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High School Students Make a Cross County Connection

High School Students Make a Cross County Connection photo

Members of Amityville Memorial High School’s Warrior Awareness Club eagerly waited at the front door for their guests to arrive on Nov. 15. After a 23-mile ride across Suffolk County, 28 students from Bayport-Blue Point High School and their chaperones pulled up on a school bus and were warmly greeted by their hosts.

The Cultural Exchange program, an annual tradition in Amityville, is designed to connect students from across Long Island. It creates bonds and establishes new friendships, as the teens typically keep in touch through text message or social media. 

Students from both schools gathered in the cafeteria for breakfast and icebreaker activities that helped them find common interests. WAC PAC adviser Jason McGowan called out two words, like bacon or sausage, or Christmas or Halloween, and students went to one side of the room or the other. There was also great enthusiasm during a rock-paper-scissors competition. 

Each Bayport-Blue Point student was paired up with an Amityville student and they attended classes together throughout the day before coming together again for a pizza lunch. The students will meet up in the spring when Amityville students will visit Bayport-Blue Point High School. 



Physical Education Students of the Year

Physical Education Students of the Year photo
Seniors Carlos Ponce and Ashley Sanz were named physical education students of the year for Amityville Memorial High School by the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Awareness Weekend Builds Bridges at High School

Awareness Weekend Builds Bridges at High School photo

For 97 Amityville Memorial High School students, their school day didn’t have a typical ending on Nov. 9. Instead of going home for the weekend, those students spent the next 32 hours in the school participating in bonding activities and listening to inspirational speakers.

Awareness Weekend has been an annual tradition for 15 years. The 10th-, 11th and 12th-graders who participate say it is a transformative experience that cultivates new friendships and leads to self-reflection.

“You feel welcome,” said senior Jeridania Rodriguez, a first-time participant this year. “This is an opportunity to express yourself in a different environment and no one judges you here.”

An essential part of Awareness Weekend are the family groups. Students are typically paired with others who are not part of their normal friendship circle, and each team has a facilitator. Family groups have follow-up discussions based on the speakers, share personal experiences and participate in icebreaker activities. 

This year’s keynote speaker was Bobby Petrocelli, whose “You Matter” presentation kicked off Awareness Weekend on Friday afternoon. He told students that the world deserves their greatness and that they should never be hindered by something in their past. He spoke of a tragedy in his life, and how bad decisions by one person can have consequences for many.

Chris Memoli was involved in a car accident at 16 and suffered brain injuries as a result of no wearing a seatbelt. He communicates through typing device and shared his story about he overcame tragedy to earn his master’s degree in computer science. Hashim Garrett, a former gang member who paralyzed from waist down, spoke about forgiveness, overcoming adversity and learning from mistakes.

Alisha Armellini, mother of senior Imagine Halyard, said Awareness Weekend has been tremendously valuable for her daughter. During her sophomore year, Imagine was able to share a personal story about a traumatic event in her past. That revelation ultimately had a positive impact on her home life and her emotional well-being. 

“Awareness Weekend saves lives and saves families,” Ms. Armellini said. “It has brought so much goodness to our family. Every student should participate in this program.”

Students and their faculty chaperones spent the night in the school in sleeping bags and on air mattresses in classrooms. Awareness Weekend ended at 10 p.m. on Saturday night with goodbyes and hugs. Special education teacher Jason McGowan, who coordinated the event, said it was inspirational weekend for both the students and the teachers.

“Our 97 participants truly did break down walls and build bridges,” said Mr. McGowan, citing the weekend’s theme. “These students left here on Saturday night as new people. They learned a little about themselves and more importantly, learned from their peers. They also realized is that they are not alone and that they matter.”



Veterans Share Their Stories in Amityville

Veterans Share Their Stories in Amityville photo

History came alive for students in the district as veterans, representing different branches of the military and different conflict periods, shared their experiences. Edmund W. Miles Middle School hosted Veterans Appreciation Day on Nov. 13, and Amityville Memorial High School’s program followed on Nov. 15.

At the middle school, a dozen veterans spent the day visiting social studies classes. Among the speakers were Board of Education First Vice President Juan Leon, Amityville Village Trustee Nick LaLota and district staff members. A few active servicemen communicated with the students through videoconferences.

