May 12, 2022 eBlast
Commack Schools Looking Good! Facilities Upgrades
Modernized school facilities provide the bedrock for a solid education, and at Commack schools we’re happy to report that bond work construction—made possible with the community’s support—continues apace at all District facilities, with more exciting projects coming this summer!
Already, the high school has seen the installation of brand-new softball and baseball fields, including the newly dedicated Bryan Bonin Memorial Baseball Field. At Commack Middle School, a partial roof replacement, the installation of solar canopies and the addition of a new turf field and track have been completed as well as student and faculty bathroom renovations. Bathroom renovations have also been completed at North Ridge, Rolling Hills and Wood Park primary schools. Additionally, Districtwide security upgrades on door access, security cameras and software, and fiberoptic infrastructure have been completed; and that’s just the start!
This summer, more of our school facilities will be transformed. Slated is the reconstruction of science labs at the high school and middle school. Replacement of the high school locker room floors and lockers will also get underway along with the reconstruction of the high school's parking lot and sidewalks. In addition, the high school will receive its student and faculty bathroom upgrades, and Burr and Sawmill intermediate schools will also get bathroom upgrades along with refurbished acoustical wallpaper for their auditoriums and hot water heater replacement.
These upgrades ensure that generations of Commack students will have continued access to high quality educational facilities, and we’re so thankful to you, the Commack Schools community, for making it all possible!
May 10, 2022 eBlast
Commack Schools' Community of Caring
Giving back to the community is a core tenet of the Commack Union Free School District culture. That is why we are so proud of the various community service projects our staff and students, at all levels, have engaged in throughout the past school year. From our youngest to oldest students, the importance of sharing and caring for others is shown through collections of food, clothing, books and even shoes to help those in need.
Here are just a few examples of the kindness and generosity that this community of caring has shown this year:
- At Commack High School, student-led clubs have worked with and donated to organizations such as Toys for Tots, Island Harvest, The American Red Cross, Birthday Wishes, Gurwin, The Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry and The United Veterans Beacon House among many more! Clubs and organizations at the high schools have helped our senior citizens with chores such as raking and snow clean up.
- At Sawmill Intermediate School, students have held fundraisers and donation drives for UNICEF, Community Housing Innovations, Long Island Cares, Caps for Kids and the Children’s Emergency Fund. Additionally, students at Sawmill this year held a Souper Bowl soup collection and Valentines for Veterans drive to help local veterans.
- At Burr Intermediate School, students in the Pay it Forward Club participated in a project called From Our Heart to Yours in which students made ceramic hearts and then distributed them to residents at senior housing facilities in New Jersey. Additionally, students in Mrs. Cestaro’s class spent the month of February doing extra chores at home in order to buy toiletries and socks to donate to the needy. The team effort allowed the students to purchase 247 items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrushes and socks, which were donated to the Lighthouse Mission in Bellport. The school most recently supported the ALS Ride for Life with a $2,300 donation to find a cure!
- At Commack Middle School, students in the school’s Building and Beyond classes built small community service projects such as a bird house, a custom binder and paper holder for special education students and various handheld games. The school raised funds for the Pulsera Project, a nonprofit organization that educates, empowers, and connects Nicaraguan artists with students in more than 1,300 U.S. schools through the sale of colorful handwoven bracelets, or "pulseras" in Spanish. The school is especially proud of their We Help Two campaign, an organization dedicated to providing access to clean water and educational programming in underdeveloped regions of the world. We Help Two funds water, sanitation and hygiene education (WASH) projects in partner schools to ensure improved educational and social conditions for children and communities.
- Most recently, the entire Commack school community came together to donate an entire classroom’s worth of humanitarian aid to Ukraine!
Through community service, our students are poised to become active members of society, and we couldn’t be happier with how they have and continue to give back. A big shout out to our Commack parents, staff and families for their generosity and outreach!
May 5, 2022 eBlast
Social Emotional Learning Initiatives at All Levels
At Commack Schools, ensuring that our students are always in a healthy state of mind is a priority on par with academic success. To this end, we have teams of mental health support specialists and have implemented numerous social emotional learning (SEL) initiatives at each grade level.
Thursdays feature peer tutoring at Commack Middle School. Each week, peer leaders from the high school visit to mentor their younger counterparts. Aside from academic help, this program provides a valuable social and emotional learning experience for everyone involved. The high schoolers learn patience and understanding for those still learning, while middle schoolers learn to more readily accept help from an older peer. All of the students learn empathy as they interact, and gain valuable understanding about the reality that not everyone learns in the same way.
