News Around The District
All about dads on ‘Dads Take Your Child to School Day’Posted by Alicia Smith on 9/19/2019 10:15:00 AM
The cafeteria at the Alice E. Grady Elementary School was just about overflowing as dads and caregivers and their sons and daughters filed in. They each grabbed a bite to eat and spent time chatting with fellow families and enjoying one another’s company.
The fathers and special adults of students at Grady and Carl L. Dixson Primary School were cordially invited to participate in the ‘Dads Take Your Child to School Day’ on Sept. 17. Many of them graciously accepted the invitation.
“I’m having breakfast with my son. We were both excited,” said father Chris Anderson, who was there with his second grader, Jeremiah.
Since its inception, the national ‘Dad Take Your Kids to School’ program has become part of school districts events throughout the country. Elmsford has been participating for several years.
Guests were greeted by Superintendent of Schools, Marc Baiocco and Grady Principal Andrea Hamilton.
“See you later! Have a good day,” said one dad to his daughter as she headed to her classroom to start her day after breakfast.
“When I got the invitation, I said ‘yes, let’s go have some fun, do something different,’” father Jason Reynolds said. He was at Grady with his fourth-grader, Ethan.
Naeem Price and his son, Hasani, who is in fourth grade, not only stopped in to enjoy the event, but Mr. Price was kind enough to bring along two of his son’s friends as well.
“I’m a coach and I’m a father, so I said why not,” Mr. Price said. “This is awesome.”
At Dixson, the dads were also out in force.
They arrived at the school and received a certificate signed by their son or daughter. They also had their photo taken as a special memento.
Hunger Awareness day embraced across the districtPosted by Alicia Smith on 9/18/2019 8:30:00 AM
The entire school community came out to recognize Hunger Awareness Day on September 12. Students and staff dressed in orange and some students engaged in activities to further learn about and support the cause.
At the Carl L. Dixson Primary School students focused on healthy eating habits.
The gymnasium where students gathered took on an orange hue, reflecting the amount of orange colored clothing students and staff were wearing. September is Hunger Action month, and orange is the color adopted to reflect hunger awareness.
Physical Education teacher Kevin Tiernan led students in a morning activity to discuss healthy eating habits. The conversation discussed how not everyone is fortunate to have enough food and encouraged students to be active and make healthy food choices for themselves.
Students learned what a day of eating should look like. Mr. Tiernan discussed with them how much fruit and vegetables they should eat, along with whole grains, protein and dairy. He asked them to imagine a plate with several pieces of pie on it. Each slice of pie represented a portion of healthy options they should be eating each day. A large slice was made up of fruits and vegetables and another large slice was for whole grains. A smaller portion was for protein, another smaller one for dairy. The smallest slice was left for sugary foods likes soda and “gummy bears and lollipops,” as one student said.
Students further reflected on good things to eat when they got to decorate their own plate with healthy foods they personally enjoyed. Some students used markers and crayons to draw bananas, blueberries, cherries and other healthy foods on a paper plate. Others selected their favorites from images and glued them on their plates.
School Nurse Roberta Bourke shared a new song with students. As they got ready for their hands-on activity she sang “The Rainbow Song.”
“Eat healthy foods! Eat healthy foods! Follow the rainbow, follow the rainbow! Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, eat healthy foods!”
AHHS students participate in 9/11 memorial ceremonyPosted by Alicia Smith on 9/13/2019 2:05:00 PM
Like so many others around the country, residents and officials in Westchester County took time on Sept. 11 to remember the events, and most importantly, the people lost on that fateful day eighteen years ago.
County executives, religious leaders, the public and friends and family of the deceased gathered at the Kensico Dam in Valhalla near the 9/11 memorial statue called “The Rising.” Joining them were a select group of students from Alexander Hamilton High School.
They had the honor of being part of the procession, which also included the Westchester County Police Department Ceremonial Unit Color Guard, and the Pipes and Drums of the Police Emerald Society of Westchester County. The students led those gathered in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Senior Chris Yeosock sang the national anthem.
