Board of Education to Hold Anticipated Executive Session & Regular Meeting - December 3, 2015


First-Graders Celebrate Thanksgiving Friendships


First-grade students at Meadow Pond Elementary School shared history, entertained their parents through song and enjoyed some seasonal snacks during the annual Corn Festival on Nov. 24.

“It is so wonderful to see so many families here,” said Principal Carolann Castellano as she welcomed guests to the Corn Festival. “[The students] have been practicing so hard and they are so excited.”

Students were dressed in handmade outfits as Pilgrims and Native Americans for the celebration and performed a number of holiday-themed songs, including one involving American Sign Language signs, with the help of music teacher Melissa Richardson, who accompanied the students on the piano.

Between songs, students shared facts about the historic events leading up to the first Thanksgiving – including the Pilgrims’ arrival to Plymouth Rock on the Mayflower, Native Americans teaching the settlers how to plant corn and the friendship between the two groups that led to the historic meal that will be celebrated on Nov. 26.

The Corn Festival concluded with a meal shared between Meadow Pond’s young Pilgrims, Native Americans and their parents.


Mixing It Up at Lunch with New Friends

Katonah Elementary School students found the missing pieces to their puzzles – and new friends – during Mix It Up Day on Nov. 5.

“Mix It Up Day was a success,” said KES clinical social worker Jessica Fulton of the annual event. “We did activities with each grade during lunch to help them practice connecting with new friends.”

Every student received a colored puzzle piece upon entering the cafeteria for lunch and searched for the table with a matching piece. At the table, students connected with new peers, and staff members helped jump-start discussions with conversation openers and coloring activities designed to break the ice.

‘The Cherry Orchard’ Comes to John Jay HS


John Jay High School drama students are enjoying the challenging of tackling Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” as this year’s fall production.

“The play, written in 1904, is Chekhov’s last,” said director William Friedman. “I would describe it as a drama with some elements of comedy. It’s a very challenging play for high school actors, and the cast of 16 is having a wonderful time engaging with Chekhov’s depth of characterization. Every role has the nuance and complexity of a real person.”

“The Cherry Orchard” opens Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. Additional show times are Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 21 at 1 and 7 p.m. Tickets to all shows are $5 and can be purchased at the door.



Students Mark School Bus Safety Week

Elementary school students across the district headed outside during the week of Oct. 19 to mark National School Bus Safety Week.

Representatives from the district’s transportation department visited each school to remind students about potentially life-saving safety tips that are important to keep in mind when riding and walking near buses.

Students practiced safe actions such as looking both ways when stepping out in front of a bus and counting the number of steps they need to take away from the bus in order to be out of the way and seen by the bus driver.

State Champions!

Congratulations to John Jay High School’s girls cross country team, who won the Class B State Championship title this past Saturday. Team members are Pippa Nuttall, Danielle Femia, Cameron Crawford, Gemma Nuttall, Brooke Nohilly, Kendall Degenhardt and Kathryn Nohilly. The team is coached by Tom Nohilly, Paul Saloom, and Kerri Kuntz. The district also congratulates senior Eion Nohilly of the boys’ team, who earned a fourth-place finish in the Class B race. Congratulations on your efforts and outstanding finishes!

Girls Cross-Country, Nohilly Earn Sectional Berth

John Jay High School’s girls cross-country team outran the competition on Nov. 7 at Monroe-Woodbury High School to win the sectional championship.

In addition, senior Eion Nohilly, of the boys team, earned an individual Section I championship title.

Both the girls team and Nohilly have qualified to compete in the New York State finals on Nov. 14.

MS to Present ‘A Murder Is Announced’


John Jay Middle School will present “A Murder Is Announced,” a detective fiction by Agatha Christie, on Nov. 12, 13 and 14. Local theater director and science teacher David Fritsch is directing the production, and sixth-grade teachers Marcia Daley-Savo and Gloria Miller are co-producing the play.

