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Theme of the Year 2019-2020 - Lift Every Voice

District 30 Staff Prepares to “Lift Every Voice” This School Year

Administrators and staff from across Valley Stream District 30 gathered for Superintendent’s Conference Day at Shaw Avenue School on Sept. 3. The conference day allowed the staff to reunite with their colleagues, engage in professional development sessions, learn more about the district’s theme of the year, “Lift Every Voice,” and prepare themselves for the exciting school year ahead.

To spotlight the district’s 2019-2020 theme, staff members were entertained in the Shaw Avenue auditorium with a game show titled “Lift That Voice,” hosted by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Stirling. He played the role of game show host Steve Harvey and spun a wheel that featured ways that teachers could embrace the “Lift Every Voice” theme in their classrooms. Central administrators showcased examples of each of the categories on stage. These included – debate, digital communication, greeting, poetry, rapping, sign language and singing. The game show concluded with prizes being handed out to different staff members in the district.

Board of Education President Kenneth Cummings followed the game show with words of encouragement for the staff.

“Each of you in this room will impact the lives of countless students throughout your time with us – some in ways that you will never know,” he reminded them.

Dr. Stirling also addressed the staff. He shared that this is the year of strategic planning, played a video on confidence that was created last year by a sixth grader at Forest Road School and encouraged them to be their best.

“Let’s listen to our students,” he told the staff. “Take risks, challenge the students this year, challenge yourselves, speak up…. may excellence be echoed in everything you do, for your voice does matter and as a staff, we can lift every voice.”

Each principal shared the new staff changes to their buildings and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Jennifer Lewner shared the agenda for the day. Each staff member participated in two “Lift Every Voice” interactive sessions of their choice, a grade level or department meeting and reported to their respective school building to end the day.

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A Bright Start to the 2019-2020 School Year

Students in grades K-6 from Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue elementary schools were welcomed back to school on Sept. 4. Building administrators, teachers and staff greeted the students as they entered their respective buildings, ready to take on a new year of learning opportunities and the district’s 2019-2020 theme, “Lift Every Voice.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Stirling and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Jennifer Lewner visited each building to welcome both students and staff back. Throughout the day, students met their new teachers and classmates, unpacked and organized their school supplies and became acclimated to their new learning environment. Many classes also engaged in “getting to know you” activities and read books connecting to the first day of school.

“We are very excited to welcome back our students and families to the 2019-2020 school year,” said Dr. Stirling. “Valley Stream District 30 is where the love of learning begins. We are ready to Lift Every Voice!”

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VIDEO: What Does “Lift Every Voice” Mean to You?

Students Send Love Across the Globe

Shaw Avenue Elementary School students in Paul Farinacci’s art classes recently embraced Valley Stream District 30’s “Lift Every Voice” theme by participating in creative projects to support the Only Love Foundation. The Only Love Foundation is a non-profit organization that builds schools in underdeveloped countries and provides programs to help communities in impoverished areas around the world.

The students were inspired to help after a visit with Craig Taylor Jr., founder of the Only Love Foundation. Taylor, a native Valley Stream resident and Valley Stream Central High School graduate, visited the school to speak about the work he facilitates across the world. This sparked the idea to raise money and provide gifts to students in need.

With the guidance of Mr. Farinacci, fifth grade students in Allison Hammond’s class handcrafted worry dolls and wrote letters of encouragement to send as gifts to students in Guatemala, where the Only Love Foundation is currently serving. Mr. Farinacci also worked with other classes to design greeting cards as part of a fundraiser and donated the money to the Only Love Foundation. The students drew, painted and used their iPads to create their own unique designs. Once completed, the designs were professionally printed and boxed with envelopes. The cards were sold to families, friends and district staff members.

“When I learned about the non-profit Only Love Foundation and the amazing work it does with building schools in underdeveloped countries, I knew I wanted to do my part and expand my education focus more globally,” said Mr. Farinacci. “We have been seeking new ways to give back and this seemed like a great way.”