Other middle school SEL programs include the Social Emotional Development and Learning Group, which comprises students in sixth through eighth grades who meet monthly to discuss ways to engage their peers in lessons on positive decision making and making friends, giving them the opportunity to become positive role models and student leaders. Additionally, students can choose to join the Best Buddies program, which promotes friendships between students with and without disabilities. Together, members promote the growth of social skills while forming meaningful friendships!
For primary school children, students from kindergarten through second grade are being given the tools to develop essential skills, knowledge related to self-awareness, responsible decision making, relationships, social awareness and self-management. At North Ridge Elementary School. for instance, we accomplish this through our Push In programs, which are provided by the school social worker and psychologists, each of whom engage each class in lessons focused on social and emotional skill development. Additionally, each week the students at North Ridge take part in Mindful Mondays. Students and teachers engage in mindfulness exercises, reminding all that we can always return to the moment and take deep breaths to feel grounded, connected and calm. The students learn that mindfulness can be our superpower!
Looking to the future, the Commack School District is planning a mental health partnership with Northwell Health. This partnership will follow a proven model already in place for dozens of school districts across Long Island, and will provide valuable mental health resources for students and their families both in and out of the schools at little to no cost.
Studies have shown that a sound mind is essential to student academic success, and in the Commack School District we are proud to be on the cutting edge of social emotional learning and support for students throughout their academic careers.
April 28, 2022 eBlast
Student Choice - Clubs & So Much More!
Here at Commack Schools, we are proud of the vast array of clubs and after-school activities available for our students at all levels. These resources offer opportunities for students to explore whatever topics or activities might interest them and hone their leadership and academic skills alongside their peers. For the younger elementary students, many have the opportunity to sign up for the F.A.S.T. Athletics program, which teaches students the basic skills in a variety of sports. Each school plans special after-school and evening events for students and parents to enjoy.
Students at Sawmill and Burr Intermediate schools can choose from clubs such as the Student Council, Nuts, Bolts & STEAM Club, Continental Math and Chess Club, along with intramurals, music, and themed events.
At the Middle School and High School there are over a hundred student organizations. These include interest-specific clubs and activities, including leadership organizations, honor societies, community service clubs, music, theatre, athletics, and spirit events.
“Our goal at Commack High School is to provide students with opportunities to create meaningful connections,” said Student Life advisor Rich Suchopar. “Participation encourages students to be present, explore their talents and interests, take chances by trying something new and work collaboratively with their peers. We want each student to be able to have a high school experience where they feel connected to our building.”
Students can find a list of clubs and leadership organizations on the Commack High School and Commack Middle Schools web pages. Additionally, at the High School, they can visit The Office of Student Life to discuss whatever extracurricular opportunities and school spirit events they might be interested in.
Whatever your student’s interests, we are proud to offer as many avenues possible for them to explore to enhance and enjoy their school years.
April 14, 2022 eBlast
Commack Athletes are Successful Both In and Out of the Classroom!
At Commack Schools we offer as many opportunities to our students as possible. Among them is the chance to try their hand in the arena of sports. Our storied athletic programs are open to all, and offer ways for our students to find additional success beyond their academics.
“We pride ourselves on the success of students in the classroom and on the playing fields,” said Pat Friel, Athletic Director for the Commack School District. “Our teams are recognized as being scholar-athlete teams—with grade averages above 90—and they are also victorious in athletic arenas. We have a well-balanced athletic program that not only focuses on accolades, but also stresses the importance of our studies.”
We’re fortunate to offer all the sports available to us by Section XI which give our students the opportunity to not only represent Commack in traditional team sports, but also in individual sports like swimming and fencing. Additionally, we have robust Intramural programs at the intermediate and secondary schools that allow our students to participate both before and after school in activities that create opportunities for students to interact with their peers while staying connected to their schools. We have also created teams with our special education students so they can compete with other schools, with many of our varsity athletes assisting in coaching.
This winter, our student athletes have found continued success throughout their season, earning regional state and even national accolades in their sports of choice. These include:
- First place national wins for our varsity Cougar Kickline team in both the National Dance Alliance team performance and kickline categories.
- A state shot put title for Track & Field star Julie T. Her teammate Allison S. also earned a regional silver medal in the 55m hurdles and a bronze in the high jump.
- A Long Island championship for our Girls Fencing Team, which had an undefeated season. Our Boys Fencing Team took home the Suffolk County title.
- A regional title in the game day routine category for our Girls Varsity Cheerleaders.
