09/10/2013 5:00 PM

JOE WERKMEISTER FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River interim athletic director Lynn Schwartz abruptly resigned from his position just over two months after being appointed to start.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board is expected to vote on a resolution to accept the resignation of interim director of health and athletics Lynn Schwartz at tonight’s Board of Education meeting.

Mr. Schwartz was hired this summer as a per diem substitute by the district to replace former director Ken Marlborough. According to a June agenda, Mr. Schwartz was hired to work from July 1 to Dec. 31.

In Oct. 2011, Mr. Schwartz was appointed substitute director of health and athletics for the district while Mr. Marlborough was out on leave.

Tonight’s board meeting takes place at 8 p.m. at Briarcliff Elementary School’s all-purpose room.

To view the agenda, see below.

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SWR School Board Agenda 9/10/13

08/22/13 2:30pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Briarcliff Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jane Jacobs said she’s had a positive experience working with all of the district’s kindergarten teachers in one building. It’s the only elementary school in Shoreham-Wading River with a kindergarten program.

Kitchens and cafeterias are being considered as part of an overall infrastructure improvement and grade-realignment plan being considered by Shoreham-Wading River School District board members and administrators.

Currently, only the district’s high school has a kitchen and cafeteria.

Roger Smith of BBS Architects in Patchogue gave a presentation during the school board’s Tuesday night meeting on plan, which divides students into buildings by grade level, an approach known as the Princeton Plan, developed in Princeton, N.J., and currently in use in many other districts.

Under the consultant’s plan, Briarcliff Elementary School would become a kindergarten-only building. That school currently runs a K-1 program. During the presentation, Mr. Smith said grades 1-3 could attend either Miller Avenue or Wading River elementary schools. Students in grades 4 and 5 would go to the other of those two schools.

Mr. Smith said the realignment plan would cost the district about an $8 million.

In addition, he said, it would cost approximately $11 million more to build kitchens and cafeterias at Miller Avenue and Wading River elementary schools and Prodell Middle School. No such facilities would be added at Briarcliff.

School officials stressed that the kitchen/cafeteria proposal was added to the discussion because residents have incessantly asked why there are no cafeterias in the schools. That component of overall infrastructure plan is not tied to the grade realignment proposal.

If the school board decides to move forward with both realignment and facility upgrades, Mr. Smith estimated that it could vote on a resolution in October and set a Dec. 10 special election for voting on a capital improvement bond proposal.

School board vice president John Zukowski said he isn’t comfortable making any decisions until the community has had more opportunity to weigh in on the discussion.

“The Princeton Plan was first discussed at the last meeting,” Mr. Zukowski said. “We need to hear from the community on whether or not the Princeton Plan is something they embrace. I think that’s an important first step before releasing a bond.”

Jane Jacobs, who teaches kindergarten at Briarcliff, said she’s had a positive experience in her building since it became the district’s sole kindergarten school about 14 years ago, after the Wading River kindergarten program moved to Briarcliff.

“With the rigor of Common Core, knowing the children are receiving the same skills in instruction is a comfort to parents,” Ms. Jacobs said. “We’re not cookie cutters and we don’t do exactly the same thing. There’s a continuity there and the curriculum is delivered in the same way from room to room as a result of us being in the same building.”

Tuesday night’s meeting was the second public forum held this summer to discuss the district’s capital improvement options as officials struggle to find a way to cut costs while preserving programs and keeping the district under the state’s tax levy cap.

Superintendent Steven Cohen said potential savings from the K-5 realignment would occur through reducing the number of class sections and reducing staff, including eliminating a principal, a psychologist and a music teacher.

“We would be able to preserve class size, all of our programs and improve professional development,” he said.

The board agreed to schedule workshops next month at the Miller Avenue and Wading River schools to discuss the plan with the community.

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08/18/13 4:15pm
COURTESY FILE PHOTO | Students from Shoreham-Wading River’s Global Awareness Club in Meru, Kenya, in 2011.

COURTESY FILE PHOTO | Students from Shoreham-Wading River’s Global Awareness Club in Meru, Kenya, in 2011.

A Shoreham-Wading River High School student won a $10,000 grant last month and plans to donate the money to help an orphanage in Kenya.

Julie Lindell, 17, volunteers in the school’s Global Awareness Club and is involved with Hope Children’s Fund, a nonprofit organization that operates an orphanage in Meru, Kenya.

Amway, a worldwide distribution company, awarded 10 grants last month in its annual Amway’s Who Cares Challenge: Youth Leadership Contest. Each winner received $10,000 to give to the nonprofit organization of their choice, according to Amway’s website.

“The children already have the motivation and foundation for success and with a solid education they will have the ability to go out into the world, support themselves and give back to their community,” Julie wrote in her entry essay, called “A Helping Hand for Hope. “The children have hearts of gold and with an education they will be able to combine the two to do incredible things and change the future of Kenya and their communities.”

