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LI students stay sharp through summer

Students at Saltzman East Memorial Elementary School in

Students at Saltzman East Memorial Elementary School in Farmingdale read children's books during a five-week summer literacy camp. Credit: Cynthia Younker

The 2019-20 school year officially kicked off last week across Long Island, but for many students the learning never stopped this summer.

Dozens of local districts hosted educational programs — ranging from art academies to robotics camps to writing workshops — in an effort to keep students thinking critically during July and August.

In Farmingdale, more than 80 students participated in an inaugural five-week summer literacy camp at Saltzman East Memorial Elementary School, where activities included learning new vocabulary words and reading-themed Bingo. The camp also included a community partnership with the multinational firm KPMG, which donated about 400 books as incentive for children to read through its Family for Literacy initiative.

"This program kept students engaged in meaningful reading activities with a 'STEAM' theme all summer long," Saltzman Principal Patricia O'Regan said, referring to science, technology, engineering, art and math. "It far exceeded my expectations."

In Massapequa, the district hosted a weeklong Camp Invention in which 120 elementary students tackled tasks such as creating catapults to launch hay, designing superhero capes, and making devices that could protect a water balloon. They were joined by 30 middle and high school volunteers and counselors.

In Levittown, 52 students entering grades 5-8 participated in the district's new marine biology camp over the course of a week at Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve in Lloyd Harbor. Activities included water quality studies, tidal pool explorations and a shark dissection.

In Carle Place, the high school hosted a two-week robotics camp that culminated in a showcase for parents. It was sponsored by Stony Brook University.


New principals

Kristi Gerhard is the new principal of Fairfield Elementary, while Michael Yannucci is the new principal of Lockhart Elementary.

Gerhard served the past four years as Fairfield's assistant principal and replaced Lori Dano, who retired. Gerhard also has been a fifth-grade teacher and a second- and fourth-grade English-as-a-new-language teacher in Long Beach, as well as a prekindergarten teacher in Farmingdale.

Yannucci has served the past four years as an elementary assistant principal in the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District and replaced Stephen Scarallo, who retired. Yannucci also has been an elementary reading teacher and a coordinator of English language arts, reading, library media and art for the Rocky Point School District.

"I joined the Fairfield family four years ago as the assistant principal, and Fairfield quickly became my home away from home," Gerhard said. "I look forward to continuing to work with students, parents, educators and community members to provide our students with the best education possible and create lifelong learners."

"I'm excited about joining this caring and committed community," Yannucci said. "The future is bright at Lockhart Elementary and I'm excited to help guide its growth."


New principals

Beth Javeline is the new principal of Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School, while Kimberly Licato is the new principal of Guggenheim Elementary.

Javeline previously served as Carrie Palmer Weber's assistant principal for 16 years and replaced Christopher Shields, who is now the assistant superintendent of general administration for the Port Washington School District. Javeline also has been a middle school math teacher in New York City and an assistant principal in Mineola.

Licato previously served two years as Guggenheim's assistant principal and replaced Barbara Giebel, who retired. She also has served as a languages other than English and English-as-a-new-language chairwoman.  

"As we begin the new school year, I look forward to working with our students, staff and families to build upon Weber's positive atmosphere where our middle schoolers have a love and excitement for learning and making Weber the best place it can be," Javeline said.

"I look forward to my upcoming year as the educational leader of the building and have developed a plan in order to create a nurturing learning environment in which children have the opportunity to learn and grow all while being 'mindful' and aware of their surroundings, their interpersonal relationships and interactions, as well as to celebrate the differences that exist among us," Licato said.


Scholarship winners

Seven graduating high school seniors from Long Island were among about 540 students nationwide this summer named additional winners of college-sponsored scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship Corp. The scholarships provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship. 

Winners were Delina Levine of Commack High School, Joshua Koretz of East Islip High School, Weiting Zhang of Floral Park Memorial High School, Patrick Heavey of Garden City High School, Joshua Liu of Great Neck South High School, Erin Rose McCartney of Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville, and Madeleine Kestler-DeWan of Northport High School.

WAY TO GO!          

Newsday will continue its weekly Way to Go! feature during the school year, profiling standout students in elementary and secondary schools across Long Island. Nominations can stem from academic achievement or extracurricular activities, involvement in local charities or fundraisers, or for winning local, state or national awards, or competitions.

To make a nomination, send an email describing the accomplishment with the student's name, grade, school and contact information to

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