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We the People

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In honor of Constitution Day, James H. Boyd students in Mrs. Held and Mrs. Noon’s classes came together to learn the preamble of the Constitution in American Sign Language on September 17. Along with learning the preamble, students learned other details such as who wrote the Constitution, why the document is important for our country’s government, and more.

National Merit Semifinalist

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Three of our own JGHS seniors were recently recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program! Each year, 1.6 million students throughout the country are entered into this academic scholarship competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test.

Elizabeth Choi, a student dedicated to both academics and the arts, was named a Semifinalist, placing her at the top 1% of test-takers nationwide. She is now in the running for one of the final 15,000 scholarships.

Seniors Yeji Lee and Jaida Morgan, while not continuing in the scholarship competition, were named Commended Students in the program. This recognition places them among the top 34,000 high-scorers nationwide, and is a demonstration of their strong potential for academic success.

Congratulations, students!

Welcome Back Elwood!

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After a summer full of professional development, bond-work, and curriculum improvement, the district welcomed students back as they filled every classroom for the first day of the 2018-19 year!

Students at Harley Avenue and James H. Boyd disembarked buses, some for the first time, to waves and smiles from faculty and staff who were waiting outside excitedly to meet them. Clad in their first-day best, students walked through the doors ready to meet their new teachers and make new friends. Once settled in their new classrooms, students unpacked their fresh school supplies, and participated in fun first-day activities, such as creating wallets for their classroom “store” and writing about the best part of their summer.

Elwood Middle’s first day included a school-wide assembly going over the basics of middle school, and activities in the gym such as ultimate rock paper scissors, mini-volleyball tournaments, and more. Students at John H. Glenn jumped right in to the new school year with beginning coursework and getting back into the practice of flexing their academic muscles.

The district wishes all students, faculty and staff a wonderful, successful and enjoyable year ahead! Welcome back, all! 

Mindfully Preparing for the New School Year

Mindfully Preparing for the New School Year photo
Elwood welcomed faculty and staff back for the 2018-19 school year at Superintendent’s Conference Day on Sept. 4. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert warmly greeted all those in attendance, including the Board of Education, administration, and all those who were new to the district.

Dr. Bossert thanked those who worked tirelessly all summer to prepare for a successful first day back and commended them on their continuous race for excellence.

“Your success is intertwined with the success of our students, and the success of our students is the success of the district.” said Dr. Bossert. “Thank you all in advance for going above and beyond to meet the needs of each and every student.”

After other members of the Elwood community shared welcome messages, Dr. Maureen Hull, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, gave a keynote address encompassing the practice, process, and characteristics of mindfulness. Dr. Hull stressed the importance of its implementation within the education system.

"Mindfulness is a tool that has the potential to improve student focus, attention, behavior, social skills, and overall academic performance,” she said. Dr. Hull described mindfulness activities as an action or practice, with a process and a characteristic related to elements of character education and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Further, as we become more mindful and engage in mindfulness lessons, student and adult well-being can improve.

Through the end of the day, faculty went over important safety reminders, had the opportunity to meet with their building principals, set up classrooms, and generally prepare for the first day on Sept. 5.

Freshman Get Acclimated to Their “New Home”

Freshman Get Acclimated to Their “New Home photo
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John H. Glenn High School held a special freshmen orientation to welcome the incoming class of 2022 on Aug. 29. High school principal Carisa Burzynski, along with other administration and faculty members, warmly greeted the students and introduced them to their “new home” for the next four years.

“We’re here to help you grow,” said Mrs. Burzynski. “Your education is your ticket to life beyond high school, so never be afraid to come to us for help in achieving your goals.”

Students were also introduced to their class officers, and new assistant principal Corey McNamara.

“This is my first year in this high school, so it’s all new for me too,” said Mr. McNamara, “but I’m confident this is going to be a great first year for all of us!”

Students received their Chromebooks and took a tour of the school with their Freshman Buddy leaders—a group comprised of approximately 75 upperclassmen volunteers who had previously been trained to be role models, and resources, for the incoming freshmen. Volunteers led freshmen around the building, sharing wisdom on the best routes to different parts of the building, experiences with teachers, course-loads, and more.

VIDEO: A Special Welcome Back to Students from Your District Administrators!

