What's Right with Spackenkill November 17, 2017


Please see flyer(s) that might be of interest:

Midnight Madness Basketball

United Way Art Contest


What's Right with Spackenkill!

November 17, 2017

A tradition of excellence with a vision for tomorrow

Dear Spackenkill Community,

When I was a young man,  I read Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's classic The Power of Positive Thinking. This simple message resonated with me. You might say that this message has morphed into the current concept of mindfulness. Why am I sharing this with you? Because that simple concept, stay thinking positively (STP) is the genesis of What's Right with Spackenkill! When I was a high school principal in a large suburban district, almost every problem big or small found its way to my office. It was very important that I remained mindful of all the positive students, staff, instructional initiatives, and activities that were going on daily in our building. You might say that was my antidote to becoming consumed by the problem solving that every principal undertakes each and every day. Furthermore, we live in a time of great cynicism and stress that competes daily for our attention. Mental health issues with teens and children have skyrocketed. It remains even more important that we appreciate all of the good that surrounds us every day at home and at school. 

Finally, there are so many good things happening in the district. Does that mean that we should "tune out" our challenges or deficiencies? Absolutely not. But we need to take the good with the bad and remain grateful for the opportunity that we possess to positively impact the learning of children in our school district.


Mark Villanti, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools


HS Junior Is a Top National Scientist

Rachel Li has been selected as a National Finalist for the 2017 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. Nearly 1,870 projects were submitted this year with only six teams and six individuals having earned this recognition in the US.  The Siemens Competition is regarded by the most prestigious universities as the leading science and mathematics research-based competition for high school students. 

Rachel and her two team partners will present their research to leading scientists at George Washington University during the National Competition in Washington, D.C. on December 5. Their project is called “Synthesizing and Characterizing Novel Gelatin and Pluronic F127 Hybrid Hydrogels as a Barrier Membrane for Guided Bone Regeneration Following Periodontitis." The team developed a novel gel compound that acts as a barrier, preventing gum tissue from invading the bone tissue affected by gum disease, allowing guided regeneration of the bone surrounding the tooth root.

“The team’s research is an important contribution to the field of restorative dentistry and our understanding of the barrier materials allowing guided bone regeneration. It could have an impact on the lives of millions suffering from periodontitis," said competition judge Dr. Janet Zoldan, Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “This project ultimately helps solve the tricky problem of having an effective barrier material that is strong enough to withstand the shearing forces applied on and by teeth yet degrades over time once bone is regenerated. I was very impressed with the team’s depth of knowledge of the field, techniques they used, and their thorough work.” To learn more about the Siemens Competition please click here to visit the link.





STEM Grant Awarded to SHS

At a press conference this past Wednesday at Spackenkill High School, the District was awarded a $2,000 STEM Talent Pipeline Grant from The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The district will use the grant money to support our active Science Research Program at the high school. Three Science Research teachers -- Kris Chen, Jen Maloney and Amy Matts -- and a class of science students attended the event. Guests included Senator Sue Serino and Director of District Operations Lydia Biskup, PTSA President Vickie Setzer, and Laura Perloff, Director of Advocacy and Strategic Alliances for PhRMA.

For more information, please visit phrma.org.

Senator Sue Serino with Dr. Villanti



Student Government Hosts
Bus Driver Breakfast 

Todd Student Government thanked all the district bus drivers this past Wednesday with a breakfast that included entertainment by the Jazz Band as well as a cello player from the Orchestra, along with student singers.  This annual event always brings a smile to everyone’s face.

Thank you, bus drivers!


Spotlight on the Capital Improvement Project:

Elementary Playgrounds

Each week until the vote on December 5, we will highlight an aspect of the proposed Capital Project.

Elementary Playgrounds

a discussion with John Farrell, Principal, Hagan Elementary

and Nancy Ferrarone, Principal, Nassau Elementary

What improvements are you looking at for your school playgrounds?

