Honoring the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fourth Graders at Hawkins Path Observe MLK Day Through Their Art 

Artwork is worth a thousand words and that was especially true for one fourth-grade class at Hawkins Path Elementary School. The life and legacy of civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr., has impacted not only the lives of those who lived in the 1950s and 1960s but the lives of all future generations. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the students created unique works of art that encompass the lessons Dr. King worked tirelessly to impart to those around him. Kindness, patience, understanding, and acceptance were key parts of the civil rights movement and they are core values that the Middle Country School District works every day to teach its students.

“Teaching about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is an important lesson at every age for our students, and the way that information is imparted helps us develop character traits in our students that will help better prepare them for the next steps in their lives,” said Dr. Roberta Gerold, superintendent of schools. “Ms. DuBarry’s art lesson was not only a creative outlet for our students but it allowed students to explore themes that were central to the civil rights movement that are still pertinent today.” 

While Dr. King’s life ended far too soon, the wisdom and work he did during his lifetime have been far-reaching, long-lasting and history-making. Hawkins Path’s fourth graders were excited to honor the legacy of Dr. King through their one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Ms. DuBarry, art teacher at Hawkins Path Elementary, encouraged students to draw the outline of their hand on a piece of paper and, within that hand, create or place artwork that was representative of peace, kindness, and camaraderie. 

Students in Ms. Hawkins’ class that participated in the exercise were able to connect to this important part of our country’s history while also identifying how the lessons and characteristics that made the movement so successful can be applied to their daily lives today. Art, kindness, patience, and tolerance are what help the students of the Middle Country School District stand out. It’s these same concepts that will prepare them for all their future endeavors, both academic and personal.

For more information regarding the Middle Country Central School District and its students’ many achievements, please visit the district’s website: https://www.mccsd.net/.


Signed With Intent

Recently, eight Middle Country Central School District senior athletes hit a major homerun as they prepare for life after high school. On Wednesday, November 10, Luke Ambrose, Alessandra Vidal, Dominick Persichilli, Burke Sheehan, Jadyn Lui, Jeremy Poggi, Justin Robbert, and Michael Hofmann took a major step in the direction of their futures by participating in the Letter of Intent Signing Ceremony.

“This is a major milestone for our student-athletes in their senior year who are looking to pursue higher education in addition to continuing their athletic careers,” said Dr. Roberta Gerold, Superintendent of Schools. “Congratulations to Luke, Alessandra, Dominick, Burke, Jadyn, Jeremy, Justin, and Michael on committing to their schools and taking that first step in this next chapter of their lives. The District can’t wait to cheer them on as they continue to succeed academically and athletically.”

In addition to being outstanding athletes, the combined average, weighted GPA of all eight student-athletes is an impressive 90.06. Next year, these students will begin their collegiate athletic careers at College of Staten Island, Molloy College, St. Thomas Aquinas, SUNY New Paltz, Stonybrook University, and Quinnipiac. Michael, Luke, and Jadyn will play soccer for their respective colleges, Alessandra will participate on Molloy College’s women’s field hockey team, Jeremy and Justin will join their respective college lacrosse teams, and Dominick and Burke will become proud members of their college baseball teams. Luke will be attending the College of Staten Island, Alessandra and Michael will attend Molloy College, Dominick and Jeremey will be going to St. Thomas Aquinas in the fall, Burke will be attending SUNY New Paltz, Jadyn will be attending Stonybrook University, and Justin will be attending Quinnipiac College in the fall.

For more information regarding the Middle Country Central School District and its students’ many achievements, please visit the district’s website: https://www.mccsd.net/.


A Moment of Mindfulness

For educators in the Middle Country Central School District, the academics of students are always a top priority, and the resources and programs the District provides are designed to augment student instruction. Part of a well-rounded academic experience includes taking care of one’s mental health. To that end, Melanie Maiorca, an orchestra teacher at Selden Middle School in the District has made a point of incorporating mindful practices into her daily lessons,  giving her students a safe space to articulate their feelings.

“Mrs. Maiorca is a credit to this profession, and her students are fortunate to have such an incredible teacher who has created a safe space for them to share their feelings and be entirely themselves,” said Dr. Roberta Gerold, superintendent of schools. “The Middle Country School District is proud to incorporate activities such as Mindful Moments to help supplement the daily learning happening inside the classroom.”

