JJMS Eighth-Graders Move Up

John Jay Middle School fondly sent its Class of 2015 eighth-grade graduates onto the next phase of their educational journey during a moving up ceremony that represented the completion of three successful middle school years. The students will cross over to the other side of campus as John Jay High School freshmen in September.

Following the eighth-graders’ procession into the middle school gymnasium, student council members led the Pledge of Allegiance and choir members sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Principal Richard Leprine and Assistant Principal Lisa Kor addressed the honorees and guests and led the presentation of graduation certificates.     

“You will make mistakes, but it is what you learn from them that will matter,” Leprine said. He exhorted students to grow by trying something new and shared examples based on the experiences of legendary individuals such as Babe Ruth, encouraging, “You can do whatever you put your mind to.” He also acknowledged the students’ good character and noted that their growth is about more than achievements; it also reflects their readiness to care for each other.

Students proudly stepped onto the stage and accepted their certificates, signifying the conclusion of one chapter and beginning of another. Presidential Awards were granted to students who made Honor Roll for two years, and Eighth-Grade Leader Recognition Awards went to students who provided extraordinary service as home-based leaders.

Before saying farewell to their familiar middle school halls, the students were treated to a “JJMS Memories” slideshow that portrayed the many memories and friendships developed over the past three years.

Non-Public School Textbooks – Reminder

All textbooks loaned to non-public school students must be returned to the District by June 30th.  Please return textbooks to the Business Office located at 1 Shady Lane, South Salem between the hours of 8:30 and 2:30.

All requests for textbook loans for the 2015-2016 school year must be received in the Business Office by Friday, July 10th.  Textbook requests received after July 10th may not be available for the start of the school year.

Class of 2015 Takes Next Steps

Members of John Jay High School’s Class of 2015 officially became alumni as they switched their tassels on the evening of June 23.

Despite repeated setbacks caused by the weather, the 287 graduates were all smiles as the entered and left Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah.

After the class entered to “Pomp and Circumstance” and recited the Pledge of Allegiance, school musical groups the Rolling Tones and the Noteables performed the national anthem, after which Interim Superintendent John Goetz welcomed the guests to the ceremony.

“The next step is clearly in your hands,” he said to the graduating students. “Stay focused and try to be happy in all that you do. The future needs happy, optimistic and balanced people.”

In her address, Board of Education President Marjorie Schiff told the class, “Throughout your time in high school, you have enriched the community, our community, through your dedication to academic, artistic, athletic and extracurricular endeavors. You have become important role models and contributors for the younger students at John Jay High School, for your siblings and for the children in our community.”

Class of 2015 Co-presidents Karen Beaty and Emma Jansen spoke about the characteristics that define the class and decided that diversity, friendship and the class’s special bond are legacies to be left behind with the school’s Key of Knowledge. That key was passed to the junior class’s co-presidents, Gabby Dowd and Kelly McDonald, who in turn thanked the graduates for serving as positive role models for the younger students.

Valedictorian Ryan Monasch, salutatorian Briana Tang and class speaker Enis Rraci each offered moments of reflection and advice to their peers. Rraci asked his classmates to applaud for the many people who had helped them during their high school years, from teachers and guidance counselors to cafeteria staff and parents.

“Once we go forth from our places of comfort, where our options are limited and our restrictions relatively maximized, we have more opportunity to make meaningful change, to make an impact, to move an entire hill or mountain or valley of sand, instead of single grains,” Monasch said. “Why don’t we go out into the world and make it a better place? Why not us?”

“The harder work is ahead, but so is the more intense reward,” said Principal Jessica Godin, one of the evening’s keynote speakers. “Know you will always have purple in your blood…most importantly, with trepidation or without, you are ready to move on to the next step of your journey knowing you will always find a way to land on your feet.”

MS Students Display Impressive Art

Eighth-grade John Jay Middle School students recently had the opportunity to showcase artwork they have been working hard on during the annual Arts Night.

One highlight of the eighth-grade art curriculum is the collage self-portraits that students spend weeks forming, using only colorful cut paper and glue. In the portraits, students are challenged to capture not only how they look, but a bit of their personalities as well.

