SPARC Inc. Summer Magic Program Comes to Katonah-Lewisboro

The Katonah-Lewisboro Special Education PTA (SEPTA) is pleased to announce that nearly $3,500 was raised to go toward bringing Special Programs and Resource Connection (SPARC)’s Summer Magic Program to the district.

The parents and SEPTA saw a need for a specialized summer program to meet the needs of the special education students in the district. The Summer of Magic Program is a themed six-week summer camp-like program for children with special needs that find the typical day camp setting a challenge. It takes place three times per week after the campers’ Extended School Year Services.

SPARC already has two successful after school programs running at the district, thanks to After School Activities Coordinators and the districts’ Office of Special Services.

“The Katonah-Lewisboro Special Education PTA (SEPTA) was able to raise enough money to significantly offset the tuition for The Summer Magic program through a Field Day on May 31, generous private donations and local business contributions,” said SEPTA Co-President Rebecca Bourla. “It was truly a community effort.  SPARC made generous financial contributions to make this pilot program happen.  We are so grateful they never gave up on our district.”

SPARC is a 25-year-old organization based in Yorktown Heights and its programs provide more than 1,000 people with special needs at more than 75 programs throughout Westchester. It is a nonprofit agency that provides social, recreation and therapeutic services for youth and adults with developmental disabilities.  

“It was so rewarding to see the children bond at their own special summer mini-camp this summer,” Founder of SPARC Inc. Rose Rothe said. “While they were occupied with smiles, fun and laughter, we were just thrilled to see each one accomplish individual goals at the same time.”

Director of the Office of Special Services Connie Hayes said this opportunity is “truly an example of what can happen when we all work together to address the needs of children.

“We are looking forward to developing afterschool options for the 14-15 school year,” she added.

For more information on SPARC or KLSEPTA, please visit and

Bus Reminder

Please keep in mind that buses may be delayed during the first few weeks of the school year as students and parents become familiar with their bus stops and routes. We ask for your patience during this period. Thank you.

Board Appoints Superintendent Search Firm

At its August 21 meeting, the Katonah-Lewisboro School District Board of Education appointed Hazard, Young, Attea, and Associates to assist in the search for a permanent Superintendent of Schools. Mr. John Goetz, formerly Interim Principal at John Jay High School is currently serving as Interim Superintendent.

Hazard, Young, Attea, and Associates (HYA) is a subsidiary of the broader group, Educational Consultants & Research Associates, and supports school boards throughout the recruitment process. The organization focuses on five key phases including Planning Session and Criteria Development, Recruitment, Interview/Selection, Appointment/Post-Appointment, and Communication with the Board.

Over the next several weeks, representatives from HYA will be collaborating with the Board of Education, District Officials, and community members to assess and understand the specific needs of the District and identify the qualifications sought in the candidates that will be considered.

“We are pleased to have found a consultant team with deep experience in education, a nuanced understanding of high performing schools, and a successful track record placing superintendents in Westchester County. We are looking forward to finding a long-term, permanent Superintendent who will be a good fit for the District,” stated Board of Education President Marjorie Schiff. “Selecting HYA was a unifying experience for the Board—we all felt that HYA would provide valuable resources and guidance in this process. We will invite our consultant team to make a presentation at a Board of Education meeting early this fall and will keep the community apprised of any new developments.”

Air Quality Update

Dear Parents and Staff,

Several weeks ago, leadership of the Katonah Lewisboro District Teachers Association (KLDTA) expressed concerns regarding air quality in certain areas within five of the district’s six school buildings.  District administration promptly responded to these concerns by visually re-examining the areas in question for evidence of infrastructure compromise or failure that would cause any mold or air quality issues.  No evidence supporting these concerns was discovered during these inspections, nor had any issues been discovered or documented in written reports of visual inspections and air quality testing for the past three years, copies of which were provided to KLDTA.  Because no evidence had been discovered, no subsequent action was taken.