They discussed their reasons for joining the armed force, basic training, military life, responsibilities, challenges and return to civilian life. Many of the speakers said what they enjoyed most about serving was having the opportunity to travel all over the world.

“The military is so much more than combat and war,” ninth-grade social studies teacher Jack Zider said. “We wanted to give our students an appreciation for our veterans and their many roles in serving our country.”

Veterans also spoke to students in their social studies classes at the high school. Social studies department Chairwoman Dawn Mizrachi said that their personal experiences provided students with a deeper understanding of history.



Boys Soccer Team Captures State Title

Boys Soccer Team Captures State Title photo
A dominant season for the Amityville Memorial High School boys soccer team culminated with a state championship. The Warriors defeated the Somers High School Tuskers, 2-1, in the NYSPHSAA Class A Finals on Nov. 11 in Middletown. 

After going undefeated in the regular season, along with one tie, the Warriors breezed through the playoffs. They beat Hauppauge High School, 3-1, on Nov. 1 to win the Suffolk Class A championship and captured the Long Island title three days later with a 5-0 win over Mepham High School. In the state semifinals, Amityville defeated Rochester Brighton 2-0 on Nov. 10 to set up their match with Somers. 

Led by coach Mike Abbondondolo and assistant coach Chris Gannon, the Warriors captured their second championship in school history, with the first coming in 2015. Henry Martinez scored both goals in the clinching game, but Amityville got contributions from up and down the roster in its playoff run including Rolman Guardado, Kymani Hines, Angel Zavala and goaltender Kyle Barsic. 

Science Research Students Take on Ambitious 3D Printing Project

Science Research Students Take on Ambitious 3D Printing Project photo
While 3D printing has become increasingly popular in recent years, students in the Amityville Union Free School District will be getting a unique experience with the technology. Middle and high school students in the Independent Science Research program will be taking part in a nano 3D printing project in partnership with Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Teacher Alexis Charles and students drafted a proposal that was accepted by BNL to use its nanofabrication facility. The project required Ms. Charles to visit several times over the summer to be trained on the machine because she will be the one allowed into BNL’s “clean room.” Students will dictate the procedure to create a microscopic structure to grow cells.

Students involved in the project include John Hermann, Randy Jerez, Keiry Martinez, Maurice Pettway, Keniese Price, Rene Santos, Trea’von Smith, and Z’Dhanne Williams.

Amityville’s science research students work closely on other projects with Farmingdale State College biology professor Dr. Andrew Michaelson, and from him they learned about two dental procedures that have a high rate of failure. Indirect pulp capping has a 10 percent rate of failure, and direct pulp capping fails at 20 percent, which Ms. Charles explained is high for such costly procedures. 

The students are looking to grow dentin cells, and if their project is successful, it could revolutionize the procedure and increase the rate of success. Dentin cells are the part of teeth sensitive to hot and cold. The cells would be grown in vitro — outside of the mouth — which is why a small structure is required. Students will design the structure using computer assisted drawing software.

Ninth-grader Rene Santos said that creating the structure will pose some challenges because of its small size. Once it is made, it has to be carefully dried as an air gun would blow it away. Additionally, it will require a high-powered microscope to see. 

Ms. Charles said that in order to have the proposal accepted by a panel of three BNL scientists, it had to meet two standards. It had to contribute merit to the scientific community and also be feasible to make on the available equipment. Scientist Ming Lu has joined the project and is providing support to the group, such as giving students tips on how to overcome common problems encountered when designing an on object of a microscopic scale. 

In preparation for the upcoming project, the science research students have already had some experience designing objects using CAD software. They have learned about the difference between 3D printing and nano 3D printing, the latter using a gel to create a microscopic object as opposed to a plastic filament that builds layer by layer. 

“This type of project isn’t what the average ninth- or 10th-grader does,” said freshman Randy Jerez. “It’s a blessing to be in a group like this at such as young age, and to be able to make a difference in the dental industry.”

Ms. Charles said that the project has attracted students with many different interests, and that there is a place for everyone to contribute. Some are interested in the scientific and medical aspects, while others want to contribute their creativity and imagination to the design process. 

