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Random Acts of Kindness Spark Joy

Three girls pose with the lunch bags they decorated.

Learning to be kind starts young and is reinforced as students grow. At Locust Valley Middle School, health classes recently used teamwork and creativity to help students share ideas on ways they can be kind.

After viewing a video about a boy named Liam in Massachusetts who started a non-profit organization called Liam’s Lunches of Love. Liam delivers food to the homeless in paper bags handcrafted with motivational sayings, and Locust Valley Middle School health classes decided to step in to help him, just as Liam helped others. 

Sixth-graders talked about various acts of kindness, wrote examples of acts of kindness on the white board and then decorated paper bags to send to Liam’s Lunches of Love. Students researched inspirational quotes and, using colorful markers and crayons, wrote those quotes on the bags. Their own decorations surrounded sayings such as “It never gets easier, you just get better” and “Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.”

Middle school health teacher Laura Vera said that after learning about Liam’s Lunches of Love, she and her fellow health teachers Heather DeGregorio and Roberto Gutierrez agreed that assisting him in his efforts could act as a reminder that we all have the capacity to spread kindness.  

“By decorating the bags with motivational sayings and artwork, and writing gratitude notes to a special person in their lives, students were able to practice a random act of kindness before they even left the classroom," said Ms. Vera.

Excellence Earns Entrance to National Junior Honor Society

Five students pose in front of glitter board

More than 60 Locust Valley Middle School students proved that they had all the attributes required to join the prestigious National Junior Honor Society and were inducted during a traditional ceremony on Feb. 7.

The society accepts only those students having demonstrated qualities that exhibit scholarship, service, leadership, character and citizenship. Therefore, sitting on the stage in the middle school auditorium during the ceremony were inductees representing the school as well-rounded, hardworking and community minded. 

Assisted by the National Junior Honor Society advisers Kelley Grassi and Jennifer Tichy, the organization’s current officers led the ceremony, each describing one of the society’s required qualities and lighting the corresponding candle. President Margaret Kuebler lit the candle for scholarship, Vice President Jolie Pye for service, Secretary Catherine Saffi for leadership, Treasurer Megan McDonald for character and Service Officer Susan Meza for citizenship.

Board of Education President Brian Nolan addressed the inductees and their guests. “On behalf of the Board of Education, I congratulate each of you and thank you for being a part of what makes Locust Valley Central School District so successful,” he said. “It is you and your teachers that bring life to our school buildings and create energy in our classrooms, and we are thrilled to celebrate you.”

Principal H. Thomas Hogan said it was impressive that the students managed to be successful in a broad range of subjects over an extended period of time. “Think about that as the central attribute of success,” he said. 

Mr. Hogan led the inductees in reciting the pledge of the National Junior Honor Society and the lighting of their individual candles. 

The ceremony closed with inspiring words from Acting Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso. “I was truly in awe to hear the kinds of things that these young people are involved in,” he said. Dr. Bonuso explained that in his short time in the district, he has seen middle school students excel in an array of activities, including their recent musical production. 

Congratulations to all of the National Junior Honor Society inductees!

Focusing on Inspiration, Independence and Ingenuity

Marc and Nicole at a table with pencil and paper
Marc and Nicole at a table with pencil and paper and their teacher
Two seventh-grade students learned important lessons by teaching a lesson themselves. Marc Joseph and Nicole Contoudis became teachers for a day and they prepared for the experience as any expert educator would.
As part of Michele Gaglione’s rhetoric and debate course, which offers enrichment for all students, Marc and Nicole were participating in Genius Hour, a concept Ms. Gaglione learned about while partaking in professional development. The idea comes from Google, where it is said that employees are given 20 percent of their time to research a passion project. Ms. Gaglione put this practice in place, allowing these first-time teachers to experiment with their own passion, which happened to be drawing for both of them. Ms. Gaglione served as the facilitator for their project, allowing them to develop independence while guiding them to be successful.
To learn more about teaching drawing, Marc and Nicole interviewed their principal, H. Thomas Hogan, who also heads the district’s art department. They polled their classmates to uncover what type of drawing lesson would be best received and they created a lesson plan. Finally, they executed the lesson, teaching the students in their rhetoric and debate class how to draw a hand in an illustrative and realistic fashion.
Ms. Gaglione said the lesson had to include an adaptive teaching method, creating a plan that could be followed by students of varying artistic abilities. She explained that they also had to set a schedule to ensure their lesson would fit into the allotted time frame.