“It’s a nice experience that we could come down here and represent our school and be a part of the ceremony,” Chris said following the event. “We not only recognized their death, but celebrated their life,” he said of those who perished.
The ceremony included a laying of a wreath, remarks from local dignitaries, and prayers. The names of the Westchester County residents who died on Sept. 11, 2001 were read, along with names of 21 individuals who have died from 9/11-related illnesses. A memorial for these individuals is being planned.
“They were humans, like us,” County Executive George Latimer said during the ceremony. “That is what we are all doing today, remembering those people forever.”
District develops new strategic plan for continued successPosted by Alicia Smith on 9/12/2019 3:00:00 PM
The summer was busy for a committee of school administrators, teachers, staff and volunteers from the community. The group spent the end of the summer looking ahead and setting goals for the next three years.
During a three-day seminar, teachers, staff, administrators, students and parents met to develop a new strategic plan. The meetings were facilitated by Sean Brady of Prism Decision Systems. Together, the stakeholders reviewed material about the district and strategized on how best to improve outcomes.
Each day, the different volunteer groups reviewed material about the district, as well as each individual school. They discussed what strategies and procedures were necessary to continue the impressive success that had already been achieved by students in terms of test scores and graduation rates.
There were also discussions that focused on goals that the district had set to educate the whole child, their social and emotional well-being, and to ensure that each student’s experience in the district is equitable.
“The goals of our strategic planning meetings are to examine progress made and to perform a needs assessment for future work by examining the previous plan and year's experiences,” Superintendent Marc Baiocco said. “We then develop relative importance to achieving the vision developed from the examination of the previous year. Finally, the participants identify strategies as old or as new and update the plan accordingly.”
New year brings new faces to the districtPosted by Alicia Smith on 9/6/2019 8:10:00 AM
Students were not the only ones who looked forward to a new school year. Several new staff members were just as eager to get into the schools and classrooms and start a new chapter in their careers.
This school year, the Elmsford Union Free School District welcomed five new administrators and teachers and a new janitorial staff member.
Jessica Maracallo is the new assistant principal at Alexander Hamilton High School. She has 17 years of experience in education.
Antoinette Collica is a new special education teacher at Alice E. Grady Elementary School. She previously worked as a special education teacher in the Bronx. Joining her are library media specialist Cathy Boden, who has a background in special education and is currently working on her master’s degree in library media science; and Stephanie Gmeiner who will be at the head of the class as a leave replacement teacher for fourth grade. Finally, new second-grade teacher Andrea Nunez will bring a unique perspective, having started her educational journey as a pre-k student in the district and graduated from AHHS.
The district also welcomes cleaner and groundskeeper Rob Meitrott.
Several of the new staff members participated in the New Employee Academy held on August 26.
During the special session, they met school administrators and learned more about the district’s goals as outlined in the new strategic plan.
Superintendent of Schools Marc Baiocco, addressed the new employees.
“I really believe in the speed of trust. You are being hired to do a job and I trust you to do your job. And the second thing is, that we are civil servants that are here to serve a community, and that we never forget that,” he said. “That each and every day we work hard to make sure we are providing the best education for the students we serve.”
“You are coming in to a district that is very proud of our accomplishments of making great gains in terms of support of one another as we continue to grow,” Andrea Hamilton, the new principal at Grady said.
“You are in a really, really great place,” AHHS Principal Joseph Engelhardt told them.
It was a beautiful day to start a new school yearPosted by Alicia Smith on 9/5/2019 8:00:00 AM
The sun shone brightly on the morning of Sept. 3, bringing with it a sense of excitement to the educational community in Elmsford. It was the start of a brand new school year!
Students at Alexander Hamilton Junior/Senior High School began the back-to-school procession around 7:45 a.m.
They were greeted with smiles and high-fives by Superintendent of Schools Marc Baiocco and Assistant Superintendent of Business, Linda Carlin. Members of the Elmsford Police Department helped direct traffic, from pedestrians to parents dropping off their children to buses bringing in students.
