Island Trees Memorial Middle School

The Home-School Connection

October 23, 2017

"525,600 minutes, how do you measure, measure a year?" This well-known song from Rent popped on the radio while driving with my sons. They know it from their early years, and they (we) sang along on our way to grandma's house. It was pretty cool to listen to my boys be silly, but I did have on my mind the thought of all that we organize, teach, perform, and promote over the course of a year-- but also a day, week and even a class period.

Since our last Home-School connection newsletter, we have witnessed and participated in...

  • an amazing Spirit Week
  • an awesome pep rally
  • a Kids Cook Healthy event
  • pumpkin picking in our courtyard
  • our 7th grade Boston trip
  • a humanitarian drive to aid Puerto Rico
  • multiple interscholastic athletic competitions
  • ongoing rehearsals for our 5/6 musical
  • a walk to find the cure for Type 1 Diabetes
  • lessons which require collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking

In sum, our classrooms, meeting rooms, hallways, and common areas have evidenced our commitment to middle level instruction and our understanding of the needs and characteristics of adolescent learners.

Please enjoy this newsletter, paying special attention to critically important role you play at home. Our Home-School partnership is the foundation of our success as a a school.

Red Ribbon Week (10/23-10/27)

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Island Trees Memorial Middle School's SADD Club is proud to promote Red Ribbon Week! Red Ribbon Week is a weeklong celebration to raise awareness about being drug-free and making healthy choices. Starting Monday, October 23, the students and staff will be participating in the following activities:

Monday, October 23rd:

Kick off Activity:

Our school will stop all activities in the morning and will be prompted to display and watch a "Kid President" video. This video is about “making tough choices.” After the video concludes, students and staff will review as a class the challenges facing each of us and review strategies for responding to these challenges.

Door Decorating Contest

Students and staff are encouraged to decorate their classroom doors in support of Red Ribbon Week. The theme of this contest is “being drug free” Three winners will be picked on Friday, October 27th. Prizes include surprise guest classroom entertainers, students being named DJs for a day (make a playlist and it will play between periods), and students from each homebase/homeroom doing the announcements daily until each student gets a turn.

Photo Contest

Students and staff are encouraged to use Twitter or Instagram to share their favorite healthy activity. To submit their photo, they must Tweet @islandtreesMMS and/or tag @islandtreesmms on Instagram. For this contest, they can use the hashtag: #ITdrugfree Prizes for this contest will be in the form of gift cards.

Word of the Week

Students and staff will listen to the word of the week each morning on announcements, discuss the word, and do activities based on the word abstain.

Friday, October 27th

  • All students will sign the pledge banner at lunch on Friday 10/27.
  • Wear Red! All students and staff will wear red to support the cause.
  • Red Ribbons: Students and staff will be given a red ribbon sticker. Please wear this with pride! Don't forget to wear red!
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Island Trees for Puerto Rico

The Island Trees National Jr. Honor Society, the New York State Chaplain Task Force and New York Police Department are asking the ITMMS community to help in sending much needed items to hurricane damaged Puerto Rico. The people of this beautiful Caribbean Island are in desperate need of so much, and we would ask that you review the list included on our flyer.

Additionally, in concert with the Levittown School District, we are also collecting financial donations for Puerto Rico. Please download the Levittown Cares flyer and follow the instructions for donating to this cause.

Halloween Newsletter

Please review our Halloween newsletter to help us promote a fun and engaging Halloween at Island Trees Memorial Middle School.

5th & 6th Grade Halloween Social

The annual 5th/6th grade Halloween Social will take place on Friday, October 27th from 2:45-4:15 PM in the GPR. Tickets are on sale during the lunch periods and at the door for $5. The event will feature a DJ, music, dancing, snacks, and games. Fifth and sixth grade students may bring costumes to school, and they will be given the opportunity to get dressed in their costumes during 9th period. Students who are attending the social will be walked down from their classroom to the GPR at the end of 9th period. Parents will be required to pick up their children in the main lobby at 4:15 p.m.

Please remember that students are not to wear masks or full face paint and are not to bring toy weapons as part of their costumes.

Great Citizens of Island Trees MMS

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As part of our community service campaign, this section highlights the ITMMS students who demonstrate a commitment to serving their school community. Through acts of selflessness and kindness, these students embody the spirit of community.

An example of great citizenship is found in the work of Liam wells and Matthew Norberg, two fine young men who found $62 on the floor on Friday, 10/20. It was never a question what they would do next. These young men came straight to the office to share their story and attempt to get this money back to its rightful owner.

Thank you, gentlemen!