Yesterday (August 22), the district received a special notification from the Department of Labor reporting that an anonymous complaint was made for indoor air quality and the possible presence of mold in the same five buildings referenced earlier. Therefore, the district architect and school district staff are again examining the physical infrastructure in the buildings to determine if there is any visible sign of either mold or HVAC failure that may cause air quality compromise. Additionally, as a precaution, the district has contracted with an environmental engineering firm to perform air quality tests.

The health and safety of our students and staff is of paramount importance to all of us. Inspections and air quality testing to date indicate that air quality has not been compromised in any of our schools.  We expect to receive the results of these additional tests next week, and we will follow up with communication to you in a prompt manner.   


John Goetz,
Interim Superintendent of Schools

Lewisboro Garden Finds New Life at JJMS

Students moving up from elementary school to middle school in Katonah-Lewisboro are used to an exciting transition: from having a locker for the first time to making new friends from all over the district, there are always plenty of new experiences.

This year, there’s a new surprise at John Jay Middle School—but one that will be familiar to most incoming sixth graders.

“When LES closed, many, many of the children really wanted to see the gardens go somewhere,” explained Denise Lupia, a Wellness and Sustainability consultant for the district and retired K-L teacher.

Through a truly collaborative effort—involving administrators, the John Jay Middle School PTO, Operations and Maintenance crews and a couple of green-thumbed students—the gardens were completely replanted and set up permanently at JJMS over the summer and now have a variety of healthy flowers and vegetables sprouting beautifully.

Principal Richard Leprine said he and the JJMS staff are looking for creative ways to integrate the gardens into curricula, as well as form an after-school club that will involve caring for the garden.

Sixth grader Ali Fergusson has been involved with the LES garden since its inception and was instrumental in having it moved to the Middle School.

“I enjoy it because I feel like I am really helping the environment and it’s fun to collect the vegetables and keep the plants healthy,” she shared.

Lupia noted that over the years it has become apparent that Ali Fergusson is a natural in the garden.

“She can probably run the garden herself,” said Lupia.

Fergusson and her twin brother Cole and other sixth graders including Arcadia Ohenemus and Joelle Sacks continue to be garden enthusiasts and enjoy everything from pulling weeds to guessing how big the carrots will grow each season.

“It makes me feel good to plant really good food,” said Cole Fergusson.

Letter from John Goetz, Interim Superintendent of Schools


Congratulations John Jay High School Graduates

On Tuesday evening, the 24th of June, John Jay High School held its 58th Commencement ceremony on the beautiful grounds of Caramoor. As “Pomp and Circumstance” filled the large white tent and spilled into the adjacent fields, pairs of graduating students paraded down the aisle and onto the stage. Proud family members cheered as students took their seats.

James Pardo, Campus Congress Officer, led the salute to the flag, which was followed by the National Anthem, sung by the talented Rolling Tones and Notables. The commencement was officially underway.

Michael Jumper, Acting Superintendent, welcomed all and offered both humorous and inspirational words. He stressed the importance of perseverance and encouraged students to push through challenging situations. “Yes, high school has offered up challenges that have provided you with an inkling of what it means to persevere,” he stated. “But it has only just begun. College, work, family and many other life transitions will begin to layer themselves upon you to the point where you will recognize how critical it is, to your core, to stay the course. So persevere. Be resilient. Relentless. Above all, don’t quit.” Before offering thanks and congratulations, he closed with an excerpt from the infamous poem, “Don’t Quit.”  

Charles Day, representing the Board of Education, was next to speak. He stated, “Your job is to make lifetime friends and contacts, acquire a broad base of knowledge, find your passion and see where it leads you and to thine own self be true.”

Carly Kilgore and Rachel Yasgur, Co-Presidents of the class of 2014, addressed their peers. Before passing down the official key to representatives of the class of 2015, they offered words of thanks and encouragement. “John Jay has shaped us into the people we are today. It offered us stability and laid the building blocks for what lay ahead.” With the words, “Time flies by,” Carly and Rachel presented the key to Karen Beaty and Emma Jansen, Co-Presidents of the class of 2015. While accepting the key, Karen and Emma responded to the graduating class, “We couldn’t have asked for better role models.”

