PRSD Pulse - April 2023 Edition
Greetings Pearl River School District Families and Staff,
With warm weather and the spring season in effect, March brought much excitement and celebration across our school buildings! Throughout the month leading up to the spring recess (April 3-10), a number of talented fifth and sixth grade student musicians from Pearl River Middle School attended the Rockland County Music Educators Association’s Intermediate All County Music Festival (March 3-4), Pearl River High School hosted its annual Marine Science Club Fair (March 4) and International Night event (March 9), our District highlighted the work of our school social workers during School Social Work Week (March 5-11), K-12 students celebrated the Saint Patrick’s Day holiday (March 17), members of the PRHS World Language Honor Society and 4 Core Honor Societies were inducted during live ceremonies (March 21 and 29), and PRMS students performed in their production of Disney’s Frozen Jr. (March 23-25).
As we now enter mid-April, the PRSD is preparing for many events ahead as we look forward to the upcoming 2023-24 School Budget Vote (May 16), NYSED assessments and Advanced Placement exams, and our District’s first-ever Arts in the Park event (June 3). More details and information regarding the annual budget vote and the Arts in the Park event will be included in our upcoming editions of the PRSD Pulse…be sure to take a look!
There is so much to anticipate in the coming months as we round the corner of the 2022-23 school year. I am excited to share all that’s to come with you across the areas of academics, athletics and the arts.
Marco F. Pochintesta, Ed.D.
Front of the Class: School Spotlights
Take a front row seat to see what's been going on inside our schools throughout the month of March...
Lincoln Ave Lions jumped (and skipped) for joy...and raising funds for a good cause! As part of their annual celebration of American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart event, K-4 students at Lincoln Avenue Elementary School participated in the Kids Heart Challenge -- promoting daily participation in physical activity, working towards a collective school-wide goal and giving back to those in need. This year's challenge, proposed by Principal Kathleenann Cool, was for students to reach their fundraising efforts of $3500...and students raised over $6300 total. Surpassing their goal, students had the opportunity to color blast Principal Cool during the outdoor assembly! These funds both support the crucial work of the American Heart Association in their heart and blood vessel disease and stroke research, education and awareness, and provide additional physical education equipment to teach the importance of heart health and maintaining physical fitness. Very special thanks to all for their participation, and to physical education teacher Diana Gilulle for organizing this wonderful event! Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
Who says celebrating March Madness only applies to basketball?! Inside World Language teacher Scott Silverman's French class at Pearl River High School, tenth graders engaged in their own version of a bracket-centered activity...Manie Musicale! Participating alongside 4,000 other schools located across the U.S., these PRHS Pirates listened to a variety of French music, voting on the songs that they think will enter the next round based on popularity. Each week, students filled out their own music bracket as they explored tunes spanning genres, placing their selections into numbered boxes. Music Mania isn't only an opportunity to join in an activity that involves students nationwide...it serves to help expand French language knowledge, understanding and application, and further develops an appreciation for a different culture. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
Creative learning is always in the forecast! Fourth graders at Franklin Avenue Elementary School are now weather experts...thanks to their nonfiction reading skills. These Franklin Ave Stars in Kayla Kurzhals' and Laurie Lewis' classes conducted detailed research about weather and natural disasters ranging from tornadoes, to hurricanes, to blizzards. After completing a slideshow template, translating the information they learned into their own words, students wanted to demonstrate their learning more creatively with a collaborative diorama project. In small groups, fourth grade students brainstormed their projects' planning and execution processes -- identifying the materials needed to achieve their ideas and accurately represent their chosen phenomenons. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
Collect the gemstones! Kindergarteners at Lincoln Avenue Elementary School were visited by K-12 Instructional Technology Coaches Kimberly Ulrich and Jessica Kearns for an engaging coding lesson...with a shiny treasure! Inside Kayla Nannariello's classroom, Lincoln Ave Lions combined their counting knowledge with coding command fundamentals -- as they explored how they can use loops to help their classmates collect gems placed in different locations. Using the classroom's rug as a maze grid, kindergarten coders-in-training utilized paper coding blocks to 'program' the path their peer must take in order to locate and pick up their gem on the accurate rug color/square. Using blocks, students are beginning to develop an understanding of using code commands in the correct order to achieve an end goal -- utilizing blocks that require them to count how many steps to take, then representing that number using the right numeral within a block of code. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
Do you wanna build a snowman? Pearl River Middle School debuted its production of Disney's Frozen Jr. from March 23-25! Following diligent preparation and rehearsals, as well as a week of performances for visiting fourth graders and fellow middle schoolers, PRMS Pirates warmed up to take the stage for community members, family and friends in attendance for the sold out shows. Bravo to all cast and crew, musical director Dr. Rene Dalandan and all teachers/staff members involved in the production! Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
In alignment with March's celebrations of World Speech Day (March 15) and World Poetry Day (March 21), the PRSD spotlighted Pearl River High School freshman Jewel Jacob -- who placed third in The Nyack Center's 10th-Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratory Contest, which serves as an integral part of the Center's Annual Black History Month Celebration! During the preliminary phase of the contest, all contestants delivered a three to five minute segment of a speech, sermon or letter by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or another orator who has commented on social justice or the African American experience in America. The four-member panel judged contestants on content, comprehension of the material, interpretation, ability to stay within the allotted timeframe, and overall delivery. The three highest scoring contestants then presented their speeches during the Black History Month Celebration program, during which a four-member panel of judges scored the finalists on their use of voice, body language, eye contact and style of delivery to determine first, second and third place scholarship award winners.