Mrs. Maiorca began Mindful Moments in September of 2019 when her students began expressing their desire to have an outlet to express and explore their feelings. At the end of every class, Mrs. Maiorca would turn on calming music and guide her students through a guided meditation practice. From there, the program expanded where she would ask students guided questions to help them address their feelings about how it feels to wake up early for school or what mental and social baggage they are carrying that they’d like to put down. When the pandemic started, Mrs. Maiorca recognized students’ need to have Mindful Moments more than ever and adapted the program for Google Meet. At any given time, over fifty students joined her for guided meditations and discussions. The program has allowed students to feel more confident and be more outspoken about their emotions and the unique experiences they’re each going through.

“As educators, the well-being and success of our students is why we come into work every day. We want to see our students thrive and reach their full potential and by incorporating Mindful Moments into the daily curriculum, I’ve noticed an unbelievable change in my students,” said Mrs. Maiorca. “This space has become one of healing and honesty for my students and I’m so happy to be able to provide that for them.”

For more information regarding the Middle Country Central School District and its students’ many achievements, please visit the district’s website: https://www.mccsd.net/.


Achievements Worth Celebrating

The Middle Country Central School District is home to exemplary students whose accomplishments continuously deserve acknowledgment and celebration. Congratulations to Trinity Columbel, Dora John, and Julia Carter for being named the District’s students of the month in October. Trinity Columbel, Dora Johnson, and Julia Carter represent the core values of the Middle Country School District and it is with great pride that they are recognized as students of the month. 

“Trinity, Dora, Julia are wonderful examples of the smart, talented, and driven students teeming within our District,” said Dr. Roberta Gerold, Superintendent of Schools. “Celebrating the work and achievements of our students is one that we take great pride in. The District is inspired by the daily work put in by our students and the dedication to academics and extracurriculars displayed by these three wonderful students.”

Trinity is a talented, young musician. Her dedication to the bass has led to her participation in the Long Island String Festival Association Orchestra, and the Suffolk Country Music Educators Association Orchestra programs. Trinity is also the leader of her section in the Dawnwood Middle School Orchestra. In addition to her musical prowess, Trinity is a driven student whose hard work has afforded her with an overall GPA of 99.83. Newfield High School is proud to recognize Dora Johnson as its student of the month. Dora’s discipline and ability to successfully manage a rigorous course load as well as numerous extracurriculars epitomizes what it means to be student of the month. Dora’s weighted GPA of 103.3542 has placed her at the top of her class all while excelling in her extracurricular pursuits which include being a member of the varsity fencing team, the mock trial team, the Middle Country Legislative Assembly, the Thespian Honor Society, National Honor Society, president of The Newfield Wolverine Newspaper, and is President of the District Government Organization. Julia is a star student at Selden Middle School. Julia has made her classes a prime focus during her academic journey which led to her maintaining a yearly GPA of 99.9. In addition to being a member of the Home and Careers Club, Julia is an active member of the Drama Club where she works backstage during school productions. Julia plans to get even more involved this year by becoming an assistant coach for younger levels in basketball. The Middle Country School District is inspired by the strong work ethic and commitment to community that these young girls represent. 

For more information regarding the Middle Country Central School District and its students’ many achievements, please visit the district’s website: https://www.mccsd.net/.


Pack It In Your Backpack

The Middle Country School District has always made it a priority to provide its students with the most engaging academic experience possible. A positive academic experience begins with having the necessary materials to thrive inside and outside the classroom. Recently, social workers in the Middle Country Central School District hosted a backpack and supplies giveaway for students in need and it was a complete success!

“Everything we do is in service to our students in order to provide them with the tools and resources they need to succeed,” said Dr. Roberta Gerold, superintendent of schools. “We are grateful for the support and generous donations provided by our donors who made this giveaway possible.”