Salutatorian Jeremy Morowitz, was next at the podium. “Every person has something to offer in one form or another,” he stated. “We all bring something to the table, and it might not be obvious, or even easy to see when looking closely, but we all contribute in unique ways by simply being ourselves as individuals. But in order for this to work we need to establish our individuality first.” The Noteables then returned with a wonderful rendition of “Never Stop This Train,” by John Mayer.

Seth Feder, Valedictorian, spoke to those assembled. Very cleverly, he had reached out to other infamous past valedictorians for inspiration. He shared that the title “valedictorian” stems from the Latin words “vale,” meaning “farewell” and “dict” meaning “say.” Thus, he surmised, “all valedictorians must say farewell.” Seth continued, “The future is random, and we don't know what's going to happen. Sometimes the best course of action is just to surrender to the flow, dealing with events both probable and improbable as they happen. I learned that both the probable and improbable can lead to unsettling changes, but also amazing and joyous ones as well. I learned that we should fear the future, but fear it optimistically.”

The Rolling Tones proceeded to entertain the admiring crowd with “God Only Knows,” by the Beach Boys, followed by the Keynote Address, delivered by Social Studies Teacher Marc McAlley. Mr. McAlley advised the class to “Find out who you really are, be comfortable with who you are, and be who you are every day of your life.” He shared memorable advice he once heard, which was, “Stay out of trouble, look people in the eye, say please and thank you, live every day as if it were the only day, don’t forget where you came from, and never be afraid of being who you are.”

James Pardo offered the senior class address. He spoke about his physics teacher, David Gewanter, who expressed to the class the importance of “love.” “Love leads to true happiness and satisfaction,” explained James, “I beseech you to leave with the love of passions, peers, colleagues, home and family. Love what challenges you to be something you never were before.” The Treblemakers rounded out the evening with Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.”

Principal John Goetz commended the class and offered words of advice. “Assert your independence in a positive way…(You have a) collective group of supporters and advocates. Try to be happy. The future needs happy people with balance in their lives. Be kind and supportive to others. Let them know you care. I wish you health and happiness.” Mr. Goetz and Mr. Day presented the diplomas to the John Jay High School graduating class of 2014.


JJMS Gallery Created By and For Student Artists

Within the John Jay Middle School hallway, located next to the dining room, a gallery displays the impressive works of talented student artists. Nom de la Gallery is a student-run art gallery overseen by seventh-grade art students Antonia ten Holder and Abba Wilson, along with several volunteers.
The gallery was unveiled with the intention of becoming a year-round, revolving exhibition. Budding artist are encouraged submit their best art pieces, providing the work was not a school project or made specifically for the gallery.

The student Gallery coordinators, advised by teacher Spencer Eldridge, run their enterprise from the seventh-grade art room. They curate (collect, clean, matt and hang) the artwork themselves, including text cards that note each artist’s name, title and medium.

Next spring Antonia, Abba, and their small staff will begin to train a new group of art students who may continue Nom de la Gallery’s mission of providing a student-curated, public art space at JJMS. For more information, or if you are a student interested in participating, please contact

“Increase Kindness” at Increase Miller

“Be your Best” is a motto at Increase Miller Elementary School. This theme was conveyed in many ways as students and staff participated in a number of exciting events and activities.

In late May, students were treated to an upbeat video created by John Jay High School students and parents. The four mascots are seen enjoying each others’ company and assisting one another on the bus, in the cafeteria, on the field, etc. The mascot video is intended to prepare students for the impending closure of Lewisboro Elementary School and the related upcoming transitions. The video’s underlying message is that all four mascots are working together, just as all principals, teachers, parents and students are working together despite being from different buildings. The strong sense of community within the Katonah-Lewisboro School District will remain strong throughout the transition process. “Eddie the Eagle,” “Buddy the Bulldog,” “Max the Moose” and “Les the Leopard” represent all students. “Les the Leopard,” Lewisboro Elementary School’s mascot, has been selected to represent the Town of Lewisboro.

After reviewing the mascot video, Principal Kerry Ford addressed all of the IMES students assembled in the cafeteria/auditorium. She helped to alleviate their apprehensions about the changes and reaffirmed the importance of kindness.

