School Notebook: easing into the new year

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In many local districts, the school year began before the doors opened on the first day.

Long Island students attended everything from welcome-back barbecues to building tours to mentoring sessions earlier this month -- efforts aimed at easing into the school year, with new classmates, different facilities and extra-

curricular activities.

In East Setauket, Paul J. Gelinas and Robert C. Murphy junior high schools hosted orientations for incoming seventh-graders that included walking tours of the buildings and distribution of maps. Many students took the opportunity to stock their lockers with school supplies and decorate them with everything from contact paper to mini chandeliers.

"It felt great to have the school buzzing with activity again," Murphy Junior High Principal Vincent Vizzo said. "We hope that this program helped our new seventh-

graders feel better acclimated to our school."

In Riverhead, incoming kindergartners and their parents attended ice cream socials in which parents heard tips on how to support their child's learning process. Children practiced separating from their loved ones by coloring while parents met with teachers.

In Port Jefferson, incoming sixth-graders and their parents attended a back-to-school barbecue at the middle school, meeting faculty, administration and board trustees.

In South Huntington, new kindergartners, accompanied by parents, had a chance to ride a school bus for the first time.

"There is so much our school offers, and I encourage [students] to challenge themselves -- both academically and otherwise -- and make the most out of all the opportunities," said Gaurav Passi, principal of Bayport-Blue Point High School.

BABYLON

New principals

The Babylon Union Free School District has two new principals: Steven Goldberg at Babylon Memorial Grade School and Jessica Kemler at Babylon Elementary School.

Goldberg replaces Randee Bonagura, who is now principal at Wantagh Elementary School. He most recently served nine years as assistant principal at Babylon Junior-

Senior High School and was principal at the junior high school level from 2009 to 2011. Earlier, he was a guidance counselor in the Sewanhaka Central High School District in Floral Park.

Kemler replaces Dana Basile, who now is principal at Harvey Avenue Primary School in Elwood. She previously was an assistant principal at P.S. 182 in Jamaica, Queens.

DEER PARK

New principal

Christine Criscione has been named principal of John Quincy Adams Primary School, replacing Jennifer Rodriguez.

Criscione most recently served as principal of the district's Abraham Lincoln Elementary School. Before that she was an assistant principal for Nassau BOCES and held various positions in the New York City Department of Education.

"John Quincy Adams is a truly special place, and I feel privileged to work alongside knowledgeable parents, staff and faculty who hold high expectations and continue to raise the bar for students and themselves," Criscione said.

EAST PATCHOGUE

New superintendent

Joseph Giani is the new superintendent of the South Country Central School District. He replaces Howard Koenig, who held the position on an interim basis following the resignation last year of former Superintendent Joe Cipp Jr. amid the district's grade-changing scandal.

Giani most recently served as assistant superintendent for personnel and general administration for the Huntington Union Free School District. He previously held the positions of physical education teacher, chairman of physical education and interscholastic athletics, and director of health, physical education, athletics and driver education in Huntington.

ISLANDWIDE

Helicopter Challenge

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and By Kids For Kids, a Connecticut-based company that encourages youths to try their hand at inventions, are inviting kids ages 9-16 to envision a helicopter capable of addressing global issues to be faced by midcentury.

The 2013 Sikorsky Helicopter 2050 Challenge will issue a $1,000 grand-prize scholarship and give the winner a tour of Sikorsky's Black Hawk and Seahawk helicopters.

"We're challenging kids across the U.S. to think globally about their future and how they can make a difference," said Judy Bankowski, vice president and chief information officer at Sikorsky. "This year's objective is to design a helicopter that can have far-reaching positive impact for our planet."

Entries will be judged on uniqueness of concept, description of idea and ability to overcome a global challenge. They can be submitted online at helicopter2050.com until Sept. 30.

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