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Love of Science Helps Student Find His Voice

Matthew James, a student from Clear Stream Avenue School let his curiosity run wild, resulting in a new science experiment for his fifth grade class. Matthew decided that he wanted a pet beetle and conducted research at home on how darkling beetles are formed. After learning about their metamorphosis journey, Matthew tried the experiment at home and was eager to share his findings with his fifth grade teacher Monet Springer.

“I was so proud of him,” said Mrs. Springer. “He is not an outspoken student, but he came to me and asked if he could do this science project with the class.”

This school year, Valley Stream District 30 is encouraging students to find their voice in many different ways through the theme “Lift Every Voice.” Matthew did just that. With Mrs. Springer’s approval, he prepared a PowerPoint presentation entitled “The Life Cycle of a Darkling Beetle.” He shared the stages that beetles go through and allowed the class to ask him questions. Afterwards, Matthew provided each student in his class with a cup of supplies to grow their own darkling beetle. Although still in the early stages, the class has started to monitor their own insect’s progress from egg to larva to pupa to darkling beetle.

Matthew decided to share his love of science with a third grade class as well. He presented on the darkling beetle and brought his experiment into their classroom. The third graders asked him many questions and were eager to develop their own beetles.

“I hope that they learned responsibility when taking care of it and that they were inspired by it,” said Matthew.

The passionate fifth grader hopes to continue his love for science as a biologist in the future or a robotic scientist.

Shaw Avenue Students Look Up to Historical Figures

Shaw Avenue Elementary School students were educated on prominent figures from the Civil Rights Movement through performances by Bright Star Touring Theatre on Jan. 28. Connecting to Valley Stream District 30’s theme of the year “Lift Every Voice,” Bright Star performers Malcolm Hayden and Caylyn Jarmon-Vinson presented their productions of “Let Freedom Ring: Music & Poetry of Black History” for students in grades 4-6 and “Meet Dr. King” for students in grades K-3.

Fourth, fifth and sixth graders were introduced to important people such as Maya Angelou, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks and Sojourner Truth during the “Let Freedom Ring” performance. Hayden and Jarmon-Vinson educated students on the Civil War, the Abolitionist Movement, powerful songs, speeches, stories, poems from the time period and more. The students were encouraged to make a difference in the world just like the activists that were introduced on stage.

“We’d like to remind you of the words of Dr. King and remind you that when we stand up for what is right, when we stand up for justice is when we truly let freedom ring,” Jarmon-Vinson told the students.

The younger students were introduced to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in “Meet Dr. King.” Before the performance, Principal Christopher Colarossi reminded students that Shaw Avenue School is a family that comes together despite different individual backgrounds and skin color, which is what Dr. King believed in.

“Dr. King worked really hard for what he believed in and to this day, we live by his words,” he told the students.

While learning about Dr. King’s life, the students developed a better understanding of who he was as a person and the concepts of freedom, integration and equality. The goal of both performances was to inspire students to be inclusive, use their voices and make a difference in the world.

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District Honors Outstanding Board of Education

Members of the Valley Stream District 30 Board of Education were recognized during the district’s annual Board of Education Appreciation Night on Oct. 21. Each October, one of the district’s three elementary schools host the special evening to celebrate the board and recognize them for their hard work and commitment to the district.

This year, building administrators, staff, students and PTA members from Shaw Avenue School hosted the event in the Shaw Avenue auditorium. Board President Kenneth Cummings, Vice President Ingrid Wyllie-Dacon and trustees James Lavery, C. Sandra Okafor and Kelly Ureña sat front row as they were praised by Shaw Avenue Principal Christopher Colarossi and Shaw Avenue PTA Co-Presidents Noemi Diaz and Sandy Gosine.

“We thank them as they lift every voice and allow our children to look within themselves for their super ability,” said Diaz. “Hats off to the dedicated men and women of the board who make it possible for us to have a say about education in our community.”

Fitting with the district’s theme of the year, “Lift Every Voice,” the board enjoyed musical performances from Shaw Avenue second graders, led by music teacher Stephanie Fischer, as well as a video montage and a “Jeopardy” game show facilitated by Shaw Avenue PTA members and teachers. Each board member received a gift and enjoyed light refreshments in the gymnasium following the presentation.

