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LI schools host back-to-school events

Seventh-graders at Locust Valley Middle School served as

Seventh-graders at Locust Valley Middle School served as tour guides for incoming sixth-graders during the school's orientation program before the first day of school. Credit: Locust Valley School District

The new school year began before the first bell even rang for many schools across Long Island.

Local students participated in everything from team-building activities to orientation sessions to back-to-school socials to help ready themselves for the classroom before the first day of school.

In Locust Valley, the middle school hosted an orientation for incoming sixth-graders in which they toured the grounds, accompanied by seventh-graders, practiced opening their lockers, and received Chromebooks they will keep for the duration of the school year. Meanwhile, a parent orientation included information about the Parent Portal, where they can view their child's grades and schedule.

"Orientation is designed to make them feel comfortable, to ease the transition, and to answer the questions they have," Locust Valley Middle School Principal H. Thomas Hogan said of students. "Teachers will offer the same support throughout the year, ensuring that students succeed not only academically, but emotionally as well."

In Levittown, Division Avenue High held a scavenger hunt for incoming freshmen to familiarize themselves with the school's grounds and an activity fair where they learned about extracurricular clubs. Senior peer leaders served as mentors for the younger students.

In Lynbrook, incoming kindergartners and their parents became acquainted with the transportation process by riding a school bus to an open house at the district's Kindergarten Center.

In Bethpage, an ice-cream social helped incoming sixth-graders break the ice with their new classmates at John F. Kennedy Middle.


Neil Testa and Unal Karakas are the new principals of Baldwin High at Brookside Elementary, respectively. Testa replaced Jim Nolan, who held the position on an interim basis, while Karakas replaced the retiring Jennifer Bumford.

Testa previously served five years as an assistant principal at Sanford H. Calhoun High in Merrick and has taught social studies at West Hempstead High. Karakas served four years as principal of P.S. 195X in the Bronx and taught grades five and six at P.S. 150Q in Queens.

"It is exciting to be part of a district that is advancing in ways that few, if any, have achieved," Testa said. "I look forward to taking part in all the amazing initiatives that are currently underway and to help lead new ones in the future."

Said Karakas: "I look forward to bringing my experience as an educator and school leader to the Baldwin community and to continue to raise the bar in education with innovative programs and a model curriculum as our district has done thus far." 


Kathleen Sottile has been named superintendent of the Floral Park-Bellerose district. She replaced Michael Dantona, who resigned to pursue other opportunities.

Sottile served the past two years as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Sewanhaka Central High district. She also served 12 years as principal of Floral Park Memorial High and was an assistant principal at high schools in Pennsylvania.

"I have always found this community to be welcoming and child-centered, and I am looking forward to building on the strong educational foundation the district brings to each and every child in its care," Sottile said.


Christopher Colarossi has been named principal of Shaw Avenue Elementary in Valley Stream School District 30. He replaced Alejandro Rivera.

Colarossi previously was assistant principal of Shaw Avenue, as well as an elementary teacher and an assistant principal at P.S. 139 in Brooklyn, where he worked for 14 years.

"Shaw Avenue School has always been a special place and a significant landmark in this community and with a clear vision, open lines of communication, and a passion for doing what is best for students. I promise to continue that tradition for a long time to come," Colarossi said.

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