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Students Showcase Their Smarts

Students from the Odyssey and Math Enrichment programs in the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District presented projects they’ve been working on this year at the May 12 board of education meeting. 

 

“We’ve asked some of our students here this evening so you could see some of the outstanding work that’s cultivated by the young men and young women in our district,” Superintendent Robert Katulak said. 

 

Students in fourth through sixth grades from New Hyde Park’s four elementary schools took turns presenting their projects, which covered a variety of subjects from Homer’s Odyssey to cricket to Internet search speeds. 

 

Victoria McGuigan, a sixth grader from Hillside Grade School, introduced the Odyssey program and gave a brief summary of the work the class has done this year, before reading a selection from an illustrated book of her own design called “Sybil Ludington, the Fearless Fighter.” 

 

Fifth graders Kaitlyn Thitibordin, Navdeep Kaur, and Megan Muntzenberger presented a model of an Odyssey themed amusement park. Preesha Mody played Elizabethan music on her flute and Christian Zamora unveiled his Shakespearean puppet show.

 

Dario Gimenez created his own Benjamin Franklin board game. Fourth grader Max O’Connor also tried his hand at inventing.

 

Entry into the programs is based on three criteria: IQ, New York State test results, and teacher recommendation. Students meet for 90 minutes a week for each program during regular classroom hours. They’re responsible for any work missed. Most students are in both the

Odyssey and Math Enrichment programs, but it is possible to be in one without the other. 

 

Sheila Bet heads the Odyssey program, which offers students in-depth humanities studies. Fourth-graders explore literacy through the Junior Great Books program and learn critical thinking skills used to interpret classic works of literature.

 

In fifth grade, they tackle Greek mythology and the works of Shakespeare. In sixth grade, students participate in a program called “The Constitution Works” to learn how a bill becomes a law. 

 

Every year culminates in a trip to New Hyde Park Village Hall for a mock debate where the class attempts to amend and pass a new bill. This year, students analyzed a 14th Amendment right and debated whether boys and girls should be allowed to play on the same sports teams. 

 

“The purpose of the Odyssey program is to provide a challenging, differentiated educational environment, beyond the regular school program. Enhanced decision-making, problem solving, creative, critical and divergent thinking are developed through activities that are designed to challenge our young students’ intellects and talents,” explains Bet.

 

The Math Enrichment program is taught by Tammie Svendsen and allows students to pursue projects based on whatever interests them amount the world of mathematics. The class also participates in the National Math Olympiads, an ongoing competition from November to March.  

 

Several students presented their projects at the Board of education meeting. Fourth grader Rahi Bhatia gave a detailed account of Math in Cricket that focused on different players’ batting averages. Vanessa DiNardo and Ava Giangrande teamed up to determine whether or not it was more cost-effective to buy bows for their hair or to make them themselves. Julia Si did her project on Math in Architecture and studied  different types of bridges.

 

The final presentation came from a pair of sixth graders, Mithul George and Abaan Khalid, who compared Internet search speeds on Google and Bing as well as service providers Verizon FiOs and Optimum Online.

 

The annual Math and Odyssey fairs offer the students a chance to show off their hard work to parents and peers alike. 

 

Contract Talk

The board of education meeting wrapped up with comments from the community. Ralph Ratto, president of the teachers union for the district, spoke out against stalled contract renewals. 

 

“Our negotiations have been at a painfully slow pace, often waiting weeks for an answer or another meeting by your side,” Ratto said. “There is no logical excuse for this.” 

 

The teachers contract expired two years ago at the end of the school year. Under the Triborough amendment to the Taylor Law, they continue to work under the terms of the old contract until a new one is ratified.

 

Because negotiations are ongoing, Ratto declined to discuss what offers are being made by both sides.  While addressing the board, he stressed that the teachers are simply after a “fair and just contract” and reminded them that teachers “are taxpayers and parents too.” 


News

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say Sewanhaka High School will receive a camera on Covert Avenue, which spans the eastern stretch of the property. Tulip Avenue runs in front of the high school and was also considered. Cameras could begin operation in September.

The Village of New Hyde Park finished its Operation Main Street project just in time, because the town’s eligibility for federal funds is shrinking, officials announced last week.

“The qualifications revolve around money,” trustee Donald Barbieri said. “Like how much income is being earned by people in the area. I guess as seniors move on, you can’t buy an [expensive home] and it changed the demographic, shrinking our eligible area.”


Sports

New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d’Arnaud brightened the day for some patients at Cohen Children’s Medical Center last week in New Hyde Park, posing for pictures and handing out gifts and autographs. The players hung out with the kids in the afternoon, playing video games and answering questions.

They also found the time to make the rounds, stopping by bedsides to spread some cheer. Mr. Met also joined the tour and was a big hit with the children, who peppered him with questions about everything from his four-fingered hand to the whereabouts of the missing Mrs. Met.

The Sewanhaka Indians football team has a season of change in store.

The Indians have moved up from Conference III to Conference II, due to an increase in enrollment, and are set to face teams that they have never seen before, according to head coach George Kasimatis.

“It is hard to gauge where we will be in this conference,” he said. “There is a lot of uncertainty as where we fit in.”


Calendar

Library Board Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Welcome Reception

Wednesday, Sept. 3

Herricks School Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com