Science Fiction Story Earns National Silver Medal

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards recognized John Jay High School freshman Kaley Mamo for her exceptional writing.

Mamo’s science fiction/fantasy piece, “Where Sea Meets Sky,” earned her a Silver Medal in the national competition. The more than 255,000 submitted pieces of art and writing are judged by artistic and literary professionals from around the country, with the awards presented by nonprofit organization The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Congratulations to Kaley on her award.

Elementary Students Rally to Help Others

After a successful month of fun reading activities and challenges, elementary students are learning the results of some of the charitable efforts related to their Parents As Reading Partners initiatives.

Increase Miller, Katonah and Meadow Pond elementary schools each held book drives to share their love of reading with others.

At Increase Miller and Meadow Pond, the efforts were organized through local non-profit organization Front of the Class. The two schools collected approximately 1,500 lightly used books to donate to the Lansingburgh Central School District in Troy, New York.

“The kids and their families are surprised elementary schools in a community less than two hours away don’t have reading areas like we are fortunate to have in our KLSD elementary schools,” said Front of the Class President Bill McCormick. “Front of the Class is grateful for the support of the KLSD and the generosity of its families in helping us complete this project. Their book donations will help pass on the gift of reading to kids in Troy for many years to come.”

One Meadow Pond student said as he collected books for the drive, “I know they will like this one because it’s one of my favorites.”

Increase Miller students also participated in the Heifer International Read to Feed initiative, raising $6,209.58 through sponsors of the students’ reading. The funds raised through the Read to Feed East Africa Dairy Project program were also matched, bringing the school’s total to $8,504.16. The money will help send girls to school in Africa, as well as purchase farm animals to help families earn a better income.

Grease is the Word

John Jay High School Theatre Workshop brought the well-known musical “Grease” to life in March.

The spring musical told the story of love-struck high school seniors Sandy Olsen and Danny Zuko, who after a summer fling, are surprised to see each other in the fall after Olsen transfer to Zuko’s high school. After a series of misunderstandings, their relationship manages to survive and triumphs in the end after Olsen undergoes a major makeover.

Congratulations to the cast and crew for all their hard work on another wonderful production!

KLSD Family University 20th Anniversary


Strong Science Olympiad Showing

John Jay Middle School’s Science Olympiad team impressed with strong performances across multiple categories during a March competition at Scarsdale Middle School. The team placed sixth overall among the 25 regional teams competing and received high marks and medals in the Anatomy, Dynamic Planet, Green Generation, Invasive Species, Meteorology and Wheeled Vehicle categories.

“The students performed very well, and we are very proud of them,” said advisor Tina Russo.

Eighth-graders Ashkay Amin and James Chen placed first in Dynamic Planet’s oceanography event.

“We felt like we did well, but we didn’t know we would do that well,” said Amin.

The duo is looking forward to competing in Science Olympiad events at John Jay High School next year. Chen said the team’s dedication to studying the designated topics ahead of the competition contributed to the success. He advised younger students to adopt similar techniques if they hope to compete in Science Olympiad.

“Really read the syllabus and know the topics,” he said. “Maps and diagrams, if they are applicable to the event, are very helpful.”

A Look at Life in Kenya

Increase Miller Elementary School third-graders got a taste of what life is like for Kenyan natives through presenter David Johnson’s Walk Through East Africa program.

Johnson shared a slideshow detailing his many trips to Kenya over the past 40 years, pointing out differences between the lifestyles of those living in East Africa and students in Westchester.

“You can encounter elephants and hyenas in Africa,” he said, “not like the deer walking around here.”

He also addressed the differences in transportation, urging students to “appreciate [their] school bus” as he shared a photograph of students crammed into a small van.

“If you own a bike in Africa, you are considered middle class,” he said.

He also showed students a number of items from his travels, including clothing, musical instruments and utensils. Johnson and his family have made several visits to Africa to help install sources of water in villages.

“I go there to help them improve their health and live better,” he said.