Due to an overwhelming amount of donations, this is the first year the Middle Country School District has hosted a supply and backpack giveaway wherein over 200 backpacks filled with school supplies were distributed. This event would not be possible without the contributions of the Stony Brook Staples, the Lions Club, and supportive community members. The success of this drive has encouraged future donations from several community stakeholders including Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa. The District’s Social Worker Team Leader Moira Kochis was instrumental in the planning and implementation of this event which served so many students as she facilitated the receipt of donations.

In addition to the backpack/supply giveaway, Middle Country Central School District’s Social Work Department participates and spearheads several programs that serve the community. Such programs include Health Insurance Enrollment Informational Night, sponsored by Health First, which will take place Oct. 25, 2021, holiday gift drives, the promotion of local food banks in the area, along with the District’s Free Meal program.

For more information regarding the Middle Country Central School District and its students’ many achievements, please visit the district’s website: https://www.mccsd.net/.


Teaching Old Buildings New Tricks

Selden Middle School Students Design Classroom HVAC/R Systems via Two-Dimensional Drawing and Three-Dimensional Models

CENTEREACH, NEW YORK (MARCH 2021)—Middle Country Central School District’s technology students at Selden Middle School learned how to stay cool under pressure through the completion of their recent Heating, Ventilation, Air Condition and Refrigeration (HVAC/R) projects.

The project, which coincides with the district’s Introduction to Skilled Trades unit, challenged the architectural design skills of Mr. Walsh’s eighth grade technology students to create a real-life simulation of a classroom air conditioning system. Using a 2-D drawing approach, students used paper and pencil to draft an image of the classroom and then proceeded to build the ventilation and heating systems in 3-D. The hands-on experience marched students swiftly through the nuts and bolts of how an HVAC/R system operates and positioned them as thought leaders and creative thinkers.

Middle Country’s Introduction to Skilled Trades unit provides tangible advice on steps students can proactively take to prepare and position themselves for a successful career in the field of skilled trades. The unit familiarizes students with eight trades: mason, plumbing, small engine repair, HVAC/R, electrician, landscape architecture and design, residential carpentry, and welding.

Turning the Page

Middle Country Students Hosting Book Collection Drive Through March 31

CENTEREACH, NEW YORK (MARCH 2021)—The Selden Middle School National Junior Honor Society, Centereach High School National Honor Society and Home & Careers club, in conjunction with The Book Fairies, are hosting a book collection drive aimed at promoting literacy in the community. Donations of new or gently used books will be accepted through March 31, 2021.

“This initiative is a wonderful opportunity to support several families in our community in their educational journey,” said Dr. Roberta Gerold, Superintendent of Middle Country Central School District. “Reading is an essential skill for success in school and later on in life. Promoting literacy through this drive can serve as a catalyst for thoughtful conversations among students, teachers, staff and Middle Country families. The District is grateful for any contributions towards our students’ goal of collecting 2,021 books to benefit those in need.”

The community can participate by dropping off reading materials in the book collection boxes located in the Selden Middle School Library or at the Selden Middle School Welcome Desk, if your child is enrolled in fully remote learning. Cookbooks, as well children’s, young adult, and adult will be accepted. For more information, please contact Lizz Scott at lscott@mccsd.net or Ann Lowe (alowe@mccsd.net).

The Book Fairies is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that collects reading materials for people in need throughout metropolitan New York. The reading materials foster literacy and academic success, provide a respite from personal struggles, and nurture a love of reading across age groups. Visit www.thebookfairies.org for more information.

An Extra Dose of Love

Hawkins Path Elementary Students Organize Valentine Goodie Bags for Stony Brook’s PICU

CENTEREACH, NEW YORK (FEBRUARY 2021)—What could be better than an extra dose of kindness on Valentine’s Day with the challenging and unforeseen circumstances this year has presented? Students in Ms. Ferrari’s first grade class at Middle Country’s Hawkins Path made it their mission to spread a simple act of kindness throughout the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Stony Brook Hospital (SBH).After substantial brainstorming, Ms. Ferrari’s students determined the best way to spread kindness was to distribute goodie bags to ailing children spending the holiday in the PICU. The class solicited donations from family members and collectively filled more than two dozen valentine goodie bags with small toys, candy, pencils, stickers and more. The initiative served as a learning experience for the young first graders on spreading kindness while enhancing their civic and social responsibility skills. 

