Private school students on the East End are getting a chance to expand their learning beyond the classroom with a new academy aimed at providing hands-on experiences.
The Ross School, which has campuses in Bridgehampton and East Hampton, this month launched the Innovation Lab@Ross, an advanced academic program for high schoolers passionate about entrepreneurship in science, mathematics, engineering, media and technology.
The lab's goal is for the teens to challenge their creativity and entrepreneurial capacities and develop expertise in a particular field of interest, school officials said.
"In sciences, people usually don't have a chance to work on authentic projects until graduate school," said Ross' lab director David Morgan. "There's a big push to move that experience further and further back."
The full-year lab is modeled after the school's tennis academy that launched in 2010, Morgan said, and currently has 10 students enrolled in grades 9-12, with plans to expand to up to 20 students.
Lab seminars and workshops will take place in existing classrooms for three hours a day, but there are plans to create a "dedicated space" at the school very soon, he said.
Seminars will include roundtable discussions on topics such as global warming and stem cell research, while workshops will include projects such as developing robot technology and exploring auditory perception.
"Eventually we want the students to work with mentors outside of Ross," Morgan said.
To attend the academy, high schoolers must complete an in-depth application process that includes an essay, transcript, interview and a portfolio of past projects, among other things.
Linda Towlen is the new principal of Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School, replacing Carol Tvelia, who retired.
Towlen said in a recent message to the school community: "I am especially pleased to be a part of a faculty and staff committed to providing the best possible education for every child in a safe, nurturing environment."
Towlen previously served as K-12 director of English and reading at the William Floyd school district in Mastic Beach and was director of world studies at the Middle Country school district in Centereach. She also has been a literacy staff developer.
The district is continuing to search for a permanent superintendent, with help from an executive search firm.
Bonuso was superintendent of Wantagh Union Free School District. He also has been editor of the Long Island Educational Review, an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University and Dowling College and a professional performance review trainer for Nassau BOCES.
"I am thrilled to be joining the Sag Harbor school district team and look forward to working with the school board, staff, parents and students and community," Bonuso said.
Patricia Acocella is the new principal of Forest Avenue Elementary School. She replaced Christine Tona, who is now executive director of curriculum and instruction.
Acocella was the math and science chairwoman for grades 6-8, and before that math coordinator for grades K-8 and math specialist for the elementary schools. She also taught business and psychology at West Babylon High School and fourth and fifth grades at South Bay and John F. Kennedy elementary schools.
Essay contest winners
Four Long Island students won grand prizes in an annual essay contest sponsored by the Long Island Presidents' Council, a consortium of public school teachers and staff committed to public school education.
The winners were Stefanie Carta, a second-grader at Guggenheim Elementary School in Port Washington; Haylee Olson, a fifth-grader at Dayton Avenue Elementary School in Manorville; Jonathan Louie, a sixth-grader at South Woods Middle School in Syosset; and Karishma Shah, a junior at Syosset High School.
Each received $5,000 and recorded their essays at WBAB and WBLI studios with help from Ray Adell Media Enterprises. The essays will air on 11 local radio stations as part of a feature about the excellence of Long Island schools, the council said. The essays also will be broadcast in Spanish translation on WBON.