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Summer Newsletter Now Available


Elwood Knights Celebrate an Academic Milestone

Congratulations Class of 2018 photo

Led by Board of Education trustees, administration and faculty, the Elwood-John H. Glenn High School class of 2018 stepped onto the field for the last time at the district’s 56th annual commencement held on June 22. Students proudly processed to their seats as family and friends cheered, and the high school band performed “Pomp and Circumstance”.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance, led by class president Brendan Bouzas, and the high school band playing the national anthem under the baton of Vicki Henson, Principal Carisa Burzynski welcomed and thanked the families, the Board of Education, fellow administrators and the community for their support. She also praised the graduating class on their various accomplishments, calling them “true leaders” and a class that was “inclusive from the start.” During her address to the Class of 2018, Mrs. Burzynski took a moment to advise the students on being true to themselves.

“Listen to the voice inside you,” she urged them, “because that is truly who you are.”

Class of 2018 graduation speaker Ruben Saint Paul took the podium to reflect on the class’ four years at John H. Glenn, and remarked that he did not expect the day to be so bittersweet. “We are all sharing a collective tear of reminiscence,” he noted. “Glenn has been a catalyst for our intrinsic change.”

Salutatorian Catherine Reyes-Ordonez encouraged her classmates to make positive contributions to the world, and to be unafraid of prompting change. “Stop just saying,” she implored them, “and start doing.”

Valedictorian Kathryn Browne stepped up to the podium with a smile. She urged her peers to face change, and challenges, with faith. “We must learn from the unfamiliar things we encounter,” she said. “Try to relax, and trust the timing of your life.”

Seniors then joined the band and the chorus for the last time to play musical interludes, which included Samuel Hazo’s “Solas Ane (Yesterday’s Joy)” and Tedder and Zancanella’s “I Lived.”

After Mrs. Burzynski, the Board of Education and administration confirmed that the seniors had met the requirements for graduation, they presented diplomas to each graduate. Led by members of the student council, the seniors concluded the ceremony by moving their tassels from right to left to signify their commencement. Blue and white caps filled the air as the graduates were introduced as alumni of the Elwood Union Free School District.

Search reopened: Audit Committee applications for 2018-2019 now being accepted

Please send a letter of interest and resume (as per Board policy 6690) no later than August 10th to:

District Clerk
Elwood Union Free School District
100 Kenneth Avenue
Greenlawn, NY 11740

or via email to Mary Lou Janelli, District Clerk, at

Class of 2018 Valedictorian and Salutatorian

Class of 2018 Valedictorian and Salutatorian photo
Congratulations to Kathryn Browne, who was named valedictorian of the Class of 2018. Along with being an active member of the school community, which she likens to a family, Kathryn excelled both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities. She was inducted into the National and World Language honor societies, was a member of the Independent Science Research Club and was awarded multiple academic distinctions, including the Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award.

The top-ranked graduate also lent her talents to helping others, as she assumed mentoring and leadership roles in Natural Helpers, the Freshman Buddy Mentor Program and the Independent Mentoring Club and actively participated with Habitat for Humanity. Rounding out her busy schedule, she enjoyed involvement on both the varsity track and soccer teams and was named a Scholar-Athlete by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association for each of her four years in high school. She attributes her success not only to her hard work and dedication, but also to the incredible support system provided by her friends, family and teachers.

Reflecting on her time in the district, Kathryn said, “As I look forward to expanding my horizons and discovering more about myself, I know that wherever I end up, or whatever I end up doing, I am so lucky to always have this incredible community to come back to and to call home.”
Kathryn will attend Boston College in the fall to pursue nursing.

Not only has Catherine Reyes-Ordonoz risen to the top as the Class of 2018 salutatorian, she has also been pursuing the family tradition of nursing throughout her high school career and is already a certified nursing assistant. During high school, she received the National Academy for Future Physicians and Medical Scientists Award of Excellence and a New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence, in addition to being named a three-time recipient of the National Spanish Exam Gold distinction.

Catherine complemented her rigorous dedication to excellence in her studies with altruism. She has been an active member of her school and local community, volunteering as a homework helper, a tutor for both children and adults, and a volunteer at a local clinic. She credits a large part of her success to the exceptional examples of her parents, as well as the values they instilled in her as a child to be determined and look ahead in the face of hardship.

“I will miss home and this community,” she said, “but I’m so excited to begin a new chapter in my life, filled with greater knowledge and new friends and experiences.”

Catherine will attend LIU Post on a full scholarship to study nursing.

Board of Education Reorganizes for New School Year

Board of Education Reorganizes for New School Year photo
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Board of Education Reorganizes for New School Year photo 3
Board of Education Reorganizes for New School Year photo 4

The district held its annual Board of Education reorganization meeting on July 2 in preparation for the 2018-19 school year.

