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Dr. O’Hara Receives Excellence Award

Oyster Bay High School Principal Dr. Dennis O’Hara, OBHS Assistant Principal Taryn Johnson and Carolyn Probst, a guidance counselor at Westhampton Beach High School, presented at the 2014 College Board Middle States Regional Forum, where Dr. O’Hara was honored with “The William U. Harris Award of Excellence.”

The William U. Harris Award of Excellence recognizes an individual from a College Board member institution who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the field of education, has inspired, prepared and connected young people to college, and has shown a genuine commitment to mentoring education leaders in an environment that supports their development and growth.

Dr. O’Hara has dedicated himself to the field of education for more than 25 years, most recently as the transformational leader of Oyster Bay High School (Grades 7-12) in Oyster Bay.

Dr. O’Hara’s career began as a middle and high school science teacher, where he served students not only as a classroom teacher, but spent time working with at-risk students, coached wrestling and track, and acted as a class and club advisor.

His administrative career began when he served as Science Department Chairperson at Hauppauge Union Free School District on Long Island from 1998-2001, and then as assistant principal in that district from 2001-2003.

Since 2003, Dr. O’Hara has been principal at Oyster Bay High School. As an educational leader, Dr. O’Hara has focused on the professional development of his staff. He implemented a Peer Coaching program, established a three-year cohort-based staff development program, crafted a school-wide professional development program called “Small Learning Teams”, and encouraged the use of student-centered teaching methods and team teaching. In addition to furthering the professional development of his own staff, Dr. O’Hara has served as a Secondary Education instructor at Long Island University and Dowling College.

Dr. O’Hara’s most noteworthy contributions, however, have been in the betterment of the students in his care. As an assistant principal, he launched an interdepartmental program in collaboration with the guidance and athletic departments aimed at improving the academic performance of student-athletes. He has also worked to improve special education and ESL programs to improve the quality of education provided to these populations. Dr. O’Hara’s primary focus has been on encouraging students to graduate high school and pursue higher learning. During his tenure as principal at Oyster Bay High School, graduation and college- going rates have increased among all sub-groups. Oyster Bay is now ranked among the top two percent of all high schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek magazine, and the Washington Post.

As Christopher Weber, Library Media Specialist at Oyster Bay High School puts it, “Dr. O’Hara has made it his mission as principal to instill in his students the belief that anyone can and should attend college.”

 To this end, he has designed and championed two unique college visitation trips. Each January, 10th grade students go on a five-day trip south, and visit colleges and universities in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. In the spring, 8th grade students participate in a three-day trip to Philadelphia where they visit local colleges. Dr. O’Hara leads these trips himself, and collaborates with campus admissions officers who give a presentation and a tour to the students. These trips, made possible by hours of fund raising and planning, provide an opportunity for students who may not otherwise be able to visit colleges to experience some of the East Coast’s leading campuses.

Particularly for the eighth-graders, this early introduction to the college admission process can be pivotal in instilling a desire to succeed in high school in order to attend the college of their choice. Dr. O’Hara has been successful in ensuring that college-going culture permeates Oyster Bay High School. These tours, along with many other initiatives, have encouraged students to challenge themselves in and out of the classroom, and to work diligently toward their college dreams. Assistant Principal Johnson had the pleasure of presenting the William U. Harris Award of Excellence to Dr. O’Hara.

“Dennis O’Hara has given his students some of the greatest gifts that an educator can give,” said Johnson in her introduction of the award. “He has torn down barriers and redefined boundaries. He has given them agency and the ability to dream and believe. He has taken statistics that say can’t and don’t and traded them for numbers that dictate the will to do. What resonates amongst all of us that know him and love him, is his ability to create opportunities for student success that is not limited to that which is measurable. He has created an educational environment that embraces families, challenges mindsets and transforms students from hopeless dependency to autonomous maturity."

News

Richie Cannata may be best known for his song credits but his name will become a part of history this week. Cannata, a 28-year resident and business owner of Glen Cove, will be inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on Thursday, Oct. 23 at The Paramount in Huntington.

As a member of the Billy Joel Band, the saxophone player was propelled to fame in 1975 when he joined the band and played on songs including “New York State of Mind” and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.”

The Oyster Bay community paid tribute to award winning journalist Marie Colvin at Oyster Bay High School on Saturday, Oct. 11. The school library was officially dedicated in her name and a portrait of the journalist who died on the frontlines in Syria in 2012 was proudly displayed at the entrance of the library. The event was put together by members of the Oyster Bay class of 1974 who held their 40th class reunion over the weekend.

Oyster Bay High School Principal Dennis O’Hara gave a short speech in honor of Colvin’s name. Nassau County legislators Judi Jacobs and Donald MacKenzie also gave speeches, along with Colvin’s sister, Catherine Colvin, and Donna Fiore-Houman, who helped coordinate the event. Both were members of the class of ‘74. Founding dean of the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University, Howard Schneider, also gave a small speech at the end of the ceremony.


Sports

The autumn varsity sports season is well on its way in Oyster Bay. Many young athletes have distinguished themselves. Several fine young athletes excelled right out of the gate and were chosen by the Oyster Bay Hight School coaches as Athletes of the Month for October 2014.

Cross Country Coach Kevin Cotter has athletes who consistently qualify for the states. Picking one to honor is a difficult task. Within this impressive group of talented athletes, one stands out: junior Alex Tosi, who recently broke the 17 minute barrier for a 5K course at Bethpage State park with a time of 16:52. This feat has not been accomplished since 2008.

5- and 6-year-old Peanuts

The Little Generals (Peanuts) stepped out into the cold Sunday morning ready to give the home crowd a show as they battled the Bellmore Braves, and that’s just what they did as the Generals beat the Braves 14-7. The teams battled to a first half tie as the Generals’ touchdown came on a 26-yard run by Kody Gehnrich, thanks to great blocks by John (Jack) Grace and Jack Symanski.

In the second half, where the Generals are usually at their best, the defense shut out the Braves as Rodney Hill, Jr. and Brandon Babel stepped in on the defense line to create a great push to allow Francesco Allocca to make eight tackles. The offense got a big boost with Allocca being allowed to play RB after playing QB the past two games, and boy did he respond behind great lead blocking from Luca Granito. Allocca carried the ball nine times for 60 yards and a TD coming on the last play of the game.


Calendar

Boys & Girls Club Gala

Thursday, October 23

Halloween Party

Saturday, October 25

Property Tax Exemptions Workshop

Tuesday, October 28



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