Other work on display during Art Night included the eighth-grade Sharpie Line Art Project, which required students to incorporate words, imagery and patterns into their moving pieces. Art teacher Kendra Friedman asked students to be aware of the positive and negative space in their pieces when striving for balance. Students also created abstract three-dimensional colored pencil drawings using their knowledge of color systems.
Eighth-grade student Matthew Chambers also had a special display on view during Art Night. Chambers, who has a passion for drawing cartoons, worked with Friedman every day on his work. She asked him to consider branching out and creating new cartoon characters in environments, which resulted in a number of original designs.

“He did this in addition to the work on the curriculum,” said Friedman. “Having his own exhibit is really a great experience.”

HS Students Enjoy Music of Zimbabwe

John Jay High School students recently had a chance to hear renowned musicians Banning Eyre and Tendai Muparutsa when they visited the school on June 5.

Thanks to the efforts of ArtsAlive!, students heard international music firsthand. Last year, the organization brought an Indian music workshop to the school.

This year’s workshop was a big hit with students, as they were introduced to a number of instruments, lyrics and songs from Zimbabwe. Eyre and Muparutsa discussed the history of the instruments and how they are used, such as in religious ceremonies.

“Sometimes, I miss Zimbabwe,” said Muparutsa before performing an original song for the students.

The day proved to be an enlightening and enjoyable one for all involved.

“I already have some ideas for the next few years,” said ArtsAlive!’s Jack Freudenheim, who coordinated the visit.

Seniors Celebrate Prom

John Jay High School's Class of 2015 enjoyed one another's company, a fun venue and meal together at Chelsea Pier 60 on June 19.

Board Awards Tenure to Six Educators


Six members of the Katonah-Lewisboro school community celebrated an important milestone in their careers by receiving tenure before a gathering of family, friends and administrators at the June 4 Board of Education meeting. School board members unanimously approved the designations during a meeting in the John Jay High School library.

The newly tenured staff members are:

• Marisa Merlino (John Jay High School director of guidance)
• Michael Cohen (John Jay High School business education teacher)
• Daniel Longhurst (John Jay High School science teacher)
• Jane Emig (Meadow Pond Elementary School teacher)
• Sandra Mackenzie (Increase Miller Elementary School teaching assistant)
• Candice Meshil (Katonah Elementary School teaching assistant)

“We are very proud of them,” Interim Superintendent John Goetz said. “Tenure is a significant milestone in one’s educational career. It signifies a level of accomplishment, a level of recognition, and a level of things being confirmed that we knew already – that we made the right hiring decision.”

Goetz said one common quality among the six staff members is their ability to connect with students. In addition to knowing their subject matter, he said, they also know how to deliver it in the best possible way for students to learn.

As part of the celebration, members of The Rolling Tones, the high school’s all-male a capella group, performed. Each tenured staff member was introduced by an administrator from his or her school.

“[Emig] promotes higher levels of student understanding and helps them make connections to real-world problems,” said Meadow Pond Principal Carolann Castellano. “She has proven herself to be an excellent educator and a collaborative colleague.”

John Jay High School Principal Jessica Godin described Cohen as a highly effective teacher with a perfect attendance record. She also spoke about Longhurst’s love for French cheese, which he gives out during AP exams, and his reputation as a knowledgeable teacher. She described Merlino as reliable, organized, and someone who always make the right decision.

Increase Miller Principal Kerry Ford described Mackenzie as someone with incredible knowledge of classroom instruction, commitment to students and professionalism. Katonah Elementary Assistant Principal Terry Costin spoke highly of Meshil, praising her patience, kindness and dependability.

MS Musicians to Perform at Carnegie Hall

John Jay Middle School students Lily Oyen and Sabrina Zapson have been selected for the 2015 Middle School Honors Performance Series.

Oyen will perform as an alto with the Honors Junior Choir, and Zapson will perform on the double bass with the Honors Junior Orchestra. The two will perform at Carnegie Hall in June. Participation in one of the three Honors Ensembles is limited to the highest rated middle school performers from across North America and select schools internationally.
Oyen and Zapson auditioned in the fall for the Honors Performance Series and were accepted after a review by the Honors Selection Board. Acceptance to these elite groups is a direct result of the talent, dedication and achievements demonstrated in their application and audition recordings. The two John Jay students will join other performers from 49 states, several provinces in Canada and several foreign countries for this special performance.
According to Program Director Nancy Richardson, “Being selected to the Honors Performance Series is something each Junior Finalist should be extremely proud of accomplishing. We process thousands of nominations annually, selecting only the most talented performers. Working with these conductors and performing at Carnegie Hall is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that these student-musicians never forget.”

