Challenge Day Inspires Students to ‘Be the Change’

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Lynbrook North Middle School eighth graders participated in Challenge Day on Nov. 18. The day-long program was filled with social and emotional exercises that encouraged students to build connections, empathy and inclusivity.
Challenge Day leaders Enrique Collazo and Whitney Johnson created a safe and comfortable environment for the students to open up and be themselves throughout the day. A number of staff members, including Principal Sean Fallon, also participated in the program with the students. In the morning, Mr. Collazo and Ms. Johnson spoke to the eighth graders about what they could expect from the day and encouraged all of them to be present and reflect on their own emotions.
“Life can feel like you’re running on a treadmill and you can’t find the off switch,” Mr. Collazo told the students. “It’s so fast…that’s why I think days like today are so beneficial. We get the opportunity to step outside that busyness, take a deep breath, stop and pay attention.”
This was the third year that Lynbrook North Middle School hosted Challenge Day. Students and staff were highly engaged as they connected with others, including those that they had never met before. Together, they shared their own personal experiences and struggles. The goal of the day was to foster a positive school community filled with empathy, tolerance and compassion for others.

Board Honors Eight Exceptional Students

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It was an evening of recognitions as the Lynbrook Board of Education praised several outstanding students at the Lynbrook Public Schools Board of Education meeting on Nov. 13. The community also heard important updates, including a presentation on the Advanced Placement and Regents assessment results.

Lynbrook High School senior Djellza Pulatani was honored for being selected as a girls panelist for the nonprofit advocacy group She’s the First, in partnership with Akili Dada and MAIA. She was one of six girls to travel to the United Nations to present the first Global Girls’ Bill of Rights. The board also recognized Commended Students Sara Bahri, Charles Gebbia and Julianne Lampert and Semifinalist Anna Rath in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

As a result of showing their exceptional characters, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak praised Lynbrook North Middle School student-athletes David Barrere and T.J. Sexton for their outstanding sportsmanship at a recent cross country meet. During a race, the two students witnessed a runner from an opposing team fall down and injury himself. Barrere and Sexton picked him up and walked him about 100 yards back to the coaches and the starting line.

“That great sportsmanship is what we are all about,” said Dr. Burak. “People are going to remember how you treat them, not all the accomplishments that you have earned.” 

Lynbrook High School student Michael Frank was also honored for his incredible act of kindness. Frank was recently at a local eatery during his lunch period when he saw a man choking on food and swept in to perform the Heimlich maneuver. His quick action saved the man’s life. 

In addition to the recognitions, Board Secretary Robert Paskoff and trustee Alicemarie Bresnihan spoke about their experience attending the New York State School Board Conference and Board Vice President Lesli Deninno provided a facilities committee update. The committee recently looked at the completed summer projects, reviewed possibilities and needs for the upcoming budget, discussed the security vestibules and the upcoming high school project and reviewed the findings of the board walk-throughs. 

The board and the community also heard from Dr. Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment. He presented the districtwide AP and Regents assessment results at the middle and high school level.

“Our students on average are taking more of the assessments than students in other schools in the county and they are doing better on the ones that they are taking,” he said.
Dr. Beleckas also shared a timeline of the New York State Education Department’s new assessments and reported changes that are expected to occur with some of the exams.

During the Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Burak discussed the Reimagining Readiness Conference which is the first of three conference days that a team from Lynbrook, including Dr. Burak, attended. Educators gathered to examine what is needed to graduate and how to prepare students for life after graduation. Dr. Burak also reported on Superintendent’s Conference Day which was held on Election Day. The district partnered with the Lynbrook Teacher Center who helped organize different workshops. Staff members shared their expertise on various topics and trainings were facilitated. 

Before the close of the meeting, Dr. Paul Lynch, assistant superintendent for finance, operations, and information systems, provided a capital projects update. There are currently three bids out for the air conditioning at Marion Street and West End elementary schools and the Waverly Park elevator. Dr. Lynch stated that the bids will be opened in the Atlantic Avenue board room on Nov. 26 at 11 a.m. and the public is welcome to attend. 

Cooking Up Fun at Lynbrook North Middle School

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Students are serving up valuable skills with Lynbrook North Middle School’s after-school Cooking Club. Open to all Lynbrook North Middle School students, the club is run by foreign language teacher Rebecca Krieger and has approximately 80 members who meet each month.
With such a high enrollment number, club members are separated into three different groups. Each group meets once a month to cook a tasty treat or dish with their peers. The chosen recipes are usually geared to fit the season or an upcoming holiday.
Throughout the month of October, members created pumpkin pie twists using crescent rolls, pumpkin pie mix, cream cheese, cinnamon and cinnamon sugar to taste. The students worked together as they read through the recipe directions and started preparing their pumpkin pie twists for baking.
The club is not only about what is on the menu though. The process of cooking teaches students how to be detail-oriented, patient, listen and work collaboratively as a team. The club is also is a great way for students to bond with their peers and make new friends along the way.
“The best part about being in this club is the food,” said seventh grader Jorielle Phillips. “We always have fun, eat food and we get to hang out and talk with our friends.”

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.