PRSD Pulse: First Edition of 2024 ✨
Greetings Pearl River School District Families and Staff,
Welcome to the first edition of the PRSD Pulse e-newsletter for 2024! Our K-12 administrators, students and staff have jumped into curriculum planning, lessons, activities, and projects as we enter the month of February. Reflecting on a busy month, I am proud of the many accomplishments of all of our students spanning academics, the arts and athletics. At the high school level, we celebrated a number of student successes including selection to perform in the Rockland County Music Educators Association’s Senior All-County Music Festival, medaling at the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) Regional Competition, ModelUN participation at Yale University’s 50th Model UN Competition, and county and league championships across a number of our athletic teams.
At Pearl River Middle School, fifth graders held their ‘Informance’ - an opportunity to perform live for parents and staff, and share their honed musical knowledge and talents. In addition, sixth grade English Language Arts students created Martin Luther King, Jr. mural designs that incorporated their ongoing curriculum focus on character traits and non-fiction understanding. School counselors Brittany Beckley and Mark Bernasconi also made the rounds to seventh grade Social Studies classes to deliver hands-on lessons and demonstrations on how to utilize Naviance - a software that assists students in post-secondary education planning.
At the elementary level, K-4 students began selecting their art pieces that they want included in this year’s Arts in the Park event which will take place on Saturday, June 1, 2024. Working with their art teachers, students at Evans Park Elementary School, Lincoln Avenue Elementary School and Franklin Avenue Elementary School are making the final touches on projects and deciding which finalized pieces they want on display for the event. In addition, teachers are working with our Instructional Coaches to continue building on the important curriculum work that they’ll be introducing to students including the Eureka2 math program and multi-sensory approach to reading and writing comprehension. A number of students also took part in the first-ever Rockland County Music Educators Association’s Elementary All-County Music Festival where they participated in instrument, vocal and dance workshops alongside students from other Rockland County school districts.
We’re just getting started as the 2024 year begins to take form. This edition of our monthly PRSD Pulse e-newsletter shares the highlights throughout the month of January as we continue our dedicated work toward ensuring student advancement. I look forward to sharing more throughout the new year!
Marco F. Pochintesta, Ed.D.
ELF Students Prep for 2024 Arts in the Park
First Graders Strengthen Literacy Skills
First grade students in Ali Stone's classroom at Lincoln Avenue Elementary School spent their Flexible Learning Exchange (FLEx) period engaging in word and spelling practice with phonics word matches, vowel sound games, puzzles and magnet sentence challenges that each tested these little learners' phonemic awareness and understanding. Delving into their Orton-Gillingham IMSE Student Spelling books, Lincoln Ave Lions followed along with Ms. Stone as she reviewed 'ending t-blends' as they used finger taps and movements to practice fluency. Students explored phonetic words, red words and sentences for dictation that all focus on words that end with 't-blends' (like act, text, disrupt, comment). Using these books as a guide, first grade Lions will soon dive into exploring compound words, spelling rules, syllable division, blends, vowel teams and contractions...all incorporating a multi-sensory approach bridging connections between letters and sounds. More on Facebook and Instagram.
Pearl River High School Student-Musicians Attend RCMEA Senior All-County Music Festival
Nine students from Pearl River High School (not all pictured) were selected to take part in the Rockland County Music Educators Association (RCMEA) Senior All-County Music Festival held at North Rockland High School on January 5-6! These talented student-musicians first engaged in rehearsals leading up to performances from orchestra, band and choral ensembles. Congratulations and bravo to: Bernard Caparrelli, John Hannagan, Emily Caro, Faith Caro, Brendan McGillick, Julia Onishi, Kaan Richardson, Nora Arnold and Samantha Ares. More on Facebook and Instagram.
Seventh Graders Navigate Naviance
It's always a good time to get a jumpstart on post-secondary planning! With the guidance of Pearl River Middle School counselors Mark Bernasconi and Brittany Beckley, students are learning how to access and navigate Powerschool Naviance Student - a comprehensive website that guides students and parents in making decisions about courses, colleges and careers. Mr. Bernasconi and Mrs. Beckley made the rounds to seventh grade classes - working closely with these PRMS Pirates to assist in initial login/account set-up, complete self-discovery assessments (helping to uncover individual strengths and weaknesses to make informed decisions about their futures), research career pathways and opportunities that align with their academic goals, and begin to pinpoint potential majors as well as colleges and universities that interest them. The duo also discussed how high school counselors will utilize the Naviance software to track and analyze data regarding college and career plans as students move through the upper grades. More on Facebook and Instagram.
Evans Park Tigers Are Reaching for the Sky (By Climbing!)