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07/24/13 9:15am
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | SWR Superintendent Steven Cohen explains some of the changes the district is considering.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | SWR Superintendent Steven Cohen explains some of the changes the district is considering.

Briarcliff Elementary School as a kindergarten-only building. Online courses in the middle and high schools. Sorting students through the district’s elementary schools by grade, not location.

It may be the early planning stages, but these were some of the ideas the Shoreham-Wading River school board floated to the public at an open forum held at the board’s meeting Tuesday night.

The mid-summer discussion was designed to get parents and community members talking about ways to “preserve district programs” while also cutting back on costs and keeping the district under the state’s tax levy cap.

The plans, if approved by the board, would not be implemented until at least the 2015-16 school year.

Board members cautioned that districts across Long Island were at a “tipping point” and were having to make decisions about where to cut spending.

Because the district has roughly $9 million remaining in reserve funds and another $9 million due from prior un-awarded state aid, school officials said the district has another two or three years left before those funds run out and the district must begin cutting programs.

School board trustees said they hope to have a plan in place by then that would limit the damage.

“Any change requires sacrifice from the community,” said school board vice president John Zukowski “The community has to decide what it’s willing to sacrifice to keep our programs and whether or not it’s worth it.”

One of the proposals discussed at the forum was the “Princeton Plan,” a system that would divide students up between the district’s elementary schools by grade. All kindergarteners would attend Briarcliff, while all grades 1-3 would attend Miller Avenue school with all of grades 4 and 5 in Wading River Elementary.

Superintendent Steven Cohen said the plan would keep average class sizes the same, but would allow the district to eliminate clerical and teaching positions that would be deemed as excess after the switch.

However, some district parents at the meeting said they were wary of such a plan because of increased times on bus schedules and asked for the board to consider other options.

Mr. Cohen said the district had not yet determined how much would be saved under such a plan, adding that the idea was “not set in stone, or even ink.”

The superintendent also raised the idea of collaborating with local school districts to use online learning to save electives that might have otherwise been dropped due to lack of enrollment.

District officials said even if online courses were approved, teachers would be used in the classroom to re-enforce the material.

Discussions about the district’s plans, as well as a potential school bond to pay for repairs at the district’s buildings, will continue into the fall, school officials said.

“We have to keep in mind the melancholy reality that the changes are going to happen,” Mr. Cohen said. “Our choice is for us to be in control of that process or for us to be passive and be forced to do something that we’re not going to like.”

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06/23/2013 2:30 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | The student journalism award winners in Shoreham-Wading River include (back row, from left) editor-in-chief Giavanna Verdi, Barbara Ferentinos, editor-in-chief Ashlyan Vicari, (front row) managing editor Shannon Steimel, news editor Gabrielle Bruno and Kelly Granzen.

Shoreham-Wading River journalism student Giavanna Verdi wants to tell you a story about the real person behind a character in the 1992 hit movie, “A League of Their Own.”

The Betty Spaghetti character is based on Giavanna’s great-great-aunt Betty Trezza, who was known by friends, family and fans as “Moe.”

“Betty was often referred to as ‘Moe’ on the diamond,” Giavanna wrote in an article — printed in the shape of a baseball diamond — for her student newspaper, Wildcat Pause, of which she is co-editor-in-chief.

“She had trouble remembering her teammates’ names when first playing for the Racine Belles. If she wanted to get someone’s attention, she would yell ‘Moe!’ So, as a team joke, her teammates and eventually her fans called her ‘Moe.’ ”

Giavanna’s feature won two awards — third place, format buster and an honorable mention in the sports feature category — at the Long Island Press High School Journalism Awards ceremony May 22 at Hofstra University, where more than 1,200 submissions were judged.

Her awards were among the 33 total that Wildcat Pause took home from the competition.

This was the paper’s best year for awards, said student newspaper adviser Jean Branna.

“[The students] are very dedicated,” she said. “They really care about what appears in the paper and work hard. They really think through what they’re doing, and I think that’s one of the reasons why they are so successful.”

Another successful submission was Kelly Granzen’s “Small Town Teens,” which won first place in the serious feature category. She also won second place for news illustration, third place for informational feature and third place for a feature-local story.

Kelly said she was able to get a local teen drug abuse story after she agreed to keep her student sources anonymous. Asked by a reporter if she was worried that students weren’t telling her the truth, since they could hide behind anonymity, Kelly said she wasn’t concerned.

“Most of their stories were already known, so I knew they were being honest,” she said. “I was scared to ask them if I could use their names because I felt they would back out of the whole interview. I told them that we wouldn’t use their names and they agreed to speak.”

One award Ms. Branna said she was wasn’t expecting was the first place for layout/overall, since the district uses an obsolete layout program called PageMaker.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” she said, adding that the paper’s software will be updated to InDesign this summer. “[The students] really care. They come in after school and adjust any layout things that have to be adjusted. Sometimes we get a little obsessed with things that the reader isn’t even going to notice. [Graphics editor Paul Whitbeck] did a great job. He can do anything.”