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SCSSA releases its Blueprint for Action to Enhance School Safety

SCSSA releases its Blueprint for Action to Enhance School Safety photo
On Monday, Aug. 27, the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association executive board introduced the association’s five-point Blueprint for Action to Enhance School Safety during a meeting with Suffolk County law enforcement officials and representatives from the office of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Hosted by the Elwood School District, the meeting was facilitated by Dr. Kenneth Bossert, superintendent of the Elwood School District and president of the SCSSA, along with Lars Clemensen, immediate past president of the SCSSA and superintendent of the Hampton Bays School District.

While school safety has always been a top priority, following the horrific massacre at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado, and the tragic events that followed, the importance of a strong working relationship between the police, mental health providers and public-school officials has become more important than ever. 

The SCSSA plan recommends five actionable steps on the local, state and federal levels to enhance school security: invest in the School Resource Officer (SRO) program, providing additional officers in Suffolk County schools; adopt legislation that enhances campus safety, including amending the N.Y.S. Criminal Procedures Law dealing with setting bail; make the N.Y.S. SAFE Act the law of the land; support the social, emotional and mental health of children through screening programs and education initiatives; and provide institutional support to finance school safety, calling for the state to initiate School Security Aid and to exempt school safety expenditures from the tax levy limitation.  

The SCSSA plans to continue to work together with Suffolk County law enforcement and local, state and federal legislators to turn these plans into actions that will improve school safety and the safety and wellness of all students in Suffolk County.  



Elwood’s Team of Teachers Increases

Elwood’s Team of Teachers Increases photo
We welcomed 20 new teachers to the district this summer! On Aug. 28, our new teachers spent the day preparing for the upcoming school year with a New Teacher Orientation.

The morning kicked off with a welcome breakfast for new staff and administration to get acquainted. Once settled, Director of Humanities Pam Fine and Director of Math, Science and Technology Eileen Kelly-Gorman walked the group through everything they needed to know about being a part of the Elwood school community. They covered topics from classroom design to collaborating with ENL teachers.

In addition, new teachers had the opportunity learn about the world of technology within the district from Executive Director for Technology and Transportation Gene Tranchino and Technology Integration Specialist Krista Albrecht. Teachers worked with technological tools utilized within the classroom, were guided in creating their own Google websites, and more.

Layered Language Learning

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On Aug. 20 & 21, thanks to the efforts of district administrators Ms. Pamela Fine, Dr. Maureen Hull, and Ms. Eileen Kelly-Gorman, renowned staff developer Amy Benjamin visited educators throughout the district to help enhance student reading comprehension, fluency, writing, and oral communication in all content areas. This professional development course was designed to help faculty and staff from a variety of grade levels to hone in on academic vocabulary and to give specific attention to those working with non-native speakers of English.

"Over recent years, there has been a tremendous amount of research related to how people acquire language,” said Mrs. Fine. “This research has prompted educators to reflect on the instructional practices employed in our classrooms and to identify the most effective techniques to help students learn academic vocabulary.”
The workshop began with debunking ideas about how children learn academic vocabulary. Groups discussed questions such as “Is learning new words cognitively difficult?” and “Should teachers not use big words in class to avoid confusion in students with vocabulary deficits?”

Ms. Benjamin shared her knowledge and research in engaging ways, including research and personal anecdotes, exploring language acquisition, and helping staff members grasp a deeper understanding of the English language.

“There are no such thing as hard words,” she told the staff members, “just infrequent ones. The English language is layered, so frequency, context, and reputation are important aspects of learning it more in-depth.”

Throughout the rest of the two-day work shop, staff members were shown specific practices to best teach vocabulary, worked together to identify relationships between words, and played different games to learn the meanings of word parts.

“We learn words because we can’t help it,” said Ms. Benjamin, “so as educators we need we teach in a way that our children can’t help but learn what they need to know!”

Scholar-Athlete School of Distinction

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This summer the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) released the 2017-18 Scholar-Athlete School of Distinction winners, and Elwood-John H. Glenn High School was selected along with nine other Suffolk County schools! This is the second year in a row the high school has received this distinction.

In order to be granted this award by the NYSPHSAA, each of the high school’s varsity teams must have earned a “Scholar-Athlete” title that year, which requires 75% of the team’s GPA to have an average of 90.00 or greater.

“Our student-athletes’ dedication to academic success in the classroom has carried over into their athletic success,” said David Shanahan, director of athletics and physical education, “and we are so proud of all the hard work they put into achieving excellence daily.”