“Marc and Nicole chose a challenging project and they succeeded by taking it one step at a time,” she said.
Nicole, who described herself as shy, said teaching a lesson to her classmates helped her learn that not all people are judgmental. She felt comfortable teaching a topic that she is passionate about and felt that her students respected her.
Marc said that he discovered just how much a teacher has to learn, as he had to become an expert on drawing all parts of a body in order to teach his students how to do the same. 

“I really enjoyed teaching drawing and the preparation that was involved,” he said.
“I encourage children to think critically and work on their 21st-century skills,” Ms. Gaglione said. “Genius Hour allows them to question, break projects down and choose a project that inspires them.”

All-County Musicians

Music note graphic
Student-musicians across the district are excelling in band, orchestra and chorus. Many students performed in the Nassau Music Educators Association All-County Music Festival. Acceptance into this prestigious program is largely based on NYSSMA scores from the previous year. Students are nominated by their music teachers and are chosen by a selection committee from the festival. Students participate in several long rehearsals led by a guest conductor and have a culminating concert at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.

Congratulations to the following students:

Bayville Elementary School

Evie Bergman, Grade 5, Chorus
Leah Bolitho, Grade 5, Chorus
Delila Cody, Grade 5, Chorus
Lucia Connelly, Grade 5 Chorus
Juliana Darrah, Grade 5, Chorus
Christopher Emmerich, Grade 5, Chorus
Elizabeth Madden, Grade 5, Chorus
Samiyah Michalski, Grade 5, Chorus
Julia Pisciotta, Grade 5, Orchestra
Morgan Smith, Grade 5, Chorus
Adbvaith Sreenivas, Grade 5, Chorus
Elizabeth Watson, Grade 5, Band

Locust Valley Elementary School

Grant Creedon, Grade 5, Orchestra
Emily Gallo, Grade 5, Band
Julia Rappa, Grade 5, Chorus
Rowan Shenoy, Grade 5, Orchestra

Locust Valley Middle School

Ciaran Bowden, Grade 6, Orchestra
Kathryn Constantin, Grade 6, Chorus
John D’Addario, Grade 9, Orchestra
Katherine Gu, Grade 8, Orchestra
Jenna Linden, Grade 7, Chorus
Sofia Maragos, Grade 6, Chorus
Aidan Moran, Grade 8, Band
Kieran Moran, Grade 7, Jazz Band
Owen Pye, Grade 6, Band
William Wysolovski, Grade 7, Orchestra

Locust Valley High School

Ashleigh Capozzi, Grade 11, Treble Choir
Olivia Cody, Grade 9, Chorus
Nils Coffey, Grade 11, Orchestra
Brett Dalis, Grade 9, Chorus
Timothy Peguillan, Grade 11, Mixed Chorus
Ezra Pietrafesa, Grade 10, Band (Division 4)
Sabrina Raichoudhury, Grade 9, Chorus

LVMS Musical is a Hit!

Student actors on stage

The Locust Valley Middle School auditorium was transformed into a Caribbean Island as students acted, sang and danced in “Once on This Island, Jr.” The young performers were convincing as they told the story of a peasant girl who falls in love with a wealthy boy from the other side of the island.

Colorful sets, traditional costumes and performances that came from their souls made this musical one to remember during two performances on Jan. 25 and 26.