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Author/Illustrator Visits Lakeside for PARP Week

Author/Illustrator Visits Lakeside for PARP Week photo

As part of the school’s Pick a Reading Partner weeklong celebration, children’s author/illustrator Dan Yaccarino visited Levy Lakeside School, where he spoke about his inspiration and path to his profession, while also sharing samples of a variety of his work.

Some of Yaccarino’s more notable books include “Doug Unplugged,” “Unlovable” and “I Am a Story.” He is also known for his work on the animated television series “Oswald” and “The Backyardigans.” 

At the end of each of three assemblies, Yaccarino answered students’ questions. He also enjoyed lunch with a group of third-graders in the school library, when it was his turn to ask the questions and learn more about these students as readers and writers. Yaccarino also signed copies of his books for his gracious hosts.

Lakeside Gets in the Game With Book Bingo

Lakeside Gets in the Game With Book Bingo photo
Lakeside Gets in the Game With Book Bingo photo 2
Lakeside Gets in the Game With Book Bingo photo 3
To kick off its “Get in the Game...Read!” themed Pick a Reading Partner week, Levy Lakeside School held a schoolwide Book Bingo game. Each class was given copies of their own unique Bingo board as books were called over the school public address system. Students played a traditional straight-line game before playing for the letter “L” for Lakeside. The game was a fun, engaging way to involve every student in recognizing different book titles and letting students work with their classmates. Winning classes were awarded with gift certificates to the book fair to choose books for their respective classrooms.

The Supe in the Hat Returns to Celebrate Seuss

The Supe in the Hat Returns to Celebrate Seuss photo
The Supe in the Hat Returns to Celebrate Seuss photo 2
The Supe in the Hat Returns to Celebrate Seuss photo 3
The Supe in the Hat Returns to Celebrate Seuss photo 4
Keeping with Birch School tradition, kindergartners were treated to a visit from a special guest during their celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 1, as the always-engaging Cat in the Hat stopped by to greet youngsters and encourage them to continue reading. 

During his visit, the Cat asked students to tell him about their favorite Dr. Seuss books, while he shared some fun facts about himself, including his favorite president – “President Garfield” – and his favorite dessert – “tuna pudding” – as well as other interesting “cat-eristics.” The Cat also read to students. 

What the surprised students didn’t know is that the Cat was actually Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dominick Palma, who annually slips on the Cat in the Hat suit to visit Birch kindergartners. 

Sound Engineers

Sound Engineers photo

Fourth-graders at Levy Lakeside School recently conducted some experiments on the power of sound, with help from a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) educator from Hofstra University.

Working in small groups, Hofstra master teacher and STEAM educator Christina Drago-Botti led students in different experiments conducted in Lakeside’s STEAM lab. Students were asked to choose from various materials to build the best sound barrier. They also attempted to use the sound of clapping their hands to move grains of salt seated on a Styrofoam cup and even strung two cups together to determine how sound travels. Drago-Botti also showed students how to measure sound using a decibel meter and shared videos that demonstrated how decibel level has the power to shatter glass – even a windshield! Pictured are students in Denise Crowley’s class learning all about sound.

Author Leaves an Impression

Author Leaves an Impression photo
During Chatterton School’s recent Pick a Reading Partner week, students and staff welcomed author/illustrator Peter Catalanotto to speak about his life and career. Mr. Catalanotto shared his creative process with students, beginning with how he finds inspiration for his work that culminates in a finished book, demonstrating basic strategies for coming up with ideas and developing them into works of literature.

Keeping with school tradition, Mr. Catalanotto’s handprint has been added to the special wall that displays the handprints of the many wonderful authors who have visited Chatterton through the years.

Sandwichathon Delivers for Hunger Relief

Sandwichathon Delivers for Hunger Relief photo

As part of their annual service learning project, approximately 75 sixth-graders, along with staff from Levy Lakeside School, dedicated time during their day to make and pack more than 3,000 cold cut sandwiches and over 550 packs of cookies to feed families in need. The sandwiches were donated to the River Fund, a mobile food pantry that fights hunger in dozens of New York City neighborhoods.

