Inside Islip Schools

Welcome to the E-Newsletter for the Islip School District

Islip High School’s graduating Class of 2022 celebrate pursuit of passion

Clad in the Buccaneers’ colors of purple and white, Islip High School’s proud graduating Class of 2022 walked onto the football field on the evening of June 24 to resounding applause as the seniors celebrated the high school’s 97 annual commencement.

Seniors Richie Castronova and Desiree Pagan served as emcees for the ceremony, which was highlighted by a majestic version of “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen” performed by the high school’s senior choral ensemble.

Speakers included Board of Education President Philip Dineen, salutatorian Anthony Lopez, Principal Jon LaRochester, valedictorian Timothy Mak and Superintendent Dr. Dennis P. O’Hara.

Members of the Board of Education presented each new graduate with their diploma, before tassels were turned and caps were tossed high in the twilight sky.

Islip honors 13 seniors for earning Seal of Biliteracy

Prior to graduation, Islip High School honored 13 seniors for earning the New York State Seal of Biliteracy. This was the fifth year that Islip has bestowed this prestigious honor, which recognizes high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing in one or more languages in addition to English. The Seal will be affixed to each student’s diploma and high school transcript.

Richard Castronova, Carolyn Do and Angela Padilla Crespo earned the Seal of Biliteracy in Italian, while Sarah Alvarez, Lilian Arriaza Alonzo, Stephanie Castro, Joyce Johnson, Anthony Lopez, Juliana Marconi, Adriana Montecinos, Desiree Pagan, Justin Rhodes and Brianna Zavala earned the Seal of Biliteracy in Spanish. In addition, juniors Daiana Fuentes Velasquez and Juan Pantaleon were recognized as Seal of Biliteracy candidates demonstrating proficiency in Spanish.

Islip pride and achievements on display at high school’s senior awards

Dozens of deserving students from Islip High School’s Class of 2022 were honored with recognitions and scholarships at the school’s senior award ceremony.

School News Roundup - Celebrating a Successful Year in Islip

Young EXCEL engineers present Future City to Islip administrators

Islip Middle School students in the district’s EXCEL program gave an exceptional presentation of their Future City project to a panel of judges consisting of school and district administrators.

DiscoverE’s national, project-based engineering program, Future City, enables students in grades 6-8 to imagine, research, design and build cities of the future using “SimCity” software. Islip EXCEL students have been competing in the annual regional Future City competition in New York City for over a dozen years, winning first place in 2014, 2016 and 2019 and representing New York at the Future City National Finals in Washington, D.C.

This year, their planned participation in the regional tristate event did not occur due to the pandemic, but EXCEL coordinator Julia Johnson and her students decided to go ahead with their project, presenting it within the district. Their planned city of Sedari, set in 2172 on the formerly polluted Citarum River in West Java, Indonesia, utilizes their “ACE” system of advanced hydroelectric power. It also features personal and mass transportation powered by solar energy, environmentally friendly “eco-pod” homes, and the elimination of plastics and paper through the use and marketing of “sedarite” made from the wax of native bees.

After their presentation, this year’s Future City team – including seventh graders Hannah Dolan, Lily Dolan, Sofia Marra and Ava Mirenda, and eighth graders Nelysa Petersen and Jadyn Zink – answered detailed questions from the educators regarding their city’s financing, housing, citizenship, defense and leisure activities.

Islip eighth graders explore the immigrant experience

Islip Middle School’s eighth grade class visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as part of the school’s social studies curriculum. Students explored the immigrant experience and examined where the nation’s immigrants came from and the reasons for their migration to the United States.

“Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are dual symbols of the freedom and hope that immigrants had when migrating to the United States,” said Dr. Robert Drysielski, the district’s social studies and business coordinator. “The museums give proof to the story of immigration and recognize the human spirit of our nation's ideals.”

A successful start for Islip high schoolers’ 'Bucs Brew' business

Six enterprising students from Islip High School’s functional academics class operated a “Bucs Brew” beverage cart this past spring, supplying coffee, tea and hot chocolate to school staff. Under the guidance of teacher Melissa Horn, the students run this small business, with two “baristas” scheduled to work the cart each day.

Staff members are sent a Google form on Sundays, where they may select their preferred beverage and the days and periods they would like it delivered to their classroom door. The new business offers an option to become a Bucs Brew VIP member. VIPs receive a punch card and a free beverage with the purchase of 10. After their initial success, the students began a “live” cart, parking it in the hallway at the high school, to serve customers as they walk by.

“Each beverage comes with a treat, a positive motivational sticker and, of course, a smile,” Horn said.

Horn and her students plan on eventually taking the cart on the “road” to Islip Middle School, where they can visit their previous teachers, as well as the District’s Administration Building.