JF:  At Hagan, we've talked about the need for equipment: age-appropriate basketball hoops for the back playground, soccer goals and nets for both playgrounds, a small paved area for wall ball, new basketball hoops on the front playground, outside drinking fountains, and shaded seating areas for parents and students.

Frayed basketball nets at Hagan.

Soccer goal at Hagan with rusting poles.


Additional shaded seating areas are under consideration at both schools.

NF: Preliminary items discussed for the Nassau Elementary playground upgrades would include a refurbish of Little Tikes equipment and removal and replacement of an older swingset to include ADA-compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act) upgrades. ADA sidewalks from the second grade hallway and the recess exits are another consideration.

We’ve also discussed extending the play area to incorporate three bench seating areas with shade, a five-post climbing tower, inclusive interactive panels with shade and an inclusive spinner social space called New Volta designed for users of all shapes, sizes and abilities. Upgrade of the blacktop area to include interactive play activities is another consideration.

Little Tikes equipment on Nassau playground.

Swingset at Nassau is not ADA compliant.

Notice to Parents/Guardians

 Our vendor for school lunch will be raising its online payment fees for MySchoolBucks from $1.95 to $2.49 per transaction as of December 11, 2017. Please note that parents can still make payments directly to the School Lunch Program at no cost. Please make check payable to SUFSD School Lunch Fund.

For more details about online payment, please click here.

Science Grants in Action at Middle School

Todd Middle School science teacher Elyse Joy has received a $2,000 grant from the Community Foundations to bring the entire 7th grade to the Hudson River in the spring to study biodiversity.  The students will head to Esopus Meadows to explore the estuary and study its inhabitants.  The trip will now be free for our students!  They are currently studying organisms, cells, genetics, evolution, and ecology. “Between the greenhouse and the animals, they’re getting a feel for how things interact with each other in nature,” says Mrs. Joy.

During lunch periods, Mrs. Joy’s classroom transforms into a makerspace (see below)—with the help of two additional grants awarded last school year to Mrs. Joy and Ms. Cunningham: the School Library Media Specialists of Southeastern NY Bea Griggs Memorial Incentive Grant  and a Verizon STEM Grant for a makerspace project. 

Students use hundreds of Rubik's cubes to replicate a computer pattern that will generate the face of Albert Einstein. They also work on snap circuit light projects to make real working circuits, such as LED lights that blink at the same speed as music and devices that function in the same way as sound- and motion-sensor alarm systems. The “A” in STEAM is for Art, so the group also creates pixel art images using color-coded numbered stickers. Be sure to see them in action on STEAM Day at Todd, February 24, 2018!


Working with Rubik's cubes to generate an image of Albert Einstein.



 Pixel art explained.



Creating a light circuit.

Discarded Books Reborn at Todd

Hedgehog Mania has hit Todd Middle School! Under the guidance of Ms. Eileen Cunningham,  Library Media Specialist for the Todd Library Media Center, students made hedgehogs from discarded books that were out-of-date or in poor condition.  

“We started it as a Library Club project and then encouraged the rest of the school community to make one if they wanted to -- no formal advertising, just word-of-mouth through the library,” says Ms. Cunningham, who does a great job of encouraging student participation in the library. For this project, students could work on books at home or in the library. They look amazing and are a great craft project for making creative use of old volumes.



Hands-on Science at Nassau

Wearing scientific lab coats, Mrs. Davis’s class recently completed a solar experiment outside using construction paper hand mitts.



15 Croft Road, Poughkeepsie,  NY

(845) 463-7800

Mission: Inspired by a tradition of excellence and a spirit of continuous improvement, the Spackenkill School District will provide all of our students with the academic and social skills necessary to pursue their goals and become responsible citizens in an interdependent global community.

Vision: All Spackenkill graduates will be lifelong learners who are inspired to pursue their dreams and contribute to the global society.

Please submit story ideas to mary.forsell@sufsdny.org

Issues of the newsletter are available on the Spackenkill website: www.spackenkillschools.org/district_newsletter_ archive