Sixth Grade ELA Students Create MLK Jr. Character Trait Murals
Leading up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 15), sixth grade English Language Arts (ELA) students at Pearl River Middle School learned about the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his role as a passionate activist and prominent leader in the civil rights movement. Reading the book, "A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation" by Barry Wittenstein, PRMS Pirates explored the development of King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech as the book provided insight into his writing process and delivery. Students discussed the valuable lessons of perseverance, persistence and the importance of working together to achieve a common goal - all elements that they noted from King's driving desire to achieve equality for all. Following the read aloud, sixth graders noted the character traits Martin Luther King, Jr. embodied ranging from bold, to courageous, to committed, to hardworking, to peaceful, to outspoken. Then using their traits as the framework, students completed a guided drawing activity - creating murals of Martin Luther King, Jr. and adding their selected words to the stained glass windows on the illustration. Feeling inspired, students spoke of their very own dreams both big and small - and what traits they need to possess in order to achieve them. More on Facebook and Instagram.
Pirates United and Girls Learn International Collaborate for MLK Jr. Day
Pearl River High School celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by encouraging students to share ways they can change the world - thanks to a collaboration between the PRHS Social Studies department, student body, Pirates United Club members/advisors and Girls Learn International Club members/advisors! With the help of Social Studies teachers, PRHS Pirates in their Social Studies classes were provided star and heart outlines from the Pirates United Club to write down ways that they can do their part in contributing to a kinder, more inclusive world. Once completed and collected, club members from both Pirates United and Girls Learn International worked together during their after-school meeting to string the outlines and create a hallway display that also features Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes and images. This activity not only serves as a wonderful opportunity for students to take part in promoting inspirational positive change but also brings PRHS one step closer to achieving ADL No Place for Hate® designation for the 2023-24 school year! More on Facebook and Instagram.
Fourth Graders Create Artistic Animal Masks
Merging their knowledge of symmetry and history, fourth grade Lincoln Ave Lions cut and pasted shapes of their choosing from construction paper to create animal masks! Inside art teacher Erin Girling's classroom at Lincoln Avenue Elementary School, fourth graders drew inspiration from tribal animal masks throughout history to create their own - including eyes, a nose, and a mouth and ranging from a wolf, to an owl, to a fox or a bear. Beginning with a lesson on the importance of masks - used for various reasons including cultural ceremonies and rituals - fourth grade artists then selected bright, contrasting colors to include in arrangements using the different shapes as the features. Students were instructed to ensure that all added shape pieces on the mask must maintain symmetry - balanced out around the center as the focal point. This art project not only allows students to express themselves creatively, but also enhances fine motor skills, and improves order, concentration and coordination. More on Facebook and Instagram.
ELF Students Attend First RCMEA Elementary All-County Music Festival
A number of elementary students (not all pictured) represented the PRSD at the first Rockland County Music Educators Association (RCMEA) Elementary All-County Music Festival held on January 20 at Willow Grove Elementary School! K-4 students from Evans Park Elementary School, Lincoln Avenue Elementary School and Franklin Avenue Elementary School participated in three workshops including instruments, vocal and dance - followed by a concluding performance showcasing what they learned. Students had the opportunity to explore the natural occurrences of beat, meter and harmony within and discover the musicality present in everyday life. Students also engaged with Orff instruments including xylophones, hand drums, percussion, vocals, and movement. During their dance and choral sessions, students learned ballroom and Latin dance styles like merengue and bachata, and rehearsed a traditional Korean song, Doraji. Special thanks to coordinator and Pearl River Middle School band teacher Brianna Hensley, as well as our elementary music educators: Sarah Gill and Scott Louis! More on Facebook and Instagram.
DECA Members Achieve Success at Regional Competition
Pearl River High School students proudly represented the PRSD during the DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) Regional Competition held at Rockland Community College earlier this month! Four PRHS DECA members received medals and will move on to the state competition in Rochester, NY come March 6-8. Congratulations to: Faith C. and Emily C., and Olivia T. and Kelly C.! DECA encourages the development of business and leadership skills through participation in academic conferences and competitions. Each competition includes a written test over business and marketing information, as well as two role-playing, problem-solving events. Students are judged on the basis of their ability to develop and communicate sound, creative and thorough solutions to posed problem situations. Each year, the regional competition concludes in an award ceremony for the top five teams in each category. Top three teams can select to continue on to the state competition. Great work, PRHS DECA and PRHS teacher/DECA advisor Brian Casey! More on Facebook and Instagram.
Movement and Morphology in the Classroom
Fourth grade students at Franklin Avenue Elementary School merged IMSE Orton-Gillingham Morphology review with a good old fashioned game of ‘Musical Desks’. As their teachers played music aloud, these Franklin Ave Stars danced around the room passing their peers as they made their way by each desk. Once the music paused, students stopped at the desk in front of them to complete a box on the Musical Desks worksheet. Each box featured an exercise to be completed that tests their knowledge of prefixes, suffixes, word sums, word bases and word meanings/definitions. Morphemes are crucial for phonics in reading and writing, as well as word comprehension…and activities like this one are taking place in our grades 3-4 classrooms in order for students to develop a strong ability to advance their vocabulary and language proficiency. More on Facebook and Instagram.