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Musical Celebration

Musical Celebration Photo

Before the 2016-17 school year came to a close, Woodhull Elementary School students joined together to celebrate their accomplishments during the building’s annual spring concert.

The event, which showcased the talents of the school’s pre-kindergarten through sixth-graders, featured a mix of music genres and small and solo performances.

Fifth-grader Patryk Warzecha, who began learning the alto saxophone in September, led the room in a beautiful rendition of the national anthem before being joined by the rest of the Woodhull Concert Band to perform the theme from “Star Wars.” The band then switched gears to perform the jazz standard “When the Saints Go Marching In,” featuring improvised solos by fifth-grader Edoardo Giua on clarinet, fourth-grader Jack Brennan on trombone, and sixth-grader Thomas Brennan on drums.

Third graders then performed on ukulele while members of the very first ukulele ensemble at Woodhull — now graduating seniors — watched from the audience. Giovanni Giua performed his NYSSMA solo and Patryk Warzecha put his stamp on the jazz standard “Summertime” before the Concert Band re-emerged to perform the theme from “Batman” and “Gonna Fly Now” from the film “Rocky.”

The school then performed as one large ensemble for the popular songs “Yellow Submarine,” “You Can Make It If You Try,” and “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” with grades preK-2 singing, students in grades 3-5 singing and playing ukulele, and sixth-grade students performing in the horn section and on the drums.

Global Giving

Global Giving Pic
Global Giving Pic 2
In a novel undertaking by Woodhull Elementary School students and staff alike, the Fire Island school has made a donation of books, supplies and clothing to a fellow elementary school far across the globe in northwestern Guyana.

The project was initiated based on a conversation between Woodhull bus driver Titus Francis and Woodhull teacher Shannon Rickard – a conversation that focused on how the schools in Mr. Francis’ native country of Guyana were in need of supplies. From there, Ms. Rickard began thinking of ways to help and how this cause could be a learning experience for students, especially as it connected to the “Sharing the Planet” unit underway.

With the support of the entire school, Mr. Francis connected the teachers with Guyana Aid Region One, an organization that specializes in aid to the northwestern part of the country; a region where Mr. Francis lived until the 1990s.

Once the connection was made, Woodhull students collectively drafted a letter to the Region One organization formally indicating their desire to donate and asking the organization if they would ship the donated materials to Guyana. The students then gathered nearly 100 children’s books, more than 100 school supplies and more than 100 articles of clothing for boys and girls, which they delivered to the GARO office in Rosedale, Queens.

Per the teachers’ arrangement with GARO, the donations will go directly to the Hosororo Hill Primary School in Hosororo, Guyana, where Mr. Francis was once a student.

Mermaid Ball

An Educational and Inspirational Mermaid Ball Photo

Fire Island Health Services Director and School Nurse Janet LaViolette recently coordinated a dynamic and engaging event to promote learning about health and safety as well as Fire Island’s environment and history.

The “Mermaid Ball,” transformed the school gymnasium into an eclectic wonderland of learning and creativity for two days, attended first by students and staff of Woodhull School, and then opened to the public with a limited number of complimentary ferry tickets provided by Fire Island Ferries.

The event was very much a group effort both within and beyond the school. Woodhull staff members led activities including “Yoga Under the Sea,” where Superintendent Loretta Ferraro taught students yoga poses, “Surf Shack Cafe” where art teacher and librarian Bianca Hansen served smoothies and nori, “Captain’s Reading Room” where reading specialist Colleen Ferry donned pirate attire and read to students, and an outdoor drum circle led by music teacher Philip Tamberino. 

The event also drew residents, parents, and former students, including Dana DeRuvo-Hanner of Saltaire, who taught about safety at the “First Aid Station,” parent Blair Burke, who facilitated the popular “Dress Up” outlet featuring nautical costumes, and Fire Island graduate Mallory Wood who taught about hygiene at the “Handwashing Station.” Representatives from other Fire Island organizations also participated, including the U.S. Coast Guard, whose members taught about water safety, and the National Parks Service, whose members taught about the natural resources and environmental concerns of Fire Island.

This is far from the first time Nurse Janet has helped organize a schoolwide educational event. For many years her “Teddy Bear Clinics” filled a similar niche and last year’s “Space Station” foreshadowed the more expansive program this year. 

Woodhull’s Vibrant Art Show

Woodhull’s Vibrant Art Show 2017

Woodhull Elementary School’s gymnasium was transformed into an art gallery as art teacher Bianca Hansen presented the annual exhibition of prekindergarten through grade six students’ inspiring work.

The projects drew on multiple inspirations including studies of artists such as Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and Romare Bearden. Other works were interdisciplinary in nature, including tessellations made using math, drawings of fictitious animal adaptations, and large paintings of ancient Egyptian gods. Also featured was a live demonstration of 3-D printing along with works designed by students using computer software and the school’s 3-D printer on loan from BOCES.

Family and friends toured the show led by their very creative student-artists.

Feeding a Local Need

Feeding a Local Need Photo
Fire Island School District students gave back to the community by helping prepare bag lunches for the Bethany Hospitality INN soup kitchen. 

The organization provides meals to homeless adults and children through their facility in the basement of the Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Central Islip. Volunteers from the INN, an islandwide not-for-profit organization, educated students not only about their tasks but the larger meaning and context of their efforts. 

"It was just the most wonderful, beautiful experience – a life lesson in kindness, volunteerism, and giving back" said Nurse Janet LaViolette, Fire Island's health services director who helped chaperone the trip. 

The arrangements for the inaugural school and INN's collaboration were made through Woodhull PTA member and past-president Janet Oviedo-Torres and Superintendent of Schools Loretta Ferraro.

Keeping Shorelines Clean

Keeping Shorelines Clean Image
Members of the Woodhull Elementary School community helped to beautify the Robert Moses Field 5 as they participated in an island-wide cleanup project of the Fire Island National Seashore.

The students were given supplies by FINS Assistant Superintendent Kelly Fellner and collected debris and refuse along Burma Road up to the National Parks Service checkpoint. On the return trip the group split up and cleared the bay and ocean shores.

The cleanup project was a collaborative effort of the parks service, the Fire Island Association, and the Fire Island Year Round Resident Association. The school’s efforts coincided with the annual national celebration of Earth Day.

A Musical Night

A Musical Night

Although the holiday season had already passed, the spirit of it was alive and well this January as Woodhull Elementary School students performed the musical “Elf,” which had been postponed from its original date of Dec. 20.

The schoolwide musical, based on the 2003 film and the 2010 Broadway musical of the same name, featured all students in every class and delighted the full-house audience. Sixth-grader Jason Philie gave a dynamic performance as Buddy, a human accidentally orphaned and raised in the North Pole as an elf who journeys to New York City in search of his father. Throughout the play, Buddy's charming naiveté made for moments of humor and pathos alike as he tries to fit in with his new family and especially his father Walter, a serious and busy executive played by sixth grader Thomas Brennan.

The students in the primary and early elementary grades cheerily played elves in the North Pole, and employees of Macy's dressed as elves, singing the carol "Deck the Halls" and the pop hit "Jingle Bell Rock." Other lead roles included Aidan Oviedo-Torres as Santa Claus, Malia Wendt as Walter's wife Emily, Jack Brennan as Walter's son Michael, and Joey Coleman as Walter's overbearing boss Mr. Greenway.

After the performance, the school held a ceremony for peace. A large wire sculpture of a dove made by nurse Janet Laviolette was unveiled on the stage and each student in the school placed a written "wish for peace" into it as they read their wish aloud to the audience.

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