Board trustees Heather Mammolito and James Tomeo, both re-elected by the community in May, were sworn in for their new terms by district Clerk Mary Lou Janelli.

Julia Fried was elected to once again serve as president of the Board of Education by a unanimous vote and James Tomeo was also unanimously elected to continue his tenure as vice president.


Students Step into New Season

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Elwood Middle School held a special ceremony for eighth graders moving on to Elwood-John H. Glenn High School on June 20. Principal Christina Sapienza, who is wrapping up her first year of service as the EMS principal, initiated this new tradition that will continue on for years to come.

Students entered the middle school auditorium to upbeat music as family members, teachers, administration, and Board members looked on, ready to celebrate the students in this special time. After the pledge, the select chorus, under the direction of Laura Fisher, led all in attendance in a beautiful rendition of God Bless America.

Dr. Sapienza welcomed all those in attendance, and thanked the district for a wonderful first year as principal.

“Since day one, I’ve felt so embraced by this community, and from the bottom of my heart I thank all of you,” said Dr. Sapienza. “And to my first eighth-grade class—each and every one of you is so special and unique, especially in the way you take care of one another. Never stop. And,” she added, “I’m so lucky to have felt taken care of by you all, as well.”

In addition, she encouraged them to take chances in every opportunity possible in the future, and remarked that even though the EMS community will miss them, they’re beyond excited to see what chances each student will choose to take.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert, Board of Education President Julia Fried, and Assistant Principal Dawn Valle addressed the graduating class, and wished them the best in all of their future endeavors as well, and offered many words of wisdom.

Student council president Alexandra Haddad also took a moment to congratulate her classmates, and to encourage them to take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves in the future.

“As we leave this place, we’ll continue to learn and grow,” she said, “and it’s up to us to choose the best direction to steer our lives in.”

Departmental and character awards were given to deserving students, and when it came time to receive recognition for moving up, students walked proudly across the stage and received a blue carnation from Dr. Sapienza or Mrs. Valle. The room was buzzing with excitement as each student stepped towards the new season of life as a high school student.

Outstanding Sportsmanship

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Congratulations to all Elwood student-athletes and coaches who were recognized by Section XI for Outstanding Sportsmanship for the Spring 2018 season!

Recognized teams:
JV Baseball
EMS baseball
JV Lacrosse
Varsity Softball
Varsity Tennis
JV Tennis
EMS Track
Varsity Boys' Track

LISFA Award Recipient

LISFA Award Recipient photo
Each year, the Long Island String Festival Association (LISFA) awards scholarship money to deserving students across the island who participated in that year's festival. This year, eighth grade Elwood Middle School student Blake Goehring has been chosen as the LISFA Studio Award recipient. Blake will receive $500 to further her study of the double bass.

“Blake has worked hard to become a wonderful musician and overall student,” said music teacher Diana Gotzen-Berg, “and she very deserving of this honor!”

VIDEO: World Oceans Day at Harley

World Oceans Day at Harley photo

Best Featured Actor and Pit Orchestra in Huntington

Best Featured Actor and Pit Orchestra in Huntington photo
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On June 4th students from Elwood-John H. Glenn High School attended the Hunting-Tony Awards ceremony after being nominated in multiple categories for their past Musical Production, “The Little Mermaid”. This award ceremony recognizes plays and musicals produced by high schools in the Town of Huntington.

JGHS was nominated for several categories for school musical production: Best Stage Crew for a Musical; Best Costumes in a Musical; Best Technical Production in a Musical; Best Orchestra Pit; Best Ensemble in a Musical; and Best Dance Performances. There were solo nominations given to Lexie Spelman, who was nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Musical and Best Female Vocalist; Felipe Gonzalez, who was nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Musical; and Terrance Sheldon, who was nominated for Best Lead Actor in a Musical and Best Male Vocalist.

Winning awards went to the school’s orchestra for Best Orchestra Pit, and Felipe Gonzalez, who was named Best Featured Actor!

National Spanish Exam Recognition

National Spanish Exam Recognition photo
A number of students from Elwood-John H. Glenn High School attained national recognition for excellent performance on the 2018 National Spanish Examinations. This year, over 150,000 students took the exam nationwide. Of the school’s 130 students who took the exam, five students earned gold, which places them in the top 95th percentile of the nation.

An additional 13 students earned silver, placing them in the 85-94th percentile, twelve earned bronze within the 75-84th percentile, and 44 earned honorable mentions, above 50th percentile.

Freshmen Kailee Andersen, Rithika Narayan, and Daniel Rourke earned gold in the non-native speaker category. Native speakers Lizbeth Almendarez and Maria Atuesta were also gold winners. These winners were honored at an award ceremony on June 7 among other winners from the Long Island chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP).