Not too much later, a slow parade of buses began to arrive at the Alice E. Grady Elementary School.There was already a line of parents and students waiting to get into the building by the time Dr. Baiocco made his way over to the school to greet the elementary students. They were soon joined by more students and parents.
One new Grady student hopped from one foot to another as she told the superintendent she was so excited to be at her new school after having been a student at the Carl L. Dixson Primary School.
There were other students who were new to the school district and were meeting classmates and teachers for the first time.
New Grady Principal, Dr. Andrea Hamilton, met students and parents in the cafeteria and reassured them that the teachers would be there soon to escort students to their classrooms, and that their children were in good hands.
Veteran students at Dixson — those going into first grade — seemed to know what was expected as they too were greeted by their principal, staff and the superintendent. The older students met in the playground area, arranging themselves into groups according to their class. The pre-kindergarten students sat stoically on the school steps where they were welcomed by their teachers. They also received reassuring hugs and encouraging words from their parents at what is the very beginning of their educational journey.
“Today is one of those special days,” Dixson Principal Jeffrey Olender told parents. He added the goal for the day was to keep the students from shedding tears, but joked he was not sure he could prevent parents from shedding a tear or two.
As students filed into the school, several waved to their parents who took their time leaving the school grounds.
Superintendent’s Conference Day sets the tone for new yearPosted by Alicia Smith on 9/3/2019 12:00:00 PM
The parking lot outside of Alexander Hamilton High School was filling up, and school was not even in session. Days before students arrived, teachers and staff headed back to school for the annual Superintendent’s Conference Day.
“I love this morning. Each and every year I feel we get to the point where the summer has ended and we accept it,” Dr. Marc Baiocco said as he welcomed back teachers and staff. “It’s going to be a great school year.”
There was much to celebrate as Dr. Baiocco informed those gathered that this year the district had a 97 percent graduation rate. In addition, there was significant improvement among students on test scores, goals which were met and special partnerships with the community were cemented with plans to expand.
The new strategic plan set goals for the district and will not only incorporate learning, but continue to emphasize assisting the whole child, providing a safe learning environment and further developing community partnerships. Additionally, the district will work on an equity initiative for students.
“We have been so purposeful with our strategic plan,” Dr. Baiocco said.
The superintendent suggested staff view the plan as a living document and keep it in a place where they can view it regularly and be reminded of the district goals.
Success came in many forms last year, including significant improvements at the Carl L. Dixson Primary School in the area of literacy. The staff at the school were praised for their work in making that happen.
Student success was not all that was celebrated. Several staff members were recognized for their many years of service. Service Awards were given to Luis “Carlos” Dorado, Jeannette Veneziano (LaMarca) and Patricia Martucci for 15 years in the district. Those who have reached 20 years included Keith Egan, Jeffrey Hopper, Harry Soloway and Stephanie Woltmann. Recognition for 25 Years went to Debra Barbosa, Dr. Pamela Davis and Andrew Watson. Both Laurie Abbate and James Aiello were honored for 30 years of service. Perfect Attendance honors went to Dr. Marc Baiocco, Christopher Funke, Jeffrey Olender and MaryBeth Swanson.
Teachers of the Year included Kerry Young, Anthony Carolini and James Aiello.
The superintendent also introduced new staff to the district. Among them are Jessica Maracallo, the new assistant principal at Alexander Hamilton High School, Special Education teacher Antoinette Collica, second-grade teacher Andrea Nunez, Library Media Specialist Cathy Boden and leave replacement Stephanie Gmeiner, all at the Alice E. Grady Elementary School. Rob Meitrott joins the groundskeeping crew.
Also new this year are refurbished steps leading into the high school, which also has a freshly painted cupola. New LED lights were installed at Grady and the high school, and fresh paint was a part of the summer work at Dixson.
A goal for the school year, Dr. Baiocco emphasized, was to promote equity. To do that, he encouraged staff to be mindful of three things — creating awareness, empowerment and communication.
“I know that each and every one of you is inspirational, and I encourage you as we move forward into this school year to continue to inspire students,” the superintendent said.