During the eighth-annual school Sandwichathon, Lakeside cafeteria resembled an assembly line of focused, philanthropic scholars and staff hustling to get these sandwiches ready for distribution. But it wasn’t just the sweat and manpower that they provided. Students and staff themselves donated turkey, cheese, ham, cold cuts and bread for the sandwiches. Local businesses also stepped up, particularly Stop & Shop of Merrick, which donated a large pallet of water, as well as cold cuts, bread, chips, muffins and sandwich bags for 1,500 lunches. Hey!cookie of Jericho which donated 840 cookies, Spiga Bakery of Bellmore, Valentino Food Market of Queens and Wonder Bread also made significant contributions. 

According to sixth-grade teacher and project coordinator Susan Molloy, a single Lakeside student came up with idea for the Sandwichathon because she wanted to do something special for the homeless on her birthday. Other Lakeside students heard about her idea and were inspired to help out, leading to a tradition that has fed thousands of homeless people. 

“Given the size of the school’s student body, we decided to create our own Sandwichathon project,” Molloy said. “Each year the effort grows and donations increase, giving more of our students the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.” 

Dancing With the Birch Stars

Dancing With the Birch Stars photo
Dancing With the Birch Stars photo 2
Dancing With the Birch Stars photo 3
Birch School students recently went dancing with the stars. This wasn’t an appearance on the popular network television dance show, but rather a chance for them to bring a star of their own to dance, all for a good cause. 

The Birch PTA hosted a special theater residency dance, “Dancing With the Stars of Birch’s ‘Annie Jr.’” The voluntary event took place in the Birch School auditorium on a recent Friday evening.  Proceeds from the dance benefited the Birch theater residency.

Birch students could attend one of three grade-appropriate dance sessions. K-2 students were afforded the opportunity to invite a star parent or guardian. Cast members of the school’s upcoming theater residency production of “Annie Jr.”  also served as stars for the evening and even performed a little preview of their upcoming production. 

“Annie Jr.” will take place at the Birch auditorium on March 28 at 7 p.m. and March 29 at 4:30 p.m. Lesley Wade directs; Robert Normandeau is the musical director. Brandi Fernandez and Marianna Psakis chair the Birch theater residency, which consists of more than 60 cast and crew members. Thanks to all who participated in the dance!

Lakeside Lions to the Rescue

Lakeside Lions to the Rescue photo
Lakeside Lions to the Rescue photo 2
Lakeside Lions to the Rescue photo 3
Lakeside Lions to the Rescue photo 4
Bobbi and the Strays is a local animal shelter that takes care of cats and dogs until they can find their forever homes. Bobbi and the Strays has been known to travel to other parts of the United States to rescue animals who are in danger, especially during natural disasters such as hurricanes and wild fires. This shelter will never put down an animal. Some of its residents have lived there for years waiting to be adopted.  

The Lakeside Student Council Crew knew how great a need there was at Bobbi and the Strays, so they held a collection for a week and a half and the donations came pouring in. They were able to collect 16 huge garbage bags filled with old towels, blankets and sheets, which are used to bathe and keep the animals comfortable while waiting for their forever homes. 

In addition, our volunteer mamas also dropped off eight boxes of food, treats, collars, leashes and toys. The volunteers at Bobbi and the Strays were blown out of the water by the generosity of the Lakeside Family! The best part is that they didn’t know about the collection, so everything was a surprise to them! We couldn’t have been happier to help such a worthy charity. 

Student Council mamas Loretta Watstein and Terri Lieberman are pictured delivering the donations.
If you are interested in adopting or volunteering your time, you can contact Bobbi and the Strays, 2 Rider Place, Freeport, New York, at (516) 378-4340. 

Submitted by Shelby W. 


Community Members Share Their Love of Reading

Community Members Share Their Love of Reading photo

As part of its Parents as Reading Partners celebration, Birch School held a Community Read Aloud, welcoming a special guest reader to each classroom. Thank you to all of the readers, as well Birch library media specialist Vanessa Schroeder and the Lifelong Readers Committee for coordinating this special event. Additional thanks to all of the parents for reading with your children at home.

