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Syosset BOE Honors Siemens Semifinalist And Student Athletes

Jazz Ensemble Charms Audience

At the Jan. 10 Syosset Central School District Board of Education Meeting, board president Dr. Marc Herman held a moment of silence in the wake of the recent Arizona shootings. As the room fell silent, Herman offered his condolences to the victims’ families and wished Representative Gabrielle Giffords a “speedy recovery.”

Though the night commenced on a somber note, school pride soon dominated as students were honored for their many noteworthy accomplishments.  Syosset High School senior Karan Sikka was recognized as a semifinalist in the Siemens Competition in math, science, and technology. Among the 1,300 students across the country who submitted projects, only 312 students were selected as semifinalists. Sikka’s exceptional credentials allowed him the opportunity to conduct research at The Garcia Center at Stony Brook University on his project, entitled, “A Temperature Controlled Investigation of Gold and Palladium Nano-particle Catalysis for the Performance Enhancement of a Proton-Exchange-Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell.”

Also high on the agenda was the presentation of athletic awards to Syosset’s fall sports teams and players. In Girls Track, Christina DiBernardo and June Illowite were recognized for their qualification to the All-County and All-State teams in the Nassau County Girls Cross Country Championship.

In Varsity Football, Evan Kappatos received the Piner Award—awarded to Nassau County’s best linebacker—for the second year in a row.  

In Girls Varsity Swimming, Jacqueline Teller qualified for the New York State Championship and placed tenth in the 100-yard breaststroke and 13th in the 200-yard freestyle.

The Junior Varsity Girls Tennis Team won the Long Island Championship for the second year in a row. Tennis Coach Larry Levane congratulated co-captain Ashley Sandler for winning the deciding match against Garden City and being named to the All-State team. He noted, “[Ashley] is an amazing person. When you talk about character and pride, she really gives 100 percent and then some.”  Levane also congratulated co-captain Hannah Camhi for placing second in All-States and earning Newsday’s Player of the Year honors, saying, “[Hannah] is truly an amazing athlete, an amazing player.”

Under the direction of Larry Ballereau (recipient of the 2010 Music Educator of Note Awards from the Long Island Music Hall of Fame), Syosset’s High School Jazz Ensemble continued to liven up the room with an impressive, high-energy performance complete with saxophone and electric guitar solos.  

While introducing and praising the band, Ballereau pointed out the importance of teaching children jazz. “By learning jazz, the students learn the correlation between the music they’re learning and 20th-century American History,” he said. Rated 14th in the country for music education by the National Association for Music Education, Syosset begins general jazz instruction in kindergarten, focusing on major composers and performers such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billie Holiday.  Throughout elementary and middle school, students continue building on their knowledge of jazz with “jazz instruction culminating in the high school band,” Ballereau said proudly as he gestured toward his students on stage.

In business news, the treasurer reported that the current cash-on-hand value for the district is $72,468,351.73.

During the Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Carole G. Hankin said the annual Alumni Day was a great success as recent graduates, representing 24 colleges, returned to Syosset High School to offer advice and share their personal experiences with current seniors. Hankin referred to the returning graduates as “experts in college life” and said it was “a very fun day for all.”

Hankin also reported that students have been performing in their winter concerts throughout December and January. The remaining shows—South Grove, Village, Robbins Lane, South Woods, and Thompson—will be held in the next couple of weeks. Hankin invited the community to attend any of the school concerts “even if your children attend different schools.”

In board news, Herman reported that the board attended the PTA General Council Meeting and the Syosset High School PTSA Meeting.

During Audience to the Public, a local resident inquired about Syosset Central School District’s budget, specifically regarding when the district receives most of its revenue and when payments are made. Hankin agreed to provide details at next month’s board meeting or over the phone if the resident preferred calling her office directly.

Sixteen resolutions were put to a vote, all of which passed. Among them were the authorization for Renewal of Contract with Greiner-Maltz Co., Inc., which will allow the contract for sale of the Woodbury School to continue; a teaching assistant’s appointment to tenure, and the acceptance of the donation of a piano.

The next school board meeting will take place on Monday, Feb. 14 at South Woods Middle School at 8 p.m.