- A county championship for the Cougar Boys Track & Field Team.
- A county title for bowler Kieran C., who won the Suffolk boys singles bowling tournament.
- A League 2 championship for our JV Boys Basketball Team for the second consecutive year.
- A League 2 championship for our Boys Winter Track Team.
- A fifth-place All-American title in the girls pentathlon for Ally S. at the national indoor track & field meet.
- A second-place state win for gymnast Alexa M.
- A second-place state finish for GianCarlo D. in the intersectional relay.
In a bittersweet moment this Wednesday, Commack Schools also celebrated the dedication of its new High School baseball field in the memory of late varsity baseball coach Bryan Bonin. Bonin, a Commack Schools graduate himself, tragically lost his battle with cancer in January at age 33. He was beloved by his family and team members alike, and now his memory will live on through generations of Commack baseball players.
As always, let’s #GOCOUGARS! Click here for the Cougar Athletic pages!
April 7, 2022 eBlast
Intermediate Schools Hands-On Learning Opportunities
Continuing our philosophy of providing students with hands-on, project-based learning, the Commack School District is proud to say we are continuing to offer our Enrichment For All
program at the intermediate level.
This initiative operates on a bi-weekly basis at Sawmill and Burr Intermediate Schools, and provides students with projects that align with the general education curriculum while fostering critical thinking, creativity, and independent learning with a strong emphasis on STEAM.
Some of these enrichment projects include:
- Engineering design process
- Air drop package designs
- Aerospace engineering
These experiences and activities are designed to expose students to a wide variety of disciplines and topics. Lessons taught focus on developing self-directed learning skills in the areas of planning, organization, resource utilization, time management, decision making and self-evaluation. Furthermore, the goal of this program is to foster task commitment, self-confidence, and feelings of creative accomplishment.
Lunch N Learn
For students wanting more of this exciting program, they can choose to visit the enrichment room during recess to engage in an engineering task or arts and crafts activities.
Some of the activities offered during the Lunch N Learn period include:
- Lego robotics
- Design and production
This wonderful program offers time for students to explore curriculum topics on a deeper level all while having fun!
March 30, 2022 eBlast
Commack School District Launches First-of-its-Kind IB Career Path Program
Commack Students Can Start Working Towards Potential Careers While in High School
We're excited to announce that the Commack School District has been authorized as the first school district on Long Island to offer the IBCP program for students. The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Career-related Programme (CP) is designed for students in grades 11 and 12 interested in pursuing an education that provides them opportunities to engage in unique learning experiences relevant to their chosen field of study. This brand new program will align with others at Commack High School offering college and career preparatory programs implementing more robust and targeted pathways that allow students to choose specific, high-level course work geared to their interests in a future career pathway.
The IB Career-related Programme will enhance the Commack School District’s current IB Diploma offering to engage more students in meaningful and innovative work. Within the framework of the IB approach to learning, students have the opportunities to build skills that will make them highly successful for what they choose to do after they graduate from Commack High School.
“This initiative will help guarantee that our high school students, instructors, and counselors can transform a unique, meaningful early college experience into sustained development in a field of study and career,” said Steven Hartman, President of the Board of Education. “Creating opportunities for our students to engage in challenging, stimulating, innovative programs like the IBCP are exemplary of what distinguishes the Commack School District and led to our high school being recognized as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence this year, and what helps ensure our graduates continue to be represented at the finest colleges and universities across the country.”
s part of their IBCP core learning, students will extend their experiences far beyond the walls of the classroom. To create a sense of inquiry, students will work on a Reflective Project where they will seek to address an ethical issue related to their field of study. This project-based approach will be guided by a professional mentor who has experience with the chosen issue. To further develop the career readiness of the student, they will complete a Service Learning component which will make them open-minded, reflective and principled individuals. Through service, students will seek to impact their communities by engaging in projects that teach them the skills of the pathway, while also improving the world around them. Ranging from the restoration of a stream, creating websites for charitable organizations and creating public service campaigns advocating for current issues, students will lead meaningful experiences that simultaneously further their career education while making a lasting impact in their local and national communities.
Preparing students to enter the world of the 21st century is a key foundation of the IBCP, therefore, students will take a two-year course called Personal and Professional Skills which will foster their development of collaboration, problem-solving and ethical decision making. Additionally, students will study a second language for both years of the program as they extend their connections to the outside world.
“This first-of-its-kind IB Career-related Programme will allow students to explore potential careers and discover a passion or interest, complete high school courses that specifically relate with their planned post-secondary courses and programs, and develop skills to prepare them for the workforce,” said Dr. Jordan Cox, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Commack School District. “This program will give our students an edge when they are applying for colleges and universities – there is no other program like this offered by any other school district on Long Island.”