She added that the group is hoping to have the project substantially complete so they can compete in next year’s Long Island Science and Engineering Fair. 

Kicks and Serves for a Cure in Amityville

Kicks and Serves for a Cure in Amityville photo

The Warriors took on the fight against breast cancer as Amityville Memorial High School athletic teams raised nearly $750 during October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Money was donated to various causes that support research and assist patients.

The girls varsity soccer team played their Kicks for Cancer home game on Oct. 15 against neighboring Copiague. It culminated a fundraising effort which included selling raffle tickets for various prizes and hosting a bake sale. The girls wore special uniforms with pink lettering along with pink socks hair ribbons. The fence adjoining the field was adorned with pink streamers and pink and white balloons. 

“They were enthusiastic about it and wanted to help the cause,” said head coach Angela Steiger. 

That same afternoon, the girls junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams held their Dig Pink games against Islip. The team sold baked goods, pink lemonade and pink “Just Cure It” shirts to raise money. Amityville was among dozens of high schools participating in the Dig Pink initiative which supports the Side-Out Foundation.

Building Bonds at Amityville Beach

Building Bonds at Amityville Beach photo

From A to Z, Amityville Memorial High School seniors lined up by first name during an activity at Amityville Beach on Oct. 10. The trick was, they had to do it without talking.

It was one of several bonding activities that seniors participated in during Awareness Day, an annual fall event for the senior class. Special education teacher Jason McGowan, who organized the day, said it was an opportunity for students to get to know each other better before they graduate and head off in different directions. 

A popular activity was the rock-paper-scissors competition. Students randomly paired up, and winners continued playing until a champion emerged. During Link It Up, each student found a peer who shared something in common like his or her birthday months or favorite food. Mr. McGowan posed questions to them to prompt discussions.

Later in the day, students formed groups of eight to 10, and that became their “family group” for the day. They were encouraged to join up with people who weren’t in their normal circle of friends. 

Noah Odige is in his second year at Amityville Memorial High School, so as a newcomer to a class that has largely been together since kindergarten, he enjoyed the experience. In addition to getting know his classmates better, Noah said Awareness Day helped strengthen existing friendships and created new ones.

“It’s a great bonding experience for the seniors,” he said. “It makes us stronger as a class.”

In November, the school will host Awareness Weekend, which is open to students in grades 10-12. The Friday afternoon to Saturday night event will include bonding activities, guest speakers and a sleepover in the school. 



District Breaks Ground on High School Expansion

District Breaks Ground on High School Expansion photo

Amityville Memorial High School will soon be doubling in size. District officials and students celebrated the beginning of a major expansion project with a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 9.

The addition to the early 1950s school is the marquee project in the $69.9 million bond approved by voters in March 2016, which includes upgrades to all five of the district’s schools and administration building. The new wing at the high school will include a gymnasium with locker rooms, science labs, classrooms and added cafeteria space. Enhancements to the current building will include a renovated library media center, a new music and art suite created from the existing gymnasium and locker room, new windows, and mechanical system upgrades.

Preliminary work began in September with the installation of construction fencing and site preparation. The concrete foundation will be poured and soon after the calendar turns to 2019 the steel frame should begin to rise. 

“This was a community effort,” said Superintendent Dr. Mary T. Kelly, who spoke about the planning that began in 2014 to identify facilities needs in the district. “A lot of study went into this process. We’ve needed this space for a long time, and a lot of great changes are about to begin because of this. It will be a state-of-the-art high school.” 

Joining Dr. Kelly in the celebration were board of education trustees, central office and high school administrators, students, the marching band and representatives from BBS Architects and Park East Construction. The expansion and renovations are expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2020-21 school year, at which point the ninth-grade will move from the middle school to the high school.



Fall Festival Kicks off Homecoming weekend

Fall Festival Kicks off Homecoming weekend photo
Warrior pride was on full display at Amityville Memorial High School’s second annual Homecoming festival on Oct. 12, an event that brought the entire community together.

Students of all ages, teachers, administrators, board of education trustees and parents were among those who attended. Each school was represented, along with middle school and high school student clubs, the Amityville Teachers Association, Amityville Parent Teacher Council and community organizations. There was a large turnout of Amityville athletes, who came to the fair following their afternoon practices. 