“The feedback has been super positive, and the students love working,” Horn said. “It has brought confidence to my students as well as a sense of accomplishment and success. It not only works on their vocational training skills, but it also creates relationships with staff and students outside of our classroom. Creating the Bucs Brew cart has been something I wanted to do for some time, and I am so excited that it is up and running and bringing smiles and awesome coffee to teachers and staff every day. I am so proud of all the hard work my students have put into this.”

Islip High School students get behind-the-scenes look at local businesses

Susan Riche’s business ownership and marketing classes at Islip High School went on a walking field trip to visit local businesses on Islip’s Main Street. Throughout the school year, the students have explored various types of business ownership and discussed the many facets of managing a business. During the trip, the students met the owners of Caroline’s Flower Shoppe, Islip Cleaners and Tellers: An American Chophouse, who offered a behind-the-scenes look at what makes their businesses successful.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain business knowledge beyond the classroom setting,” said Dr. Robert Drysielski, Islip’s K-12 social studies and business coordinator.

Six Islip high schoolers inducted as Keep Islip Clean Junior Commissioners

Six Islip High School students were inducted as Junior Commissioners for the Town of Islip's Keep Islip Clean program. The students – Katherine Cottral, Bipro Dhar, Timothy Mak, Jaci Narducci, Stephen Plotke and Carina Sanchez – also serve as KIC Club officers at the high school.

Sherwood raises over $11K with Boosterthon Fun Run

The PTA at Islip’s Maud S. Sherwood Elementary School organized a Boosterthon Fun Run, raising $11,470 thanks to the generosity of family, friends and neighbors. The school had originally set a goal of $6,000 to enhance Sherwood’s cultural arts programs and develop plans for an outdoor learning space at the school. Once administrators saw how much support was coming in, they increased the goal to $10,000, a total that was amply surpassed.

Throughout the fundraiser, classes worked together, learned about character education and sportsmanship, and earned rewards such as Pajama Day, extra recess and a chance to dunk Principal Briana James in a dunk tank. The fun culminated in an outdoor Fun Run, an event that included a DJ.

“Our PTA was phenomenal, as were the teachers, office and custodial staff, parents, and especially the kids,” James said. “Everyone had a great time and we are looking forward to doing it again next year.”

Big picture

Islip honors its academic, athletic, musical and leadership champions

The Islip School District recognized student achievement at its Night of Champions celebration during a spring Board of Education meeting. District and school administrators, teachers, coaches, and family members applauded as elementary and secondary students who demonstrated excellence in academics, athletics, music and leadership received certificates honoring their accomplishments.

Elementary recognitions, presented by Maud S. Sherwood Elementary School Principal Briana James, went to Liam Enriquz Ochoa (New York State PTA Reflections Award of Merit) and Ibrahim Shrivardhankar (NYSATA February Student of the Month for Nassau and Suffolk Counties).

Next, Superintendent Dr. Dennis P. O’Hara recognized Carinn Argenziano as winner of the New York State Attorney General’s Triple C Award and Pink by the Bay window painting contest winner Kaitlyn Trocchio.

Music honors, also presided over by Dr. O’Hara, were presented for All-County Vocal Jazz (Ella Beiser, Lucas Bohr, Richie Castronova, Leah Cyran, Maggie Frazer, Madeline Lang, Daniel Rubinson and Jordyn Zurbaran) as well as All-State alternates (Hannah Evans, Maggie Frazer and Isabella Green).

Islip High School Assistant Principal Lisa Ward recognized the school’s three American Legion Auxiliary Empire Girls State Citizens (Sarah Alvarez, Joyce Johnson and Samantha O’Connell) and alternate (Genna Schifter).

School Counselor Nicole Hall and Student Services Advisor Meghan Stern honored members of the high school’s Buccaneer University program, including Presidents Hunter Rindos and Samantha O’Connell, Vice President Noah Whitehouse, Secretaries Richard Rindos and Kacey Schassberger, Treasurers/Fundraising Chairs Maya Levy and Kayley Guzman Morales, and social coordinators Fiona Dvorkin and Kaeli McAnally.

Ms. Ward returned to present the Advanced Placement awards, recognizing the high school students earning AP Seminar and Research Certificates (Richie Castronova, Kayla Hassell, Ava Kurka and Serena Trabacchi), AP Scholar designations (Jesse Caro, Juliana Marconi, James Wimmers, Cassandra Zaneski, Brianna Zavala and Abigail Zimmerman), AP Scholar and AP Seminar and Research Certificates (Sean Files, Angela Padilla Crespo and Hasnayn Raza), AP Scholar and AP Capstone Diploma (Keera Kittles), AP Scholar with Honor designations (Hannah Evans, Madeline Mulholland, Yousuf Shrivardhankar), AP Scholar with Honor and AP Seminar and Research Certificates (Sarah Alvarez, Selina Chan and Connor Edwards), AP Scholar with Honor and AP Capstone Diplomas (Bipro Dhar and Desiree Pagan), AP Scholar with Distinction and AP Seminar and Research Certificates (Carolyn Do, Joyce Johnson, Carlo Lanza, Justin Rhodes, Richard Rindos, Steven Schadt), and AP Scholar with Distinction and AP Capstone Diplomas (Liam Biscari, Anthony Lopez and Timothy Mak).