Dr. Andrea Hamilton-Singh holds new post in the districtPosted by Brian Howard on 8/29/2019 1:30:00 PM
Students at Alice E. Grady Elementary School will be greeted by a new face when school starts on September 3. New Principal Andrea Hamilton will be there to say hello and welcome them to another year of learning.
Families with older children may recognize Dr. Hamilton as she previously held the post as assistant principal at Alexander Hamilton High School.
“My journey has been filled with opportunities to positively affect the lives of children,” the new principal said. “I am passionate about children.”
Prior to coming to the Elmsford Union Free School District in 2010, Dr. Hamilton was an elementary school teacher and later a guidance counselor, assistant principal and house principal.
From the time she was a child, Dr. Hamilton said she knew she would be an educator.
“I was the child who was always playing school,” she said. “I’ve always loved children. I knew the profession of education was for me."
The new principal said the transition from working with teenagers to younger children and adolescents is an easy change for her to make.
“Children are children,” she said. “I am still going to nurture them the way I did at the high school.”
“My blessing is patience,” she continued. “I believe in maintaining positive relationships, in loving, instilling kindness and motivation.”
The one change she may make, she joked, is perhaps wearing lower-heeled shoes rather than her signature footwear so as to not tower over her students.
With just a few days left of the summer break, Dr. Hamilton said she could not wait to see the children’s faces on the first day of school.
“I am excited,” she said. “These are my children now. I have a new group of students, I will have an opportunity to be a part of their lives.”
In addition, she will have an opportunity to be actively involved in the curriculum and ensuring her students have a positive educational experience.
“It sets the tone for the future. I want them to love school, I want teachers to be inspired, and I encourage them to take risks,” Dr. Hamilton said.
New donated back-to-school backpacks brighten students’ dayPosted by Alicia Smith on 8/26/2019 4:00:00 PM
Ready or not the first day of school is fast approaching and families are busy squeezing in some last minute summer fun among the annual ritual of getting ready for a new school year.
Part of the preparation includes stocking up on school supplies. This year the effort was made easier for families at the Carl L. Dixson Primary School.
Thanks to a new partnership between the Elmsford Police Department and the Heavenly Productions Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Armonk, NY, every student in the Pre-K through first grade school received a free backpack and notebook. The generosity did not end there, as the organization also provided the school with 60 new books for its library and a cache of school supplies for the classrooms including pencils, pens, crayons, art supplies and more.
Excited students and their parents gathered in the Dixson gym on a warm summer day to collect their new backpacks. Students were able to choose from a variety of colors and were also given a new composition notebook. Members of the EPD were on hand to pass backpacks out, along with school administrators and members of the board of education. Board members from the foundation also lent a hand. In a matter of minutes, each student walked out of the school building with a brand new pack and a smile on their face.
“This is a special event. In my experience it really is only something that happens in Elmsford,” Dixson Principal Jeffrey Olender told those gathered. “It’s an event that only happens when you have partnerships that are community based.”
Dr. Kathy Reilly Fallon, founder and chair of Heavenly Productions Foundation, said Elmsford police officer Doug Ramirez, who is also a trustee on the board of education, contacted her organization which is known for their Backpack Outreach program. They were only too happy to help.
“To see the looks on the kids’ faces, that is what makes it all worthwhile,” Dr. Fallon said. “The hope is it gets people off to the right foot.”
“This is absolutely amazing,” Superintendent Dr. Marc Baiocco said.
The foundation was begun in 2003 and since that time has donated 11,300 backpacks to children throughout the region and even as far away as Jamaica and Africa.
AHHS graduates celebrate accomplishments, communityPosted by Alicia Smith on 6/27/2019 2:00:00 PM
Graduation for the Alexander Hamilton High School Class of 2019 was held at the Westchester Broadway Theater, an appropriate venue, as the graduates were the stars of the show.
As the evening of June 24 went on, a story unfolded, told by school administrators and student speakers. Each offered encouragement to the graduates to follow their dreams, celebrate success and remember the community that helped them get here.