Congratulations to Jewel and the three participants who received thunderous applause as they inspired the audience with their renditions of “The Barriers of Race Can Be Surmounted” by Ralph Bunche; “The Uses of Anger Women Responding to Racism” by Audre Lorde (1981); and John Lewis’ “The March on Washington, August 1963,” speech. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
Spring has sprung...and vibrant chalk creations have begun! At Evans Park Elementary School, students across grades K-4 took to the front blacktop to decorate the exterior of the building with welcoming salutations, uplifting words, and drawings depicting friendship, positivity and seasonal illustrations. Evans Park Tigers learned about how various cultures across the world honor the start of spring in their own ways based on customs and traditions, like the Holi Festival in India and Shunbun No Hi in Japan! In the theme of colorful expression, across the PRSD, our school buildings recognized World Down Syndrome Day (March 21), by encouraging all to show support for individuals with Down Syndrome by wearing brightly-colored, mismatched socks. The idea, coined Lots of Socks, was created to raise awareness and start conversations since chromosomes are shaped like socks and those with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome.
The Pearl River High School Mock Trial team took the stand on March 15 at the Rockland County Courthouse -- successfully defeating North Rockland High School as they represented the Defendant in this year's liability case entitled, Remington Stone vs. Marley Miser and Apex Construction Company. Congratulations to the Defense team of student attorneys: Thomas K., Marie S., and Ava I., as well as timekeeper Niamh M. and witnesses Matt C., Brittany S. and Jack M. (and very special thanks to Hon. Djinsad Desir, Town of Ramapo Judge, pictured with students!) Through participation in Mock Trial, students gain first-hand knowledge of civil/criminal law and courtroom procedures, an understanding of ethics, civility and professionalism, and a heightened appreciation for academic studies and interest in law-related careers. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
The work of trailblazing women in STEM serves as inspiration to shoot for the stars...and sixth graders at Pearl River Middle School had the opportunity to speak firsthand with Joanne Morris, a successful NASA and Google engineer! In celebration of Women's History Month and Women in STEM Day (March 10), PRMS Pirates explored the different branches of engineering including civil, chemical, electrical and mechanical -- learning about bridges, tunnels, and towers, as well as medications, vaccines, energy sources, and electronics we use and rely on on a daily basis that are developed by engineers in their fields. Sixth grade students learned about the achievements of mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- brilliant African-American women who served as the brains behind one of the greatest space operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit (and as the focal point of the 2016 film, "Hidden Figures"). Students then met virtually with Joanne, listening intently as she spoke of her work in the STEM field and answered questions from students and teachers. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
Sharing the gift of reading is truly the rainbow's pot o' gold...and inside Evans Park Elementary School, kindergarteners linked with their third grade Book Buddies! Shari Cooperman's class paid a visit to kindergarten Evans Park Tigers to pair up with little learners -- reading a variety of books including Saint Patrick's Day-themed stories along with others across various genres ranging from fantasy, to mystery, to non-fiction. With the goal of improving confidence in their reading skills, Book Buddies meet routinely to engage in small group sessions. By pairing different grade-level classrooms for community reading time, both student groups have the opportunity to benefit from peer mentoring, social-emotional skills development and a strengthened sense of school community. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
The PRSD proudly shines spotlights on three of our talented and passionate STEM educators: Stephen Parisi, Angela Roppolo and Gal Seiler from Pearl River High School and Pearl River Middle School -- who were awarded Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc.(O&R) 2022-23 STEM Classroom Grants that fund and support creative, cutting-edge projects and materials, totaling over $1,000!