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

Are you a middle of high school student who is making a difference through volunteering? Apply for a 2018 Prudential Spirit of Community Award and you could win $1,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C., in late April!

A Long Walk to Water

When our students at Island Trees Memorial Middle School enter seventh grade English classes, they begin the year with a novel called A Long Walk to Water. It is the story of the journey of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Salva Dut. The Lost Boys are a group of young boys who were forced to flee their homes and country (on foot, through the African wilderness) as a result of civil war in their villages.

As an exciting addition to our curriculum this year, we are lucky enough to have a guest speaker, Sebastian Maroundit, also a Lost Boy of Sudan, come to speak to our seventh and eighth grade students. Sebastian has created an organization called Building Minds in South Sudan. Their mission is to rebuild schools in war-torn, poverty, and famine stricken South Sudan, as well as to promote gender equality in education. Because of the ongoing war in South Sudan, education has suffered greatly.

Take a look at the link below to see how our school will help rebuilds schools and promote gender equality in South Sudan.

Humans of Island Trees Memorial Middle School

As a school community we celebrate all who come through our doors in the morning. Though the academic work can be challenging and the pressures that come with adolescence can be draining, we are a middle school which supports all learners--intellectually, socially, and emotionally. This section highlights the "Humans of Island Trees Memorial Middle School," with a nod to our staff member's recollection of life as a middle school student. Enjoy!

Mrs. McNamara

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"I never thought I would be a middle school teacher, although I knew from a young age that I wanted to teach. I always thought I would be an elementary school teacher and here I am, 15 years at Island Trees as a middle school math teacher, and I couldn’t image doing anything else. Over my 15 years here, I met my husband and some of my best friends. I have become a mother to a now 8-year-old son, Collin, and 6-year-old daughter, Molly. Being a mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has made me a better teacher, as I always ask myself, If my children were in this classroom, what kind of teacher would I want them to have?

Family is everything to me. I truly believe in creating memories and traditions that will last a lifetime. I have a family home in Lake George where I have traveled to since I was a child and now my own children go often and I hope the traditions and memories will carry on.

I believe education starts at home and family support and encouragement is life’s greatest gift. I want to teach my children and students to be confident."

- Mrs. McNamara

In Case You Missed It

Boston Trip - 7th Grade

Our 7th grade trip to Boston was a wonderful success. The students and staff reported back to us that this cultural experience was important and fun. Our travel party visited important sites such as Fenway Park, Quincy Market, the Freedom Trail, Boston Common. Additionally, our group also took a Duck Tour and went to see The Blue Man Group.

Take a look at the Boston Trip newsletter, which is chock full of photos from the trip.

Spirit Week

Spirit Week is a yearly event at Island Trees Memorial Middle School. Spirit Week is designed to help our students make connections with classmates, teachers, and staff here at our school. Additionally, Spirit Week promotes student expression and creativity--two very important characteristics that strong middle schools must tap into.

Kids Cook Healthy Night

Thank you to our wonderful PTSA, under the leadership of Karen Ciraldo and Laura Dufresne, for their commitment to healthy living and healthy eating. Kids Cook Healthy Night was a wonderful community event. The chefs from Northwell Health provided cooking tips to families and allowed our young chefs to explore recipes that are healthy and tasty.

ITMMS Walks to Cure Type 1 Diabetes

Each year, JDRF One Walk brings together more than 900,000 people across the country to change the future for everyone living with type 1 diabetes (T1D). This fun, family–friendly event gives people with T1D—and their friends, family and co–workers—the opportunity to raise money for life-changing T1D research.

Led by our National Junior Honor Society, under the able direction of Mrs. Nieves and Mrs. Harouche, students and families from Island Trees came out in full force on October 22nd to raise money and awareness to fight Type 1 Diabetes.

It's Happening in Our Classrooms

This section has been designed to shed additional light on some of the events and activities from our classrooms and assist all of you as you continue to inquire of your children, "How was your school day?"

Additionally, now that all of our students have a Chromebook, you are certain to see and hear of apps, websites, and teaching models which, at first glance, may not seem familiar to you. I will try to use this section to communicate the role of these new applications and methods.

Writing For An Audience

Students in Mrs. Cifarelli's classes wrote letters of encouragement to men and women who are currently in Coast Guard Boot Camp. Classes studied the the 5 branches of the military and how each branch serves to protect, defend and keep our country safe. A great success of this exploration was based upon the real-world connections made to some of our recent weather-related disasters. Students wrote their letters to a true audience that was closely impacted by these global concerns.

