Board of Education recognizes outstanding athletes, community service and science club accomplishments
Student excellence was celebrated at a recent Board of Education meeting in the Miller Place School District, where several students were recognized for their accomplishments in areas including athletics, community service and science.
The Board recognized the athletic achievements of Justin Klein, a senior on the Miller Place High School wrestling team; Liam Preston, a senior on the MPHS swimming team; and Danielle Cirrito, a senior on the MPHS girls’ basketball team who was also named News 12’s Scholar-Athlete. Mary Fleckenstein, a retiring MPHS swimming coach, was also honored for her dedication to the district.
The Board also lauded the community service of the North Country Road Middle School family for their launching of a food pantry to feed local families in need. The Parent Teacher Organization was acknowledged for inspiring the idea, middle school students in Boy Scout Troop 204 were recognized for their role in collecting and replenishing the pantry with food, and eighth-grade student Quinn Cantone received a special thank you for coordinating donation pick-ups in her neighborhood.
The Miller Place High School Science Club earned praise from the Board for bringing home two medals from the recent Regional Science Olympiad, where the Miller Place team participated in 12 of 21 events.
“Our students dedicate themselves and devote their time and energy to their passions while focusing on their academic careers. The Miller Place community would like to acknowledge their achievements and extend our congratulations,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marianne Cartisano.
Troop 960 Scouts plant flower beds outside elementary school
Rows of pink tulips and multicolored pansies adorn the entrance to Andrew Muller Primary School thanks to a group of the school’s students in Girl Scouts/Daisy Troop 960. The young Scouts planted the spring flowers, which were donated by local garden center GardenWorx LI, at the entranceway of their elementary school to celebrate spring and spread joy to their teachers and classmates as they enter and leave the building.
“I’m so proud of these girls for creating such a beautiful display for staff and students to see as they come and go to school. What a great way to welcome the new season and give back to the Miller Place community,” AMPS Principal Laura Gewurz said.
The project is part of the Girl Scout’s commitment to make their community and the world a better and more beautiful place. Through the beautification effort, the Scouts completed their Flower and Garden Journey badges. Earning the Flower and Garden Journey badge includes exploring the world of gardening, starting a mini garden at home, learning about composting and learning how insects like ladybugs and bees help flowers grow. Daisy Scouts also take a field trip to a public garden and talk to a gardener or beekeeper.
Once all the above is completed, Scouts earn three leadership awards – the Watering Can Award, Golden Honey Bee Award and Amazing Daisy Award. Then, Scouts plan a “Take Action” project that involves bringing what they learned to their community through a beautification project.
Students who contributed to the project at Andrew Muller Primary School and earned their badges included Molly Samonas, Jessie Maldonado, Delaney Kruse, Ellie Jackowski, Hailey Fisher, McKenna Stingo, Sadie Pachter, Elaina Giannino, Lylah Anschel, Lilah Ebert and Addie Lafler.
Miller Place High School gave its psychology students a dog day afternoon – literally – with a lesson on the benefits of dog-assisted therapy.
Classes met with volunteers from the Long Island chapter of Love on a Leash, a nonprofit that provides dog-assisted therapy to facilities like nursing homes and hospitals. Volunteers shared how animal-assisted therapy is used to enhance the recovery of patients with varying physical and mental illnesses. At the end of the presentation, students had a chance to meet the dogs and their handlers.
“This program gave our students a chance to learn about a valuable therapy practice from those who practice it. The students thoroughly enjoyed the experience,” said psychology teacher Tara Penske.
While animal-assisted therapy has been growing in popularity in recent history, the practice has been studied for over a century. Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of modern nursing, recognized its potential in the late 1800s when she paired children and adults in psychiatric institutions with small pets. In her renowned 1859 book, Notes on Nursing, she recorded how having an animal companion helped her patients recover.
Dr. Sigmund Freud revived a public interest in animal therapy, specifically with dogs, in the 1930s when he brought his own pet Jo-Fi to therapy sessions and noted the calming affect it had on his patients.
In 1961, Dr. Boris Levinson became known as the “father of animal-assisted therapy” when he accidentally left his dog Jingles alone with a young patient who was withdrawn and nonverbal. On returning, Dr. Levinson found the boy communicating with Jingles. He began using Jingles in his child psychotherapy sessions and wrote a book in 1969 called Pet-Oriented Child Psychotherapy.
