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District 30's Summer Program Goes Virtual

Valley Stream District 30 kicked off its annual summer program on July 6 for incoming students in grades 1-6. This summer, approximately 155 students from Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue elementary schools enrolled in the five-week program to strengthen the skills they learned during the 2019-2020 school year and set them up for success when they return to school in the fall. Unlike previous summers, the 2020 program is being held virtually until Aug. 7 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Summer School Coordinator Erica Suarez and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Jennifer Lewner oversee the program which allows for individual attention to be set on each student’s academic progress. During a typical summer, students who participate in the program are housed at Shaw Avenue School where they work with a small group of students and teachers on English Language Arts and math skills. They also engage in specials such as art, physical education, music and STEAM. Although the program shifted to remote this summer, the district was dedicated to staying true to its in-person summer learning program. This includes continuing to allow students to rotate to different subject areas and specials.

“It was extremely important for us as a district to be able to offer a remote summer learning program with increased teacher contact time to best support the needs of our students,” said Ms. Lewner.

To prepare for this new virtual format, each student received an iPad and materials at the start of the summer to provide them with the tools they would need for their online learning. During the 2020 program, students are split into small groups and participate in daily live instruction via Google Meets. Each grade level has a Google Classroom where they can access additional digital materials. The students utilize these digital resources and engage in hands-on lessons from their homes to help sharpen their foundational skills in the areas of English Language Arts and math, along with art, physical education, music and STEAM. Despite not being physically in the classroom with their teacher and peers, the live instruction still allows for immediate feedback and gives students the guidance that they need.

A modification was made this year to the delivery of instruction for the district’s English as a New Language students. These students focus on developing their language skills specifically by working with one of the district’s ENL teachers in a small virtual group for 40 minutes each day.

The summer program has garnered positive feedback from families and staff as students have been highly engaged and have responded positively to the format. The district is confident that the program will set these students up for a strong new academic year.

A Virtual Celebration of Art

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Despite schools being closed due to COVID-19, art teachers from Valley Stream District 30 found creative ways to showcase the artwork that their talented students created during the 2019-2020 school year. Each elementary school held either a virtual art show or museum experience in June, which were accessible on the district’s website for students, staff and families to enjoy (https://valleystream30.com/news/article.aspx?id=117842). 

Clear Stream Avenue School’s art show was created on Google Slides by art teacher Leslie Freiberg. Each staff member, including central and building administrators, created a Bitmoji, a cartoon avatar of themselves, to include in the special presentation. The colorful slides showcased artwork from all grade levels. At the end of the presentation, viewers were encouraged to participate in an art show scavenger hunt where they were tasked to find various animated items that were placed throughout the presentation. 

At Forest Road Elementary School, art teacher Colette Giardella created a YouTube video with upbeat music to showcase the outstanding artwork that students created in school before the global pandemic. The video also featured artwork that students created at home during remote learning.

Shaw Avenue art teacher Paul Farinacci took a slightly different approach to spotlight the creativity at Shaw Avenue School. He created a video taking Shaw Avenue students and their families on a virtual museum experience which he called, “Shaw Avenue’s Masterpiece Make-Over Museum.”

The engaging video featured Mr. Farinacci’s animated Bitmoji and his real-life dog PePe Le Smooch and cat Tubettini Houdini, which he animated to serve as a tour guide and museum curator. Together, they took viewers through art history while highlighting an art project that students, staff and administrators participated in during remote learning. The school community was asked to recreate famous works of art using items found in their homes, family members and/or pets. The project was designed as a creative outlet for the students, staff and administrators to explore their feelings and imagination while during the quarantine.

Congratulations to all the talented student-artists who were featured in the virtual art shows and virtual art museum experience! 

District 30 BOE Elects Officers

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Valley Stream District 30 held its board of education reorganization meeting virtually on July 7. Reelected trustees James Lavery and C. Sandra Okafor took the oath of office and nominations were made for officer positions. Ingrid Wyllie-Dacon was elected as board president and Kelly Ureña was elected as board vice president for the 2020-21 school year. Ms. Ureña was also nominated to serve as a board representative on the Valley Stream Central High School District’s Board of Education, along with Valley Stream 30 trustees Kenneth Cummings and James Lavery. 
 

Exceptional Staff Members Recognized at Virtual BOE Meeting

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During Valley Stream District 30’s virtual board of education meeting on June 22, the board approved Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Stirling’s nomination for 12 outstanding faculty members to pass through gate. Gate is a long standing tradition in Valley Stream District 30. The process examines a teacher as they move through their years in the district. It allows administrators to take a closer look inside the classroom and reward those teachers with excellent progress with the opportunity to move to the next salary range.

This year’s gate candidates included Donna Annunziata, Jacqueline Capewell, Deanna Cerrone, Valerie D’Alto, Joanna Eckert, Ilissa Epstein, Gina Giovanelli, Mary Hevia, Darlene Sinclair, Erica Suarez, Valerie Taliercio and Lauren Weick. Dr. Stirling commended the faculty members, stating that it was a joy to visit their classrooms.

“I thank them from the bottom of my heart for all that they have done on behalf of our students,” said Dr. Stirling. “I look forward to the great work that I believe will continue by each and every individual teacher to support our students here in Valley Stream 30.”

The board also welcomed three new staff members to the District 30 family. Yasmin Lopez and Alyssa Hunt were appointed as elementary teachers and Kristin Princiotta was appointed as a speech teacher. Forest Road secretary Ashley Starna was appointed as the new assistant manager in the district’s business office. She will work under the leadership of Assistant Superintendent for Business Brian Phillips.

In addition, the board approved the retirement of Lisa Del Campo, an instructional technology aide. Dr. Stirling thanked Del Campo for her service to the district and wished her a happy retirement.

Next Stop: Middle School

Sixth grade graduates from across Valley Stream District 30 made history by moving up to middle school in a completely new way this year. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue schools hosted virtual commencement ceremonies on the district website and celebrated the Class of 2020 with special socially distant, in-person events to present diplomas and other items such as report cards, yearbooks and awards.

During the virtual commencement exercises, Board President Kenneth Cummings praised the graduates and wished them the best of luck in middle school. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Stirling followed by sharing how special the Class of 2020 is.

“Beyond being the class that survived the pandemic during their last year of elementary school, you are also a special class because you have learned how to be a good friend to others, care for the community and help those in need of an extra hand. You have also learned how to be honest, respectful to others and how to forgive. These are life lessons that I hope you will always remember and carry with you into middle school.”

Although the students could not be together for a traditional ceremony, each school kept the musical piece of the ceremony alive by having each graduate perform and record a video of them singing the same song at home. The videos were edited together for a special performance. In addition, the virtual ceremonies featured photos of each graduate as they were announced, along with congratulatory remarks and words of advice from building principals, PTA presidents, and some of the sixth graders.

“I strongly believe that we should not dwell on what we missed at the end of sixth grade, but cherish the memories that we were able to make and look forward to the ones we have ahead of us in seventh grade,” said Forest Road graduate Ethan Ali.

To continue honoring the Class of 2020, each school held drive-through celebrations. Central administrators including Superintendent Dr. Stirling, building administrators, staff and PTA members held signs and cheered on the sixth graders as they arrived at their respective school in decorated vehicles to receive their diplomas. Although it was not the traditional graduation event that each school typically holds, everyone embraced the change with smiles on their faces as the sixth graders prepared to take on the next step of their academic careers.