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Superintendent Updates - April 2023
See the most recent Superintendent's Updates listed below.
Click the links on the left to access past updates that have been sent to the Syosset community.
April 28, 2023
Dear Syosset Community,
Back from a three-year hiatus, it was South Woods Middle School’s turn to host their multicultural festival. I circled the gym, literally eating my way around the world – devouring delectable dishes and discovering delights! Our students gave musical and dance performances and our parents showcased cultural treasures from the many rich heritages represented in Syosset. One parent even constructed a miniature landscape composed of dried spices found in South Asian cuisine -- mind-blowing and mouth-watering all at the same time – #SoSyo!
I so appreciate the effort and enthusiasm of every parent who worked so hard to make this such a special day for the students and staff - introducing and underscoring the beauty and importance of each heritage that makes up Syosset’s rich tapestry. Looking across the gym, I was reminded of one of my favorite phrases: “unity, not uniformity." My #SyoPride (and my plate) overflows.
The Board has adopted the Budget that will be presented to voters on May 16th. Although inflation has made this a challenging year, the proposed budget maintains all existing educational programs, makes new investments in student mental wellness, continues investments in facilities maintenance, and preserves all extracurricular opportunities for students. More information on the budget will be mailed to residents and can be found here.
Spotlight on Instruction
It was Book Day at our Middle Schools this week! Our 7th grade English Language Arts curriculum unit, Count Me In, culminated in a grade level experience with author Varsha Bajaj. Throughout the unit leading into Book Day, students read and discussed non-fiction articles related to the themes addressed in Count Me In such as the value of intergenerational connection, the concept of the inner self versus the outer persona, and using social media to make the world a better place.
One theme of the day was identity. Ms. Bajaj highlighted the role identity played in her journey to becoming a writer and students reflected on how their diverse backgrounds and cultures can be different, yet keep us connected to each other. Students were given the opportunity to participate in a Q & A session with the author, asking her for a peek inside her writing process. Others elected to participate in a Writer’s Workshop with Varsha where they spent time drafting story ideas and sharing them with their peers. Book Day is one of the students’ (and staff’s) favorite days and we’re so grateful to Ms. Bajaj for her time and generosity.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect. Syosset, of course, is doing its part: all faculty and staff are required to undergo training to recognize and report signs of child abuse. New York State recently adopted “Erin’s Law,” which mandates informing students about how to identify abuse and report it to a trusted adult. You can learn more about this law and how Syosset is working to comply with it at this link on our District website.
Anyone who’s been to the turf field knows Syosset’s iconic red barn, home to our groundskeeping crew, and the PTA’s football season concession stand. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I saw the candy and chip cornucopia (I worked hard for that alliteration) open for business during the girls’ lacrosse game. Even better, I was able to pay for everything with my smartwatch (I love my sugar and salt indulgences). Our PTA has always been “next-level”--now they’re high-tech too! We’re going to have to rename it the Barn-o-matic or something!
SHS Junior Jason Lee and his classmates are working to spread love through their music. Jason recently founded a non-profit organization called Talented Young Musicians, or T.Y.M. for short. The group is comprised of Syosset student musicians whose goal is to use the power of song to empower others. Just recently, they performed a concert at the Life Enrichment Center at Oyster Bay, surely bringing smiles to the faces of our local Senior Citizens.
The group consists of Jason (Clarinet), Aaron Liu (Clarinet/Piano), Justin Mok (Clarinet), Kathleen Cheng (Clarinet), Boaz Gluck (Saxophone), Allison Lee (Violin), Adrianne Mok (Violin), Matthew Kim (Viola), and Anthony Wong (Cello).
It’s music to my ears when I learn that our students go above and beyond to use their talents to better our community. I personally can’t wait to hear this group perform. Way to go!
The local forecasters warn of a chilly and rainy weekend ahead… it’s a good weekend for a good book!
April 20, 2023
Dear Syosset Community,
This weekly update is coming to you a day early. As a reminder, tomorrow, our District is closed for Eid… so this week it’s a Thursday update!
A “Senior” Prom in April?
Our High School’s Future Leaders of America Club hosted their first Senior Citizen Prom since 2019. This event has been a tradition in our District for more than 30 years. Earlier today, the students welcomed more than 100 seniors from our community into the High School gymnasium to enjoy a delicious meal, student performances, and line-dancing. More than 30 student volunteers hosted and served their fellow community members and made new friends. I’m terribly fond of acapella music, and when our choral groups – Choral Pride and the Adelettes – at the end of their planned repertoire did an impromptu rendition of Twist & Shout, they brought the house down. I’m so happy we were able to resume this tradition after the unfortunate pandemic hiatus.
Spring sports has Newsday keeping a close eye on our athletes! Syosset eighth grader Taylor Renny was named one of the top 100 Long Island softball players to watch this season. Senior Ansh Chadha and Freshman Evan Lee are being recognized for their savvy on the tennis court.
And if having both the Rangers and Islanders in the playoffs wasn’t enough hockey for you, our Nassau County (and NYS) Champs will take on St. Anthony’s, the Suffolk County Champs, this coming Saturday, April 22nd at Bethpage Rink. This is the Syosset Hockey Club’s second annual charity hockey game. They’re raising money to fight ALS – a disease that claimed the life of a dear friend of mine several years back – so they can be sure to count on my support.
2023-24 Syosset School Budget
Our Board of Education approved the District’s budget proposal for the 2023-2024 school year. Although inflation made this a challenging year, we were able to maintain all existing programs and remain below the tax cap. The next Board Meeting on May 8th will be a budget information meeting. I encourage you to attend to learn more about the budget ahead of the annual district election and budget vote on May 16th. More information can be found here.
Spotlight on Instruction
This Saturday is Earth Day, and at South Grove Elementary, students have been learning how they can contribute to taking care of our planet. Students school-wide did coding exercises to practice doing their part. In Kindergarten and First grade, BeeBots acted as recyclable material (newspaper, glass bottles, organic material, and plastic bottles), which the students had to code to get through the maze to the correct recycling bin (plastic, glass, organic material, and paper). In grades two and three, students worked with Ozobots, writing code on their Chromebooks with the program Ozoblockly. They then paired bots via Bluetooth to run the program they wrote and get their recyclable object to the correct bin. By the time this group is in middle school, they’ll hopefully have reprogrammed one of those automated-vacuum robot things to take out my recycling! Sign me up!
Baylis Elementary students returned from break hopscotching their way down a new sensory hallway due to the work of students in Syosset High School’s work-based learning program. Through a collaborative cross-cutting project, students Sofia Alomia, Aly Elman, and Julia Del Monaco worked alongside their teachers to design and install a customized sensory walk. Sensory walks help to promote inclusive learning environments by increasing engagement, focus, and attention.
After researching sensory walks, students worked together to brainstorm designs, budget out the cost of supplies, pitch the idea to the Baylis principal, and learn how to use the Cricut machine to design and cut the decals. Then, came the install! You can see a video about the sensory walk from idea to ribbon cutting at this link.
Legislator Josh Lafazan’s office heard about the project, and presented Sofia with the Making a Difference Award for her commitment to the school community.
It’s a truly #SoSyo moment when I see the hard work of our older students reinvested in their younger peers. Due to the success of this project, the work-based learning students are determining where they can build a sensory walk next! I hear the Central Administration office is in the market for one…
Barring any truly weird weather (and hoping not to tempt fate by saying so), it does not appear that we will need to open school on May 25th and 26th this year. We’ll be sending out the official memo shortly, but thought I’d take this opportunity to give you the good news.