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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

The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District is planning improvements to a district that has already seen much success in recent years. The school year has only just begun and the Board of Ed is already setting its sights on the future. 

 

At the Sept. 8 board of education meeting, Superintendent Robert Katulak’s monthly report outlined the major goals set for the district last month. While approved in August, the three goals were made available to the public this month and each target different areas for improvement throughout the district. 

 

The first goal deals with English Language Learners (ELL) within the student population. ELL students are those that speak a language other than English at home and score below proficient on assessments. 

Senator Jack Martins discussed education, business and drug use among other topics in a an exclusive interview with this newspaper and FiOS 1 News. He’s currently seeking re-election in November, being challenged by Democrat Adam Haber. Pointing to what he called “key legislation,” particularly the tax cap legislation passed in 2011 and prescription drug bill he helped shepherd to enactment, Martins feels New York State is on track to continue fiscal responsibility.

 

“In these last four years, we’ve had four balanced budgets, we’ve cut taxes working together, we have paid off debt, streamlined government, kept spending below 2 percent each one of those years,” Martins said.


Sports

Sewanhaka boys soccer coach Peter Burgess wasn’t sure how long his team’s playoff drought was when it was broken last season. 

 

“Somebody said it was 13 years,” said Burgess, whose entering his fourth year coaching varsity. “But I think it was five or six, I don’t know maybe longer.”

 

But one thing’s for certain, he wants to keep last year’s momentum going. 

 

The Indians, who started their season with a 3-0 loss at Hewlett, will aim for their second straight trip to the playoffs this year. 

The Sewanhaka Indians made their Nassau Conference II debut with a bang.  The Indians opened their season at home against the Calhoun Colts, unsure what to expect, as all they had ever seen of the Colts was one tape of a scrimmage. 

 

“It was nerve raking leading up to the game,” said Head Coach George Kasimatis. “We weren’t sure what to expect on offense or defense, you have to guess early on. “

 

But it didn’t take the Indians long to introduce themselves to the conference, as junior, Quarterback, Elijah Tracey broke a 75-yard run taking it the distance to put the Indians up early, which ended in a 27-7 rout of the Colts. 


Calendar

Town Zoning Meeting - September 17

Herricks Meeting - September 18

Bike Safety Day - September 21


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
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