MS Student’s Passion Inspires Action

John Jay Middle School student Ashley Stagnari has always loved visiting the South Salem Wolf Conservation Center and was inspired to take action when she learned about government-led action to put down wolves living in British Columbia.

“I have always been interested in wolves, and I follow the Wolf Conservation Center on Instagram,” she said. “I saw they posted a picture of wolves being shot, and I decided I wanted to do something.”

Stagnari received permission to speak in all of the school’s home base classrooms about the effort and collected 75 signatures through a petition she created. She then went on to speak with representatives from the WCC, publicizing the petition through the organization’s website and collecting more than 1,000 signatures.

Stagnari believes wolves are a misunderstood breed and hopes her efforts will help change people’s minds.

“A lot of people don’t like them and think they are scary,” she said. “I asked my [peers] to think about them like a family member or pet to show them I think they are good.”

When she started the petition, Stagnari was not sure of the impact she would have and is blown away by its momentum.

“All your little voices can seem big,” she said. “You should always speak up if you have something on your mind.”

Writer Inspires During PARP Month at MPES


As part of Parents as Reading Partners month, Meadow Pond Elementary School students were treated to a visit from children’s book author Kate Klise.

Klise, an Illinois native, has written a number of popular children’s books – including the “43 Old Cemetery Road” series – illustrated by her sister, Sarah.

When meeting with MPES students, Klise shared her secret formula for writing a good story. She told students it is important not to be discouraged if their first draft isn’t perfect. Her first book, written at age 10, was inspired by “Stuart Little,” but ultimately lacked any real excitement.

“It wasn’t a very good book,” she said. “It was kind of boring.”

Since then, she said she found that introducing characters, problems and adventures to her stories makes them more colorful and fun.

“We don’t start with the details; we start with the bones and add the details later,” said Klise, who encouraged students to write many drafts of their work. “Remember that writing is a messy business.”

Students were invited to create their own characters, problems and adventures and many took home books signed by Klise.

Klise’s visit was one of many special events held throughout the month of March to celebrate PARP. To learn more about reading at MPES, view the below video.


Increase Miller Celebrates Diversity

Increase Miller Elementary School students spoke openly about their similarities and differences during a special character assembly on March 27.

Students watched an animated story, “The Crayon Box That Talked,” in which crayons learn that by working together, they can create a beautiful picture.

“If we were all the same, the world would be a boring place,” said Assistant Principal Andrew Galotti.

Students said that despite differences in hair or skin color, height or weight, friendship is the most important quality.

The assembly ended with a performance by third-graders Jesse Collins and Alexander Shtohryn, who wrote an original song about the value of getting along and maintaining friendships.

Mock Trial Excels at Regional Competition

John Jay High School’s Mock Trial team presented cases and argued in front of real Westchester County judges on March 10 and 12.

The team competed at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, where JJHS students advanced after competing against teams from Good Counsel and Clarkstown North.

“We assembled a defense team and a plaintiff team, learned a case inside and out from both sides and then went to court to argue against the other schools,” said advisor Chandler Lewis. “The judges weighed in on the arguments and scored our students’ tactics, demeanor, eloquence, confidence and poise, ability to wage and answer objections, enter and use evidence and deliver opening and closing arguments.”

The students worked hard to excel in presenting their cases, questioning witnesses and cross-examining opponent witnesses during a two-to-three-hour trial.

The defense team — Kailas Amin, Reed Feldman, Will Palmieri, Ashley Ramsay, Sasha Suser and Tess Tobin — argued against Good Counsel, while Jacob Agona, Tara Carroll, Mya Labbay, Katie Ricca and Marisa Tagliaferro represented the plaintiff against Clarkstown South.

The team’s scores qualified them to move on to round three of the competition.

Meadow Pond Powers Down and Plays

Meadow Pond Elementary School’s PTA hosted the annual PEP Night (Play More, Eat Right and Power Down Electronics) on March 13. During the evening, students put their skills to the test in fierce competition with their own parents by playing fun games and moving their bodies.

“It was an active evening for all, with lots of movement and fun with friends and family,” said Principal Carolann Castellano.

2015 Winter KaLeidoscope