Inside Stephen Parisi's Video Game Design class, students developed environments using the Unity Real-Time Development Platform -- a game-design programming system -- as they customized and altered assets' and objects' positioning, rotation, scale, color and stretch. Students also added moveable players to their games to create a robust and unique virtual ecosystem. Thanks to the grant funds received, this class has access to Raspberry Pi kits (central processing unit boards) that serve as functional computers, design software that enhances their curriculum focus, and outside servers.
In Angela Roppolo's and Gal Seiler's fifth grade science classes, students explored the quality of water around them, including the water fountain at PRMS and the nearby stream, through the use of water testing kits. Working in small groups, fifth graders learned basic water quality tests and techniques, increasing their awareness of the importance of water quality, and understanding the factors that contribute to water quality at both a local and global level. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
March marked the National Association for Music Education's celebration of Music in Our Schools Month and in the PRSD, we certainly feel lucky to have music education! In anticipation of the Saint Patrick's Day holiday (March 17), elementary music teacher Sarah Gill taught a themed lesson on Irish instruments and Celtic music with students joining along in song, dance and activity. Inside her music classroom at Evans Park Elementary School, students in Theresa Scully's class listened along as Ms. Gill played tunes on her fiddle and flute -- as they determined whether the piece of music was a jig or a reel based on the rhythm they heard. First grade Tigers also engaged in a fiddle freeze dance and sing-along before delving into a worksheet activity centered on music notation and music note recognition practice. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
Empathy was the Advisory focus of fifth, sixth and seventh grade PRMS Pirates...and what better way to show empathy than by expressing gratitude to the 'roots' of our community? Pearl River Middle School's Advisory Committee worked with sixth graders to create a collaborative art piece showcasing their thanks toward local small businesses in our community.
Students first learned about how empathy can be shown by thanking people for the things that they do for us that make our days brighter. Showing gratitude for things, big and small, is a way that we can ensure that the work of others doesn't go unnoticed and is making a difference. Sixth graders explored what a small business is and how it provides goods or services to a local community. Students then worked in groups to decorate and color paper leaves with special notes and messages for these local businesses that were then added to the framed tree illustrations.
A number of sixth grade teachers then traveled to these businesses to hand deliver the meaningful messages to store/business owners and employees who were ecstatic and appreciative to receive the framed trees! Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
Understanding the perspectives of others means looking at the world through a different lens! Thanks to a social-emotional learning lesson delivered by elementary school social worker Eric Borcherding, fourth graders in Karen DiMenna's class at Lincoln Avenue Elementary School designed their own paper glasses -- with character traits, illustrations and colors that best represent themselves. Throughout the month of March, these Lincoln Ave Lions focused on themes of acceptance -- through learning about and appreciating their peers' diversity, understanding different opinions and perspectives, and practicing respect for all. Not only are students learning to accept those that may be 'different' but they're also accepting their own 'flaws' which, in turn, creates compassion and love for others! Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
In the PRSD, we celebrate the diverse cultures that make up our school community...and thanks to the work of the Pearl River High School International Club, we gather together each year for the annual International Night event which serves as an opportunity for PRHS Pirates to share elements of their culture, ethnicity, or state/regional/district origins with all! The event, held this year on March 9, drew a large crowd as those in attendance enjoyed potluck-style foods from around the world, poster displays, storytelling, musical performances, dance, and arts and crafts -- all in an effort to acknowledge and celebrate the various heritages that make us stronger together, through learning about what makes us both similar and different. Special thanks to all student club members and club advisors/World Language teachers Elizabeth Kurzawa and Julia Tonelli. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
It was all fun and games...and engaged learning! Sixth grade English Language Arts (ELA) students at Pearl River Middle School took part in a Games Day -- as a reward for their diligent work throughout second quarter and in their Deep Study of Character unit. These PRMS Pirates were placed in groups in each of their classes (by teachers Meghan McCarren, Tina Addino, Fiona Robinson and Jennifer Ortiz) -- with the opportunity to play four different ELA-based games for twenty minutes each -- integrating collaboration with various partners, teamwork, integrated vocabulary practice, and reading comprehension when reading and applying the rules of each game. Games ranged from Scrabble, to WordQuest, to Boggle, to Bananagrams, to Scattergories. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
On March 7, the PRSD's Adult Enrichment Department hosted a Parent University session, "Strengthening Executive Functions at Home: Creating a Practical Toolbox for Elementary & Middle School Students coordinated by our school social workers and presented by Organizational Tutors. The comprehensive workshop provided an overview of the role Executive Functioning (EF) plays in learning. Parents were presented with evidence-based tools and strategies that can be used to improve planning, organization, time management and routine -- helping students develop positive habits and lifelong organizational skills to excel in their academic and personal lives. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
During the week of March 5-11, the PRSD celebrated School Social Work Association of America's National School Social Work Week as we spotlighted each of our school social workers, sharing all that they do to support our K-12 students. Each of our SSW professionals in the PRSD play a critical role in our school community -- working closely with students to address any mental health issues, behavioral concerns, and provide support wherever needed. We rise because of these individuals' dedication to enhancing our District's mission to ensure a positive and supportive home, school and community collaboration. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
With a focus on empathy, Pearl River Middle School's Advisory Committee was hard at work -- planning various activities across grades 5-7 that encouraged PRMS Pirates to express their gratitude towards different parts of our community in different ways! Fifth graders were visited by local first responders (and PRMS parents) -- ranging from firefighters, to doctors and nurses, to police officers, to EMTs. These selfless and dedicated individuals serve to protect communities and respond to emergency situations, working tirelessly to keep individuals safe. First responders discussed their roles and responsibilities, job requirements, backgrounds and challenges before fielding questions from students.