Teacher Andrew Galotti also spoke about “Increasing Kindness” and proceeded to recognize a particular group of students who have demonstrated this positive behavior. Fourteen fifth-graders participated in the Homework Helpers Club, volunteering their time after school to help younger students work on their reading, writing, and math skills. Teacher Sandra Costin relayed that her students enjoyed learning and playing with their older peers, sharing a quote from Pablo Picasso: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” She thanked the fifth-graders for sharing their “gifts.”

An additional display of kindness was exhibited by five middle school girl scouts. Under the direction of Troop Leader Debby Knowlton, and with the assistance of Mrs. Knowlton’s son, Cadette Troop 1036 created and donated a beautiful painting. The inspirational work of art, which displays the phrase, “Increase Kindness. Pass it On” will hang in the cafeteria.

Another artistic gift was presented in the form of tile collages. Art and kindergarten teacher Marijane Hamren assisted JJMS students Sarah Siegel and Sophia Peris as they placed tiles decorated by IMES students on school walls and in the courtyard. The tiles were fashioned in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Increase Miller Elementary School.  

It has been a meaningful month for IMES, with kindness and “being your best” both seen and heard!

Increase Miller Elementary School Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Constructed in 1964, Increase Miller Elementary School happily celebrates its 50th anniversary this year! Multiple events were held in honor of the major milestone. In May, IMES students viewed the Mascot video, received praise for acts of kindness, were presented with a painting from Girl Scout Cadet troupe 1036, and marveled at the 400 IMES student-created tiles that were artistically assembled by teacher Marijane Hamren and JJMS students Sarah Siegel and Sophia Peris. In addition, a bulletin board in the main hallway displayed wonderful school photos from the earlier years.

The celebrations culminated in a wonderful tree planting ceremony thanks to a gift from the fifth grade students. A “tree hugger plaque,” engraved with an acknowledgment of the 50th anniversary, is affixed to the tree and will grow along with it.

Ken Almstead, father of IMES student Jake Almstead, is an arborist who generously helped to select the tree. Chosen was a Weeping Cherry Tree (Prunus subhirtella pendula), which is a good fit for the space, both aesthetically and functionally. It replaces a previous tree that was unfortunately destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

The ceremony began with welcoming words by Principal, Kerry Ford. The fifth-graders were introduced and they shared their creative poetry. Jonathan Monti, a fifth grade parent and IMES graduate, spoke about the history of the school and about its namesake. He explained
why Increase Miller was associated with schools in the area. Mr. Monti proceeded to unveil the 50th Anniversary banner, which was signed by all IMES students. According to Mr. Monti, the moment was a “snapshot in time of our 50th year of service.”

As the commemoration continued, Ms. Ford introduced the Girl Scout 50th Anniversary Project and the tree was officially dedicated. In unison, all those assembled sang “Reach for the Stars” and gratitude was expressed to everyone who made the day possible. This included the Girl Scouts, the IMES PTA for donating time and funds, Jonathan Monti, the fifth grade students and parents, and Ken Almstead for all of his expertise, guidance, and assistance with the planting.

Happy Anniversary, Increase Miller Elementary School!

The “Message from Justin” Reaches John Jay High School

Mr. Jeffrey Veatch recently led a somber yet inspirational assembly at John Jay High School. The students seated in the auditorium could not help but be moved as Mr. Veatch, father of the late Justin Veatch, spoke lovingly about his son, who made one fatal mistake. Mr. Veatch visited JJHS with the hope of saving others from making poor decisions. His story could be anyone’s story.

After a brief introduction, Mr. Veatch addressed those assembled. His presentation included videos and still photos of his beloved son. Justin was a talented musician and athlete; the bright Yorktown High School student played the trumpet, piano and guitar and created sound recordings. He was a passionate 17-year-old who, according to his father, “knew what he wanted and was good at it.” Justin was creative, talented and friendly, but he suffered from anxiety and depression and tried to self-medicate. Approximately five years ago he died in his bed, a victim of acute drug intoxication.