The National Spanish Examinations are administered each year at John Glenn in grades 9 through 12, and are sponsored by the AATSP. Congratulations to these outstanding students!

Elwood Educators Celebrated

Elwood Educators Celebrated photo

As the 2017-18 school year is wrapping up, the district held a special reception for all those who were awarded tenure, as well as this year’s retirees and 25-year employees, at the Board of Education Meeting on June 7.

Administrators, faculty members, and loved ones filled the middle school auditorium for the commendations of these special members of the Elwood community.

“Each and every person being celebrated tonight has been such an integral part of making the Elwood community what it is,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert, as he opened the meeting.

Teachers receiving tenure were recognized first, each by the principal of their corresponding school. These teachers included Lori Fornaro, Adrienne Nasser, and Carolyn Pollina.

Retiring staff and faculty members were commended for dedicating their lives to educating students, and for never losing sight of each child individually. Those recognized were Lauren Buchholz, Laura Fisher, Jane Geng, Sharon Gosman, Laura Irace, Kristine Kalinowski, Timothy Kenyon, Sandra Krueger, Sean McGinty, Patricia Pascarella, Martha Simpson, Nancy Schwier, and Donna Verton.

Trophies for those employees with 25 years of service were presented to educators Wendy Blair-Braxton, Stephen Gengenbach, Therese Lopipero, Michelle Ottley, and Christina Tellekamp. Both the administration and the Board of Education commended each person for their dedication and hard work throughout the years.

In addition, Emma Koster was recognized for excellence in her role as the 2017-18 Student Liaison to the Board of Education. Both Dr. Bossert and Board of Education President Julia Fried praised her for the thoroughness of her monthly reports, and expressed confidence in the greatness she will accomplish in college and beyond.

Creating an Easier Transition

Creating an Easier Transition photo

On June 7, rising high school juniors and seniors visited EMS to meet their “Freshman Buddies.” At the end of each middle schooler’s career, they’re assigned a volunteer upper-classmen “buddy” from the high school who serves as their role model, guide, and friend to help the transition to high school be as smooth as possible. Throughout the year, buddies check in with their freshmen and address different themes at meetings, such as time management and getting involved.

High school principal Carisa Burzynski introduced herself to the eighth graders and assured them that transition to John Glenn would be made easier with their buddies as a resource.

“Each leader is of the best students John Glenn has to offer,” said Mrs. Burzynski. “They were selected because of their character and leadership skills, and they will do their very best to help you navigate through this this new season!”

Once each eighth-grader found their assigned group and buddies, students formed circles outside. Groups played ice-breaking games, inquired about different aspects of high school, exchanged contact information, and more.

Many of the middle schoolers asked the upperclassmen if they had been nervous going into high school, but the buddies encouraged them positively.

“It’s not as hard as you’d think,” said Shannon, an upperclassmen volunteer. “You’ll get used to the change really quickly.”

NYSSMA Major Organization Assesment Festival

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Congratulations to the Elwood-John H. Glenn Symphonic Band, under the direction of Ms. Vickie Henson, for achieving the highest rating possible at this year's NYSSMA Majors: Gold with Distinction!

On June 6, the Symphonic Band was evaluated by a panel of judges at the the NYSSMA Major Organization Assessment Festival. After each performance, the panel of judges composed constructive comments, and scored each ensemble in specific areas of performance criteria. Groups were rated with a Certificate of Participation, Bronze, Silver, Gold, & Gold with Distinction. Ratings were awarded based upon the judges' assessments of how well the ensemble has demonstrated its proficiency at the level presented. The NYSSMA Major Organization assessment represents the "advanced placement” level of music performance. After John Glenn’s performance for the judges, they were awarded Gold with Distinction.

“This is a particularly impressive honor for the band, and speaks to their attention to detail, commitment and hard work”, said Ms. Henson.

History Brought to Life at James H. Boyd

History Brought to Life at James H. Boyd photo

Historic figures of the past and present came to life at James H. Boyd’s Living History Wax Museum on May 31. After completing an in-depth research project on the figure of their choice, third-grade students from Mrs. Held and Ms. Noon’s classes dressed in character, ready to display their newfound knowledge. Categories of people included artists, entertainers, royalty, and more.

Family, staff, and administrators milled around the statuesque students, activating them by inserting change into a box and pressing a button. All monies donated will be going to charities supported by the different people represented at wax museum.

In addition to the in-person presentation, the event’s pamphlet included QR codes for more information on each person. Upon scanning that code, the viewer was brought to a video the student had created on their chosen figure.

“I learned a lot of little interesting details,” said Kaylee, a student in Mrs. Held’s Class, who was dressed up as Leonardo Di Vinci. “It took Di Vinci twelve years just to finish the eyes of the Mona Lisa!”