As six of the paper’s 46 staff members reminisced last week about the school year’s top stories, co-editor-in-chief Ashlyn Vicari said she’s most proud of how the paper tackled the stickiest issues of abortion, gay rights and gun control.

“I’m really proud of everybody,” she said. “Everyone did an amazing job.”

Ashlyn, a senior, earned three first place awards: reporting on Newtown, for “Newtown Reawakens Ideas for Stricter Gun Control”; entertainment & lifestyle, for “Students Can’t Shake Their Hillbilly Bone”; and layout/single page, for “Like This Article if You Agree.” She also won this year’s Riverhead News-Review journalism award and plans to major in journalism and minor in economics at St. John’s University.

News editor Gabrielle Bruno said she’s also interested in pursuing journalism and enjoys being able to write about any topic she’s interested in.

“I think writing something that you’re passionate about and seeing it all come together is very rewarding,” she said.

Gabrielle won four awards, including first place, food commentary, for “All I Want for Christmas is … Food?”; second place, social commentary – general, for “Keep the Fashion Trend Out of Religion”; third place, opinion, for “Celebrities Catch a Case of Obsessive Teens”; and honorable mention, news story, for “Triumphant Wildcats Share Homecoming Spotlight.”

Barbara Ferentinos’s article on the district’s capital improvement proposals won a second place award for a school news story. Barbara also earned a third place award in the serious feature category for her story about tattoo and piercing trends.

Barbara said she enjoyed conducting interviews and found school administrators’ comments added more reliable information to her stories than did student comments.

“Administrators put thought into what they are saying whereas students just say whatever they feel like,” she said.

Shannon Steimel said she enjoyed writing a narrative about being a twin, as well as her feature about teens living double lives. She received honorable mentions for both stories.

Here’s a summary of the other Wildcat Pause award winners:

Lauren Lustgarten, second place, non-deadline news, “School Security Ups Student Safety Procedures.”

Tom Cummings, second place, entertainment & lifestyle, “Energy Drinks & Caffeine – The Truth Behind Labels” and honorable mention, student profile, “Corey Cairo Plays with Pros.”

Tim Haggerty, second place, reviews/criticism, “What’s Cooking for Helsenberg?”

James Kuczewski, third place, arts review – film, “Caped Crusader” and third place, layout/single page, “Initiate Phase Two: The Avengers Reassembles in 2015.”

Spring Yu, third place, arts & entertainment, “Psy Says ‘Dress Classy & Dance Cheesy.’ ”

Emily Kulesa, honorable mention, first person, “Eat Haggis & Ceilidh,” and honorable mention, first person, “Students Panic … Lost APs.”

Michael Julian, honorable mention, student profile, “Rotanz Improving Already Stellar Career.”

Casey DePalma, honorable mention, opinion piece – school, “Bullying Behind the Monitor.”

Carolyn Rogers, honorable mention, arts review – art, “Media Students Display ‘Best in Show’ Talent.”

Thomas Kirby, honorable mention, sports feature, “Amputees Dribble Down Wildcat Court.”

Joseph Whelan, honorable mention, political/local feature, “Minimum Wage: Beneficial for Whom?”

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06/22/13 5:41pm
06/22/2013 5:41 PM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Riverhead graduates at Saturday morning’s ceremony.

Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River both held their graduation ceremonies Saturday morning as hundreds of students saw their high school journey come to an end.

There was plenty to celebrate and many wished congratulations to their classmates and friends via social media.

Below is a sample of what some people were saying today:

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River High School students at their graduation Saturday morning.

The Class of 2013 at Shoreham-Wading River received diplomas Saturday morning in a ceremony at the high school.

Valedictorian Cari Gostic and salutatorian Taylor Brant delivered speeches to their classmates and Eric Lopez sang “You Raise Me Up.”

The graduating class featured 206 students.

For a full list of graduates and bios on the valedictorian and salutatorian, pick up a copy of the June 27 News-Review to find a special graduation insert.

06/14/13 3:44pm
06/14/2013 3:44 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The News-Review journalism award winners were Kendall Stark (left) of Riverhead and Ashlyn Vicari of Shoreham-Wading River.

The Riverhead News-Review honored its journalism award recipients Thursday night at a ceremony in Mattituck.

Senior Kendall Stark received the award for Riverhead High School. Kendall’s school activities include the interact club, chamber orchestra, chamber choir, community awareness program and a photography internship with Steve Berger. Kendall plans to major in journalism at Emerson College.

Senior Ashlyn Vicari received the award for Shoreham-Wading River. A soccer and track player, Ashlyn said she enjoys writing, drawing and reading. She plans to major in journalism and minor in economics at St. John’s University.