Leading up to the culminating visit from first responders, in their homerooms, students first learned about what empathy means before writing down questions to ask first responders and collaborating to create a video that would be shown to the first responders during their visit. Following their classroom presentations, first responder parents were treated to a 'thank you' breakfast arranged by the PRMS PTA in the cafeteria. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
On March 4, student members of the Pearl River High School Marine Science Club hosted their annual fundraising event of the year -- with various attractions that included salt and freshwater live animals, interactive exhibits, demonstrations, crafts and games! PRHS Pirates showcased their knowledge of aquatic environments, and shared what they've learned and what they're passionate about, with attendees from the school community. Very special thank you to all who took part, those who donated, the hardworking and passionate club members, as well as club advisor Thomas Mullane! Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
English 8H students in teacher Tracy Holihan's classes at Pearl River High School took to the podium as part of an in-house oratorical contest honoring Black History Month! These PRHS Pirates selected a written work of their choice to recite aloud to their peers -- reading excerpts from notable Black authors and poets including Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni. Students were graded based on their public speaking within a timed segment -- as Ms. Holihan analyzed the content of their oration (application of knowledge, logic, memorization), self-expression and assurance (confidence level), and speaking skills (diction, style, poise, etc.). Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
Kindergarteners at Evans Park Elementary School served up a delicious 'friendship soup,' adding the 'ingredients' the recipe calls for like (2 sticks) kindness, (3 cups) fun, (3 pints) honesty, (1 cup) trust, (3 tablespoons) respect and (1 1/2 cups) safety...
Inside Jacinta Winters' classroom, Evans Park Tigers learned all about the letter 'S' and read the book, "Stone Soup," written by Marcia Brown -- exploring the story of how three soldiers created a soup made of water and stones, with each villager contributing an ingredient to create a feast. With this story in mind, students cheffed up their very own soup fit with potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, fresh herbs and broth. Using their fine motor skills, these little chefs carefully chopped their vegetables, added them to the cooking broth and stirred under the watchful eye of Ms. Winters. Tigers then practiced writing a 'How To' book which explored the steps needed to cook soup and sampled their classroom soup during their Readers and Writers Workshop. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
Fourth graders at Franklin Avenue Elementary School learned how to make Oobleck -- and began to gain an understanding of the science behind non-Newtonian fluids...thanks to a hands-on lesson in the Makerspace classroom! Under the direction of teaching assistant Beth Granelli, these Franklin Ave Stars (pictured: Kayla Kurzhals' class) rolled up their sleeves to mix cornstarch and water to create the sticky and slimy Oobleck substance, and experiment with the fluid's viscosity. Students analyzed how, when cornstarch mixes with water, the starch does not dissolve but instead remains in suspension. When playing with the mixture, these Makerspace scientists observed how the fluid, when under stress, acts like a liquid yet also solidifies, bends, and tears. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.
Talented student-musicians from Pearl River Middle School represented the PRSD at the Rockland County Music Educators Association (RCMEA) Intermediate All-County Music Festival hosted at Clarkstown High School South on March 3-4! PRMS Pirates in grades 5 and 6 band, orchestra and chorus were selected to perform alongside fellow student-selectees located in districts across Rockland County. Read more on Facebook and Instagram.