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Nassau students make the most of summer break

Dance classes were among the many courses offered

Dance classes were among the many courses offered at a Summer Arts Academy hosted by Nassau BOCES’s Long Island High School for the Arts in Syosset. Credit: Nassau BOCES

The start of a new school year generally means a return to the classroom for most students. For some, though, the months of July and August were filled with learning in programs held in local schools.

Youths participated in everything from art and music workshops to literacy and enrichment programs in an effort to keep them thinking critically and expanding their horizons.

More than 90 middle and high school students from 28 Long Island school districts were paired with faculty actors, poets and other performers for a summer arts academy held at Nassau BOCES' Long Island High School for the Arts in Syosset.

The four-week academy culminated with an exhibit by student artists, the publication of a journal by student writers, and a series of stage performances by student actors and singers.

"The program opens up all sorts of educational opportunities that many of these students may not have experienced," said Andrea Schubach, the academy's assistant principal. "It helps young artists to gain confidence in what they are doing and to try things they never have before, all the while immersed in an environment that is supportive of their talents."

In Lynbrook, 34 students in grades 6-9 took part in a three-week STEM Academy that introduced kids to the basics of robotics programming and video game design. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.)

In addition, more than 700 students attended a summer playground program, with activities ranging from math exercises to talent shows at the district's Waverly Park and West End elementary schools.

In Freeport, the school district hosted a four-week summer arts academy for students in grades 4-8 that was run by teachers with help from high school and college volunteers. It was capped by a production, titled "Broadway Stars 2014," with more than 200 students performing classic songs such as The Temptations' "My Girl."

"This is our sixth year running the program, and each time it gets stronger thanks to our staff, students and families," said Linda Carter, principal of Freeport High School.

In Uniondale, about 150 students in grades 3-9 participated in a summer arts academy hosted by the district, which culminated with a festival for family and friends.


AMITYVILLE: New principals

The Amityville school district has two new principals: Vincent Todisco at Northwest Elementary School and Ed Plaia at Edmund W. Miles Middle School. They replaced Shirley Martin and Steven Kussin, respectively, who had held the positions on an interim basis.

Todisco previously was assistant principal at Northwest Elementary School. Plaia most recently served as the principal of William Paca Middle School in Mastic Beach, and before that spent seven years as a history teacher at Amityville Memorial High School.

"I'm absolutely elated to be back in Amityville — I feel like I'm home again after a seven-year hiatus," Plaia said. "It's where my formative years of teaching were ... I owe a lot to Amityville, and it's time to once again give back to the community that taught me so much."


MERRICK: New principal

Dana Bermas has been appointed principal of Roland A. Chatterton Elementary School, replacing Cindy Davidowitz, who retired in June.

Bermas has been the school's assistant principal for the past five years, and before that held numerous positions at PS 203 in Bayside, Queens — including classroom teacher, enrichment coordinator and staff developer.

"It is my goal to continue to provide a safe, nurturing school environment where children receive a high-quality education and develop a lifelong love of learning," Bermas said.


WANTAGH: New principal

Marie Pisicchio is the new principal of Mandalay Elementary School, replacing Lynne D'Agostino, who retired. Pisicchio had served the past seven years as K-12 math supervisor for the Wantagh school district.

"My goal as the principal of Mandalay is to ensure that our children are growing academically, socially and emotionally," Pisicchio said. "A parent's enthusiasm, support and involvement coupled with a teacher's ability to teach in a developmentally meaningful way are what inspire children to do their best."

ISLANDWIDE: Siemens Competition

The Siemens Foundation, in partnership with Discovery Education, is accepting entries for the 2014 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, one of the nation's premier research competitions for high school students.

Students must submit original research projects as individuals or as a team and are eligible to win college scholarships from $1,000 to $100,000.

Guidelines are available at The deadline is Sept. 30.

Regional competitions are held in November at six universities across the country, and winners are invited to compete in the national finals in Washington, D.C., held during the winter.

"The Siemens Competition is more than a high school math and science competition," Siemens USA President and CEO Eric Spiegel said in a statement. "It is an investment in the minds and ambitions of future inventors and innovators who will fill the pipeline of critical STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] jobs."


Newsday will continue its weekly "Way to Go!" feature this school year, inviting K-12 educators or parents to nominate outstanding youths to be profiled. Nominees can be highlighted based on academic achievement or extracurricular activities, involvement in local charities or fundraisers, or for winning a local, state or national award, contest or competition, among other things.

To nominate a student, please email a brief description of his or her accomplishments, along with his or her name, grade, school, and contact information to

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