Dogs are most often used in animal-assisted therapy because of their nonjudgmental nature and desire to protect others, which helps patients break down their emotional barriers.
“This was such a great opportunity for our psychology students to learn about a unique therapy technique that is becoming increasingly prevalent. It’s always great to bring experiential learning to the classroom and I’m grateful for our psychology teachers for hosting such a great program,” said Kevin Slavin, Principal of Miller Place High School.
Love on a Leash is a nonprofit that offers a certification process for volunteers to become qualified to provide effective dog-assisted therapy services in their community. Therapy pets and their handlers visit wherever they are invited and have held sessions at nursing homes, hospitals, schools, behavioral centers, private homes and other facilities – all free of charge.
The nonprofit launched in San Diego in the 1980s and has since expanded to almost every state in the U.S. As of April 2022, there are over 2,400 members volunteering as therapy teams with dogs, cats and rabbits.
Emma LaMountain and Diya Saini are the Class of 2022 valedictorian and salutatorian
Emma LaMountain and Diya Saini have been named the valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, for the Class of 2022 at Miller Place High School. Emma has earned the top-grade point average (GPA) of her graduating class with a cumulative GPA of 101.69. Diya has the second highest, with a cumulative GPA of 101.52. The academic success of both students exemplifies the intellect and commitment they have put into their education throughout their academic careers.
Emma is an Advanced Placement Scholar, was awarded Academic All-County by the Suffolk County Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and was named to the Suffolk County Girls Soccer Academic All County team. She was also recognized as a NYSPHSAA Scholar-Athlete and is captain of the Miller Place Varsity Girls’ Lacrosse and Basketball teams. Emma is a member of the National Honor Society, Athletes Helping Athletes, and the Service Club.
Emma plans on attending Cornell University to study Biology on a pre-medical school track in September.
Diya is an Advanced Placement Scholar, a member of the National Honor Society, Tri-M Honor Society and the Foreign Language Honor Society, and was a participant in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Summit.
Diya is the Class of ‘22 Vice President. She is also a member of the Miller Place School Improvement Team and the Service Club. As a sports standout, Diya is captain of the Miller Place Varsity Girls’ Badminton team. She also boasts a music background and is a member of the Panther Players pit orchestra and was selected as an All-County bassoonist. Diya is a member of the Miller Place School Improvement Team (SIT) and Service Club, and is a coordinator for the NSHOA Cancer Specialists medical group.
Diya is awaiting a response from her first choice, Yale University. She has also applied to Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Northeastern, Princeton, Stony Brook and Tufts. She plans to study environmental science.
Abigail Specht honored at the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Bixhorn Technical Center
MILLER PLACE, NEW YORK (MARCH 2021) — Miller Place High School student Abigail Specht was named Employee of the Month for March 2022 in her Career Technical Education program at the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Bixhorn Technical Center, part of the Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology in North Bellport. Abigail is studying Professional Photography & Digital Imaging and was recognized as a student whom her instructors would want to hire. The Bixhorn Technical Center awards Employee of the Month honors to those students who show professionalism and a desire to be trained, along with having the best technical skills.
“Being selected as the Employee of the Month is a high honor, and these students should serve as role models for their peers,” said Nicole M. Zergebel, the Principal of the Eastern Long Island Academy Of Applied Technology. Dr. Marianne Cartisano, Superintendent of the Miller Place City School District, added, “Abigail is an outstanding student. This award is well-deserved and is indicative of the hard work Abigail has been devoting to refining her photographic and digital imaging skills, a career path that offers many future opportunities for Abigail if she chooses to pursue it.”
Book Authored and Illustrated by Students as Marine Biologists Officially Available
Miller Place, NY (March 12, 2022)—The Miller Place School District recently celebrated the official book launch of Peachy Keen, a book written and illustrated by Science Club students from North Country Road Middle School about their adventures rescuing a local sea turtle. The book launch was the culmination of a year-long science club project in partnership with the NY Marine Rescue Center in Riverhead. Canon USA sponsored the Marine Center program and graciously covered the costs of printing 250 copies, which are on sale at the NY Marine Rescue Center, the aquarium gift shop and at the MacArthur Airport gift shop. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to supporting the work of the NY Marine Rescue Center.
