High Schools Honored by NYSPHSAA

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High School East has been named a School of Distinction by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. High School West has been honored as a School of Excellence. This year, 56 schools earned the School of Distinction Award and 140 schools earned the School of Excellence Award.

Schools can apply for School of Distinction status by having 100% of their varsity teams qualify and receive the Scholar-Athlete team award during their respective sports seasons. To earn the School of Excellence Award, 75% of a school’s varsity teams must qualify and receive the Scholar-Athlete team award. This year’s winners were based on fall 2019 and winter 2020 Scholar-Athlete submissions.

The purpose of the School of Distinction and School of Excellence awards are to unite varsity coaches in challenging their teams to achieve a statewide honor.

Honor Society Students Take Book Buddies Virtual

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High School East incoming senior Isabella Surrusco recently helped facilitate a quarantine version of a service project done by the National English Honor Society this school year.

Isabella is the historian of the school’s NEHS. One of her favorite activities done through the NEHS is book buddies. “We have devoted an afternoon or two [per year] to visit an elementary school in the Smithtown Central School District, read to the students, and do an activity with them,” she said. “Due to the coronavirus and the closing of schools, we missed out on opportunities like this one and to share our love for English.”

The NEHS officers, along with their adviser Ms. Kostopoulos, brainstormed new ways to keep the book buddies running during the quarantine. “My idea was to create a virtual book buddies,” said Isabella. “I created a Flipgrid account where our NEHS members could upload videos of themselves reading either a book, short story or poem. My idea was to send these videos, or the link to them, to the elementary school students, who might have a harder time learning under the circumstances or might want to hear some literature read to them. I have received more than 20 videos from club members.”

Seniors Still Get Chance to Celebrate

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Although the senior classes at High School East and High School West closed out their end-of-year activities a bit differently this year, they still had plenty of reasons to celebrate this June.

The students from both schools had the opportunity to attend a car parade for their senior countdown. In typical years, the students counted down the last moments in their school while the minutes before the final bell of the school year were displayed on the football scoreboard. This year, the students drove by in their decorated vehicles as faculty and staff waved at the procession of cars. The countdown began at 1:03 p.m., one hour before the last bell sounds.

Gold cord recipients, those who maintained a GPA of 4.0 for four consecutive years, had a chance to receive their gold cord awards package, presented by a member of the administrative team. Later in the week, the seniors attended a car parade to pick up their caps and gowns, yearbooks and celebratory lawn signs.

Mechanical Bulls Lend Helping Hand

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Dave Savage and the Robotics Team 810, the Mechanical Bulls, quickly shifted gears during the pandemic to help those in need. They created masks and shields for frontline workers and donated to various organizations.

Check out this video to see some of their initiatives:

CAPTURE Covid-19

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Capturing the individual and collective experiences of students and staff was the idea behind the club created by Smithtown High School East art teacher Dianne Shanian. “From the last day of in-class school on March 13, the students and staff have been coping with staying at home and doing our best with online instruction, and other limitations the Covid-19 virus has imposed,” she said.

“Since every person has been affected on some level by this sudden change in our lives, I wanted to offer a platform where students and staff could express or capture their feelings and thoughts in the form of words, photos, paintings, drawings or videos,” she said. “The collective visual result is emotionally powerful. The realization that these entries came from students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and from staff members, speaks to the overarching impact this experience has had on people of all ages, genders, cultures and backgrounds within our school district.”

CAPTURE slide presentation serves as a record for our district of this unique time in history, and we hope all viewers find something within it that resonates in them.