if they need to contact the board, the new email address is BOE@lynbrookschools.org. 

Dr. Lynch also stressed to the community how cyber-terrorists can try to steal anyone’s information online and to be careful when opening emails. Other districts in the area have had similar issues with these cyber-terrorists. He said that the district is in the process of upgrading all the systems to become cloud-based and installing new firewall and network monitoring to combat any future attacks.  

Following the network update, Dr. Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction, and assessment, provided a curriculum update. In his report, Dr. Beleckas spoke about how the district is fostering literacy. Middle school teachers in the English department have received Level Literacy Intervention training to include more targeted reading instruction in their classrooms. He also spoke about two new proposals which will be presented at the district’s budget work session. The first is for the elementary and middle schools to officially become Teachers College schools and the second is to hire additional reading staff for the middle schools to provide a three-tiered approach to reading, similar to the elementary schools.
Dr. Lynch also provided a capital projects update where he shared positive news about the progress of the bond. All projects, with the exception of those at Lynbrook High School, have been approved by the New York State Education Department. This clearance now gives the district the authority to borrow. Once all the details are discussed during the district’s budget work session, Dr. Lynch explained that a roll-out plan would be initiated. 

Lynbrook Student-Athlete Earns All-State Spot

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Lynbrook High School student-athlete Dom Barbuto was selected to join the New York State Sportswriters Association Class A All-State team for football. Along with being an honor roll student and an Advanced Placement Scholar, Dom has had an impressive football career while at Lynbrook High School.
Among his many athletic achievements, he was second team All-Long Island, started at linebacker the last two seasons and was the leader of the defense this year at middle linebacker. He also made more than 150 tackles in the last two football seasons and was the projected captain for 2019. 

“He is one of the finest young men I have had the pleasure of coaching in my 30 years of coaching football,” said head football coach Stephen LoCicero. “He is kind, caring and a pleasure to be around everyday.” 

Dom is being recruited by schools such as Colgate University, Cornell University, Lafayette College, Penn State University, Sacred Heart University, Stony Brook University, University of Pennsylvania and University of Pittsburgh.

The district congratulates Dom on this outstanding achievement! 

Tri-M Members Host Annual Cabaret Night

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The stars were out at Lynbrook High School as members of the school’s Tri-M Music Honor Society hosted their annual Cabaret Night on Jan. 25. Administrators, board of education members, faculty, students, families and community members took their seats in the dimly lit Lynbrook High School cafeteria which was transformed into a cozy cabaret lounge in honor of the anticipated event. 

Prior to the start of the evening, the Lynbrook High School brass ensemble performed for attendees, as well as during the interludes. Tri-M President Sam Cohen and Vice-President Benjamin Gagliardo emceed the event as they introduced their talented peers before they hit the spotlight. Students showcased their musical abilities which ranged from vocal, instrumental and dance performances. Each act received roars of applause from the audience. 

Cabaret Night, which is organized by Tri-M members each year, gives students the opportunity to show off their musical talents, while raising money for local charities. This year’s event supported Daniel’s Music Foundation, a non-profit that provides free music programs for those with disabilities, and the Community Chest South Shore, an organization dedicated to supporting other local organizations to help neighbors in need. 

LHS Junior Shares the Story of Lynbrook

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Kindergartners in Patricia Schroeder and Jessica Eitingon’s class at the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center received a special visit from Girl Scout Ambassador Emma Lenz, a junior from Lynbrook High School on Jan. 25. Emma wrote, illustrated and published the children’s book “Memories of Lynbrook” and started sharing her book with kindergarten students at the school that she once attended.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts of the USA. As part of her Gold Award project to receive this prestigious honor, Emma created the book and was required 12-20 hours of in-person presentation time. “Memories of Lynbrook,” which was printed by IngramSpark, is now available online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com and took Emma about a year and a half to complete. The book focuses on a young girl, Georgie, who looks through her Grandma Pearsall’s scrapbook of Lynbrook memories. Georgie’s grandmother shares true facts about the town, including the history of Lynbrook schools, important figures, monuments and more. 

Emma conducted historical research online and at the Lynbrook Public Library to learn more about her town and incorporate her findings into her story. She also worked with the Historical Society of East Rockaway and Lynbrook.

“My strengths are art and history and with this book, I’m combining both of them together,” Emma said. “I wanted to do a project that would impact my community in a positive way.”  

The kindergartners listened intently as Emma read her children’s book. Claire Lenz, Emma’s grandmother and a former educator herself, beamed with pride as she watched her granddaughter read to the class. 

“I’m very proud of Emma,” she said. “She is a delight, very talented and she was so relaxed. I thought she did beautifully with the children.” 

After the reading, the students had the opportunity to ask Emma questions. She spoke about the writing process, when the book was finally completed and growing up in Lynbrook herself.

“I hope that the students learned more about the history of Lynbrook and learned that our community has so much to offer,” she said.

After the reading, each student received a worksheet and illustrated their own favorite memory of Lynbrook. Emma will visit each kindergarten class in the next few weeks to share her children’s book. She will also generously be giving a copy of the book to each class in the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center.

Great job, Emma!  

A Momentous Season for Lynbrook’s Student-Athletes

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Lynbrook High School student-athletes showcased their determination and skills this past fall, winning notable team and individual awards. Eight fall teams earned the New York State Scholar Team Athlete Award. This included the girls cross country, soccer, swim, tennis and volleyball teams and the boys cross country, soccer and football teams. To receive this distinction from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, the team’s average GPA for 75 percent of the roster must be greater than or equal to 90. 

In addition, four student-athletes received the title of scholar athlete from the NYSPHSAA for maintaining a 90 or above GPA. Scholar-athletes included Katie Bamman (girls soccer), Sara Bahri (girls volleyball), Spencer Chrein (boys soccer) and Siobhan Stapleton (girls swimming). The girls tennis team had a successful season, ending as conference champions and several fall student-athletes were recognized in their respective sports. The district congratulates all the fall teams and individual award winners on their accolades:

All County/All Conference III – John Cabral-Martin
All Long Island – Dominic Barbuto 
All Academic All Conference III – John DiBenedetto and James Gillespie

Girls Tennis 
All Conference – Casey Kaplan, Allison Shifflett and Sydney Travis
All Division – Arpie Bakhshian, Alyssa Burton, Sami Feldman, Ambiya Hussain, Anna Morelli, Rosie Perlstein, Lexi Samelson and Jacey Stock

Girls Varsity Swimming 
All Conference – Emma Anderson, Kate Anderson, Samantha Caceres, Sophie Dzieciolowski and Erin Quinlan
All County – Sarah Gaudet 
Scholar Athlete – Siobhan Stapleton

Girls Cross Country 
All County – Caitlin Buchala and Liz Murphy
All Conference – Maggie Bodian

Boys Soccer
All County – Alex Schachinger 
All County Honorable Mention – Brandon Pekale
All Conference – Rylan Blondo, Peter Hristodoulou and Ben Krcic
Senior Scholar Athlete – Spencer Chrein
United Soccer Coaches Senior Excellence Award – Kevin Donaghue

Girls Soccer 
All County – Jessica Woll
All Class – Katie Bamman, Jade Fixon-Owoo, Kayla Schwizer
All Conference – Alyssa Campos
Scholar Athlete – Katie Bamman

Girls Volleyball
All County – Ami Carey 
All Class – Kate Foley 
All Conference – Christina Franco and Felicia Guglielmo
Scholar Athlete – Sara Bahri

Boys Cross Country 
All County – Shane Nembach