“This activity is exemplary of the Miller Place School District’s mission to empower students to creatively put their classroom lessons into action and make the world a better place,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marianne Cartisano. “The entire school community is proud of what these students accomplished, and we are grateful to the NY Marine Rescue Center and Canon USA for providing our students with this life changing opportunity.”
The turtle, which the students affectionately named Peachy Keen, was released back into the ocean in August of 2021 at Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays. Since that time, students and marine biologists have been tracking Peachy Keen’s progress from Long Island down the East Coast to Northern Florida. The book, written and illustrated by the 17 students of the NCRMS Science Club, tells the story about the students’ experiences and the lessons they learned about marine mammals that inhabit NY waters and the importance of keeping beaches clean. It also includes photos of Peachy Keen’s rehabilitation and journey back to the ocean.
The New York Marine Rescue Center is a rescue and rehabilitation organization that promotes marine conservation. Its mission is to preserve and protect the marine environment through conservation efforts including rescue, rehabilitation, education and research. Since its inception in 1996, the New York Marine Rescue Center has rescued more than 3,900 animals including over 119 sea turtles, 762 seals and seven cetaceans.
Special thanks to Science Club Advisor Mrs. Opitz who coordinated and supervised the activity. To continue tracking Peachy Keen, visit the NY Marine Rescue Center Tracking site at https://bit.ly/3w1HT3k.
PHOTO: North Country Road Middle School Science Club students join with Miller Place School District officials, NY Marine Rescue Center and Canon USA representatives in celebration of the publication of the students’ book, The Adventures ofPeachy Keen.
Deputy Superintendent with More Than 30 Years of Experience in the District Selected as Successor
MILLER PLACE, NEW YORK (FEBRUARY 2022)—Starting this summer, Miller Place School District Deputy Superintendent Seth Lipshie will take on the role of superintendent of schools at Miller Place, succeeding Dr. Marianne Cartisano, who is retiring at the end of the 2021-2022 school year after nearly 20 years working in the district.
“Two thirds of my professional career in education have been in Miller Place,” Dr. Cartisano said. “It’s been a wonderful experience to serve in a district that values education and allows us to partner with the community to increase student achievement.”
Dr. Cartisano joined Miller Place in 2003 as assistant superintendent for business, and she was appointed superintendent in 2012. Among her proudest achievements include the implementation of a full-day kindergarten program in 2013 and pre-kindergarten, which became universally available to Miller Place School District families in the 2021-2022 school year.
Dr. Cartisano also spearheaded the implementation of technology in the classroom, helping Miller Place become, in 2005, one of the earliest districts to introduce Smart Board technology in every classroom and teaching environment. In 2020, the district completed its one-to-one learning device initiative, which ensured that every student in the district had a personal internet-connected device to augment learning. Dr. Cartisano said other achievements she is most proud of include expanding secondary opportunities for students to pursue their interests in athletics, business, and the arts; placing Miller Place on solid financial footing; and boosting the district’s bond rating with Moody’s Investor Services to Aa2, which is among the highest a municipality can achieve.
Dr. Cartisano said she feels confident that her successor, Seth Lipshie, will maintain Miller Place’s long-term financial planning and positive Moody’s rating, build upon the positive relationships the district has developed with its bargaining units and the community, and continue the district’s initiatives focused on technology integration in the classroom.
“I want to thank the leadership teams, board trustees, union presidents and the building and district-level administrators who make it all happen in Miller Place,” Dr. Cartisano said.
In selecting Seth Lipshie as the district’s next superintendent of schools, Board President Johanna Testa noted Mr. Lipshie’s more than 30 years of experience working in Miller Place, and the fact that he has spent most of his entire career in the district. From 1990 to 2001, Mr. Lipshie was a social studies teacher and in 2001 he became assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School. From 2002 to 2010 he served as principal of Miller Place High School before being appointed as assistant superintendent in 2010 and deputy superintendent in 2014.
“I pretty much knew in third grade that I wanted to be a teacher, and I’ve never wavered from that,” Mr. Lipshie said while noting the impact of educators. “Students spend one-third of their day with teachers, and when you’re an adult, and you look back at the most influential people in your life, one or two will probably be a teacher.”
The appeal of working in education and Miller Place has not faded. “I’m still just as excited to come to work every day as I was 20 to 25 years ago,” he said.