During PARP, students log minutes that they have read at home, play word games, welcome guest readers and presenters, and visit the Merrick Library, among other reading-related activities. Birch also celebrated World Read Aloud Day, which calls global attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories. Students participated by holding special reading events, including Skyping with authors and reading with friends.

“My kids do enjoy reading, and we do enjoy playing games together, but the past two weeks have reinvigorated the time we spend together and took it up a notch,” said one Birch father of three. 

Birch School’s two-week PARP celebration kicked off and closed with Prismatic Magic’s Laser Reader show, which coincided with the theme, “Birch Readers Are Laser-Focused.” The show uses laser illustrations to show students how to use the mind’s eye to imagine places, characters and ideas.

“PARP is always a fun and exciting time at Birch, and it’s terrific to hear when it has had an impact on families,” Birch Principal Kerri Galante said. “We hope all Birch families enjoyed these PARP weeks.”

2019 Summer Programs Update


We have received contractor bids for the heating, air conditioning and classroom bathroom work that will occur in each of our three schools this summer.  In the next few weeks, we will be vetting the bids and awarding the contracts.  As a result of this construction, the summer recreation program and summer academic intervention program cannot be run in any of our schools.

Summer Programs

When I last wrote you, the North Merrick and North Bellmore School Districts indicated that they would be able to serve Merrick students in their summer programs.  At this time, the North Bellmore School District is not sure of the form their summer program will adopt and therefore may not be able to serve our students. 

North Merrick is pleased to invite our students to join them. North Merrick Schools summer program is scheduled to operate on weekdays from July 1 to July 26, 2019. The hours will be 9 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. (building to be determined).  The North Merrick School District is expected to release registration materials before the February recess.  We will notify you when the materials are available (I request that you do not contact North Merrick until that time).

In addition, the Friedberg JCC is developing a summer recreation program for Merrick students that will occur at a location within the Merrick community.  This program is expected to start in early July.  Preliminary planning suggests that this program will provide a six-week session and will run five hours or more a day.  Details are also expected to be available before the February recess.

Finally, we are exploring our ability to conduct a summer academic intervention program at the Merrick Public Library.  For the summer of 2019, this program would be a twice weekly, small group, tutorial session for students requiring summer academic support.  More details to follow.
Construction will be a significant inconvenience, but the expected benefits will be well worth it for our students, staff and community members.

Dominick Palma, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Laser-Focused Readers

Laser-Focused Readers photo

Birch School students were thrilled by Prismatic Magic’s Laser Reader show, which served as the kickoff to this year’s Pick A Reading Partner (PARP) event. The theme for Birch PARP this year is “Birch Readers Are Laser-Focused.”  During the two-week event, students are logging minutes that they have read, playing word games and visiting the Merrick Library with a partner from home.

Prismatic Magic’s Laser Reader show uses laser illustrations to show young readers how to use the mind’s eye to imagine places, characters and ideas. You can get a glimpse of the Birch show here.


A Journey Through Time…at School

A Journey Through Time photo

For a day, Birch fourth-graders took a journey back in time. Thanks to the Journeys Into American Indian Territory program, students learned all about local tribes from the Northeast Woodlands territory. The Journeys program brought a traveling interactive museum to the school containing over 70 artifacts. Students enjoyed Native American games, songs, dances and even pottery. They also walked through a lifesized longhouse and tried on Native American garb.

Camping With a Good Book

Camping With a Good Book photo

Chatterton School recently transformed its gymnasium into a campsite for the annual PARP (Pick a Reading Partner) kickoff assembly. Every year, each Merrick school designates one to two weeks to celebrate PARP and promote reading in and out of school through a variety of fun and engaging activities. This year’s theme at Chatterton is “Camp Out With a Good Book.”

Principal Dana Bermas and Assistant Principal Michael DeLuca wore park ranger caps as they led the schoolwide assembly that accented the joy of reading. Students wore green and brown camouflage. Led by three faculty members, Dr. Nasto, Dr. Curtis and Dr. Green, older students guided younger in some favorite campfire songs around an artificial, but authentic-looking, campfire set up in the middle of the gym. There was also a read-aloud of the book “Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping,” and technology teacher Traci Colfer prepared a fun camping video that was met with many laughs!

