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Summer programs in Nassau County aim to keep students sharp

Students at Roosevelt Children's Academy Charter School learned

Students at Roosevelt Children's Academy Charter School learned new skills this summer through the school's first summer tennis and chess camp. Credit: Roosevelt Children’s Academy Charter School

Many school districts across Long Island powered through the summer, with scores of students taking part in special reading programs, art academies and science-focused camps during July and August.

In Levittown, more than 100 students districtwide put their minds and hands to work during Camp Invention, a two-week session with such activities as building futuristic mini-mansions and customizing robotic dogs. The district’s other opportunities included a Summer Instrumental Music Program in which 65 students strived to begin learning a new instrument or worked to enhance their musical abilities.

“It is important for the kids to continue their musical studies over the summer, not so much to become ‘virtuosos,' but to stay in musical shape,” said Iris Winter, Levittown’s summer music coordinator.

The Freeport district hosted its 10th annual Summer Academy of the Arts, drawing 280 students in grades four through eight to supplement their skills in chorus, dance and visual arts with the help of faculty members and 60 high school volunteers. The district also held a STEM Camp for students to tackle science, technology, engineering and math projects, such as creating mini-windmills.

In the Massapequa district's Summer Fine Arts Camp, children participated in instrumental music classes, from beginners to higher-level instruction for those who had at least a year of experience. One of the more popular classes was an iPad Claymation course in which students created stop-animation movies.

In Lynbrook, 39 students participated in a three-week Summer STEAM Academy that allowed them to explore topics such as bridge-building and three-dimensional art design.


New principals

The Baldwin school district has three new administrators. James Nolan is interim principal of Baldwin High School, Asheena Baez is principal of Lenox Elementary School and Nicole Hunn is principal of Steele Elementary School.

Nolan previously served seven-year stints as superintendent of the Sachem Central School District and principal of Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma. He replaced Caterina Lafergola, who resigned.

Baez most recently served as a principal in the upstate Beacon City School District. Hunn previously was Baldwin’s director of K-12 curriculum and an elementary assistant principal for the Garden City school district. Baez replaced Bernice Acevedo and Hunn replaced Lori Presti, both of whom retired.

"As a lifelong learner and passionate educator, the development of students’ academic, social, emotional and physical growth remains at the core of my guiding principles,” Hunn said.


New superintendent

Paul Defendini has been appointed superintendent of the Farmingdale school district. He replaced John Lorentz, who retired.

Defindini, a Farmingdale High School alum, served as the district’s assistant superintendent for business for 10 years. He also has been a school business administrator, dean and English language arts teacher in the system.

“As a graduate of Farmingdale High School and having two children in the district, my greatest excitement is in being able to serve a town that has and continues to be a central part of my life,” Defendini said. “Farmingdale is a wonderful place to raise a family and I look forward to working collaboratively with the entire community to prepare our students to be lifelong learners and problem solvers.” 


New administrators

Daniel Rehman has been appointed superintendent of the West Hempstead school district, while James DeTommaso is the new principal of West Hempstead High School and Sean Murray is the new principal of West Hempstead Middle School.

Rehman previously was the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. He also has been principal of the high school and of Chestnut Street Elementary School, and earlier worked in the Plainview-Old Bethpage school district as a teacher and administrator. He replaced Patricia Sullivan-Kriss, who retired.

“I am a fervent supporter of the students, staff and community of West Hempstead and have embarked on this new journey in helping to create and enjoy a learning environment where rigor, risk-taking, symbiosis, autonomy and access for all are expected, valued and modeled," Rehman said.

DeTommaso had served as an assistant principal at East Rockaway High School since 2001. He also had been supervisor for the business education and technology departments and summer school principal in the East Rockaway system. He replaced Alvaro Escobar, who retired.

Murray earlier was director of elementary curriculum, instruction and assessment for the Long Beach school district. He also had served as principal of that district’s East Elementary School and as assistant principal of Norman J. Levy-Lakeside Elementary School in the Merrick system.


Newsday will continue its 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, contests 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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