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Amityville students take tour of historically black colleges

Amityville High School teacher Brenda King and social

Amityville High School teacher Brenda King and social worker Reynolds Hawkins with some of the students that toured four historically black universities. Photo Credit: Amityville School District

Thirty-two Amityville students got a firsthand look recently at the opportunities available to them after high school during a chartered bus trip to four historically black colleges and universities.

Students on the four-day trip visited Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, Cheyney University and Lincoln University — all among the 106 institutions nationwide designated "historically black colleges or universities" by the U.S. Department of Education.

The annual tour was started eight years ago by Reynolds Hawkins, an Amityville Memorial High School social worker. It has been funded by the Amityville COMPASS Coalition.

"Many have never been outside New York, so this is something new to them," Hawkins said of students who go on the journey. He said he focuses on historically black institutions because minorities constitute a majority of Amityville's student body.

Since its inception, students have visited a total of 20 colleges and universities, meeting with college officials and taking guided tours of campuses. Several have been accepted to colleges "right on the spot" after meeting with admissions officials, Hawkins said.

To be eligible, students must submit an application, two recommendation letters and an essay — and be interviewed by Hawkins if they are on the cusp of being accepted for the tour, he said. The trip application process is meant to mirror the actual college application process, he said.

"I learned there are colleges that aren't for you," senior Jen Morency said. "When I visited Virginia State, I felt at home. When I visited other colleges, I didn't get that experience."


MINEOLA: Innovation award

The Mineola school district is one of three districts statewide to receive a "Be the Change for Kids" Innovation Award from the New York State School Boards Association and SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

The award recognizes the district's "STEMineola" program, which creates hands-on laboratory activities for grades 3-7 with the science education company Knowing Science. The district will receive a $5,000 grant to enhance its science labs in grades 3-6.

In other news, Mineola is among 11 districts nationwide recently added to the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, a coalition of superintendents designed to foster collaboration. The district was chosen for its fully digital open-source curriculum for grades 3-9, as well as the use of an app that allows parents to track student progress, the league said.


AMAGANSETT: New principal

Brigit DiPrimo has been named principal of Amagansett School. She previously served as assistant to the principal at W.S. Mount Elementary School in the Three Village school district.

DiPrimo replaced Rob Brisbane, who now is assistant superintendent for human resources and professional development in the Roosevelt school district.

"I am looking forward to getting to know all of the wonderful staff and families that make Amagansett a wonderful place to learn," DiPrimo said.


BALDWIN: New appointments

Shari L. Camhi is the new superintendent of the Baldwin school district. She replaced James Scannell, who retired.

Camhi most recently was assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Lindenhurst school district. She previously served as assistant superintendent for secondary instruction in Glen Cove schools and assistant superintendent for secondary instruction for the Mineola school district.

At Brookside Elementary School, Jen Bumford is the new principal. She previously was principal of California Avenue Elementary School in Uniondale. Bumford replaced Jack Lenson, who held the position on an interim basis.


BOHEMIA: New principals

The Connetquot Central School District has three new principals: Richard Shear is interim principal of Connetquot High School in Bohemia; James Williams is principal of Cherokee Street Elementary School in Ronkonkoma; and Sandra Rubin is principal of Idle Hour Elementary School in Oakdale.

Shear most recently worked as an educational leadership consultant. Before that, he was an assistant superintendent and principal in the Locust Valley school district. He replaced Gregory Murtha, who retired.

Williams previously was an assistant principal at Arrowhead Elementary School in East Setauket. Rubin earlier was Connetquot's interim assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.


HUNTINGTON: New principal

Scott Oshrin has been named principal of Southdown Primary School. He replaced Michelle Marino, who retired.

Oshrin previously was a general education and academic intervention service teacher in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District and served as assistant principal of Birch Elementary School in Merrick.

"The first month of school has solidified what I already knew the second I was appointed by the Board of Education," he said. "I'm the luckiest guy in the world to be the principal of Southdown Primary School."


FLORAL PARK: New principal

Frank Lukasik is the new principal of John Lewis Childs Elementary School. Lukasik, who replaced Margaret McGlynn, previously was assistant principal at Bowling Green Elementary School in Westbury.

"There is a great energy in the building and I am fortunate to be working with such a wonderful staff," Lukasik said. "I look forward to building strong relationships with the students and helping foster a love of learning within each of them. I want the children to be excited to come to school each day."


ISLANDWIDE: Hispanic essay contest

Long Island middle and high school students are invited to participate in the seventh annual Hispanic Heritage Month essay contest, sponsored by Florida-based media company Olympusat and Cablevision's Optimum Community — an educational initiative formerly known as Power to Learn.

The topic is: "Name a Latino, past or present, with whom you would choose to spend a day and explain why." Essays must be in English and less than 500 words. The deadline is Nov. 1.

Four winners at both the middle-school level (grades 6-8) and high-school level (grades 9-12) will be announced in December. Grand prize winners will be awarded a $2,500 scholarship, and winners of first, second and third places will receive an Apple iPad, laptop computer and Kindle Fire, respectively.

Newsday is owned by Cablevision. Essays can be submitted online at, by email at edinfo, or mailed to Cablevision: Optimum Community, 1111 Stewart Ave., Bethpage, NY 11714.


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