Activities throughout Chatterton’s PARP celebration include visits from representatives of the Tackapausha Habitat Museum, random Drop Everything and Read callouts, guest readers from the community, a visit and reading from author Peter Catalanotto, a Bingo for Books event, pajama day, ‘campfire’ readings and more. 

Chatterton’s PARP celebration runs through mid-January. Birch School celebrates PARP in late January-early February. Levy Lakeside will hold its PARP celebration in March. Happy reading!

Winter Newsletter Now Available


Holocaust Survivor Preaches Tolerance, Positivity

Holocaust Survivor Preaches Tolerance, Positivity photo

Chatterton School was pleased to have all the school’s fifth- and sixth-grade students meet with Marion Blumenthal Lazan, a Holocaust survivor and co-author of the book “Four Perfect Pebbles.” Lazan provided her firsthand account of the Holocaust, which is also the subject of her book. During her presentation she stressed the importance of tolerance and denounced stereotyping people based on religious belief, color, race or national origin. She encouraged students to always think positively and use their inner strength when overcoming adversity.

Special thanks to the Chatterton PTA Cultural Arts Program for supporting this important program for students.

Recreating a Historical Broadcast

Recreating a Historical Broadcast

Fifth-graders at Chatterton School recently recreated history with their annual radio show rebroadcast of the H.G. Wells novel “The War of the Worlds.” Under the direction of the school’s music teacher Dr. Richard Nasto, students learned about the story, the Oct. 30, 1938, broadcast delivered by Orson Welles over the CBS radio network and the news debacle that followed.

Students took an edited script of the original Mercury Theatre broadcast and have been recording it in step with the original broadcast. They also have been adding musical performances as interludes and creating sound effects where appropriate through the [Patrick] Foley technique of using inanimate objects and other resources at their disposal. 

Facilities Update

Science 1

February Facilities Report 

Chatterton School
Work on the Chatterton School addition continues as the site is being prepared for construction. The district general contractor for the addition recently removed an abandoned drainage pool and backfilled this area with approved fill.  The site for the new addition has been excavated down to virgin soil . All excavated fill has been tested and is in compliance with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation standards. An abandoned drainage pool was also removed from the area and backfilled with DEC approved fill.  
The district’s environmental firm monitored the air at the site and reported that no dust or particulate matter entered the building while soil was being moved.  Blankets have been installed over the foundation footprint and the contractor will use a ground warmer in order to begin pouring footings and foundations as the weather permits. Inclement weather and cold temperatures have slowed progress to this point.
The masonry contractor has also been installing new metal panels above the south windows of Chatterton’s all-purpose room.

Restroom and HVAC Systems
Bids have been awarded for air conditioning and classroom restroom renovations at Birch, Lakeside and Chatterton schools. 

Districtwide Telephone System
CORE BTS has installed classroom telephones and identified various locations where data drops are required. Installation of these drops is underway. Once completed, the remaining phones will be installed and once completed, the district will begin switching over to the new system.

snake image

January Facilities Report

Chatterton Masonry Work
All major sitework at Chatterton School, including masonry work in the front of the building, has been completed. The masonry contractor recently installed the roof hatch and gravel stop, and the safety bridge at the front entrance has been removed. The mason will apply a third coat of finish on the cast stones once temperatures rise to the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines.  

Chatterton Addition
Excavation for the construction of a major classroom addition at Chatterton began in late December. The general contractor has installed the required walls to provide emergency egress for nearby classroom (19) and a wall prohibiting access to the construction area located to the north exit doors in the 40s corridor. 

Sewer connections and roof drain connections were completed over the holiday break. A new line was connected to a previously broken line. In total, 20 drain pools have been installed (as required by Nassau County based on the new and existing space). Five drain pools that were either filled. abandoned or were serving as roof drains were removed.

Exterior filters for classroom unit ventilators have been ordered and are expected to arrive by mid-January, at which time installation will begin.
Further major construction at Chatterton will be limited until the forecasted temperatures are well above freezing.

New Telephone System
Classroom telephone installation is underway and all three schools will be completed by mid-January. Once classroom phone systems are complete, various school offices will be addressed.