While the original “A Murder Is Announced” takes place in England, Daley-Savo said they wanted to make the story relevant for their students by changing its location to a town in Vermont. A strange notice appears in the morning paper that a murder will take place at Little Paddocks, and the murder mystery begins. Throughout the play, the characters are presented with concealed identities, twists and turns, all while investigating two murders.

Daley-Savo said more than 60 students auditioned for the play, which had spots for 25 actors and 12 crew members. “It’s fun to see these students in a different light,” she said. “This is a safe place for a lot of the children who aren’t into sports, but they blossom in theater.”

Seventh-grader Carolyn Weiss, who plays the loud and selfish Mrs. Swettenham, said she has fun playing someone completely different from her.

Eighth-grader Evan Calves, who has been a member of the crew for the past two years, praised his classmates’ acting abilities. “The acting in this play is really good,” he said. “I know the actual people and their real personalities and it’s fun to see them transform on stage.”

Performances of “A Murder Is Announced” are Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 14 at 1 and 7 p.m., with a Saturday senior citizens luncheon at 12 p.m. Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased in school on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during lunch in the dining room, as well as at the door.

Superintendent to Recommend Interim HS Principals

Katonah-Lewisboro School District Superintendent of Schools Andrew Selesnick will recommend to the Board of Education on Nov. 12 that John Jay High School assistant principals Kim Piccolino and Gil Cass be appointed as interim co-principals for the remainder of the 2015-16 academic year.

“My thanks to Mrs. Piccolino and Mr. Cass who, along with their colleagues, have stepped up to keep the high school running smoothly through this transitional period,” said Selesnick. “Their appointment as interim co-principals will ensure that all operations of the high school run smoothly for the remainder of this year. They will do this work while also maintaining significant portions of their assistant principal responsibilities.”

Both Piccolino and Cass are experienced administrators with complementary skill sets. The job of high school principal is expansive, their combined skills, wisdom, and familiarity with the district will be important during this transitional period. They will assume different areas of responsibility and they will coordinate their efforts to be sure all decisions are made thoughtfully. The district is additionally searching for a temporary administrator who will pick up those assistant principal responsibilities that the new co-principals will necessarily need to drop.

“Now is not the time to start the search for a permanent principal because we will want to attract the best possible candidates and, typically, currently employed administrators do not want to inform their districts this early in the school year that they’re considering leaving,” said Selesnick. “Given the strength of our existing administrative staff, and given the number of transitions our high school has experienced in recent years, I feel strongly that we do not need the additional transition of a new interim principal at this time.”

The search for John Jay High School’s next permanent principal will begin in January. Prior to that, the district will begin gathering input from all stakeholder groups as to the desired characteristics of the next leader. Once the search begins, stakeholders will be involved in the process. Candidates will be solicited from across the region and the country, using all available tools to spread the word about the vacancy. The selection process itself will consist of several rounds, and will be an appropriately rigorous screening. As the time draws closer, the district will invite stakeholders to informational meetings at which time additional detail about the search will be shared.

“I am well aware of the various leadership transitions our district has undergone in recent years. It is critical that we take a thoughtful, thorough approach to this next search, to be sure we find the best possible principal to lead our high school into the future,” said Selesnick. “We are committed to searching until such a candidate is identified.”

KES Students Learn Secrets of Being a Champion


Katonah Elementary School students learned the keys to being a champion with the help of a special visitor on Oct. 29.

Kathryn Whisler entertained students with her impressive storytelling and yo-yo skills as she shared a tale about her friend Ned, who made a series of poor choices and ended up in trouble before his appearance at KES.

“[Ned] had a bad attitude and made some really bad decisions today,” said Whisler.

But Ned was able to turn his day around, using the acronyms in his name: Never give up, Encourage others and Do your best, actions that champions embody, said Whisler.

Students learned that these qualities can easily translate into both their school and home lives when consciously applied.

“If you decide to love learning, the things you learn will become part of who you are,” said Whisler. “Champions love helping other people.”

And despite Ned’s mistakes, he was able to turn his day around and make positive choices that led to a successful appearance at KES.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” said Whisler. “If you want to be a champion — if you want to be really good at something — you have to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.”

