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From The Desk Of Superintendent Dr. Elaine Kanas

Science Research

As you know, an important goal for the district this year has been to grow our Science Research Program under the direction of Dave Casamento, director of science and technology, Tom VanBell, Science Research teacher and the high school administration.   In addition to the awards and recognitions received by our science research students I’ve previously highlighted, I am pleased to report more recognitions in this week’s newsletter. 


The Molloy College Science Fair took place on March 15. A special awards ceremony followed on Saturday, April 27.


Four Wheatley students were among the 39 award recipients. Sophomore Kuan Yu won first place in the Biology category, sophomore Courtney Schwartz placed in the top 10 in the Biology category, and sophomores Rohan Gulati and Hebah Hassan placed in the top 36, in the biology category as well. The Molloy College Science Fair is the only regional science fair for ninth-and 10th-graders. It is a favorite among the top schools on Long Island for science research.   


The results of the Long Island Science Congress (LISC) Science Fair, sponsored by the Long Island Sections of the Science Teachers Association of New York State (STANYS), were announced this week.   Four of our students’ projects were chosen to advance to the state-level STANYS Science Competition which will take place at Brookhaven National Laboratory on June 8.  Only twenty-four of the 400 projects from students across Long Island were chosen to advance.  The Wheatley students who made the cut are sophomores Kuan Yu and Rohan Gulati, junior Allison Chowdhury and senior Rebecca Molinsky.  The four of them completed mentored science projects this past summer at SUNY Old Westbury, Montefiore Medical Center, Stony Brook University and Mt. Sinai Hospital, respectively.


Wheatley Science Symposium

Wheatley held its first Science Research Symposium on April 29.  It was a terrific opportunity to get a sense of the new scope and range being developed in our science research program.  The Poster Session provided an opportunity for all students, those in Introduction to Science Research and the advanced Independent Science Research students, to showcase their research work this year.


Lambert Chu’s study identified the regulatory effects of aspirin and morphine on nitric oxide signaling in healthy and cancerous cells, a finding with notable implications for cancer treatment.  Daniela Czemerinski’s research aimed to develop a comprehensive method of pancreatic cancer diagnosis and a means to monitor progression by using the potentiometric bionsensor.


Allison Giller conducted a survey administered to high school students to determine the effects that cause students to cheat and which methods of cheating they perceive to be unjust. Rebecca Molinsky’s study explored epigenetic and DNA damage events that alter the chemical structures of the fundamental components of DNA. 


Gabrielle Pollack conducted a retrospective study assessing the correlations between serum total white blood cell count, eosinophil count, neutrophil count, hemoglobin, platelet counts, sodium and bicarbonate with asthma severity in children admitted to a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Tiffany Truong’s study compared the efficacy and side effects of methotrexate and mycophenolate in the treatment of chronic non-infectious uveitis.


During the poster session, it was exciting to talk to the Intro to Science Research students and to hear that many of these young students are looking forward to continuing their science research studies by signing up for the advanced Independent Science Research course.  I look forward to writing about their projects a few years from now, when they are seniors!!


Students Win New York State History Award

Wheatley 11th-grader Jacob Freund was awarded first place in the Senior Historical Paper category at New York State History Day in Cooperstown, New York on April 29.  Jacob’s 2,500-word research paper entitled “The Homestead Act of 1862:  America’s First Entitlement Program”* was selected by a panel of distinguished judges as the most outstanding paper submitted in the State of New York, defeating regional winners from across the state.  


As this was only Wheatley’s second year in this prestigious educational event, it was particularly exciting to already have a state winner.  As state champion, Jacob will represent New York at National History Day in College Park, Maryland on June 11th.


*After a school-wide competition, Jacob’s essay, along with other student essays from Wheatley, was entered into the March Regional Competition at Hofstra University. 


Overall, Wheatley had 39 students participate in the initial regional competition.


One More Winner…

Congratulations to Maria D’Iorio who is the recipient of the 15th Annual Giovanna Morabito AATI Long Island Scholarship Award.  This award is given to one senior on Long Island for their outstanding achievement in the study of Italian. 


Report of Board Of Education Work Session: May 1

Among the topics discussed at the May 1 Board of Education Work Session was the scheduling of team practices during holiday vacations. Section VIII publishes a list each year of days when games cannot be played due to religious holidays.


It was decided that our athletics program will follow Section VIII’s recommendations and will not schedule practices on those days.  Next year the days include Sept. 5 and 6, 2013 (Rosh Hashanah and end before 6 p.m. on Sept. 4, 2013), Sept. 14, 2013 (Yom Kippur and end before 6 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2014), December 24 and 25, 2013 (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), April 15, 2014 (first Day of Passover and end before 6 p.m. on April 14, 2013), April 18, 2014 (Good Friday) and April 20, 2014 (Easter).  Students who observe other days of religious observance and inform the coach of this situation will not receive consequences for these missed practices or games.


Strategic Planning Initiative 

We have received over 500 completed surveys. Even though the deadline was April 29, we are still in the process of compiling the results.  If you have not yet responded, and still wish to, you may mail in your survey this week or go to the district website at > in NewsBox click on Strategic Planning Initiative > click on Strategic Planning webpage > Click on Survey in the first box enter your views on the online edition of the survey.