Both Oyen and Zapson have studied music for many years and have been dedicated members of the John Jay Middle School Orchestra. Both students practiced tirelessly for their auditions and were overjoyed to be accepted into the program.

Junior Finalists will come together for five days in June in New York City to have the opportunity to learn from renowned conductors Greg Gilpin, Jeffrey Grogan, and Charles Peltz, work with other Junior Finalists and get a taste of New York City.

The Sunday, June 27 performance is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased through the Carnegie Hall box office.

The Honors Performance Series was created to showcase accomplished individual high school and middle school performers on an international level by allowing them to study under master conductors and perform in the celebrated venue.

Evolving Our World: A Greener Future


The Katonah-Lewisboro School District’s Sustainability Committee is made up of district administrators, Board of Education members and community members who have an interest in sustainable practices in our schools. On May 21, Director of Facilities Paul Christensen presented an update on the committee’s progress.

Christensen discussed the district’s greenhouse gas audit, which was performed from 2007-2009 and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2015.

By implementing steps and practices including composting, the addition of water bottle filling stations and other increases in efficiency and conservation, the district reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15 percent in 2013 (2015 figures to be presented in the fall).

Moving forward, the committee and district are looking to increase student participation in sustainability initiatives, complete the energy performance contract, continue to strive to reach the greenhouse gas emission goal, continue to evaluate opportunities for conservation and savings, maintain status as a “Lighthouse” district and add all kitchen waste to compostables. This fall, the district will implement DW single stream recycling and continue to add more water bottle filling stations.

For more information about the Katonah-Lewisboro School District’s sustainability efforts, see the presentation and video.


Administration Thanks Interim Superintendent John Goetz

The Katonah-Lewisboro Board of Education thanked John Goetz for his service during the 2014-15 school year as interim superintendent and as interim John Jay High School principal during the previous two years during its June 4 meeting.

“You have been such a lifesaver for the past three years, and we thank you for that,” said Assistant Superintendents Alice Cronin, Michael Jumper and Debra Legato.

“Thank you for leaving the district poised for continued success while reminding us to keep balance in life. We appreciate all you have done.”

Goetz, who retired as a superintendent in the Connecticut school system eight years ago but continued to work for the last seven years, said Katonah-Lewisboro School District students make the district a great one.

“The most remarkable thing is how ready the kids are when they come to school,” he said. “The kids truly come prepared to learn and ready to go. We’re in a very fortunate spot that we don’t have to spend an awful lot of energy and time convincing the kids why education is so important.”

There’s No Place Like KES


Seventy-five years ago, Katonah Elementary School opened its doors. The same year, the iconic film “The Wizard of Oz” opened in theaters.

These two historic moments were brought together as KES celebrated its 75th anniversary with a full day of “Wizard of Oz”-themed activities and events on June 5.

“We linked the story with KES,” said Principal Cristy Harris, who wrote an original script to “The Wizard of Oz” that tied in school themes and was performed by teachers during the day’s opening ceremony.

Throughout the day, students followed a yellow brick road throughout the school where they discovered artifacts relating to school history or historic events that took place in 1939.

“The artifact hunt was rich with history,” said Harris.

To add the historic fun of the day, the 1939 and 1989 time capsules were opened, with the artifacts inside shared with each class leading up to the celebration. Once items representing 2015 are added, the stones will be returned to their places on the edge of the building.

Later in the day, each grade also enjoyed a birthday lunch in the cafeteria and a dance party on the playground. The day culminated with a parade outside the school that continued in a loop onto Huntville Road. Teachers dressed as Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion led the procession, followed by a fire truck, three vintage convertibles and the students along a yellow brick road loop that volunteers had painted overnight using many bags of cornstarch.

Each grade level had a theme for the parade that was attended by family members – kindergartners showed off their handprint T-shirts that represented the importance of counting, while first-graders shared things they like about KES including the teachers and big red slide. As the second-graders proceeded around the circle, attendees viewed some of the grade’s big projects, including Flat Stanley, while third-grade students took onlookers around the world by sharing facts and items coming from different countries like China and Portugal. Fourth-graders shared 75 years of U.S. and KES history on posters, and fifth-graders shared their knowledge of literature by representing a famous book that was published each year for the past 75 years.