Middle Country Celebrates February Students of the Month

Congratulations Kaitlyn Lerner, Chris Cartolano, Logan Squillace, and Lukas Wolpiuk

CENTEREACH, NEW YORK (FEBRUARY 2021)—The Middle Country Central School District (MCCSD) recently announced its February students of the month: Kaitlyn Lerner, Newfield High School (NHS); Chris Cartolano, Centereach High School (CHS); Logan Squillace, Selden Middle School (SMS); and Lukas Wolpiuk, Dawnwood Middle School (DMS). These four distinguished students were recognized and honored for their academic success and positive contributions to their learning environment and the community.

“The District is incredibly proud of Kaitlyn, Chris, Logan and Lukas for their academic and extracurricular accomplishments,” said Dr. Roberta Gerold, Superintendent of Schools. “This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the positive impact that they all have made on our school community. We look forward to witnessing them continue serving as role models for their peers.”

Kaitlyn Lerner, a senior at Newfield High School who is widely recognized for being attentive and conscientious towards her work, currently maintains a 92.5227 weighted Grade Point Average (GPA). She will have completed a total of 10 college level and Advanced Placement (AP) courses upon graduation. In addition to her participation on the varsity cheerleading team, National Honor Society and General Organization (G.O.), Kaitlyn works several hours a week at a local acai and bagel shop.

Come this fall, Kaitlyn plans to study environmental engineering and work towards her goal of becoming an environmental engineer. Saving the planet is something Kaitlyn is passionate about.

Centereach High School’s Chris Cartolano is someone who routinely exceeds expectations as a result of his focused dedication and intense work ethic. His attitude, coupled with his desire to learn from teachers and coaches, has served him well both inside and outside of the classroom. As someone who approaches his academics and athletics with the same level of concentration and determination, Chris regularly volunteers at his local church, contributes to the district’s booster club with its various events, and serves as a positive role model while coaching and training youth basketball. 

Upon graduation in the spring, Chris intends on studying locally, while also considering enlisting in the military. 

Logan Squillace, eighth grader at Selden Middle School, is a selfless individual who continues to put service before self. His love for his country, matched with his passion for American history, has been a driving force in his participation with student government and community service. While attending the Westhampton Beach Learning Center, Logan was a recipient of the Leadership Certificate. Outside the classroom, Logan spends time with “Helping Makes You Happy, a local organization that aims to demonstrate how every human is capable of making a difference through volunteering. As a sports enthusiast, Logan enjoys basketball and football and will be trying out for the basketball team in high school. In the future, Logan plans to join the armed services to serve his country and pursue a career in politics, in the hopes of becoming President of the United States.

Dawnwood Middle School seventh grader Lukas Wolpiuk, a conscientious student who strives to perform his best in all aspects of life, currently maintains a 100 GPA. While some may be appropriately impressed with his report card grades, it’s Luka’s genuine desire to invest time, effort and hard work to consistently achieve success that sets him apart. Most recently Lukas, who has a passion for trains and transportation, was featured in several regional news outlets discussing his concerns for proposed bridge and toll hikes, parking costs, and agreed that the delay in raising fares was the right move. Lukas is steadfast in taking his passion to the next level and intends on pursuing a career in engineering for Amtrak or holding a position on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board when he completes school.

P.S. Centereach High School Loves You

Centereach High School Promotes Antibullying and Mental Health Awareness Through Local Initiative

CENTEREACH, NEW YORK (FEBRUARY 2021)—The hallways at Centereach High School in Middle Country looked a tad different this week courtesy of P.S. I Love You Day, an initiative spearheaded by Ms. Arizmendi and Ms. Losito designed to promote anti bullying and mental health awareness. 

Students and staff radiated the hallways with their purple apparel in support of the initiative and collaborated to educate one another that mental health is just as important as physical health. People in the building were also able to show support by purchasing a purple mask for $10 or drafting positive affirmations for a staff shoutout.

P.S. I Love You Day, started by a local Islip resident in remembrance of her father, aims to spread love in order to stop bullying and promote mental health awareness by encouraging communities to wear purple on the second Friday of every February. Several schools around the Island joined together to stand up against bullying, help end depression, and prevent suicide by leading seas of purple throughout the Island.