In the final academic recognition, Dr. O’Hara honored Anthony Lopez and Desiree Pagan for earning the NSDC Award for Academic Growth and Student Leadership in Learning.

Sports recognitions, presented by Athletic Director John Sparacio and his coaches, went to students for golf (Gabriella Flora), bowling (Salvatore Bono, Robert Boyce, Gavin Connell, Gavin Eubanks, Arthur Hampson, Tristan Hassler, Jack Kornahrens, Nathaniel Moran, Dylan Nieves, Brendan Ortenzi, Aidan Petelin, Jacob Petelin, Jacob Schifter, John Swindells, Jake Urban, Tyler Vetrano, Donovan Zecchini), wrestling (Juan Pantaleon, Zachary Miller, Matthew Hole Lopez, Thomas Andria and Mora Peterson), girls volleyball (Maggie Hayes and Jacqueline Bryant), cross-country (Matthew Karabatzoglou and Liam Biscari), boys winter track (Marc Rosado and Kenny Pastrana), gymnastics (Brianna Lanza, Fiona DeFalco and Isabella Field), boys soccer (Sam Chieco), girls soccer (Brielle Zink and Madison Micheletti), tennis (Ava Andria, Annika Cripe, Ava Delisle, Maya Levy and Sarah Scheidel), girls basketball (Cassandra Zaneski and Kaeli McAnally), boys basketball (Lars Heimlich), football (Vincent Rosselli and Jameson Seeger), girls winter track (Elizabeth Bryant, Joyce Johnson and Desiree Pagan), and the recipients of the Suffolk Zone Leadership Awards (Jacqueline Bryant and Hunter Rindos).

“Night of Champions is a great way to recognize all of our athletes for everything they’ve done that makes the Islip School District what it is – a great place,” Board of Education President Philip Dineen said.

“To echo what Mr. Dineen said, we are celebrating the achievements of our students,” Dr. O’Hara said. “We are celebrating them academically, athletically, their performances and their talents in the arts, and we are recognizing their character, their integrity and their grit. Although I’m still relatively new to your community, every day that I see your children in the schools, it is a reminder of how blessed I am to be here, and tonight is no exception.

“Your children and our students, they are scholars, they are athletes, they are leaders, and most importantly, they are ladies and gentlemen,” Dr. O’Hara continued. “Thank you to all the parents for your support and for all the effort you put into raising wonderful young people.”

Islip students raise $967 with Walk-A-Thon for veterans

Islip students recently raised $967 by participating in the American Legion Virtual Walk-A-Thon for veterans. The donations will help fund veterans’ organizations, including homeless service dog outreach.

After classes on May 3, flag-waving students and administrators walked to the U.S. Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Main Street, where they presented a check to American Legion representatives. American Legion Auxiliary Rusy-Bohm Unit 411 President Paulette DeCrescenzo, Suffolk County Auxiliary Vice President Joanne Johnson and Suffolk County American Legion Commander Roby Johnson all addressed the patriotic gathering, as did Superintendent Dr. Dennis O’Hara, whose son is deployed overseas.

Fine Arts, Music and Athletic Honors

Islip High School video production students receive festival honors

Students enrolled in Islip High School’s video production class garnered major attention during the annual Long Island Media Arts Festival and accompanying Luminaries Awards ceremony, held on May 14 at Five Towns College in Dix Hills, with two of their self-produced and self-edited original films nominated and showcased during the festival, one of which took home a top prize.

The selected works were chosen from a large pool of contenders submitted by over 40 high schools. Only four films in each of four categories were nominated to be screened for consideration for awards. The Best Documentary category featured the two Islip pieces – a short documentary, “Islip Cosmetology Program Spotlight,” filmed, edited, and produced by Katelyn Wallace, and the category winner, “Online Awareness,” a public service announcement by Mackenna Eastwood, Carley Mullins and Wallace.

The Long Island Media Arts Festival invites students from across Long Island to showcase their talents in the areas of film, photography, 2D art and animation in a juried exhibition. The Luminaries celebrate the accomplishments of these artists, who are encouraged to push their creativity and skills to new levels. Family, friends, educators and patrons of the arts were invited to attend not only the May awards ceremony, but also other events throughout the festival, including an opening reception.