The seemingly endless benefits to an innovative program like the IBCP include student exposure to advanced career and technical education and earning valuable certifications, including both the NYS CTE in Business Administration and their IBCP Certificate simultaneously. Implementing a program like IBCP takes the standard education process to a new level by incorporating real-world experiential learning with the project-based approaches of IB coursework.
The IBCP program will offer two career pathways at launch: Business Administration and STEM. Students can obtain both the NYS CTE in Business Administration and their IBCP Certificate; and a STEM pathway for students interested in the sciences, engineering and pre-med fields. These courses will incorporate real-world experiential learning with the project-based approaches of IB coursework. The District fully expects to expand the number of career pathways available in the IBCP programme each year, reaching even more students and allowing them to “try on” college and career level learning while still enrolled in high school.
The Commack Union Free School District is proud to continuously be at the forefront of cutting-edge education, providing the best opportunities for students that will benefit them throughout their lives.
March 25, 2022 eBlast
The arts are alive and thriving in Commack Schools! Whether it’s on stage or on canvas, all of our students have the opportunity to pursue their interests in the arts, whatever they may be.
Just this past weekend our high school students put on their production of the musical “Anastasia,” and on Thursday, March 17, the community’s senior citizens got a sneak preview of the event for the school’s annual senior matinee, which also featured a dinner after the performance. Additionally, our middle schoolers will be performing “The Show Must Go On” this upcoming weekend.
“These performances represent the dedicated work and talents of our theatre, art, and music students that have been on full display at our high school and middle school throughout the year,” said Mark Stuckey, Director of Art and Music for the Commack School District. “We are constantly creating, thinking, collaborating, problem-solving and striving to improve!”
This year, over 100 student musicians were honored by the Suffolk County Music Educators Association (SCMEA) All-County ensembles, Long Island String Festival Association (LISFA) ensembles, New York State Council of Administrators of Music Education (NYSCAME) ensembles, New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) All-State ensembles, and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National ensembles.
Our student artists have also been creating in the classroom, developing their skills in drawing and painting, photography, computer illustration, video-game design, sculpture and ceramics to name a few. Our students have won numerous art contests locally and state-wide, most notably from the Huntington Arts Council, SUNY Suffolk County Community College Art Department and the Suffolk County Art Leaders Association (SCALA) among many others.
Artistry combined with the written word is also celebrated in Commack Schools. For example, in one class at Burr Intermediate School, students reflected on their individual blessings as part of their weekly journaling in their “Writer’s Workshop.” Students then generated “I am Grateful For” lists, which they used to craft “I am Grateful For” poems. Combining the written word with tech, the students then used their gratitude lists in the computer lab where they engaged in creating word art. In art class, they combined all these interdisciplinary items to create beautiful and unique gratitude boxes (see photo).
These are just some of the many ways the Commack School District supports and cultivates the arts in its students, who will take these talents with them long after they graduate from our schools.
March 17, 2022 eBlast
Commack Bee Apiary
The Commack School District has partnered with Long Island University at the Marion Carll Property to create the Commack School District Apiary. The bees will arrive in April and call the Commack School District Apiary their home. We are excited to share that we have a future Master Beekeeper on staff who will assist with this initiative. Currently, the Bee Club has been preparing for the arrival of the bees, learning how to care for their unique environment, and creating the Bee Boxes in which the Queen Bee and Worker Bees will be housed. Our Facilities Department is preparing the site at Marion Carll Property located on Commack Road to welcome the bee colony. To build on this authentic experience, we are also excited to have students start planting seedlings in their classrooms. The seedlings will then be transferred to the property for bee pollination. We eagerly await our first honey harvest in the fall of 2022.
The District-wide Administrative team has been engaging in Learning Walks
throughout the schools in our District. K-12 Principals, Assistant Principals, Directors, Coordinators, and Central Office Administrators have had the opportunity to observe best practices at all levels, primary, intermediate, and secondary. Some of these best practices are related to small group instruction, working in centers, how classrooms create a sense of belonging, and supporting student independence at each grade level. We are excited to hear that our educators are engaging in high-quality professional learning communities across the District.
We look forward to continuing to provide eBlast updates to the community in the future.
The Commack Schools Board of Education
Steven Hartman, President
Justin Varughese, Vice President
William Hender, Trustee
Susan Hermer, Trustee
Gus Hueber, Trustee