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Students, Faculty Honored

Two very special people - one a student, one a faculty member - were honored at the April meeting of the Island Trees Board of Education for their outstanding contributions to the school district. 


Island Trees senior Brittany Wilson was recognized at the board meeting for a vast number of accomplishments throughout her high school career, culminating in the winning of the 2013 Nassau BOCES Educator Partner Award, which is given to those who promote education on Long Island. 


Island Trees high school Principal Nick Grande ran down a list of Wilson’s many accolades- she is the senior class president, president of the National Honor Society, and president of the yearbook committee. In addition, she is captain of the varsity cheerleading team, was named homecoming queen last year, and is an active member of many school organizations, as well as excelling academically. 


“Brittany has a weighted average of 104.4, and is ranked number seven in the senior class,” Grande said. “She has received an academic scholarship to attend Hofstra University next year in their pre-med program, and tonight we honor her.”


Next, the board paid homage a true hero in their midst- Michael F. Stokes Elementary School faculty member Sheryl Emigholz, whose recent actions saved the life of a young boy choking during an afternoon concert rehearsal, according to Stokes Interim Principal Robert Harrington.


“I turned, and I saw her in a bear hug with one of her students who was choking on an apple,” he said. “Twice, she had to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on little Stephen, successfully...she just sprang into action so quickly, and the situation was over in seconds, thanks to her.”


Island Trees high school English Department Chairperson Elizabeth Roemer also gave an update on the district’s preparation for the adoption of New York State-mandated Common Core learning standards, as well as difficult new state assessment testing designed to gauge the effectiveness of those standards.


“The Common Core curriculum is very rigorous, the assessment tests are very complex...we were told by the state that overall student scores would very likely go down,” she said. “However, we have been preparing all year for them, and we are working to see what we can do to better prepare them for next year as well.”


However, Roemer pointed out a flaw in the state’s recent assessment testing that has been administered to students- the amount of time that kids are given to complete is woefully inadequate, she said. 


“The timing is not what they had predicted,” she said. “They said that, in 70 minutes, students should be finished. 70 minutes went by, then 80, then 90...timing is an issue, and our students, as prepared as they are, can’t show what they know. This is a problem across all of Long Island, not just Island Trees.” 

The board also announced an increase in the price of school lunches starting new year; starting in September, lunch at the elementary schools will increase 25 cents to $1.75, and lunch at the middle and high school will also increase 25 cents, hiking the amount up to $2.


Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Murphy clarified for the parents in attendance that the lunch price hikes were mandated by forces beyond their control, and that the Island Trees district was doing all that it could to soften the blow. 


“This isn’t something that we want to do, but the Federal government is really directing us to do that,” he said. “The price has to go up again and again until it hits a certain price point, which is $2.59. We’re going up in increments so that we don’t do it in one year.”