Culinary arts classes were among the 18 introductory courses offered...

Culinary arts classes were among the 18 introductory courses offered as part of a Summer Career Exploration Program hosted by Eastern Suffolk BOCES. More than 350 students took part. Credit: Eastern Suffolk 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.

In Suffolk County, more than 350 students in grades 8 to 10 were introduced to 18 potential college and career possibilities -- ranging from auto repair to fashion merchandising to culinary arts -- through two-week courses hosted by Eastern Suffolk BOCES. The sessions were held at the ESBOCES career and technical centers in Bellport, Oakdale and Riverhead.

"It's never too early to begin investigating possible career tracks," said Robert Van Brunt, ESBOCES' program administrator for career, technical and adult education. "Our summer program provides students with the opportunity to begin thinking seriously about the livelihoods they may pursue and where they want to study."

In Mastic Beach, more than 40 teachers from the William Floyd school district took turns reading age-appropriate books to local youths each week at the Mastics-Moriches- Shirley Community Library as part of a "Teachers' Story Corner." In addition, teacher volunteers led a bicycle-riding workshop over five weeks for district children at a makeshift course between William Floyd High School and William Paca Middle School.

A summer language program in Lindenhurst drew a group of 29 English- language learners in grades 3 to 5, who explored vocabulary in topics ranging from oceanography to the Culper Spy Ring. The concepts were reinforced through field trips to places such as the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center in Riverhead.

More than 500 elementary students attended a four-week enrichment program in the Copiague district, with each grade focusing on a given topic -- such as bubbles for pre-kindergartners and space for grades 3 to 5.

In Hampton Bays, the high school's Thespian Society participated in a series of master class workshops taught by professionals and district alumni.

"We wanted to keep kids engaged and involved year-round rather than just in the spring for the musical," musical director Kim Clemensen said.


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."


New principal

John Ruggero has been appointed principal of Waverly Avenue Elementary School, replacing Robert Neufeld, who held the position on an interim basis.

Ruggero's previous positions include serving as an assistant principal, math chairman and math teacher at Seneca Middle School in Holbrook.

"I am looking forward to working with students, parents and staff to ensure a magnificent learning experience for each student," Ruggero said.


New principal

Christopher Gitz is the new principal of Lindenhurst High School. He replaced Daniel Giordano, who was named to the superintendent's post upon the retirement of Richard Nathan.

Gitz most recently served as an assistant principal at Smithtown High School West. His other previous positions include as K-12 supervisor of mathematics in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District and assistant principal of Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills.

"I plan to continue and strengthen the deep sense of tradition and pride that already exists in the school," he said.


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

/siemenscompetition. 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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