MPES Buddy Bench Encourages New Friendships

Students at Meadow Pond Elementary School have recently been enjoying a new addition to the playground area. The Buddy Bench, a simple wooden bench, invites children to foster a sense of inclusion on the playground by befriending classmates who sit on the bench.

The idea for a Buddy Bench was introduced by a second-grade student in Pennsylvania who wanted to make sure peers in need of extra support or encouragement felt included.

Meadow Pond’s Buddy Bench was introduced at the school’s Oct. 29 town meeting and was installed in the playground shortly thereafter. Students have been eager to utilize the bench and discuss its importance during recess.

“We are very excited about the project, and it seems to be working out great so far,” said Assistant Principal Dawn Pomeroy, who worked with parent Heather Trivedi and the PTA’s Character Education Committee to bring the bench to fruition.

Red Ribbon Week Activities Encourage Smart Choices


Students throughout the district participated in a number of initiatives during Red Ribbon Week, a drug prevention campaign recognized throughout the country each year.

“All schools participated in age-appropriate prevention activities during the week of Oct. 26,” said John Jay Middle and High School social worker Kiri Ryan, who added that the district’s buses were decked out with red ribbons throughout the week as well.

Prevention Awareness Council representatives from the high school spent a day in the John Jay Middle School cafeteria, speaking with their younger peers about making smart choices. They also worked with students to create bricks for a “Reality Wall,” which is made up of anonymous personal anecdotes written by students who know someone impacted by drug, tobacco or alcohol use.

“We wanted to come here to help students share their own stories and get the word out about preventing the use of drugs,” said senior Alexa Yablon. “They have all been really excited to come over and contribute. The outcome and enthusiasm is incredible.”

Students were rewarded for creating a brick with candy and red ribbons, which they wore proudly for the remainder of the school day.

Also during Red Ribbon Week, high school students attended a program titled “Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana,” which was offered both during the school day and in the evening for parents to attend. Dr. Kevin A. Sabet spoke candidly with students and parents alike about the science of marijuana and the importance of making healthy and smart choices related to its use and consequences.

Younger grade levels recognized the week by wearing red ribbons and stickers and participating in activities related to making healthy choices. Administrators spoke with students about making good decisions and taking responsibility for their actions throughout the week.

At Katonah Elementary School, the week included two special editions of “Good Morning KES.” For the first activity, students guessed how much sugar is in a number of popular drinks – water, vitamin water, soda and Gatorade. During a broadcast later in the week, they enjoyed watching interviews of faculty and staff members who shared their experiences in living healthy lifestyles – from making smart dietary choices to staying active through activities like yoga.

Birds of Prey Visit HS

Students in John Jay High School’s AP Environmental Science and Wilderness class enjoyed a hands-on day of outdoor learning on Oct. 26, thanks to master falconer Lori Schumacher and her staff.

The presentation, made possible through BOCES, featured fascinating birds including Prince Ravi, a Saker falcon; Oliver, a barn owl; Big Momma, a European eagle owl; and Macchu, a Harris’ hawk.

The presentation was held on the school’s front lawn and allowed students to learn about the physiology and anatomy of the birds, as well as their ecological importance, as the raptors demonstrated their abilities and adaptations. Students learned that humans must be mindful of maintaining the habitats of the birds of prey to ensure both their survival and the sustainability of the ecosystem.

Increase Miller Bashes the Trash

Increase Miller Elementary School students tackled science, music and the environment with the help of Bash the Trash on Oct. 22.

The performance ensemble, headed up by husband and wife team John Bertles and Carina Piaggio, helped students transform their trash and recyclables into unique-sounding musical instruments. The day included assemblies for all grade levels, where students were awed by the musical stylings of the group.

According to its literature, “Bash the Trash is all about science, sound and sustainability. We apply the science of sound to build better musical instruments from the cheapest possible materials – a form of STEM to STEAM.”

2015 Homecoming Schedule