Students Honor Lynbrook Board of Education

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The community gathered for the Lynbrook Public Schools Board of Education meeting on Oct. 16. It was a special evening as the district celebrated the board, students were recognized, and important updates were shared.

In honor of School Board Appreciation Month, students and staff at Lynbrook High School showed their appreciation for the board. Students in Lauren Reganato’s cooking class baked cookies and Michael Kunz’s art class created a backdrop for photo opportunities during board meetings. Surrounded by her peers, junior Jenereth Tamayo from the high school’s English as a New Language program expressed her gratitude for the board and shared her positive school experience.

“Everyone here gives their love and support to make you feel that you can do it and feel safe,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine being in a better place. I would like to say thank you to the board on behalf of all my ESL friends for your continued encouragement…you continue to support our families and we truly appreciate it. Thank you.”

As a final treat for the board, New York State School Music Association All-State student-musicians Ricki Rizzo and John Kelhetter performed a beautiful rendition of “Ave Maria.” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak announced that Ricki and John are among six Lynbrook High School students who were recognized by NYSSMA to perform or be an alternate at the All-State Winter Conference in Rochester from Dec. 5-8. She praised the students along with their fellow NYSSMA participants: Camilla Bahri, Arpie Bakhshian, Emily Bergin and Joshua Christian. Dr. Burak also announced that 103 Lynbrook High School students were designated as Advanced Placement Scholars from College Board. Thirty-three were named AP Scholars with Distinction, 22 were named AP Scholars with Honor and 12 were named National AP Scholars.

Following the recognitions, the community received important updates. Dr. Burak reminded the community that the district will be celebrating Unity Day on Oct. 23. She also highlighted the great work being done in the district. Students at the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center and Waverly Park Elementary School donated more than 300 pairs of shoes to a school in Peru during their “Peds for Peru” drive and Lynbrook High School received the Scholar Athlete School of Excellence Award. To earn this honor, at least 75% of the school’s varsity teams had to maintain an average GPA greater than or equal to 90 and receive the Scholar-Athlete team award.

Dr. Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, shared an update from the New York State Education Department. The Board of Regents has not and is not planning on getting involved with the New York State Health Department’s decisions regarding vaccinations. Additionally, based upon recent discussions, Regent Roger Tilles does not believe that public schools will be required to monitor the private schools within their borders. According to Dr. Beleckas, if this does become official, it would be positive news for the district. To monitor the private schools, the district would have to pay BOCES to provide necessary oversight.

In addition, Dr. Beleckas shared that the Board of Regents acknowledged that the current assessment programs need to continue to be revisited to provide teachers with appropriate scores and students more reflective 3-8 math and English Language Arts examinations. The hope is that fairer examinations would encourage all students to participate. Lastly, Dr. Beleckas reported that the high school graduation requirements and instructional programs will continue to be discussed at the state level. Although there have been several changes to the graduation pathways during the last few years, the curriculum itself has not been discussed. The hope is that the curriculum for the required courses will be reviewed to better prepare students for future endeavors.

Before the close of the meeting, Dr. Paul Lynch, assistant superintendent for finance, operations, and information systems, provided a capital projects update. Projects are almost completed at North Middle School, South Middle School, Waverly Park Elementary School and the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center/Atlantic Avenue. The district is getting ready to put the Lynbrook High School project and the Waverly Park elevator out to bid which should occur before the holiday break. The work is anticipated to start next summer. 

Students Build a Caring Community During Start With Hello Week

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Students from West End Elementary School and Lynbrook North and South middle schools recently celebrated the importance of inclusion with the Start With Hello program, sponsored by Sandy Hook Promise. The week-long program consisted of empowering activities and lessons to teach students to be more socially inclusive and connected. The week also was a prime example of how students are embracing the Lynbrook Public Schools’ 2019-2020 theme of the year, A Community of Caring.

During West End’s morning announcements, students gave tips on how to approach new students in the cafeteria or on the playground in a friendly way. Students were encouraged to say hello to someone new and fifth graders made sure no one sat alone unless they chose to. West End teachers were instrumental during the week as they played getting to know you games with their classes, read books highlighting different cultures and school dilemmas. The awareness about different cultures was integrated into West End’s Hispanic Heritage Celebration.

At Lynbrook North Middle School, a challenge was set for students each day during the week. Challenges included greeting a new student and making them feel included, writing a positive affirmation to a peer on a wall of positivity, doing a random act of kindness and sitting with someone who is alone. To end the week, North students enjoyed a photo booth outside of the cafeteria where they took photos with their new friends.

Similar activities were facilitated at Lynbrook South Middle School. Students kicked off the week with a three-minute Loving Kindness Meditation and wore name stickers as they were encouraged to say hello to new people in the hallways. Throughout the week, the students participated in unity games and activities to promote teamwork and inclusivity. They also enjoyed a photo booth with new friends, smile grams were sent to new students and field games were facilitated during lunch periods. Students were paired with a student they did not know and had fun playing games with the hopes of winning a prize.

The week allowed Lynbrook students to embrace new friendships, build a stronger school community and strengthen their understanding of empathy. 

West End Wrap Up: 10/15-10/18

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This week Voyager families met with Mrs. Teichman during Voyager Meet the Teacher Night! They learned more about the program and participated in a fun Breakout EDU activity. West End students and staff also celebrated Safety Week! With the help of interactive presentations and special visitors, classes learned important safety information and tips throughout the week.

WE Celebrates Lynbrook Pink Day

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West End Principal Dr. Cindy Lee and staff members showed off their pink pride! 

Junior Receives Heartwarming Welcome After Heart Transplant

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It was a special morning at Lynbrook High School as junior Aidan Slattery returned to school on Oct. 15 after undergoing heart transplant surgery three months ago. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak, Principal Joseph Rainis, Assistant Principals Salvatore Brescia and Matthew Sarosy, along with excited students, staff and members of the Slattery family, waited for his arrival outside the high school.

Looking to give Aidan a memorable surprise homecoming, students proudly held balloons and posters to welcome him back. Members of the marching band performed and the cheer and kickline teams lined the sidewalk as Aidan was dropped off at the front of the building. Everyone cheered as they paved a path for him from the entrance of the school through the lobby, cafeteria and hallway.

Aidan, who has had a heart condition his entire life, fell ill in early May during his sophomore year and was taken to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. There, he learned his heart was failing and was placed on the nationwide emergency heart transplant list. Aidan underwent a massive surgery to receive a heart pump called a ventricular assist device and began to grow stronger. Within five weeks, a near perfect match was discovered for a donor heart and Aidan underwent heart transplant surgery.

“When we learned that Aidan was coming back to school, knowing what he and his entire family had gone through, it was inspiring,” said Principal Rainis. “And so I said to myself, wouldn’t it be great if we had the whole building outside to welcome him back? It’s just a nice way to welcome a wonderful young man back into the family.”

As Aidan was celebrated by his peers, Dr. Burak expressed how happy she was to see him return to school. Todd Slattery, Aidan’s father, was among the crowd and was thankful for the support of the school community.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “Aidan definitely brings out the best in them. He’s got a great personality and he’s pretty soft spoken, so this is probably a shock for him, but he knows that this whole thing came with a responsibility so he’s welcoming of the attention. Aidan wants to tell his story so that others can benefit from increased awareness for organ donors and the wonderful work that’s happening at children’s hospitals around the country.”

Welcome back, Aidan!