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Honoring Our Veterans

veterans image 1

Audience members needed to grab their tissues as Ann MacArthur Primary School students honored veterans with emotional songs and tributes. The stage was a sea of red, white and blue with stars and flags mixed in as second-graders, dressed for their important roles in the Celebration of Gratitude.

As the children took turns reading about the meaning of Veterans Day, the importance of our flag and gratitude for the veterans who fought for our freedom, the audience dabbed their eyes, caught up in the emotion of the very serious words coming from the young mouths.

Following the singing of patriotic songs including “I Love My Country,” “Thank You Soldiers,” and “America,” six students introduced their special guests. These honorees were all veterans, having served in various branches of the armed services.

To conclude the ceremony, the crowd joined in to sing “God Bless America.” 
Second-grade teachers Tanya Becker, Amanda McCarthy and Tara Rice, along with music teacher Jane Benstock worked with the children to learn their parts. 

Locust Valley Elementary School Principal Dr. Sophia Gary said the ceremony was beautiful and a fitting tribute to veterans. “The faculty did a tremendous job to ensure that our veterans were honored in the way the deserve and the children made the assembly the beautiful tribute that it was.”

The following veterans were honored during the Celebration of Gratitude:
Edward Ja-kob (great-great-grandfather of Jackson Bosch), Bob Lonigro (grandfather of Kaymon Lonigro), Joe Novack (grandfather of Penelope Novack), Patrick Tomlinson (grandfather of Alex Tomlinson), Warren Wasp (family friend of Charlotte Munsill) and Rick Zappala (family friend of Henry Postillino).

Bringing Community Together for Halloween

kids in Halloween costumes

Elementary students dressed in their Halloween costumes went from door to door, trick-or-treating on Sunday, Oct. 28. They didn’t confuse the date for the real Halloween – they went to classrooms at Locust Valley High School, where the student government sponsored Safe Halloween, providing the community’s children with a safe and fun trick-or-treating experience.

Each classroom had a theme, designed and run by members of various high school clubs. The Robotics Club, for example, held a trivia competition complete with electronic buzzers. There was also mummy wrapping, face painting, bowling, arts and crafts and more. In each room, children were given Halloween candy, leaving them with full buckets by the end of the day.

From school families to staff members, the community came together, bringing their children to celebrate, play and show off their costumes. Patrick DiClemente, who attended his first Safe Halloween as the new high school principal, said the event was a great success. 

“Sunday was a proud day as our youngest and oldest students, our staff members and residents joined together for an event filled with many smiles, outstanding costumes and a positive community atmosphere,” he said.

Bilingual Night Builds School/Community Relationships

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A two-night event brought 85 Spanish-speaking parents together in an effort to improve the community/school relationship and facilitate an increase in parental involvement. Bilingual Night was held at Bayville Primary School and Ann MacArthur Primary School on Oct. 16-17. Parents from the elementary, middle and high schools were invited to attend.
Facilitated by Cyndy Ergen, a teaching assistant at Locust Valley Intermediate School, the program covered topics including ways in which parents can obtain support for their children in academics and where they can find information and homework assignments. They were offered assistance in filling out forms and told who to call at the schools for various topics. Attendees were shown that the district website, at, has an option to translate pages into a variety of languages, an option that helps non-English-speaking parents stay informed.
Ms. Ergen assists in translating for the district, by speaking with Spanish-speaking families and translating documents that are sent home. She said the attendees of the bilingual nights were thankful for the information shared. “They were very happy with all the information we gave them because they want to stay involved in their children's academic lives,” she said.
District employees and representatives from outside organizations provided information about services available to families, as Ms. Ergen translated what they were saying.

In its fourth year, the event has proven successful and helpful to district families. Many thanks to Ms. Ergen for her efforts.

Megan's Law Presentation

Two students act out emotions
Ask first, check first was the mantra at elementary school presentations aimed at preventing sexual abuse and abduction. Jen Waters, a sexual offense protection educator with Parents for Megan’s Law, provided students at Ann MacArthur Primary School and Locust Valley Intermediate School with important tips for preventing sexual abuse and for reporting any uncomfortable interactions should they occur.

Ms. Waters told children that it was an unconditional rule that they check with their parents or teachers before going anywhere with an adult that is not the person in charge of them. She explained that predators can use trickery to lure them, such as pretending they need help finding a missing dog. 

“Grownups should never ask children for help,” Ms. Waters said. She explained that if they feel compelled to help someone, they must ask the grownup in charge first and explained that adults should only ask other adults for assistance.

Through stories, roleplaying and videos, Ms. Waters covered various scenarios that children could encounter, such as being touched inappropriately by strangers, neighbors or even relatives. She stressed the importance of telling someone they trust if this happened to them. 

“There are no secrets,” she said. She also stressed that victims are never at fault and by telling someone, the predators can get the help that they need to stop abusing. 

Fourth-grade volunteers participated in a roleplay exercise intended to demonstrate that adults cannot know something happened based on a child’s behavior or facial expressions, but rather may think the youngster is feeling ill or tired. Ms. Waters had the student volunteers act happy or sad without using words and then asked the audience to guess what was making them feel those emotions. 

“Without using words, your parents will not know what happened to you or why you feel sad,” she explained.

Similar presentations are shared with the students each year and geared towards particular ages. As students get older, more detailed information is shared. Ms. Waters gives a more detailed presentation to fifth-graders than to third-graders, for instance. 

Building Towers Builds Skills

Students pose with their tower of cups
Building a tower with classmates is an activity that first-graders in Kim Derenthal’s class enjoy so much that they hardly notice that the Ann MacArthur Primary School teacher is providing instruction that conforms to the curriculum.

Working on problem-solving activities during mathematics instruction, the students worked collaboratively to determine the best way to create a tower by stacking empty cups. The group took turns counting and placing the cups one on top of another. If the tower fell, the students needed to start over, recounting and rebuilding. 

Ms. Derenthal said the class “practiced important skills, including counting, arranging, and organizing, while having fun in the process and reinforcing to always have a growth mindset!”