Going back to the earliest days of his career, Mr. Lipshie said he is proud that after launching the National Junior Honor Society at North Country Middle School and the Mock Trial Club at Miller Place High School, the two organizations still operate to this day.
“When you build a structure that can continue after you’re gone, that’s an achievement,” he said.
Mr. Lipshie looks to continue his solid relationships with the various stakeholders in the district, through discussions and negotiations with staff and union representatives ensuring that all parties walk away having felt that their voices were heard.
“Initially, stability and continuity are things I bring to the table, and I have a good handle on,” Mr. Lipshie said. “I’ve built collaborative cultures within the administration and among the staff, and I look forward to interacting more directly with students, parents/guardians and the community.”
Looking to the future, Mr. Lipshie seeks to continue the integration of technology in the classroom and the incorporation of evidence-based research into learning. “I look forward to using data, research and feedback from both the community and staff,” he said, “to shape learning for student success.”
Schedule an Appointment Now to Register Your Incoming Kindergartener for the 2022-2023 School Year
MILLER PLACE, NEW YORK (FEBRUARY 2022)—Miller Place School District’s annual registration process for Andrew Muller Primary School’s kindergarten begins Tuesday, March 1, 2022 and runs through Friday, March 18, 2022. Miller Place-Sound Beach children who are five years old on or before December 1, 2022 are eligible to enter kindergarten for the 2022-2023 school year.
As part of the two-step process, residents will begin by scheduling a mandatory appointment via the district’s online platform. In order to avoid any delay in the registration process, please have the following documentation accessible and available for each child that is entering kindergarten at the time of your scheduled appointment: 1) completed registration packet, 2) original birth certificate, 3) immunizations and current physical from your child’s physician, 4) proof of residence, and 5) custodial documentation (if applicable). Please note, incomplete registration packets will not be accepted, and you may be asked to reschedule.
Registration appointments will be conducted at Central Office located at 7 Memorial Drive, Miller Place. For more information regarding the registration process, please call Elizabeth Cascione at 631-474-2700 ext. 728.
MPHS Social Studies Teacher Mr. Beyersdorfer Chosen as Honorary NHS Inductee by Students
MILLER PLACE, NEW YORK (NOVEMBER 2021) — This year, the Miller Place High School National Honor Society (NHS) Chapter selected Mr. Beyersdorfer, aka Mr. B., as its honorary member for his commitment to teaching and helping his students with their education and application processes. Mr. B. has been teaching at Miller Place High School for 22 years. He is currently a Global History teacher for 9th and 10th grade students, and strives to help his students learn, grow, and meet their full potential.
According to his students, Mr. B. takes time out of his day to meet with students, offer extra help sessions, and write letters of recommendation for college bound seniors. His students say he frequently checks in with past students in the hallways to see how they are doing and asks about future college or career plans.
In addition to being a teacher, Mr. B. is involved in extracurricular activities at Miller Place High School. He is the coach of the varsity badminton team, as well as keeper of the scorebook at basketball games. Mr. B’s commitment to Miller Place High School and his students is demonstrated through his numerous extracurricular activities and commitment to help all students who pass through his classroom.
Honorary NHS membership grants to the recipient all of the privileges of membership without the obligations associated with active member status. Honorary membership can be awarded to school officials, principals, teachers, NHS advisers, or other adults in recognition of achievement and/or outstanding service rendered to the school in keeping with the purposes of the National Honor Society.
MPHS SIT Committee Members Connect with Newly Enrolled Students
MILLER PLACE, NEW YORK (NOVEMBER 2021) — Recently, Miller Place High School students on the SIT (School Improvement Team) Committee held a breakfast for newly enrolled Miller Place High School students, grades 9-12, to help them meet more of their classmates and become more comfortable with the new school environment. Approximately 30 new students have enrolled at the high school this year so far.
The students on the SIT Committee had the opportunity to give a presentation to the new students and share their own personal experiences at Miller Place High School. Student-assistant counselors and support staff also developed fun ice breaker activities at the conclusion of the breakfast to break any tension and make the students feel at ease.
Students were offered an overview of the high school’s staff members, athletic and extracurricular opportunities, and were provided with tips on how to build supportive relationships with their fellow peers. This initiative successfully aided new students at each grade level to have a more seamless transition into the Miller Place school community.