Thirty-one Long Island students were among the 532 high school musicians nationwide recently named to this year's All-National Honor Ensembles by the National Association for Music Education.
The ensembles — which included a concert band, guitar ensemble, jazz ensemble, mixed choir, modern band and a symphony orchestra — participated in a virtual program on Jan. 22-24. The program consisted of workshops with clinicians and the recording of a performance that will premiere online during Music in Our Schools Month, in March.
Teens were selected through an audition process after having qualified for their state's 2020-21 All-State Festival.
Long Island's selectees and their high schools were: Kate Marcino, H. Frank Carey; Jake Van Eycken, Commack; Emma Friel, East Meadow; Matthew Bhasin, Farmingdale; Jenny Zheng, Garden City; Sara Rafaeil, Great Neck North; Mengyu Wu and Dayoung Yu, Great Neck South; Lila Goldstein and Mason Herman, Half Hollow Hills East; Angela Berg, Benjamin Capilets and Dustin Zhao, Hauppauge; Leonardo Gomez, Keneil Soni and Liam Tan, Herricks; Christopher Prainito, John F. Kennedy; Michael Varacchi, Longwood; Connor Gibbons and Dylan Wu, Manhasset; Nicole Ferretti, Massapequa; Izhaan Ahmed, New Hyde Park; Julia Mescallado, Northport; Vincent Palmero and Carly Salzano, Sachem North; Bryson Shaub, Paul D. Schreiber; Angela Dean, Seaford; Samantha Crush, Smithtown West; Jaiden Wettstein, South Side; Cara Cirasole, St. John the Baptist; and Stephanie Massimo, Syosset.
"I am very proud of each student for their hard work and commitment to music therefore enabling them to receive this great honor," said Anissa Arnold, director of fine and performing arts for Herricks, which tied for the most selectees from Long Island.
Gotham Avenue Elementary School recently piloted a new Drone Club in which students learned to safely operate and properly calibrate Holyton HS330 Mini Drones.
The seven-week club, which consisted of about 30 fifth- and sixth-graders, culminated with students racing drones through an obstacle course created out of "Fort Magic" pieces. It will be offered again this spring.
"Offering Drone Club is really about preparing our students for their future careers," said Assistant Principal Robert Cavaliere. "Some jobs that utilize drone flying include Amazon delivery, the U.S. Army, photography and filmmaking."
Manhasset Secondary School recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for two new facilities: a wellness learning center and a broadcast journalism suite.
The wellness center, which includes a sensory room called the "cocoon," is a repurposed space where students can take a break from their work and speak to pupil personnel services staff. Meanwhile, the suite is intended to give kids real-world experience through the use of industry-standard technology.
"It continues to be the goal of the wellness team to educate all of our students in mind, heart and body," said Manhasset's director of guidance and counseling services, Joy-Anne D'Anca.
Expanded string program
The Northport-East Northport School District has its expanded third-grade string orchestra program by allowing parents to learn and play alongside their children four times per month. The expanded program is intended to help ensure students are practicing their instruments at home and reinforcing the skills built in class.
Participating parents were invited to bring their own instruments or were offered a discount to purchase or rent one from local vendors.
"It's one of the few opportunities for parents to come in and witness learning firsthand," said the district's director of orchestras, Michael Susinno.
Humane School District
The South Huntington School District has been named the first-ever Humane School District of the Year by the animal advocacy nonprofit Long Island Orchestrating for Nature.
The district was recognized for preservation efforts that include recently rescuing about 20,000 tadpoles and minnows, 2,000 goldfish and 150 bullfrogs as part of a relocation project of animals from a sump that was dredged behind South Huntington Public Library.
"The school district also recently rescued an owl, and the groundskeepers are always quick to help any animal who's in need," said the nonprofit's founder and president John Di Leonardo.
'One Book, One School'
William L. Buck Elementary School has launched a new initiative, One Book, One School, designed to empower students and their families to have an important dialogue around a central theme. Books are chosen monthly by a committee of teachers and administrators.
One of the initiative's recent books was Alexandra Penfold's "All Are Welcome," which was accompanied by a project that asked kids to write and illustrate how they welcome new friends or family into their homes.
"This has been a meaningful and important initiative," said the school's principal Johanne Gaddy. "Ideals such as belonging, self-identity and kindness are all ideas that we should continue to discuss, celebrate and elevate in our school."
A six-person family in need in the Wyandanch School District recently received a surprise shopping spree at the Puma flagship store in Manhattan as part of an effort coordinated by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton and the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation. The family was identified by Wyandanch High School Principal Paul Sibblies, who has been a virtual program host for the foundation's Steve Harvey Mentoring Program since 2019.
The program teaches the principles of manhood to young men to help them realize their potential and prepare for a "robust and productive future," school officials said.
"It brings me great joy to be able to help give back and fulfill a need," Sibblies said.