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39 LI students picked for National Association of Music Education's ensemble festival

From left, Walt Whitman High School principal John

From left, Walt Whitman High School principal John Murphy, student Tyler Zeoli, music director Allan Deitz and student Joonho Ko. Zeoli and Ko were picked for the All-National Honors Ensemble Festival. Credit: Huntington School District

Thirty-nine music students from Long Island hit a personal high note with their selection to perform at the National Association of Music Education's ensemble festival next month.

The association invited 673 student-musicians nationwide to play in the concert band, symphony orchestra, jazz ensemble or mixed choir at the 2015 All-National Honors Ensemble Festival. The event will be at the famed Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Oct. 28.

Lynbrook High School and Bayport-Blue Point High School are among several local schools that had their first student ever given the All-National designation. Lynbrook senior Gabriel Polinsky, who plays string bass, and Bayport-Blue Point senior Cassandra Nielsen, who plays clarinet, will perform with the concert band.

"This is a tremendous honor for Gabriel and a great source of pride for the district," said Joe Pallotta, the district's director of fine and performing arts.

"We are very proud of Cassie, as this is one of the most distinguishing honors a high school musician can receive," said Paul Weber, the district's chairman for art and music.

Other Nassau County honorees are: Melissa Cao, Bethpage High School; Elton Ha, East Meadow High School; James Silverstein, Farmingdale High School; Elora Aclin and Samantha Ng, Great Neck South High School; Andrew Jacobson, Herricks High School; John Genzale, Division Avenue High School, Levittown; Jonathan Kapilian, Long Beach High School; Ahmad Chaudhry and Michael Gabriel, Manhasset High School; Hannah Bentivegna and Alexia Castle, Massapequa High School; Angelo Antinori, North Shore High School, Glen Head; Ingoo Kang, Jason Kimmel, Gyuri Lee and Natalie Towba, all of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School; Jack McCabe, South Side High School, Rockville Centre; Jake Finkelstein and Ross Kliegman, Syosset High School; Samuel Hutt, Wantagh High School.

Other Suffolk County honorees are: Tim Sherlock, Cold Spring Harbor High School; Eliana Wiseblatt, Harborfields High School, Greenlawn; Larry Saperstein, Islip High School; Isaiah Washington, Centereach High School; Stephen Mirandi, Miller Place High School; Emily Mantone, Mount Sinai High School; Peter Cook, Riverhead High School; Alexa Zvinys, Sachem High School East, Farmingville; Jillian Brudi and Nicholas Burkel, Sayville High School; Melissa Callegari, Smithtown High School West; Joonho Ko and Tyler Zeoli, Walt Whitman High School, South Huntington; Matt Hoffman and Rajiv Moturu, Ward Melville High School, East Setauket; and Hannah Kim, West Islip High School.

To be considered, students had to be selected for the 2014-15 All-State Festival and submit a two-minute video of the composition they played in their state audition.

GLEN COVE: New principals

The Glen Cove school district has appointed several new principals: Antonio Santana at Glen Cove High School, Ken Craft at Deasy Elementary School and Benjamin Roberts at Landing Elementary School. Santana replaced Roseann Cirnigliaro, who had held the position on an interim basis, while Craft replaced Nomi Rosen, who retired, and Roberts replaced Dimitri Kryoneris, who resigned.

Santana previously was principal of Port Jefferson Middle School, an assistant principal in the Three Village school district in East Setauket, and a science chair in Valley Stream. Craft earlier was assistant principal at Susan E. Wiley Elementary School in Copiague.

Roberts had been principal in the upstate Shenendehowa school district and an assistant principal in upstate Watervliet City School District.

"It has been a long-standing ambition of mine to work as a principal of a high school in a community that is as diverse as it is dedicated to the progress of its students," Santana said.

UNIONDALE: New principal at Walnut Street

Kevin Bracht is the new principal of the Walnut Street School in the Uniondale School District, replacing Linda Friedman, who retired. Bracht was assistant principal and teacher at the school during the past 16 years, and before that taught at St. Brigid/Our Lady of Hope Regional School in Westbury.

"I'm honored to serve as Walnut Street principal, and look forward to working with our teachers, students and parents during the coming year to build and strengthen a strong home-school connection," he said.

VALLEY STREAM: New district superintendent

Constance Evelyn is the new superintendent of Valley Stream School District 13. She replaced Adrienne Robb-Fund, who retired.

Evelyn previously was superintendent of the upstate Auburn Enlarged City School District. She also had been assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Ithaca system, and a middle school principal in Oswego.

"I look forward to working with staff, parents, students and the community to move the school district to the next level of success," Evelyn said.

MIDDLE ISLAND: New principal at Longwood High

Scott Schuster has been appointed principal of Longwood High School, replacing Maria Castro, who now is the district's assistant superintendent for instruction and learning.

Schuster most recently was the district's director of preschool and elementary special education. His other past positions include being a special-education teacher at Longwood and Miller Place high schools, a special-education chair at Longwood High School, and assistant special-education coordinator in the Sayville school district.

"My commitment to students, staff and families is to work each and every day to cultivate a learning environment and culture that comprehensively prepares students for college and/or a career," Schuster said.

SOUTH HUNTINGTON: New principal at Walt Whitman High

John Murphy is the new principal of Walt Whitman High School. He replaced Kathleen Acker, who now is assistant superintendent for finance and management services for the Huntington school district.

Murphy most recently was an assistant principal at Brentwood High School. Before that, he was a social studies teacher at both the middle and high school levels in Brentwood.

"I am truly blessed to become part of the South Huntington school district," Murphy said. "Their belief in embracing the diversity of the student body, coupled with their desire to continue to grow as a school and community, is something to be in awe of. I look forward to growing with the district and continuing to make Walt Whitman such a special place for students and staff."

LINDENHURST: Interim principal at Albany Avenue Elementary

Leonard DiBiase is the interim principal of Albany Avenue Elementary School. He replaced Lisa Omeis, who now is the district's assistant to the superintendent for elementary and curriculum instruction.

DiBiase previously served as an assistant principal, administrative assistant for discipline, and a sixth-grade science teacher in an inclusion setting at Lindenhurst Middle School.

"I am eager to take on this new role," DiBiase said. "As an elementary school principal, my goal is to make sure that each student feels safe, valued and academically challenged."

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