Tags Posts tagged with "Ward Melville High School"

Ward Melville High School

by -
0 1251

 

Ward Melville High School held 11 separate socially distanced graduation ceremonies July 18 and July 19 to comply with New York State guidelines.

During the last few months,  like many districts across the state, school administrators discussed several ideas about what to do for graduation. In a letter to Ward Melville seniors and families earlier in July, administrators announced that the school was developing a plan to host in-person commencements over the course of two days.

In June the school had hoped to hold a ceremony with all the students after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the state would allow 150 attendees at graduations, hoping the number would increase. However, when the maximum capacity was not raised, Ward Melville opted for multiple ceremonies where seniors were allowed to bring two guests each and were spread out on the high school’s front lawn.

Each ceremony began with a recorded version of “Pomp and Circumstance” followed by an in-person performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by graduating senior Jordan Amato. Class of 2020 valedictorian William Sun and salutatorian Matthew Fiorella delivered commencement speeches during each of the 11 ceremonies.

Class of 2020 Student Government President Sarah Thornton also announced that this year’s class gift would be a new tree, bench and rock inscribed with a quote at the front part of the school lawn.

William Sun

East Setuket’s William Sun ended the school year on a high note.

Sun is Ward Melville High School’s valedictorian with a 105.01 weighted average. The valedictorian is planning on attending Brown University in Rhode Island to major in computer science.

Sun attended Nassakeag Elementary School and then W.S. Mount Elementary for the district’s intellectually gifted classes. Before Ward Mellville, he studied at P.J. Gelinas Middle School. While he has lived in the Three Village area all his life, his father, Yan Sun, a doctor, and his mother, Hong Tan, a nurse, are originally from China and moved here in the 1990s and now run a doctor’s office.

Sun said attending Three Village through the years he has been surrounded by brilliant peers.

“There are so many smart people in this community,” he said.

During his high school career, he has been a member of the Ward Melville High School Varsity Science Olympiad Team and was also the president of the school’s math team and computer science club. He qualified for the International Science and Engineering Fair and won a silver medal at the Long Island math research competition. The valedictorian played piano and violin in the school’s ensembles and was named an All-State pianist, qualified as an All-State alternative for violin and toured in Spain and eastern Europe in eighth- and 10th-grade, respectively, through the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra. In 2020, he was named a National Merit Scholarship winner.

Among his activities and achievements, being the director, creator and manager of Piano for Patients has been one of his favorites. He and other student-musicians would play piano in the Stony Brook University Hospital lobby and over time other musicians became involved performing with other instruments. He’s hoping before he attends college and hands over his responsibilities to a younger student that the group can do one more performance in the summer, since they haven’t been able to perform during the pandemic. Recently, he and his piano teacher Daniel Fogel have organized an online concert as an alternative way to do community service through playing piano.

In addition to Piano for Patients, he volunteered at the hospital helping out with whatever needed to be done to lighten the load for workers, whether it was moving things around, making beds or cleaning floors.

He said choosing computer science came about since he’s been involved in programming since sixth- and seventh-grade, and he also took courses at Stony Brook University where he was involved in programming as well as researching different ways to find data.

“In the future, computer science is going to have a large impact and so I want to be a part of that,” he said, adding he thinks about working at places such as Google in the future.

He said among the teachers in the Three Village school district who had an influence on him was former Gelinas teacher Gary Vorwald, who was both his earth science teacher and the head of Science Olympiad in the school. The valedictorian remembers how the teacher would stay late at school to help students.

“It was the first time that I saw passion for science, he really made me want to join the Science Olympiad,” he said.

As the school was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sun said he kept himself busy with computer science projects and learning Mandarin.

As he leaves Ward Melville behind, he said he’s impressed with the younger students.

“This is really a tumultuous time but we’ve seen some amazing things, especially from the grades that are coming up,” he said. “People are really pushing for what they believe in. What I would say is fight for what you believe in, because with what’s going on now, people are really fighting for justice and such amazing things.”