Harris emphasized that the faculty and staff enthusiastically embraced the day’s celebration and spent months preparing, as well as offering to give up their own time to ensure everything ran smoothly during the day.

During the school’s closing ceremony, Assistant Principal Terrence Costin asked students to share their favorite parts of the day, which ranged from the parade to preparing the posters and decorations and spending time with friends on the playground.

“It was an emotional day,” said Harris, who herself is an alumna of KES. “It was really special.”



Increase Miller Shows its Patriotism

Second-grade students sang patriotic songs for their families

Increase Miller Elementary School second-graders came to school decked out in red, white and blue and showcased their vocals for the Patriotic Songfest on May 28.

The students sang a number of patriotic songs, including “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” “Erie Canal,” “Color My Country” and “This Land Is Your Land,” and impressed their parents with their ability to name the “50 States in Rhyme.”

“They have been working really hard, practicing with Mrs. [Jennifer] Fraczek and their teachers,” said Principal Kerry Ford.

Second-graders have been studying the 50 states and learning about patriotism, making the Songfest a timely performance. They also sang parts of “America the Beautiful” in sign language.

“[The songs] remind us of the importance of freedom and what we should value,” said Ford. “It really is just so special.”

Ultimate Frisbee Teams Compete in State Championship

John Jay High School’s Air Raid and Bear Raid Ultimate Frisbee teams traveled upstate to compete in the USA Ultimate New York State High School Championship on May 23 and 24.

John Jay’s Air Raid team, created in 2007 by students, has gone on to win three times since its inception and now has more than 60 students involved in the Air Raid and Bear Raid co-ed teams.
This year, Air Raid placed ninth overall with a 4-3 record and Bear Raid placed 16th overall, winning the “Spirit of the Game” award during the tournament, which recognizes players for their exceptional sportsmanship.

Student Board Member Honored

At its June 4 meeting, the Board of Education recognized student trustee Lillian Sandlund for her year of service. The John Jay High School senior was elected by her peers to serve on the Board during the spring of 2015. The date of the Board’s next meeting, June 18, will be Sandlund’s final day as trustee.

“Lillian has represented the students of John Jay with the utmost integrity, conscientiousness and independence,” Board of Education President Marjorie Schiff said. “We believe the school district and the Katonah-Lewisboro school community have been enriched by the outstanding service she has provided during her term.”

2015-16 Elementary School Supply List


District Readies for Track and Field Replacement

The Katonah-Lewisboro School District Board of Education approved a bid for the John Jay High School/Middle School track and field replacement at its June 4 meeting.

The track and field replacement will begin this month and continue during the summer. The track and field will be closed to students and the public during this time. The project includes the replacement of the turf field and track, storm water management (a state requirement), engineering, and testing and erosion control.

The district received bids for the work on May 22. The Board adopted a resolution to award the contract to the lowest responsible vendor, Landscape Unlimited LLC, a Somers-based company. The total bid is $1,315,700, which falls within the voter-approved amount allocated for the project.

The district allocated surplus funds from the 2013-14 school year’s general fund toward this project and anticipates approximately 25 percent in state aid, which will be paid back to the district over 15 to 20 years.  

The current turf field was installed in 2002 and has been maintained above industry standards until the present time, which allowed it to last beyond its life expectancy. Over time, the synthetic fibers have broken down due to high utilization and have required significant repairs.

The track was installed in 1996 and its rubber layer has deteriorated significantly. The district has taken measures to respray the track on occasion to maximize its usable life. Its current level of deterioration can no longer be addressed through use of a top spray. The summer work to the track will involve removing the current top inch of rubber and 1.5 inches of asphalt, repaving with new asphalt and rubber material, repairing the subsurface as necessary and repainting the track lines.

The district anticipates a track and field replacement completion date of September 15.

KES Students Win Camp Scholarships

Three Katonah Elementary School students have been selected by the Katonah Village Improvement Society as recipients of the John Jay Homestead Adventure Days History Camp Scholarship.

Fourth-graders Megan Condon, Scott Esposito and Aidan McCarthy each wrote award-winning essays about the Civil War, citing information they have learned about the North vs. South.

Congratulations to the three winners!