Mr. Veatch seemed to truly connect with his young audience. He spoke in a non-judgmental, honest and open manner that the students could relate to as he shared important messages. “Take care of yourself and be vigilant for your friends,” he encouraged.

Mr. Veatch revealed startling statistics concerning young people and drugs and recommended that friends speak up and start a conversation if they notice any troubling changes in a peer’s behavior. Warning signs could be unusual moodiness, preoccupation and a change in the individual

The Veatch family made a choice not to sit in the dark but rather to do something positive in Jason’s name. They established a scholarship and introduced programs for teens. Mr. Veatch has been spreading Justin’s message to schools everywhere and has even made television appearances.

With the help of donations, music workshops have been established in the young man’s memory. Justin was working on an album entitled, “Permagrin” and one of his favorite musicians was Owen (Mike Kinsella). Polyvinyl Records has since produced the album and Owen has recorded Justin’s songs. The proceeds go to the Justin Veatch Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to college-bound students pursuing music education. In fact, a JJHS student will be receiving the scholarship this June.

Quoting a proverb, Mr. Veatch said, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” He added, “We are trying to do for other young people what we couldn’t do for Justin.” The Veatch family is truly honoring and celebrating Justin’s legacy while having a meaningful and positive impact on others.

Lewisboro Elementary School Students Explore the Rainforest

Third graders at Lewisboro Elementary School were treated to an exciting and informative presentation led by Rachel Wade, from the BOCES Center for Environmental Education. Ms. Wade spoke in each classroom and the students were impressed by the information she shared.

“Seventy-five percent of human DNA is the same as the DNA in a banana. We share 97% of the same DNA as a chimp,” Ms. Wade explained. This was one of the many unusual facts that were presented. The classroom was divided into four stations, each featuring objects for the students to explore. Included were the skin of a reticulated python, a jaguar skin, musical instruments native to people living in the rainforest, a variety of spices, Amazon coffee beans, and utensils.

The students enjoyed visiting the various stations and learning about the different worlds that exist within rainforests.

IMES and KES Celebrate Colonial Times

In order to bring to life the study of Colonial Times, fourth grade classes at both Increase Miller Elementary School and Katonah Elementary School held Colonial Day activities in early May. At IMES, students arrived to school dressed in black and white, and at KES, girls donned long skirts and bonnets while boys sported vests and three-cornered hats. Teachers and parent volunteers led various theme-appropriate activities.

At IMES, cooking was a group favorite! Students learned to churn butter and prepare Johnny Cakes and Liberty Tea Punch. The “Minute Man” class was as exciting as it was informative. Students viewed a short video and then participated in an exhilarating exercise. They were told that the enemy was approaching and they had one minute to wake up from their simulated slumber, dress in the appropriate garb, and line up for inspection. The clothing was distributed on the perimeter of the room. When the alarm was sounded, the young “minute men” dashed to the clothing, hurriedly dressed, and formed a line. It took a few attempts, but each group finally succeeded in being prepared within a minute’s notice.

Also at IMES, students bowled and raced with hoops in the games class. Although they worked many hours, colonial children did have time for play. Finally, students enjoyed learning different types of colonial dance and music. The Virginia Reel was very popular among both the girls and boys. In the afternoon, guest performer Karen DeMauro, from The Acting Center in Manhattan, shared stories. “I try to teach history from a kid’s point of view,” she explained. “I create a simulation of Boston in 1773, during Tea Party time. Children are apprentices. The streets are muddy and occupied by redcoats. We recreate the experiences and pass through the same experiences as did the colonists. The best way to teach the students is to have them experience it. They learn about fairness, freedom and loyalty.”

The KES event was coordinated as a Colonial American Fair. Instructors from the Adventure Game, a non-profit organization that creates arts-based educational experiences for students, visited the school. Children rotated among eight different classroom stations featuring various colonial activities.

The KES students enjoyed participating in candle-making, attending dame school, learning the arts of tinsmithing and stenciling, exploring textiles, cooking, playing with colonial toys and games, listening to colonial music and practicing colonial dance. Students expressed that the day was informative and fun!