In recalling what makes this particular class stand out in his mind, AHHS Principal Joseph Engelhardt told the audience it was the class’ commitment to service. Each year, Mr. Engelhardt said, students volunteered their time outside of school — working with younger students and volunteering at local hospitals, libraries and nature center.
“During this time the students are not only giving back to their community but are discovering passions that they may not have known existed before, all while learning important skills,” Mr. Engelhardt said.
“As you move on from Hamilton and spread your wings even wider, I encourage you to find and chase down your passion, love what you do each day, seek the knowledge you need to be successful,” he said. “Class of 2019, you are the now. We cannot wait to hear about all the success that awaits you.”
Salutatorian Sarah Corp said she knew she would cry at the memories if she read the messages classmates wrote in her yearbook.
“Not only would I miss the overwhelmingly warm atmosphere of support encouragement and love, fostered by faculty and staff who went out of their way to enable our success and the student body that proved to be more than classmates but family,” she said.
“I knew I would miss the smiles, laughs and chaos in the hallway, the fellowship and community in the lunch room and the numerous opportunities to grow and bloom in the classroom. These are all memories that we will carry with us as we go out in the world and discover the purpose life has in store for all of us.”
Not all of her tears reflected a feeling of sadness; some were tears of joy.
“I cried because I’m happy,” Sarah said. “I am happy because the memories we made at Hamilton, with all the ups and downs, were truly some of the best times of our lives and I am so grateful for them and for all of you who shared them with me. Not only am I happy, but I am excited too. Excited because I know that our futures are bright, our success is limitless.”
The ceremony included presenting several students with scholarships, many that were made possible through the generosity of local businesses, residents and organizations. The scholarships presented this evening amounted to almost $30,000 for students.
Student Government President Daniel Zeppieri, was not only the recipient of the Village of Elmsford Mayor’s Award & Scholarship, but was also one of the speakers at the ceremony.
“Hamilton has gifted us with leadership skills, friendships that will last forever and of course free therapy sessions from our teachers,” Daniel said. “We are much more than just students at Hamilton. We were one big, crazy family.”
“I ask the Class of 2019 to hold Elmsford in such high regard that when people ask where you are from you do not simply reply with some little, small village, but you reply ‘I am from a place where people loved us unconditionally and helped us grow into the people we are today,’” he encouraged.
Valedictorian Toni Marie Perilli had promised she’d have some Disney magic in her address to her classmates and she delivered.
Quoting Walt Disney, Toni said “’All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.’”
“Each of us has a dream, a heart’s-desire. It calls to us. And when we are brave enough to listen and bold enough to pursue that dream, it will lead us on to a journey to discover who we are meant to be. All we have to do is look into our hearts and unlock the magic within.”
Toni is the third generation in her family to attend AHHS, and admitted it was not the place she expected to go.
“Yet now I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else,” she said. “This school is truly a diamond in the rough filled with amazing opportunities, committed educators and an environment that can’t be found anywhere else.”
She continued, “It’s rare to find a place that is more than just classmates and teachers. It is a family. It will always be a part of me, and I am thankful for that.”
In addition to congratulating the Class of 2019, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marc Baiocco, in his address, echoed the commitment the class had to community service in his address. He said they delivered 150 baskets to needy families for the holidays, they helped clean-up Elmsford, donated items to help pets, tutored younger students and more.
“The graduates here before you this evening I can truly call leaders,” Dr. Baiocco said.
After declaring that the students had met all the state requirements for graduation, the graduates flipped their tassel from the right to the left, a gesture that officially cemented that they had graduated.
The procession then began for one final tradition to be upheld. When called, each student stepped to center stage to receive their diploma as their families, teachers and classmates cheered them on.
- All about dads on ‘Dads Take Your Child to School Day’
- Hunger Awareness day embraced across the district
- AHHS students participate in 9/11 memorial ceremony
- District develops new strategic plan for continued success
- New year brings new faces to the district
- It was a beautiful day to start a new school year
- Superintendent’s Conference Day sets the tone for new year