EMS Orchestra Receives Superior Rating

EMS Orchestra Receives Superior Rating photo
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The Elwood Middle School Orchestra attended the Long Island Music Festival at L.I.U Post on Friday May 18th. At the festival, students performed two pieces for a panel of judges. After the performance, judges conducted a brief clinic with the orchestra, and then awarded a rating and trophy. The orchestra performed beautifully and earned a "Superior" rating, the highest rating given. Afterwards, the orchestra spent the remainder of the day at Adventureland for some well-deserved fun to celebrate their accomplishment!

Students Selected for First NYS All-County A Capella Ensemble

Students Selected for First NYS All-County A Capella Ensemble photo
Earlier this year, SCMEA launched the All-County A Cappella Ensemble, a pilot program for the organization. Students throughout Suffolk County auditioned for a panel of judges to be selected for the first All-County A Cappella ensemble in New York State.

Of the 22 students selected for this premiere ensemble, two were Elwood-John H. Glenn High School juniors: Makenzy Chaikin, an alto, and Meghan Rivardo, a soprano.

After intensive rehearsals, the ensemble put on an incredible performance at Connetquot High School on May 26th. In addition, high school a cappella groups from all over Suffolk County also performed, including Elwood-John H. Glenn’s own Acappelwood.

Outstanding Elwood Seniors Recognized

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Outstanding Elwood-John H. Glenn High School seniors were honored at the high school’s fifty-sixth annual awards presentation, witnessed by family members, faculty, administrators, and Board members, on May 23. The evening consisted of administrators and faculty recognizing students in the Class of 2018 for success throughout high school in the areas of academics, service and leadership.

Principal Carisa Burzynski opened the ceremony with a warm welcome to all those in attendance, and congratulated the students on their achievements.

“Tonight is a proud moment for some of John Glenn’s most remarkable students,” said Mrs. Burzynski. “You’re here because you’ve gone above and beyond during your years in high school, and probably since kindergarten—and you should be proud of all the hard work and dedication you’ve put towards your future success.”

Students were recognized for state-level achievements—President’s Award for Excellence, National Merit Scholarship Commendation, and NYS Scholarships for Excellence—as well as awarded with gold and silver medals from the PTSA by subject area, and a multitude of other honors and awards.

Athletic Careers Continued

Athletic Careers Continued photo

At the end of May, eleven Elwood-John H. Glenn seniors committed to play the sport of their choice at the collegiate level in the fall. A special recognition ceremony was held in honor of the students’ hard work and dedication throughout their athletic careers. Coaches, family members and administrators were present to support and commend these outstanding student-athletes.

“Through hours of hard work and dedication, in both in the classroom and in athletics, you’ve secured a bright future for yourselves,” said Athletic Director David Shanahan, “and the Elwood School District is proud of each and every one of you.”

The recognized students are as follows:
Nick Blanton, SUNY Cortland, wrestling; Victoria Cacioppo, SUNY Geneseo, lacrosse; Alice Chiodo, University of South Carolina, track; Steven DeVerteuil, University of Mary Washington, soccer; Ryan Hallahan, SUNY Oneonta, wrestling; Jon Green, Marist College, track; Emily Goetz, Molloy College, soccer; Kyle Linsalata, St. Joseph’s College, lacrosse; Connor Rossi, Sacred Heart University, wrestling; Jalynn Sharp, University of Delaware, track; Christian Varlack, Ithaca College, football.

Two Elwood students win ASSET Scholarship Awards

Member district students of the Association of Suffolk Supervisors for Educational Technologies (ASSET) competed for 13 scholarship awards of $2000 each, two of which were won by our Elwood seniors. Congratulations to Peter Giovi and Daniel Corazzata! Click below to see their scholarship video submissions
Peter Giovi
Daniel Corazzata

Maker Faire 2018

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Enrichment and Exploration

Enrichment and Exploration photo

Students at Harley Avenue Primary School have been exploring different enrichment programs through the school’s launch of the 2nd GEAR program. At the beginning of April, students selected four of their top-choices from a long list of activities to participate in every Tuesday afternoon through the end of May, and were assigned to one for the duration of the program. Enrichment activities included “So You Think You Can Dance,” American Sign Language, Movie Magic, Fitness Fanatics, and many more.

“The main idea of this program is to focus on providing a time where students can express themselves and their interests,” said Harley Principal Elissa Milan. “We’re constantly exploring new ways to continue educating the whole child.”

The end of the six-week program will culminate with a 2nd GEAR Fair, where students will be able to demonstrate what they’ve learned. Students are enjoying learning more in depth about areas that interest them.

“I like 2nd GEAR,” said second grader Angelina. “We have fun and learn a lot of cool things, like how muscles can grow when you exercise them, and they make you stronger!”