Activities included fall-themed games like pumpkin bowling and a spider ring toss. There were burgers and hot dogs, a pumpkin decorating station and an Amityville Pride photo booth complete with props.

The event was coordinated by the Homecoming Festival Committee comprised of board of education members, administrators and staff. Fine Arts Director Dr. Fran Fernandez said the purpose of the event was to promote unity and get the community excited for the following day’s Homecoming celebration.  
 

Amityville Honors its Athletic Legends

Amityville Honors its Athletic Legends photo

The eight inductees into the Amityville Memorial High School Sports Hall of Fame represented generations of athletes and coaches whose accomplishments were celebrated at a ceremony on Oct. 5.

The members of the Class of 2018 included Leighton Clarke, Theresa Findlay, Aaron Garrett, Eugene Nottingham, James Porr, Barbour Williams and Darrel Young. Miles Borden, a former coach, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Sports Hall of Fame now boasts 91 members.

Leighton Clarke, a 1984 graduate, was a member of the cross country and track and field teams. He was a four-year varsity letterman, an All-League, All-Conference, All-County and All-Long Island athlete, and captain during his junior and senior years. As a senior, he finished second at the Eastern States in the 1600-meter race walk and won the C.W. Post Suffolk County Coaches Invitational 5K race walk with a record-setting time.

Theresa Findlay (1992) played four sports during her time at Amityville Memorial High School. She was a captain for her basketball, soccer and track and field teams, and earned athletic scholarships in those sports. Theresa was a three-sport All-County and All-League athlete and All-Long Island in basketball and track and field. Additionally, she was a member of the girls volleyball team.

Aaron Garrett (1999) was on the varsity track and field team for four years and wrestling and football for three years. He achieved All-League honors in football, All-League and All-County in wrestling, and All-League, All-Division and All-County in track and field. Aaron played in the Suffolk County All-Star football game in 1999, was part of the 1997 boys track and field League V Division III championship team, and was a track and field county champion in the pentathlon.

Eugene Nottingham (2000) played football and basketball for Amityville. He was a three-year starter on the varsity football team, earning All-League honors three times, All-County honors twice and All-Long Island honors as a senior. Additionally, he received the Hanson Award in 2000 which is given to the Outstanding Football Player in Suffolk County.

James “Jimmy” Porr (1977) wrestled and ran for the track and field team. He finished second in the Amityville Wrestling Tournament as a junior and won the event as a senior. His track and field accomplishments include an undefeated freshman season in which he set the school record in the 880-yard sprint, a victory in the conference championships in the 440-yard sprint as a junior and a gold medal at the New York State Track and Field Championships in the distance medley as a senior.

Barbour “Bob” Williams (1936) was a member of the football and track teams. The football team was undefeated during his senior year. In track, he was known as the “Amityville Flash” for his dominance in sprint events and the 100-yard and 220-yard dashes. He passed away in 1994 and was represented by his daughter, Ella, at the ceremony.

Darrell Young (2005) has the only retired football jersey in Amityville, with his number 31 banner hanging in the gymnasium. He was named an All-County athlete as a sophomore, junior and senior, and was the team’s MVP for three seasons. Recognition included the Collotta Award for Most Outstanding Linebacker in Suffolk County as a junior and a selection to the Boomer Esiason Foundation Empire Challenge High School All-Star game. Darrel went to Villanova University on a full scholarship and played for the Washington Redskins for six seasons. 

Miles Borden worked in the district for 32 years as a mechanical drawing teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent. He coached cross country and track from 1952 to 1957. 

Celebrating the accomplishments of the inductees were family members, friends, coaches, high school and central office administrators and board of education trustees. Student volunteers from the high school served dinner. 

The eight honorees were selected by the Sports Hall of Fame Committee, with First Vice Chairman Bruce Pescitelli serving as emcee and introducing the honorees.

Committee Chairman Reynolds Hawkins said the Hall of Fame was founded to honor the legacy of Amityville athletics and bring recognition to its legendary athletes. Superintendent Dr. Mary T. Kelly added that all of the inductees embody the Warriors’ ideals and values, such as good sportsmanship and pride. 

 
Monday, December 10, 2018