Islip again named a Best Community for Music Education

The Islip School District’s top-notch music program has earned another prestigious Best Community for Music Education designation by the NAMM Foundation. Islip is one of only 738 districts nationwide that received this award.

Now in its 23rd year, the Best Community for Music Education program honors outstanding support for music education. The 2022 program aims to celebrate schools and districts adapting, innovating and persevering in the face of change.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by the NAMM Foundation once again, and it would not be possible without our talented staff, dedicated students, and incredibly supportive parents, building and central administration, Board of Education, and community,” said Brian Kroll, Islip’s director of fine and performing arts.

Islip High School’s relay team takes first at track invitational

Islip High School’s distance medley relay team of Eagan Biscari, Liam Biscari, Dave Domena and Matt Karabatzoglou recently took first place at the Don Bohlinger Invitational held in West Babylon, setting a new school record with a time of 11:24.29. The race consisted of a 1,200-meter run by Karabatzoglou, a 400-meter run by Liam Biscari, an 800-meter run by Eagan Biscari and a 1,600-meter run by Domena.

Three Islip HS baseball players earn All-League honors

Three outstanding Islip High School varsity baseball players – freshman Collin Haug and juniors Ethan Ferrara and Dylan McKenna – recently earned All-League designations from the Suffolk County Baseball Coaches Association. The trio were honored at the organization’s awards dinner, held at Villa Lombardi’s in Holbrook.

“We were very fortunate to have three student-athletes receive All-League honors,” Athletic Director John Sparacio said. “It was also the first time that the Suffolk Baseball Association had an awards dinner since 2019, so being able to attend with the athletes and their families made it a little more special, being that there hadn’t been one since pre-COVID.”

Islip High School coach and alumna to be inducted into New York State High School Girls Soccer Hall of Fame

Islip High School’s current varsity girls soccer coach Mike Reilly and 2007 Islip graduate Jessica Herrmann will be inducted into the NYSSCOGS/New York State High School Girls Soccer Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022.

During his career, Reilly has been named New York State Coach of the Year twice, MSG Varsity Tri-State Coach of the Year, and United Soccer Coaches Regional Coach of the Year in 2021, as well as a United Soccer Coaches National Coach of the Year nominee. He has demonstrated his dedication to continue learning and developing as a coach and educator through his work in earning three U.S. Soccer National Diplomas and over 40 other diplomas and certificates in soccer, high school sports, safety, well-being, health and fitness. He is also one of only a few hundred high school sports coaches nationwide who has attained NFHS Level II Certification.

Reilly will share this honor with Class of 2007 alumna Jessica Herrmann, whose numerous accolades included 2006 New York State Player of the Year, two-time Section XI Player of the Year, Newsday All-Long Island Player of the Year, three-time first team All-State winner, three-time All-Long Island winner, two-time United Soccer Coaches All-American nominee and All-Region selection, four-year Scholar-Athlete and honor roll winner, and a top-50 Soccer Buzz Recruit. In her four years (two as team captain) at Islip High School, Herrmann led the Lady Bucs to a 59-7-2 record, four league championships and two county championships. She played one year at Penn State before transferring to play her final three years at North Carolina State. In her junior year, she was only one of two players to start all 20 games, stabilizing the midfield as a center midfielder for the Wolfpack. Herrmann is the second of Reilly’s players to be inducted, following Class of 2003 graduate Sue Weber, who was inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2017.

“The amount of contributions Coach Reilly has dedicated himself to in the name of girls soccer, the importance of school sports and the promotion of the game along with the vast amount of time and sacrifices he has made to the high school girls soccer landscape locally, regionally, and nationally is insurmountable and should be recognized sooner than later,” said Hall of Fame President Perry Novak, HOF Founder and President.

“It is certainly an honor to be part of the New York State Girls High School Soccer Hall of Fame family,” stated Coach Reilly. “It was certainly unexpected, but obviously unbelievably appreciated. To be nominated, voted and now inducted by state sportswriters, my peers, colleagues and competitors covering all sections in New York State high school sports is incredibly humbling. I am truly grateful for that opportunity presented before me over 20 years ago to have the honor and privilege to be part of the Islip community both in the classroom and on the pitch. It truly takes a community to raise a child – a student-athlete – and no one does that better than Islip. I most certainly share this honor with all the student-athletes, parents, and the Islip educational and local community, for without them, this would not be possible. To my JV coach of 20 years, Kevin Sheehy, and middle school coaches over the past two decades, I am tremendously thankful. It has never been about just the varsity team or any one team or player, but building a successful program that I am very proud of. The icing on the cake, too, is that I will be sharing this moment with another one of Islip’s greats, Jessica Herrmann.”