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Two Long Island PTAs earn regional awards for reading

Oceanside School #5 students react to a

Oceanside School #5 students react to a presentation of "What Do You Read?," a video parody of Justin Bieber's song "What Do You Mean?," made to promote reading by the school's teachers and PTA. Credit: Oceanside School District

Two Long Island PTAs received regional awards in a contest designed to foster youngsters’ love of reading — and one of the organizations went on to win top honors statewide.

PTAs at Oceanside School #5 and Timber Point Elementary School in East Islip were named Nassau and Suffolk county winners, respectively, of Pick a Reading Partner Awards for programs they created to make reading fun and exciting for students. PARP is a New York State PTA program that asks adults to read with children for 15 minutes daily.

Oceanside’s program then topped 15 other regional winners last month to take first place statewide. The two-week program, titled “Rocking, Reading & Rapping,” strived to show kids that reading can involve formats other than books — such as music and lyrics.

“Music tells a story and kids make their own picture in their heads,” said Mary DiGiovanna, the school’s PARP co-chair with Frances Cuomo Perpero.

One of Oceanside’s highlights was a video titled “What Do You Read?” — a parody of Justin Beiber’s 2015 song “What Do You Mean” that featured 20 faculty members who lip-synced the revised words. Their program included visits by 25 guest readers and a day in which students dressed as well-known musical performers, such as Elvis Presley and Taylor Swift.

In total, the Oceanside school’s 550-plus students read more than 91,000 minutes during the program last school year. They also were rewarded with a karaoke machine from the school’s PTA.


New principals

The Elmont school district has two new principals: Shawnee Warfield at Alden Terrace Elementary School and Amy Buchanan at Dutch Broadway Elementary School.

Buchanan replaced Walter Aksionoff, who retired. She previously served 16 years as principal of Alden Terrace and also had been an assistant principal and kindergarten and sixth-grade teacher at Dutch Broadway. Warfield previously was an assistant principal at Dutch Broadway and the district’s Clara H. Carlson Elementary School.

“Alden Terrace has a rich tradition of providing outstanding educational opportunities for all students, and we will continue to deliver academic experiences that are rigorous, engaging and relevant,” Warfield said.

“I continue to believe that unity is one of the most important elements of education here in Elmont, and our district does a fine job of moving forward together with one focus: our children,” Buchanan said.


New West End principal

Cindy Lee is the principal of West End Elementary School.

Lee, who replaced Alison Puliatte, most recently served nine years as principal of Lawrence Primary School at #2 School and before that was assistant principal of Lawrence Middle School.

“I hope to add to the exemplary reputation of West End Elementary by continuing the promotion of a safe, caring, supportive environment and creating additional opportunities for students to be leaders and decision-makers within our school community,” Lee said.


New Harbor Hill principal

Jessica Kemler has been appointed principal of Harbor Hill Elementary School. She replaced Gina Faust, who has become principal of Cantiague Elementary School in Jericho.

Kemler most recently served three years as principal of Babylon Elementary School. She also has been an assistant principal at P.S. 182 in Jamaica, Queens.

“I look forward to ensuring that all students are healthy, happy and safe so they can learn as much as they can,” Kemler said. “As a lifelong learner myself, I am currently pursuing my doctorate at St. John’s University and look forward to sharing my knowledge and experience with my wonderful new community.”

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