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Students Decorate Amityville With Holiday Paintings

Students Decorate Amityville With Holiday Paintings photo

Art students from Amityville Memorial High School and Edmund W. Miles made their community more festive for the holiday season. The community window project was a collaborative effort among the two school, led by art teachers Jennifer Dibble, Jayne Grasso, Heather Rickard and Nicole Scoca as well as Director of Fine and Performing Arts Dr. Fran Fernandez.

The project started with a drawing contest among middle and high school students with high school teachers judging the submissions. The winners attended an outdoor field trip in Amityville in which they painted their drawings on the windows of local businesses on Nov. 29.

The inspiration for the project was generated by high school guidance Transition Coordinator Karen Gross and the Amityville Chamber of Commerce. Participating businesses included Gerald's Market, Great South Bay Dance Studio, Wrapping It Up, Amityville Men's Shop, Park Avenue Grill and Francesco's Pizza

“Students were able to see their personal creations come to life,” Ms. Dibble said, “It was a wonderful experience for them, their art teachers, and the Amityville community.”



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.



Sunday, December 16, 2018