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Superintendent Emails and Updates - November 2021
November 19, 2021
Dear Syosset Community,
Congratulations to the 27 SHS students named NYSSMA All-State and NAfME All-National Musicians! I’m so proud of the Fine and Performing Arts program here in Syosset, and particularly the perseverance of our students and staff despite the challenges resulting from the pandemic. While it’s no surprise we’ve been named a Best Community for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation over 20 times, I’ll never take the amount of time, talent and dedication that goes into earning that honor for granted.
Lighting for the Turf Field
Following a fall athletic season that was impacted by the bus driver shortage and resulting transportation issues that caused several home field games to be shortened due to darkness, and given the challenges of scheduling practice time so all of our students can take advantage of the turf field, the Board held a discussion last month and earlier this week, approved a resolution to include turf field lighting in the proposed budget for the 2022-2023 school year. The Annual Budget vote will take place in May. We’ll be sure to outline the project and associated cost in detail for the community in the months leading up to the budget vote. Notably, the District will not need to borrow any funds for the lighting project and the conduit needed to power the lights was laid under the field during the original installation.
The Board of Education also voted to make Rowing a varsity sport starting with the Spring season. As the sport requires special equipment and coaching, Syosset will offer it in conjunction with a partner organization - as do several of the other school districts where it is a varsity sport. The club has agreed to engage in fundraising efforts to underwrite some of the expenses to keep costs consistent with other varsity sports. I’m so pleased that we’ve added yet another opportunity for students, especially one serving both boys and girls, to our varsity athletics program. And I’m thankful for positive dialogue with the club representatives and members throughout the process. I can’t wait to cheer them on this spring!
COVID-19 Positivity Rates
We have recently seen a rise in positive COVID-19 cases. While perhaps the inevitable consequence of the weather driving activities indoors, I’m hopeful that rising vaccination rates and eligibility may counteract this uptick. Until then, please remember to be safe and take the precautions necessary to prevent the spread of this virus. Based on our contact tracing efforts so far, we have not identified any changes in our mitigation strategies that are warranted at this time, but we will continue to watch the data closely.
Next week, both COVID-19 test sites operating on our campuses will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. They will both reopen on Friday. And to accommodate the increased demand we are experiencing, the COVID-19 test site operating at the old Woodbury Grade School will now open at 8 a.m., 7 days a week.
In the spring of 2020, Berry Hill student Desiree Mohammadi wanted to show her appreciation for healthcare workers, so she donated all the money in her piggyback so that workers at Northwell Health could be treated to snacks, and she penned a letter to the CEO of Northwell Health expressing her support of their remarkable efforts. The CEO was so impressed by Desiree that she was given the opportunity to become a “doctor for a day,” complete with her own white jacket and stethoscope, and she was introduced to the first nurse in New York who received the COVID-19 vaccine, Ms. Sandra Lindsay, R.N. More recently, Desiree reunited with Ms. Lindsay, who held her hand as she was vaccinated. The pair was recently featured on CBS news.
I love seeing even Syosset’s youngest learners finding their voice and on the issues important to them. Desiree, keep making a difference and you’ll inspire others to do the same!
There’ll be no update next week as we pause for the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you get a chance to connect with family and friends to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. Personally, I’m grateful to be a part of this amazing learning community, that I get to work alongside some of the very best educators in the country, serving remarkable students who inspire me every day.
November 11, 2021
Dear Syosset Community,
This week, we held our annual Athlete Commitment Day on the turf field and we honored a remarkable 24 student-athletes committed to play for NCAA teams in college. For perspective, this event was started in 2017 and that year, we honored 11 student-athletes. It has given me great pleasure to see the Syosset Athletics program grow and flourish in recent years, which is a credit to the entire Athletics department, and especially the dedication and commitment not only of the students who were honored, but by their teammates who helped make their success possible.
This number of committed student-athletes would be notable in any year, but achieving such success in this of all years is simply remarkable. Even though Spring sports were suspended in 2020 and all sports were delayed until their abbreviated seasons in early 2021, coaches continued to work with our athletes to make sure their strength and conditioning were uninterrupted so that as soon as we were permitted to get back on the fields, they would be in the best possible shape to pick up where they left off. Not only was that beneficial for their performance in competitions, it was essential for their mental well-being. And their perseverance and hard work truly paid off.
This fall, girls tennis won the LI championship and came in second in the state, girls cross country won their 10th consecutive Nassau County championship and will be heading to the state championships, girls swimming won their first ever Nassau County championship and will be heading to the state championships, girls soccer and girls volleyball made it to the county finals, boys soccer and boys volleyball made it to the semi-finals, and tonight, the football team is playing in the Nassau County semi-final round. GO #SyoSports!
And on the topic of persevering through challenging times, the Syosset High School Theatre Arts program and The Association of Creative Thespians (ACT) recently hosted a live production of the annual student directed One Act Play Competition in front of a live audience! This marked the 21st year of the event that provides an opportunity for young budding directors to engage their passion for storytelling. And next week, the fall production of Qui Nguyen's She Kills Monsters will take place Thursday through Saturday, November 18th through the 20th. You can get your tickets here.
As you have probably guessed by now, this week’s whole update is the “Bright Spot”. Congratulations to our athletes and thespians! And to all the veterans in our community and beyond, thank you for your service and sacrifice on behalf of our country.
November 5, 2021
Dear Syosset Community,
I’m so proud of the incredible accomplishments of the SHS Varsity Girls Tennis team. On Wednesday, they won the Long Island Large Schools championship, the program’s first LI team title since 2012, and today they finished second in the state at the NYS Championship! It was an incredible end to the season after both the boys and girls teams were recognized by the US Tennis Association as the Long Island High School Tennis Team of the Year and Coach Shai Fisher was named Coach of the Year by Newsday. And earlier this fall, the Varsity Girls Swimming and Diving team was named Conference 1 Champions for the first time in school history. The success of all our student-athletes this fall blows me away, and speaks volumes to their perseverance and determination throughout the pandemic, and I just couldn’t be more proud.
We’re now into cold and flu season, and we have been receiving questions from parents on what to do if a child is experiencing cold symptoms, what are the quarantine protocols, and how the protocols apply to fully vaccinated students. To help answer these questions, we’ve put together a one-page overview of the most important things to know regarding the protocols in place. It can be found in the Reopening section of our website. We’ve also added a page to this section of the website with the contact information for all our school nurses, a link to the COVID-19 hotline form for reporting positive cases or close contacts, and a link to make an appointment for COVID testing at the test sites located on our campuses so that all this information is easily accessible in one spot. While I hope this overview is helpful, every case is unique -- so please remember that the nurse or Contact Tracing Team member must take those particular circumstances into account when making determinations.
The students of the Syosset Rowing Club are always looking for ways to give back to the community, so one of the team captains, Michael Meneshian, organized a community service activity with Habitat for Humanity. He recruited teammates Xiara Lemoine, Forrest Phung, Samantha Rathman, Anoushka Rishi, Leela Tickoo, and Danielle Unson, and they spent their day off from school on Tuesday working on the construction of a house in Shirley for a young family met with hard times. The teammates had a great experience working together and making a difference, and are already working with Habitat for Humanity to schedule another volunteer day.
As a reminder, the District will be closed for Veteran’s day on Thursday, November 11th. And as with all federal holidays, both COVID-19 testing sites located on our campuses will be closed that day as well.
Don’t forget to set your clocks back this weekend, and enjoy that extra hour of sleep!