Restrooms and HVAC Systems
Contract documents for air conditioning systems and classroom restroom renovations at all three school buildings have been posted for contractors. Bids are due Jan. 25. 


November/December Facilities Update

Chatterton Field and Sitework
At Chatterton School, major sitework projects have been completed and minor punch list items are currently being addressed to close out this portion of the work there. 

The Chatterton field has been regraded. The masonry contractor has installed parapet metal coping which the architect called to be replaced. Replacement of the roof hatch has also been completed. The contractor has restored the eagle above the main entrance and necessary repairs to the entrance are being made, including installation of new stone. The safety bridge will remain at the Chatterton front entrance until all masonry restoration is completed.

Chatterton Addition
The bid opening for the Chatterton addition was held on Nov. 1, 2018. Bids have been accepted and vendors are in place for all four major components of the addition (general contractor, HVAC, plumbing and electrical contractors). Initially, the district’s attorney notified the low bidders for plumbing and electrical that their bids were not complete and therefore they were disqualified.

Metal exterior panels for the all-purpose room are scheduled for delivery within days and the contractor has begun prep work for their installation.

Temporary construction fencing is being erected over the next few weeks in the area of the new addition and in the rear of the property to accommodate construction vehicles.  Excavation is expected to begin shortly. 

The district retained the services of environmental consultants JC Broderick & Associates to perform soil analysis in the area where the new addition will be constructed and where drainage pools will be installed. The analysis ensured that there were no hazardous contaminants in accordance with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation criteria for permissible levels of contaminants. Schools have the same criteria as residential use. None of the results pertaining to Chatterton exceed permissible residential use levels, and in fact are well below. 

According to DEC standards, any excess soil from the project that must be removed from the site must be classified as unrestricted use  (by raising of livestock) or otherwise subject to a disposal fee. One pesticide was found to be slightly above the unrestricted level but well below the permissible residential use level. The architect had included an allowance for any disposal cost incurred in the bid documents. Soil tested where the drainage pools will be located has been categorized as unrestricted, and will not require an extra expense.

Once the addition project commences, JC Broderick will be onsite performing air monitoring during the foundation excavation to ensure that students and staff are not affected by any dust developing from the construction. Once the district is satisfied that the excavation will not cause a concern, mason block work will commence. Air monitoring will continue during foundation construction. A filter will be placed on the exterior to the air intake for the unit ventilator units to address any potential concerns.

The general contractor and plumber are also working together to relocate existing underground sanitary lines identified in the area of the addition.

Telephone System (districtwide)
New telephone cabling has been installed in most district locations. Additional cables will be installed in several locations at Birch and Chatterton (areas have been identified). The contractor will be providing a schedule shortly. Data collection is complete and training is underway in anticipation of the new phone system rollout. New phones are being inventoried in preparation for installation.


October Facilities Update

Chatterton School:
Chatterton School’s new playground and basketball court have officially opened to students! Playground equipment and the rubber surface installation were recently completed and cleared for use following inspection. The color coating for the blacktop area around the playground as well as the basketball court surface were also recently completed. 

Final installation of equipment was delayed due to some parts that were not delivered in the original shipment of equipment. Once this was realized, the manufacturer’s representative sent the missing parts via overnight delivery. Three new benches were also installed at the playground. 

A safety bridge remains at Chatterton’s front entrance until stone finishes are completed. This will provide a uniform appearance for the cast stone surrounding the school entranceway. A masonry company is also scheduled to inspect the north and east side of the school’s gymnasium to repair and fortify the area to stop and prevent the infiltration of water. 

Bids have been advertised for the Chatterton building addition project, with the official opening of bids scheduled for Nov. 1, 2018.

Districtwide (Phone Systems):
New cabling will also be  installed throughout the district buildings for greater telephone access. Levy Lakeside has already been inspected and locations for new lines have been identified to ensure all areas of the building have telephone access. Merrick maintenance staff members have installed telephone mounting boxes and have confirmed all areas of Lakeside are covered. An internal inspection is also being conducted at Chatterton and Birch to arrive at solutions for uncovered areas in those buildings. Much of the equipment for these upgrades have been received by the district.




Ian the Violinist