Matthew Fiorella

Ward Melville’s salutatorian capped off the school year with a 104.85 weighted grade point average.

With the school year behind him, Matthew Fiorella is ready to head to the University of California, Los Angeles and major in engineering. He said when it came to choosing colleges it was down to the California school and the University of Michigan. He decided he would have better intern and job opportunities through UCLA. Plus, he said he liked California after visiting there a couple of times.

Originally living in Arizona and Ohio when he was younger, Fiorella moved to the Three Village Central School District for second grade. He started at Setauket Elementary School and then entered the Intellectually Gifted Program at Mount Elementary School in fourth grade. He continued his studies at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School.

During his high school career, Fiorella has kept busy both in and outside of school. He was the president of the Junior Model UN, a member of the National and Spanish honor societies and was named a National Merit Finalist. The salutatorian was also a member of the school’s band. He played first alto saxophone and was president of the wind ensemble. He also completed an internship at the biotechnology startup Vascular Simulations Inc.

As far as sports, he worked as a coach for the Three Village Youth Basketball organization and took part in the Sports Arena Basketball team.

He said balancing extracurriculars with schoolwork can be challenging.

“It’s trying not to waste time and not to procrastinate, which is difficult because it’s something that I think is natural to a lot of people,” he said. “I think being involved in a lot of things and moving around a lot helps me stay disciplined.”

Fiorella has been inspired by his father, Dr. David Fiorella, who works at Stony Brook University Hospital, and his mother, Andrea Fiorella, a former physical therapist. Besides his parents, Fiorella said his cousin David Lawrence has been an influence in his life.

Lawrence is an electrical engineer, which Fiorella found interesting because there are creative elements to that field, and he had the opportunity to tour his cousin’s workplace when he was younger.

“It was always very interesting to me, and it was really cool to see the more imaginative side of engineering, and it’s kind of what got me interested in it,” he said.

However, with a recent curiosity in history and politics during high school, he said he may even consider studying law in graduate school one day.

“I like engineering, but I don’t feel like I have had the chance to really validate that interest because most of the courses you take in school don’t reflect engineering until you get into college,” he said.

With senior year behind him, and a possible in-person graduation in July, the salutatorian said he and others never imagined the possibility that they might not have a prom or graduation.

“It’s hard because you really don’t know what you’re missing because you haven’t experienced it or something else like it,” he said. “I feel like it’s a very singular experience.”

For those students he leaves behind at Ward Melville High School, he said his advice would be not to stress so much about the day-to-day things and focus more on enjoying everything.

“This year has really shown there’s so much you really can’t plan for,” he said. “Even just in the way college decisions come out, you really realize that things aren’t the way you expected them to be. You just kind of have to accept it.”

The class of 2018 moves tassels to recognize the transition from high school senior to graduate at the Ward Melville High School Commencement June 24. Photo by Andrea Paldy

The 2019-2020 academic year has been one filled with changes, and graduation plans have been no different.

In a letter to Ward Melville High School seniors and families earlier in June, Principal William Bernhard and 12th-grade Assistant Principal Erin Connolly announced that the school was developing a plan to host an in-person graduation Sunday, July 19. The decision came a month after plans were already made to hold five separate ceremonies during the week of June 22, which would have involved seniors being split into groups of five alphabetically and families being required to stay in their cars as one senior at a time got out of each vehicle to accept their diploma.

According to the June letter, the decision to cancel the drive-through graduation this week and revert back to an in-person ceremony was made after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) earlier in the month signed an executive order giving permission to host in-person graduation ceremonies beginning June 26 with a maximum of 150 people that meet the social-distancing guidelines.

The order propelled the high school to develop a new graduation plan for 2020 with the hopes that future changes will allow an in-person graduation for the class of more than 500 even though they are proceeding cautiously.

“If the current parameters are not relaxed by this new graduation date, the district will continue with the in-vehicle format on Monday, July 20, through Friday, July 24,” the letter reads. “Social-distancing guidelines, including masks and reduced numbers in attendance, must still be in place for any live event.”

The school plans for each graduate to be restricted to two guests, and when students pick up their caps and gowns, there will be a packet with a colored parking pass in order to enter the grounds on graduation day.

Jennifer Catalano, whose daughter Rachael is graduating this year, was pleased to hear the news.

“I’m happy that the school district has gone above and beyond to make graduation as traditional as possible,” she said. “My daughter is happy she will be able to turn her tassel and partake in the traditional cap toss.”

Senior Jake Shangold was also glad to hear of the possibility of an in-person ceremony.

“I know as a senior it would be nice to have the whole class together to share one last moment,” he said. “I know Principal Bernhard and Superintendent Pedisich are doing all they can to make sure seniors are being celebrated.”

Salutatorian Matthew Fiorella, who will be reading a speech at the ceremony along with valedictorian William Sun, is looking forward to a “relatively normal graduation.”

“I was happy that we were still able to have a graduation ceremony when the drive-through plan was created, but being able to have a true in-person graduation is exciting,” he said.

As the school year draws to a close, things may be a little different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and remote learning, but that didn’t stop Three Village Central School District teachers, administrators and staff from giving the Class of 2020 a proper send-off.
A car parade was held on the high school grounds May 29 to give Ward Melville seniors and those who have taught them and supported them through the years a chance to say goodbye, even if it was from a distance.
Seniors stayed in their cars and drove around the high school perimeter as district staff members were distanced throughout the grounds holding signs and waving.
The last day of school for Three Village students is June 16.

by -
0 1371
Ward Melville High School graduates at the 2019 commencement ceremony. Photo by Andrea Paldy

The Three Village Central School District is reimagining graduation.

On May 11, Ward Melville High School seniors and their families were notified that a commencement ceremony of sorts would be held on the school’s grounds in a letter signed by Principal William Bernhard and Assistant Principal Erin Connolly. According to the letter, the decision was made “after careful consideration to the New York State guidelines and the governor’s executive orders.”

Since the traditional outdoor graduation ceremony with hundreds of students and family members cannot be held due to the coronavirus pandemic, the school will hold five separate ceremonies during the week of June 22, and each ceremony will take place with families in their vehicles.

Ceremonies will begin at 5 p.m. with a rendition  of the national anthem and speeches by the school’s salutatorian, valedictorian and the senior class president taking place at each individual commencement. Plans are in the works for the speeches to be live-streamed for viewing and broadcasted on the radio. Students will be divided alphabetically to determine which day they attend.

To adhere to social distancing guidelines, families are allowed only one vehicle and will need to stay in their cars. The letter added that after speeches cars will be directed to pull through the bus circle. Seniors will be allowed to get out of the car one at a time where their name will be announced. They will also be able to pick up their diploma jacket and have a photo taken.

Bernhard and Connolly thanked the students and families for their “patience and support during this extremely challenging time.”

TBR News Media talked to a few people in the community who were positive about
the plans.

Parent Jennifer Catalano said while her daughter, Rachael, is heartbroken that she and her classmates won’t experience a traditional graduation, “she’s happy that they came up with a unique experience for their class.”

Senior Alexarose Marcellino said she thought the plans were better than a virtual ceremony, and she appreciated that the school is making an effort to have the speeches heard every night. She said her parents and siblings plan to decorate their car on the day she can receive her diploma.

Both Marcellino and her mother, Allison, said they are grateful that Bernhard listened to students’ concerns. Allison Marcellino said the principal knew from Zoom meetings and talking to students how important it was for all of them to have an in person graduation and how passionate they were about it.

“They had every faith in him that he would do that for them,” the mother said. “He’s that kind of principal. The kids know that he would go out of his way for them.”

The mother said with the high school having more than 500 seniors she and other parents at first didn’t think it was possible to come up with an alternative plan.

“I really think it’s the best of both worlds because the student gets to walk and receive their diploma, and the closest members of the family get to be there to see their child receive their diploma,” she said. “They actually feel like they got as close to possible to their normal graduation.”

The Northport Tigers hit the ground running against Westhampton for the overall Section XI title game. The team was leading from the start to finish, beating the Hurricanes 72-45 March 5 at Ward Melville High School.

Senior Danielle Pavinelli led the way for the Tigers with three triples, four from the floor and a pair of free throws for a team high 19 points. Kerry Dennin, a senior, followed with 13 as did sophomore Sophia Yearwood. Teammate Sophia Bica netted 11 and senior Kelly McLaughlin banked 10.

Northport retakes the court for the Class AA Long Island championship round to take on the Nassau County champion at St. Joseph’s College March 15. Tickets are $10.00 at the door or $8.00 on line here: https://gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI

Game time is 4:00pm.

It was the best of the best competing in the Long Island Elite Meet at St. Anthony’s High School Saturday, Feb. 29.

Ward Melville senior Megan Wood shined in the final event before states. Wood tossed a pair of throws 43 feet, 6 inches along with 42’11” good enough for third in the weight throw event but was the class of the field in the shot put throwing 42’3” and a pair of 41’4” for the top spot in the event against competitors from all over Long Island.

Wood has her sights set for her next competition at the New York State Championships at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island.

“The next step is to show up to states and be a competitor next Saturday,” Wood said. “I’ll try to get in some higher reps in the beginning of the week but then we’ll tone it down so I’m well rested for the day”.

Teammate Allison D’Angio, a senior, clocked at 9.44 in the 55-meter hurdle event, and sophomore Arianna Gilbride placed fourth in the 300 dash in the Frosh/Soph event with 43.70.

Kings Park senior Richard Mangogna cleared 13 feet 3 inches in the pole vault event, placing him seventh overall in the Long Island Elite Meet at St. Anthony’s High School Feb. 29.

Teammate Sam Estherson, a junior, competed in the 55m hurdle event with a time of 8.17 seconds and clocked in at 8.98 at the 60m distance.

 

 

 

 

Chloe Bucher

By Melissa Arnold

Like most high schoolers, 16-year-old Chloe Bucher has a lot going on. The Ward Melville High School junior is balancing schoolwork, two jobs, a social life and extracurriculars while also pondering big questions about her future.

In the midst of all that, Bucher has never stopped thinking about others, particularly people with disabilities and special needs. Since she was an eighth grader at Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School in E. Setauket, Bucher has been a part of a Buddies Program that builds friendships and support for special needs students through games, crafts, parties and other activities. 

When she arrived at Ward Melville in 9th grade, Bucher was one of several students who petitioned to launch a similar program for the high school.

“People assume a lot of things when you have special needs — they might think ‘oh, they’re just dumb.’ But it’s not like that at all,” Bucher said in a recent interview. “The Buddies Program in middle school was amazing, and we wanted to keep the inclusivity going. It’s a lot of work to accommodate each person’s individual needs and skills, but it’s so worth it.”

Last week, as local students had a week-long recess, Bucher was hard at work on her latest project — Come Support and Change Lives — a fundraiser to benefit the special needs community on Long Island.

On Saturday, March 7 beginning at 7 p.m., Bucher is hosting an evening of appetizers, drinks, raffle baskets and entertainment at the charming Bates House, nestled in Setauket’s Frank Melville Memorial Park.

Proceeds from the event will support the Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI), Long Island’s leading provider of educational, vocational, day program and residential services for more than 1500 children and adults living with autism and other developmental disabilities. The organization was founded in 1961 and has since grown into an energetic, multi-site nonprofit agency.

“I really wanted to broaden the spectrum of who I was helping,” Bucher said. “A family friend has a son with autism who benefited from DDI, and I know they do so much for the community. They’re a great team.”

Jean Smith, director of development at DDI, said that the organization is thrilled to partner with Bucher.

“It is wonderful to see that there are young people in our local community like Chloe, who are passionate about enhancing the lives of individuals with autism and go above and beyond to show their support,” said Smith. “On behalf of the individuals DDI serves, I would like to thank and commend Chloe for her kindness and generosity.”

Bucher is still unsure about what she wants to do after graduation, but is leaning toward becoming an educator. 

“The kids that I work with make me want to do this for a lifetime,” she said.

The Bates House is located at 1 Bates Road in Setauket. Tickets to the event are $50 per person. To purchase, contact Chloe Bucher at 631-521-1478 or by email at [email protected] To learn more about DDI, visit www.DDINY.org. 

Girl Scout Hailey Van Cott works on the prey pen at Sweetbriar Nature Center. Photo from Hailey Van Cott

When choosing a project for her Gold Award, one Stony Brook Girl Scout drew on her love for animals.

Hailey Van Cott, a junior at Ward Melville High School and a Girl Scout since kindergarten, recently began repairing the prey pen within the flight aviary at Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown as part of her Gold Award project. A visitor to the center for years, she knew the location was the right choice.

“I really love what Sweetbriar stands for and I knew I wanted to help them out for my Gold Award,” she said.

To help with her project, PSEG Long Island awarded the Girl Scout $200. She said she plans to use the money to put down Astroturf around the sides of the prey enclosure, which helps the birds grip as it’s a softer texture than a piece of wood and in turn prevents foot problems.

PSEG representatives said the project is in line with their goal to relocate osprey and other raptor nests from electrical facilities to safe nesting locations.

“I really love what Sweetbriar stands for and I knew I wanted to help them out for my Gold Award.”

– Hailey Van Cott

“We want to help ensure these wonderful birds continue to return to the area year after year while, at the same time, protecting the reliability of the energy grid,” said John O’Connell, PSEG Long Island’s vice president of transmission and distribution. “Hailey’s project aligns with our commitment to protecting the local raptor population.”

Her mother, Deb, said she wasn’t surprised when her daughter chose to help out at Sweetbriar.

“She’s always liked to help animals,” the mother said. “She’s definitely a big animal person. She’s also always liked to do community service.”

Her mother said with Girl Scout Troop 2867, her daughter has helped Smithtown Animal Shelter by making dog toys and conducting supply drives for them. Outside of Girl Scouts, Van Cott has made memory wire bracelets and sold them at her father’s office and donated the money to Save-A-Pet Animal Shelter in Port Jeff Station.

Isabel Fernandes, a wildlife care coordinator at Sweetbriar, said Van Cott has done an amazing job repairing the prey bin, and Sweetbriar is always appreciative for the help they get from Scouts.

“We are a small staff so it’s important that we have people who can help us and get projects and other things done here,” Fernandes said.

The coordinator explained that the pen is enclosed in the 80-foot flight conditioning enclosure aviary, which is used for wildlife rehabilitation to help injured birds fly again and exercise their muscles before they can be released. The center prey pen ensures the birds maintain their hunting skills.

Fernandes said there is currently a great horned owl in the aviary that was removed when Van Cott was working on the enclosure, as it’s important to keep human contact as limited as possible — something she has now learned through experience.

“The more interaction with humans they have, the more adjusted they will become,” the Girl Scout said. “They need to learn how to capture the prey themselves and how to survive on their own.”

As part of her Gold Award project, in addition to working with her family on the enclosure, she will talk to younger Girl Scouts about the project, Van Cott said, as well as educate them about the importance of animal rehabilitation and how birds of prey control the rodent population.

“Every animal has its part in the ecosystem,” she said. “I’ve always loved big birds. I’ve always loved seeing them out in the wild just looking up and seeing a hawk every now and then.”