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Jericho BOE Announces National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists and Commended Students

The Jericho Board of Education covered a broad range of topics at their meeting on Thursday, Nov. 18. Superintendent Henry L. Grishman and president Barbara Krieger, along with Principal Joe Prisinzano, were pleased to start the meeting off by announcing the Semifinalists and Commended Students in the 2011 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Prisinzano said, “I am extremely honored to be here tonight to recognize this exclusive group of students,” who were named Semifinalists: Nicole Chun, Lindsey Lam, Matthew Lam, Joshua Mendelsohn, Isabella Mu, Myles Novick, Howard Su, John Tam, Tiffany Tzeng, Michael Zhou, and Yifan Zhu. Among the 1.5 million students who entered the 2011 National Merit Program by taking the 2009 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, only 1600 received this prestigious honor. These students represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors.

Prisinzano also congratulated 26 seniors who were named Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program: Scott Freudenthal, Wendy Ginsberg, Tyler Kerbis, Selena Kim, David Kornberg, Nicole Krantz, Brandon Krieger, Micaela Lipman, Henry Ly, Justin Mintz, Hyungjoon Na, Jonathan Orr, Eric Pesner, Nikko Price, Sahir Raoof, Jason Ryu, Jaylin Sasson, Maxx Shapiro, Tyler Stoff, Harris Tils, Harrison Tract, Helena Wang, Justin Wang, Courtney Wong, Ray Ying, and Yuxin Zhu. Commended students are in the top 5 percent of high school seniors who entered the 2011 National Merit Program.

Middle School student council representatives congratulated seventh-grader Suzanne Barry for winning the annual Spelling Bee Contest on Friday, Oct. 22. High School student council representatives announced that Battle of the Classes kicked off a canned food drive this week. All students are encouraged to drop off donations-which will benefit the Boys and Girls Club in Oyster Bay- in boxes outside the cafeteria.

In the monthly report of the superintendent, Grishman reported that the school district’s current enrollment is 2,995.

Grishman thanked Jericho residents as well as Nassau County Minority Leader Diane Yatauro, the West Birchwood Civic Association, and the East Birchwood Civic Association, among others, for coming together at the Monday, Nov. 15 community meeting regarding a group of registered sex offenders living in close proximity to Jericho schools. A representative from Yatauro’s office, as well as several other government officials, were in attendance to discuss further monitoring of these sex offenders. Yatauro is the original sponsor of many laws that restrict these individuals. She has persuaded the Department of Social Services (DSS) to provide housing for homeless sex offenders in one location as far away from parks and schools as possible. She has also worked with the DSS to reduce the number of sex offenders allowed to live in any given motel, from three to two.

By the end of the Nov. 15 community meeting, questions still lingered regarding the method by which the 500- and 1,000-foot distance between the residence of a sex offender and a park or school should be measured. After the meeting, Yatauro filed an amendment to the law that should clarify any ambiguity. In response to Yatauro, Nassau County Commissioner of Police Lawrence W. Mulvey forwarded a memo from County Executive Edward P. Mangano, stating that the Nassau County Police Department has agreed “to measure the distance from the property lines of all parks and schools in a direct radius of all offenders, regardless of where they reside,” as opposed to measuring the walking distance between the two property lines.

Yatauro filed additional amendments that would ensure proper notification to motel guests if “a sex offender is living there.” As per one of the new amendments, the fine would increase from $1,000 to $5,000 if a warning placard is not posted in a “conspicuous place.”

In board news, Grishman briefly discussed the district’s goals, which were developed by administrative staff, teachers, the PTA, and parents. Examples include “expanding research and application of best practices to enhance instruction and curriculum,” and “providing opportunities for professional development for staff and incorporate elements of best practice into curriculum development.” Specific goals for each individual school were listed as well. Grishman explained that he and his staff “will be working under these goals throughout the year and will then report back to the board and community” to evaluate the district’s progress.

Additionally, a working list of 11 new board goals was distributed to those in attendance. The most relevant goal of the evening -“to develop and implement strategies to limit tax burden” dovetailed with the board’s subsequent discussion concerning the recent approval of Nassau County’s tax shift. Now that the county’s “guarantee” on tax certioraris has been removed, school districts- along with villages, towns, fire districts, and libraries-will be forced to pay for the county’s fiscal mistakes.

Grishman and board vice president Joseph Lorintz made an impassioned appeal on why the district opposes the tax shift and how to proceed from here. Lorintz said, “Those hit hardest [by the tax shift] will be communities with a great deal of commercial property like Jericho.” However, Grishman pointed out that in an effort to gain more support, “Mangano is reaching out to superintendents and board members whose communities are at least 90 percent residential, saying that [the tax shift] is in their best interest.” Grishman said emphatically, “We will maintain a high profile regarding the county guarantee. The board is asking all 56 school districts to enter into a class action against Nassau County’s tax shift.”

Jess Rudolph, member of the Jericho Educational Foundation (JEF) Board of Trustees, lightened the mood when he announced that Jericho schools will be participating in the Champions for Charity Holiday Benefit again this year. Once registered at championsforcharity.org, 25 percent of any purchase made at Americana Manhasset or Wheatley Plaza may be designated to the charity of one’s choice. One hundred percent of the remaining proceeds will be used to fund Jericho’s Initiative Project, an expansion on last year’s much-loved Jackson School Garden Project.

Out of 20 Initiative Project proposals received this year, the following five were selected: Reading Buddies (new books will be purchased for fifth-graders to read to first-graders); a bocce ball court at the Middle School; Life Skills Project (students will turn the High School’s former book store into a coffee shop); Graphic Novel Project (more graphic novels and comic books such as The Diary of a Wimpy Kid will be purchased to encourage reading); and the Jackson School Garden (birdhouses, benches, and a compost pile will be added).

In business news, 21 resolutions were put to a vote, all of which passed. Among these resolutions was the appointment of Board President Barbara Krieger to serve as Jericho’s representative at the BOCES Budget Review meetings.

The next meeting will take place on Thursday, Dec. 16, at Jackson Elementary School at 7:30 p.m.