Discovery-Based Lessons

Breakout EDU-inspired lessons

In reviewing for an upcoming test, Home and Careers teachers Mrs. Bunster and Mrs. Purrman created an activity using Breakout EDU. Students in these classes had to use information on kitchen safety, measuring equivalents and measuring techniques in order to help them break into their boxes. They were given a scenario that involved Mrs. Purrman and Mrs. Bunster being locked out of their classrooms with cookies baking in the ovens. They needed to get the teachers back in the classroom to save the cookies. The use of the information they had learned, the dialogues on measuring equivalents and their teamwork was amazing to watch.

Differentiated Project Presentations

The students on Team Bergamino/Stanley were given multiple platforms to share their understanding of the geography, land forms, and the social sciences. A brief trip through these classrooms (and hallways) found students collaborating, working on multiple presentation displays--which included Google Slide presentations and poster boards--and moving around the room to learn from other groups.

Art Explorations

Students in Mrs. McNally's art classes were asked to examine asymmetrical pieces and, once strongly grounded, create their own works using this design style. Students were given the opportunity to tap into the "4 Cs" central to 21st century learning: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

In sum, our classrooms, meeting rooms, hallways, and common areas have evidenced our commitment to middle level instruction and our understanding of the needs and characteristics of adolescent learners.

- D. Keegan

Observational Drawing in the Courtyard

"The World is our Classroom"

Students in Mrs. McNally's classroom took to the outdoors to gain inspiration for observational drawing. Using our newly renovated courtyard for ideas, students participated in a healthy and meaningful artistic experience.

Read Every Day Initiative

Walk around our school before Homeroom, step onto buses at dismissal, or circle the cafeteria during a lunch period and you are likely to find students buried in a book. No, not only a school-assigned book, but one that is driven by a passion or a particular interest. Though we have and will continue to create many opportunities to promote reading across the curriculum, we would ask that you continue to support your child's independent reading outside of school.

Read Every Day Initiative

Island Trees Memorial Middle School requires all students to have a book of their choice with them at all times. Teachers often set aside 5-10 minutes of class time to silent reading in order to promote reading stamina and skill development.

We also have students read whenever there is any downtime in class. Most importantly, teachers very often to read with their students. This has really had an impact on students reading because they see our love as well. We have had kids make quick review posters for other classmates who might need an idea of a book to read.

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If You Are Looking For...

Thank you for connecting with our school in so many ways. Whether it has been at a trip meeting for Greenkill or Washington DC, Meet the Teacher Night, or the 5th Grade Welcome, it is clear that the home-school connection is strong. I wanted to use this section to remind all of the ways in which we continue to connect with families.
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The Daily Bulletin

Please be reminded that our school's daily announcements are posted on our website. These announcements come from teachers, coaches, and club advisors. Please be sure to review these announcements by selecting the "Daily Bulletin" link on our school's website.

Homework Online

Our teachers work hard to keep families connected to their classroom by posting homework to our website. Please be sure to review the "Homework Online" link on our school's website.

Home-School Connection Newsletter

Maybe you read something in a school newsletter and wanted to go back to review. Perhaps you missed a newsletter but heard it was worth reading. Find all of our Home-School newsletters on our school's webpage.


Want to celebrate so many of the great things happening in our schools? Sign up for our IT-Grams and IT-Grams will be sent directly to your inbox. You can also view our library of IT-Grams from our website. The screenshot below is an illustration of the form found on our website to sign up for IT-Grams.
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Let's Stay in Touch

Though decisions regarding the use of social media should be made by families, it is important to know that adolescents are increasingly drawn to this medium. The Island Trees Memorial Middle School will make every effort to model the appropriate use of social media and support your children as they navigate the digital age. Though e-mail and phone calls are still welcome and useful, we will seek to leverage the power of technology to provide school-based updates in multiple formats. To this end and to keep the lines of communication open between home and school, we ask that you consider following ITMMS on the platforms below.

We are on Remind

In addition to our newsletter, The Home-School Connection, our Twitter and Instagram pages, school website and I.T.-Grams, Island Trees Memorial Middle School would also like to invite you to join ur Remind group. Remind will be used to update you on events that must be changed or altered on short notice.

Please follow the sign-up instructions on the handout below.

Please also feel free to follow this link to join our Remind group

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Contests & Competitions

This space highlights the many programs that are geared toward middle-level learners.

Please encourage your child to participate in competitions and contests that speak to his/her passions and interests.

Parenting & Middle School

This section has been created to help parents and families better understand the needs and characteristics of young adolescents. The research and briefs shared below highlight the significant changes that our students are going through and the ways in which families and schools can best support our children.

Essential Resources

Please bookmark the following websites as they will be important points of reference throughout the year. Each site will be update throughout the year, providing timely and important updates regarding our academic and co-curricular programs.