The Strategic Planning Committee will be meeting on June 3. At that time the committee will look at the survey input, as well as various district performance data and reports. From this information they will develop approximately 10 overall goal/priority areas for our District for the next five years. These goals will then be shared with our educational team. The team will develop these goals into yearly objectives that will lead to the accomplishment of our five-year goals.  This first draft will then be shared with the board of education for their consideration and input at the June Board of Education Monthly Business Meeting during the Superintendent’s Report. 


If you have not filled out the survey yet, we urge you to do so.  We began this process wanting to build a collaborative vision of how we can prioritize our resources to meet shared goals over the next five years. 


What’s New With Curriculum And Instruction?

At the upcoming June 5 board of education work session, we will be sharing our plans and projects for next year. 


The new plans and projects are designed to continue to grow and develop our instructional program.  Starting last month, the members of the Leadership Team (made up of all district administrators, building administrators, directors, and curriculum associates/chairs) have been meeting with each other and individually with me to review this year’s progress, review areas for growth and to identify goals for next year. 


This month, our whole Leadership Team is scheduled to meet twice in order to integrate individual department goals and plans (that are discussed with staff) into one overall instructional plan for the District for the 2013-14 school year. During these meetings we will also be joined by members of the Professional Development Steering Group (PDSG) as we simultaneously coordinate a plan for staff development that directly aligns with our goals for student achievement. At the June Work Session we will also provide a progress report on the accomplishments of the current year’s 2012-13 goals.  


Congratulations To The Simmons Award Winners

I attended the Simmons Awards Coffee House hosted by the East Williston Educational Foundation, an organization whose primary goal is to provide financial support to enhance the excellent education programs for which the district has always been known. The Simmons Family Award for Recognition of Excellence is given each year to teachers/staff members in the three schools in recognition of their ability to make a difference in the lives of students. The award was established through a trust fund established by Mr. Steven Simmons, Class of ’64, in honor of the wonderful teachers he had in the East Williston School District. 


I would like to congratulate this year’s honorees and award recipients: Sabine Knakal, the Principal’s secretary from the North Side School; Maria Slobodskoy, the ELS teacher from the Willets Road School; and Tom Fitzpatrick, the director of physical education, Athletics, Health, and Medical Services. 


Everyone in attendance enjoyed the sounds of North Side advanced ensemble led by North Side music teacher Rachel May, the Willets Road Wind Ensemble conducted by Willets Road music teacher Scott Hoefling and the Wheatley Chorale, directed by Wheatley music teacher Angela Luftig.


The founders of the popular Facebook group “Massapequa Moms,” a ‘virtual living room with 6,700 people,’ are leveraging their social media power to create a new discount loyalty card good all over Long Island—including, they hope, in Mineola. 


With a hugely popular Facebook community, co-founders Dawn Boyle Kostakis and Stephanie Hartman wanted to “figure out a way that we could help the consumer and the business owner at the same time; keeping commerce going, keeping it all local and having the people get a little bang for their buck,” said Kostakis. They wanted to serve more than just Massapequa, too, and the Long Island Loyalty card was born. 

Educating The Underprivileged Girl

As I tried to make my way through the unforgiving monsoon season, rain pouring as far as the eye could see, dodging puddles I rushed inside the school building. The guard yelled in the background for the children to come in quickly before they dragged in even more mud inside. Trying hard not to slip on the wet dirty floor, I pondered to myself what

exactly I was doing here. The words of Mahatma Gandhi resonated inside my head, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”


Here I was at a school in Mumbai India, 7800 miles from my home in Mineola, volunteering with “Aseema,” a non-governmental organization whose mission is to empower and educate the under privileged children. Children living on the streets or in slums and in inhuman conditions.


The Mineola Mustangs varsity football team defeated the Roosevelt Roughriders 47-38 on Saturday, Sept. 20.


Senior quarterback James Gerstner led the Mustangs (2-0) to victory by rushing 212 yards and securing five touchdowns on 23 carries.  He also completed 11 of 13 passes for 229 yards and one touchdown.


“This was a big game—we were ready and pumped up all week,” Gerstner said.  “We came in ranked third but we knew we could beat them.”

Mustangs Shut Out Valley Stream

The Mineola Varsity Football team’s defense dominated Valley Stream South, winning 21-0 on Sept. 13. The Falcons never got further then Mineola’s 30 yard line. The defense was lead by senior linebackers Eric Guardado (8 tackles 6 assist), Ed Hincapie (6 tackles, 5 assist) and safety John Clancy (tackles, 3 assist).


Defensive linemen Anthony Sarno, Luigi Athan, Victor Tineo, Matt Lafaye and Chris Brenes controlled the line of scrimmage. Defensive backs Peter McCormack and Chris Lockwood played very well as they combined for eight tackles and only allowed two pass completions. Linebacker Kyle Dunleavy, Ben Carbone, Matt Kosowski and Brian Smith also played very well.


Exercise Class - September 24

Silver Sneaker Fitness - September 25

International Night - September 25


1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller,

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry,

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller,