What's Right with Spackenkill Feb 15, 2018

Please see the following flyer(s):

Little League Signup

Relatives as Parents Program

      Spackenkill logo

What's Right with Spackenkill!

February 15, 2018

A tradition of excellence with a vision for tomorrow

Dear Spackenkill Community, 

Like many of you, I learned about the Florida shooting yesterday. Our hearts go out to the students, staff, and families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It’s chilling, and the number of horrific incidents like this seems to be far more than one could ever expect. As a former high school principal during the time of Columbine, sadly it doesn’t come as much of a shock to me. So here are some of my initial thoughts today.

First, if I had children at home, I would probably limit TV viewing. This 24-hour, nonstop media fixation on incidents like this just creates more anxiety. On the other hand, I would talk with my child honestly and openly about the facts of what I know. But I find no reason to obsess on the topic.

Secondly, I just want to reassure you that having worked in a number of good districts, Spackenkill is among the safest. We have protocols in place to handle situations as best as possible. We have a great working relationship with the Town of Poughkeepsie’s Police Department.

The third point I want to make is about prevention.  The presence of an SRO is important in our school—formerly Officer Hamel and now Officer Kilfoyle—and we feel very confident in the job that they’re doing. But frankly, the greatest tool to prevent these problems is our people and the great relationships among adults, students, and families. I learned today that threats were made by this former student in Florida prior to the incident. When students or families become concerned with specific young people (and have reason to believe that they could be violent), I urge you to please contact the appropriate school staff member. As a former high school principal, we always respected confidentiality at times like this, so you don’t have to worry about being dragged into these incidents. I’d want to know if someone felt there was a potential problem so that we could take the appropriate steps. 

Finally, despite the fact that there have been so many of these issues in the news, schools remain one of the safest places for teens and children, and our school district especially is a safe place. We have a very active and involved district safety team that meets regularly. At a district cabinet meeting on the day of this incident, the high school SRO shared his positive opinion of the high school implementation of a lockdown. Our doors of communication are always open. So if you or any other parent or family in the district or student have any concerns, please feel free to talk directly to a teacher, counselor, or principal—or call me. Don’t hold things back that could be important for us to know. We care about each other. We want everyone in this school district to remain safe so that all of your children and young adults can focus on their learning. Thank you.


Mark Villanti

Mark Villanti, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools


Music Teacher to Present Workshop

Kody AndreasCongratulations to elementary music teacher Kody Andreas! He has been accepted into the 2018 Early Childhood Music and Movement Association Convention as a presenter. Titled “How Far I’ll Go,” Mr. Andreas’s workshop will provide teachers with creative and playful ways to incorporate popular children’s media into the early childhood general music classroom—which is something you’ll find him doing at Nassau every day! Held at Buffalo State College this summer,  this prestigious international conference draws top presenters, including many college professors, to conduct workshops and share research. The headliner this year is Dr. Patricia Shehan Campbell, a professor at the University of Washington who is a well-known name in the music education field.

How Far I'll Go


Memory Project: Syria

The Memory Project is a unique initiative in which art students create portraits for children and teens around the world who have been neglected, orphaned, or disadvantaged. Given that kids in such situations tend to have few personal  keepsakes, Spackenkill art students aim to provide them with special memories that capture a piece of their childhood, portable pieces of their personal history. As much as possible, the goal is to help the kids see themselves as works of art. To do this, art students receive photos of kids on our waiting list and then work in any medium to create the portraits (drawing, painting, digital art, collage, etc). Next, memoryproject.org delivers the portraits to the kids as gifts. They take photos of the kids holding the portraits so the art students can see the delivery in action. This  year's theme is the Syria, and photos of students' work follow.





Art Contest Finalist Meets Celebrity

Amy Brandenburg with parents and Daymond John

Ava Brandenburg with television celebrity Daymond John and her parents, Tyler and Torianne.

Congratulations to 2nd grader Ava Brandenburg! She is one of 10 finalists in the United Way of Dutchess-Orange's “Color My World United” art contest to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the organization. Students in grades 1 through 3 created artwork with unity, friendship, and helping themes.  Ava’s artwork (shown below) is  titled “The Adoption Center” and celebrates volunteering as well as the importance of adopting a pet from a shelter. There were about 1,000 submissions all told. Last Saturday, Ava joined other finalists and their families at the iHeart Media offices to meet with Daymond John of the television show “Shark Tank,” who was one of the judges for the top finalists. Other distinguished judges were City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison, Lilia Perez, Arts Midhudson; Brad Kendall, Dutchess County Clerk; Inaudy Esposito, Orange County Government; Todd Poteet, Mill Street Loft/The Art Effect, and Jeannie Montano; CEO, United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region.  

Ava Brandenburg's artwork
Ava's winning artwork is shown above.



Steam Day Feb 24STEAM Day will take place on February 24th at Todd Middle School. This year, there is an art component (the "a" in "steam"), so it should be more amazing than ever!


Track Athlete Is MHAL Champ

Albert Kim
On Friday, February 9th, the indoor track team participated in the MHAL Championship meet at West Point.   Albert Kim took 1st place in the 55m dash and 2nd in the 300m dash. Congratulations!


Upcoming Athletic Events

Spartan headIndoor Track:
Section IX Championship - February 16th at 6 PM @ West Point

Boys Basketball (regular season games):
February 16th @ Red Hook at 7:30 PM
February 20th hosting FDR at 4:15 PM

MHAL Girls Basketball Tournament 
 February 20th - Conference Championships at Ulster Community College


Student Delivers Literary Science Lesson

Todd 7th grade student Soumya Kamada recently taught her classmates in Mrs. Joy’s Life Science 7 class about genetic discrimination, using texts from popular book series as examples. Over two class periods, she delivered lessons on the way genetics play a role in the Harry Potter books as well as in titles about dystopian worlds, such as Divergent and Hunger Games. Her presentations prompted discussions of other books that portray genetic discrimination. Mrs. Joy pointed out that discrimination can take different forms. You could be discriminated against for your socio-economic status or a factor that is out of your control, such as skin color. She talked about the importance of keeping personal genetic information private in light of new technology that records health information.

Soumya Kamada presenting genetics lesson


Todd SGO VP Spearheads Community Event

Adam Macklin with Marc Molinaro

Todd Student Government Vice President Adam Macklin recently participated as a spokesperson at a press conference to kick off KidVenture, a child-focused event in downtown Poughkeepsie to take place April 28-29. KidVenture is presented by the Dutchess County Chamber Foundation and IBM. Abilities First is the accessibility sponsor. Adam  is pictured above with several other student spokespeople and County Executive Marc Molinaro.


Schools Spread Kindness

Random Acts of KindnessThis week, Spackenkill High School observed Random Acts of Kindness Week. Its purpose is to spread good cheer and show kindness toward others. Each day had a theme: Monday was Say Hello to a Stranger; Tuesday, Rainbow of Pride; Wednesday, Show the Spackenkill Love Day (for Valentine's Day). On Wednesday, the Spackenkill Student Government Organization doled out candy hearts and hugs in the morning. Leo Club got busy Wednesday night putting positive post-it notes on lockers. "This is our third year," said club advisor Adam Hammond. "Every student, teacher, and staff gets one.  The students were here until 6 pm writing and putting them up." What a nice surprise for everyone on Thursday morning! Thursday was Spread Some Positivity Day, with a cocoa table set up in the cafeteria during lunchtime. All proceeds went to charity.

SGO hands out stickers
SGO handed out candy and stickers on Wednesday.
student lockers
You know who's beautiful? Look at the first word. You make my life bear-able
Leo Club posted positive messages on student lockers.
Nassau School observed Healthy Spirit & Random Act of Kindness Week. Students wore green on Monday to reflect school spirit and red on Wednesday for Healthy Hearts Day. The entire school went on a morning walk to get their hearts pumping. Thursday’s theme was Sleeping for Good Health. Not only did students wear PJs to school, but they also learned about the importance of sleep through a morning announcement by the school nurse, Nora Bergstraser, During lunch on that day, Tracie Phillips spoke to students during their lunch periods about ways to be kind and later worked with second grade students to load her car with nonperishable donations that the students collected all week for a local food pantry.
Mrs. Ferrarone and students on a Healthy Heart Walk.
Ms. Spiegel leads students through exercises to get their hearts pumping.
Students enjoy some fresh air.
Mrs. Phillips speaks to students about kindness.
Second grade students help Mrs. Phillips load her car with nonperishable goods collected all week for a local pantry.


Mint Mobiles Strengthen STEM Skills

Fifth grade students in Mrs. Riehl’s STEM lab recently made racing cars using simple materials: straws, popsicle sticks, tape, and mints.  Students raced their cars in class, then the winners competed in the Mint Mobile Grand Prix on February 12 during lunch. The winning car is the one that traveled the farthest. The Grand Prix winners were Effie Thomas and Danny Campbell from Mrs. Wilson’s class. The students all did great work!

Winners Effie Thomas and Danny Campbell
Finalists gather before the Grand Prix holding their mint mobiles.
Contestants sent their vehicles down a ramp in the cafeteria.

Sweet Events for Valentine's Day

sign outside doorMrs. West's kindergarten class put on a Valentine show for visiting family and friends on Tuesday. Afterward, the visitors enjoyed treats with the students, below. On Wednesday, students at both elementary schools celebrated Valentine's Day with parties. 
visiting famliiesa
Heart pizza gift

Above: Student Lina Gemmati's family, owners of Gino's Pizzeria, made pizza for Mrs. West's entire class on Valentine’s Day and gave a special heart-shaped pie to Principal Ferrarone.






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