John Jay Middle School Celebrates Intergenerational Exchange Day

John Jay Middle School recently welcomed 36 senior citizens from neighboring centers and invited them to share their day at school. Colorful, handmade signs displayed in the hallways welcomed the guests, who were greeted by their sixth-grade chaperones.

After enjoying lunch together, the students and seniors attended an information session during which participating adults spoke to groups of eighth-graders on the topic of World War II. The presentations lasted 30 minutes and were memorable, informative, and very well received. The sixth-graders then escorted the seniors to the seventh-grade classrooms, where teachers continued to conduct their classes and were happy to include the guests of honor. “Students” of all ages mingled within the math, science, English, social studies, science, art, and technology classrooms.

The eighth-grade choir ensemble, conducted by teacher Elena Gambulos-Cody with piano accompaniment provided by Jonathan Faiman, was a highlight of the afternoon. During an intergenerational sing-along, choir students descended the stage and joined their audience for a variety of well-known songs popular with both generations. The afternoon culminated with a reception held in the theater lobby. The guests enjoyed refreshments and received souvenir JJMS mugs.

“I loved every minute of it!” said visitor Edna Brugger. “The kids are the nicest. They make you want to cry!” Student Christopher Mardirossian, who escorted Frank McMahon, shared, “It was a fun experience. I learned where he was from. We learned a lot about each other’s lifestyles.”

This successful day was coordinated through the collaboration of Lewisboro Community Center Director Pam Veith, JJMS Principal Rich Leprine and his secretary Margie Lieto, and many others. Thanks to the support of parents, staff, teachers, administrators, and the PTO, the Intergenerational Exchange Day provided a wonderful opportunity for learning, understanding and sharing.

Lewisboro Elementary School Kindergarteners Celebrate Moms

The kindergarten classrooms at Lewisboro Elementary School were decorated for a pre-Mothers Day event. Students sat in a row, eagerly awaiting their mothers’ arrival. One by one, moms were escorted into the room by their proud sons and daughters. Each was presented with a colorful, hand-made bouquet of flowers. The celebration was underway.

In unison, the students sang two songs dedicated to the mothers. This was followed by a story about the most beautiful mother in the world. Each student stood by the podium and read a personal tribute to his/her most beautiful mother in the world.

After another special song, students offered a gift to their moms and served them refreshments that were generously provided by parents.

“It’s wonderful, so lovely and quite a treat!” said Ozzy Andrews’ mother, Brooke. When asked what he loves most about his mother, Ozzy responded, “She loves me!” Kindergarten teachers and assistants did a beautiful job. Each mother left with a smile.


Q and U Tie the Knot at Lewisboro Elementary School

Love was in the air at Lewisboro Elementary School. Letters Q and U chose to marry in mid-January, continuing the annual tradition that teaches kindergartners about the common pairing of these two letters. The affair was catered by generous kindergarten parents and the décor was designed by teachers, Lisa Burroughs and Colleen Walsh, along with assistant teachers Priscilla Luckow and Elizabeth Krissoff. Principal Cristy Harris and Assistant Principal Marie Calo officiated during the ceremony. The tuxedo-clad speech and language teacher, Terrilynn Wuensch, served as Maid of Honor. Q and U’s wedding has been a much anticipated event for many years at Lewisboro Elementary.

The bride “Q” looked beautiful in her lavender gown and the groom “U” was dashing in his black top hat. The couple appeared to be truly happy together. In fact, wedding guests claimed that they have been nearly inseparable since they first met.

The wedding shower was also held in the kindergarten classes. Each student was assigned one letter, which was affixed to a paper bag. The students’ task was to place an item that began with that specific letter into their bag, aka the wedding gift. During the shower, they provided their classmates with three clues in order to help identify the item.

After the ceremony, the bride and groom hosted a lovely reception. Formally dressed kindergarten guests danced to a variety of uplifting tunes, formed a conga line and participated in a limbo challenge. The tables were adorned with wedding themed place settings, nametags, wedding lollipops, bells and bubbles. The room was tastefully decorated with paper wedding bells, ribbons and streamers.

Students enjoyed participating in this event with the “happy couple,” which plans to honeymoon in QUeens.