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Students Honor Dr. King’s Legacy

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, a group of sixth graders from Clear Stream Avenue School performed a short play entitled “We Shall Overcome” for students in grades 4-6 on Jan. 22. The play, written by Mack Lewis, spotlighted the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963 and featured Dr. King, played by Clear Stream Avenue sixth grader Mishal Jabed.

Clear Stream Avenue Principal John Singleton provided some background for the audience before the performance began. He told the students that during the Civil Rights Movement there were marches run by students their age who felt that it was imperative for them to march so that they could have freedom and the same rights as everyone else. The casting for the play was done with purpose, having a female take on the important role of Dr. King.

“For this particular play we decided to have a young lady from Pakistan play Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Mr. Singleton. “Our belief is that Dr. King’s message is universal, and his dream should apply to all people and all cultures. We’re hoping that her portrayal of Dr. King inspires students today.”

In addition to playing Dr. King, sixth graders were casted as students, marchers, police, firefighters, reverends, reporters and a teacher. They painted the scene of Birmingham in 1963 when Dr. King encouraged students to go out and march to end segregation. Throughout the play, audience members learned that children who participated in these non-violent marches were jailed and even hit with fire hoses. The sixth graders marched with signs while singing “We Shall Overcome,” not letting anything or anyone stand in their way of freedom.

Jennifer Lewner, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Stirling attended the play and applauded the sixth grade performers on a job well done.

“This year in the school district our theme is ‘Lift Every Voice’ and especially around this holiday it’s a reminder that each one of your voices counts,” he told students. “Use your voice to make a difference, use your voice to help others and use your voice to make the world a better place because you can.”

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Clear Stream Community Commemorates 9/11

Clear Stream Avenue students, staff and families gathered around the flagpole at the front of the school to commemorate Patriot Day on Sept. 11. Each year on the anniversary of Sept. 11, the students and staff show their American pride while honoring the brave individuals who risked their lives on that tragic day in history 18 years ago.

“I’m always reminded on this day to not only commemorate the memories of those who we lost, but to unify us as a nation, community and school,” he said. “As I look out on this sea of red, white and blue, I can truly say that it’s time for our student’s voices to be heard.”

Mr. Singleton welcomed sixth graders Mishal Javed and Matthew Pico to the podium where the two students recited a patriotic poem. Students and staff then faced the flagpole for the Pledge of Allegiance and the sixth grade chorus, led by teacher Stephanie Cooke, performed the National Anthem. Before returning to their classrooms, Mr. Singleton encouraged the school community to come together as a family and for the staff to educate the students on the significant day in history through important lessons and stories.

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Families Get a Taste of Beneficial Services

Administrators, staff, PTA members, students and families from throughout Valley Stream District 30 gathered for the district’s annual Taste of a Service parent fair at Shaw Avenue School on Nov. 21. Coordinated by Director of Special Services Dr. Nicole Schimpf and Shaw Avenue School Principal Christopher Colarossi, the event provided community members with a “taste” of the variety of services and technological tools available for all students within the district.

PTA members from Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue elementary schools helped check guests in and contributed to the photo booth and refreshments. Each guest received a tote bag to fill with goodies and resources as they made their way around the fair. Family members were also encouraged to fill out a digital survey to help the district in their strategic planning process for 2020-2025.

Behavioral consultants, classroom teachers, enrichment specialists, music and physical education teachers, occupational therapists, reading specialists, speech therapists, school nurses and school psychologists were stationed at different booths during the fair. The 22 booths focused on important topics such as new Math Expressions curriculum resources, exercise and the importance of reducing screen time, learning styles and strategies, educational apps to use at home, identifying and regulating emotions and innovative ways to encourage student voice.

Throughout the evening, the staff discussed classroom strategies and spoke to families about what can be done at home to support their child’s learning. Incoming kindergarten families were also invited to attend the fair to ask questions and familiarize themselves with the district.

“This is a collaborative effort, so it is always a pleasure working alongside our families and sharing our best instructional practices,” said Mr. Colarossi. “Our hope is that throughout the evening families learned more about the amazing educational experiences of a District 30 student and that they picked up just a few new strategies that could be tried out at home.”

In addition, the special event connected to the district’s theme of the year, “Lift Every Voice,” as music teachers Christina Gorey and Lidia Kloc-Alberghini spoke with students and families about music education in the district. While parents traveled around to the different booths during the evening, children were encouraged to perform karaoke and play with the different musical instruments in the school lobby. Some children also watched a music-themed movie in the auditorium while supervised by chaperones.

“This is a very special, stress free family event that we look forward to once a year that evokes inspiration, excitement and collaboration across schools, departments and PTAs,” said Dr. Schimpf. “I am so proud of how we come together to showcase what the district stands for as it relates to our inclusive practices, enrichment for all, 21st learning experiences, musical opportunities, and physical and mental wellbeing for all!”

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Forest Road Chorus Spreads Holiday Cheer to School Officials

In honor of the holiday season, 34 members of Forest Road Elementary School’s fifth and sixth grade chorus shared their talents on Dec. 11 at the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents final general meeting for 2019.

Following the business portion of the meeting, the Forest Road chorus students from Valley Stream District 30 entertained the superintendents with an engaging performance of two holiday songs. Music teacher Sarah Fernandez directed the chorus as they performed “Something” by Sheldon Rose and Various Themes on “Fa-La-La.” As their performance came to a close, the chorus received a well-deserved standing ovation.

NCCSS President and Valley Stream District 30 Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Stirling was very proud of the students and their ability to “Lift their Voice,” the district’s focus for the 2019-2020 school year, in such a skilled and creative manner.

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Shaw Avenue Students Spread Holiday Cheer to Bristal Residents

Last month, Shaw Avenue Elementary School students celebrated the holiday season by bringing the gift of music and art to residents of the Bristal Assisted Living Community in North Woodmere.

The chamber orchestra students, under the direction of music teacher Lidia Kloc-Alberghini and select choir students, under the direction of music teacher Stephanie Fischer, presented holiday classics such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bells,” and “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The performance was very warmly received by the residents and the staff of the Bristal.

The residents were then invited to participate in a hands-on craft activity designed by art teacher Paul Farinacci and presented by his student art assistants. Each senior resident was paired with one young artist who demonstrated the process of creating a Victorian Angel. A lively discussion filled with wonderful memories and storytelling united these two groups while fun was had by all. It was a wonderful way for the students to give back to their community while bringing the joys of the holiday season to life through their music and art.

Shaw Avenue Principal Christopher Colarossi and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Stirling were both very proud of their students as they not only “lifted their voices” but also their hearts. The students and staff are looking forward to continuing these traditions for years to come!

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School Community Lifts Each Other Up

Amid school closures due to COVID-19, students and staff from Shaw Avenue Elementary School continue to spread positivity among their school community. The school started a Positivity Wall in one of its hallways this year to encourage social-emotional learning. Students in grades 3-6 wrote uplifting messages on Post-its, posted it to the wall and could take any messages that inspired or motivated them. During this trying time in the world, everyone could use an extra boost of positivity, so Shaw Avenue transformed its Positivity Wall into a virtual one for students and staff at home.

The “wall” was created on Padlet, a website that allows the creation of boards and encourages collaboration. Shaw Avenue students in grades 3-6 have access to the virtual wall where they can post positive images, encouraging messages and more. Shaw Avenue faculty members serving grades 3-6 can also contribute to the wall.

The student and staff response to the new wall was immediate. Together, they have already shared close to 100 positive messages.

“This student-led project of giving and receiving inspirational messages to overcome times of adversity has become a beacon of hope for many,” said Shaw Avenue Assistant Principal Andrew Canlé. “Recreating the wall virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic and garnering such a hefty amount of participation, immediately proves that our Positivity Wall has transcended being a physical location, and has become a living and breathing mindset amongst our student body that helps them persevere in the face of challenging times.”