What's Right with Spackenkill! March 8, 2019

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What's Right with Spackenkill!

March 8, 2019


blue ribbon logo

blue ribbon logo


Dear Spackenkill Community,

Next week’s Board Meeting on March 12th will include updates on the Capital Project,  review of Special Education programs, and special presentations by principals Malkischer and Doherty. Sitting at the Board table with me that night will be high school student Jonathan Waxman, who is this year’s winner of Superintendent for the Day. Mr. Waxman will be shadowing me for a good portion of the work day.

Each year our Participation in Government students attend at least one School Board meeting, and I understand that for the next two weeks they will be attending on the 12 or the 26th. We look forward to their attendance.

This newsletter is chock-a-block with so many events and activities throughout the district. For the first time, I missed the Nassau Presidents Day Musical, as it conflicted with the Hagan Science Fair. I hope to be able to attend next year's event, as it has been one of my favorite activities while working in the district.

As a sidenote,  we’ve only missed three days of weather-related school cancellations to date. You can access a link to the ongoing tally by clicking here. Finally, some of you are planning your family vacations for next year. I anticipate that the Board will approve next year’s calendar. So if you’re looking for a sneak peek and to avoid missing days of school, take a look on the agenda for next week’s Board meeting on BoardDocs.

My best,

Mark Villanti

Mark Villanti, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Black History Celebration Debuts at Todd

A Message from Event Organizer Allison Travis

There is an African proverb that says, "Wisdom is like fire. People take it from others." Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me.

I am especially thankful to the administrators for allowing us to have the program. Kristen Gil and Julie Grega helped supervise students with me. Albert Scanlon sewed amazing outfits. I appreciate  Ms. Papo and the gym teachers, Miss Abrams, Ms. Berube, Mr.Blanco, Mrs. Vazquez,  and Mr. K, and Mr. Shanks for allowing dancers a place to practice.

Mrs. Byrne and Matt Lewis helped with the technology component.  Mr. Burgess graciously designed the seating arrangement for the dining hall and helped with whatever was needed. The office staff was amazing with all the help they gave me.

We are appreciate the Bookbag and student government for their financial support towards the t-shirts and skirts.

Black History Celebration

Click here to view moments from the Todd Black History Celebration.

Catch a Sneak Peek of 'Pippin' and More

First Look

Hagan Science Fair Showcases Research & Creativity

Congratulations to every Hagan fifth grader on participating in the Science Fair. This event teaches students how to use the scientific method to problem-solve and propose hypotheses. Students presented their work in their classrooms, then on Tuesday, March 5, they displayed and discussed their work with a panel of judges in the gymnasium. A big thank you to all the judges, who included Dr. Villanti and other members of the administration, as well as retired elementary principal Dr. Eileen Sicina. High school science students and volunteers from the community also served as judges. On Thursday, students were honored in an afternoon ceremony. Winners presented their work. Fourth graders attended the assembly to see what's in store for next year. The next step for the winners is the option of competing in the Dutchess County Regional Science Fair on March 30. 

Click here to view a list of the winners and the their projects.

scenes from Hagan Science Fair
Above: scenes from the science fair in the gym.
Science Fair winners

Above: All of the Science Fair winners.

1st place winners present their work
First place winners present their work.
2nd place winners
Second place winners present their work.
3rd place winners
Third place winners present their work.
STA winners
STA winners present their work.

Foreign Language Program Thriving in District

Hagan Students Introduced to French and Spanish
Hagan students are introduced to Spanish and French
Spanish teacher Manny Blanco and French teacher Paula Daunt from Todd Middle School visited Hagan classrooms last month to introduce fifth graders to the Spackenkill foreign language program, which begins in sixth grade. Students heard greetings in both languages and learned about how they'll have the opportunity to travel to Spain, France, and possibly Quebec when they are in high school foreign language classes. Students  also learned about how widely spoken both languages are around the world, and in fact that French is considered a top language for conducting trade. Contrary to what some people believe, French is not more difficult than Spanish. To demonstrate, Mme. Daunt spoke a few phrases in French and the students were able to understand perfectly. They were also treated to videos of Todd students performing songs in Spanish and French.

Spotlight on Paula Daunt

Meet Todd's New French Teacher

Mme. Daunt
Todd French teacher Paula Daunt has worked teaching languages as both an ENL and French teacher with grades K-12.  A special hallmark of her teaching style is to use music and movement as well as introduce students to real-life experiences with the French-speaking world. She shares her thoughts here.

Why did you want to come to Spackenkill?
I was very excited to return to teaching French full time.  It was really important to me to work in a district where I was allowed to take trips with my students and give them authentic interactions with the French language. That’s what motivates them: writing to a real person, video-chatting with or meeting a real French speaker.

Tell us about the teacher from France who visited Todd last fall.
Betty Bordier came with her students. That’s continuing a relationship that began back in the spring of 2014 with her school in France. We met on the plane while she was coming to the United States and I was returning from my trip to France with students. She told me about her vision of wanting a sister school in New York to come to and we set it up.  We are both excited to see where this connection will lead in the future as her district has just opened a ”collège,” French middle school. 

What did the French students enjoy or find interesting about their visit?
Immediately, when walking to my minivan they started chatting about the size of American cars.  They felt the same about the grocery store with all of its choices.  They were also intrigued by all our “autoroutes” on the way to get here. They were shocked how little I paid, traveling in a car would cost you a lot of money in France. They don’t have  school-sponsored sports in France, so the French kids liked that the students here were wearing Spack gear.

What surprised your students about the French students?
My students came up with questions ahead of time. They didn’t realize that there are differences in the school year between the United States and France. In France, they work 10 weeks, then have two weeks off, and they have summer vacation, too. The school day also starts later and goes until five.

In what other ways have middle school students learned first-hand about the French-speaking world?
I’ve brought in foods to try and have encouraged them to move beyond the familiar. They tried charcuterie, pâté, really stinky Camembert, goat cheese and blue cheese, Canadian chips,  and different types of French cookies as well as Belgian and Swiss chocolates—always a favorite. 

French Students Prepare for Spring Trip
Student presentation on France
Seventeen Spackenkill High School students enrolled in French classes will travel to France from April 11 to April 20 with their teachers.  Not only will students be immersed in French life and be able to practice their French, but will also tour cultural and historical sites, including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre in Paris plus the Normandy beaches where American troops liberated France from the grips of Nazism. The itinerary also includes Provence and The Cote d'Azur.  While on tour students will engage in an authentic cheese tasting at a fromagerie, a painting lesson in Impressionism, and a game of boules.  Students have been attending extra classes on Fridays after school studying various aspects of the itinerary, and each student has prepared two presentations on the geography, history, and various cultural aspects of France. In the photo shown here, future travelers listen to Melissa Conti present about the Eiffel Tower, one of the highlights of the trip.

Upcoming PTSA Meetings

March 11th Todd
April 8th High School
May 13th Todd
June No meeting

All meetings at 7 PM in middle or high school library

Congrats to Lion King, Jr., Cast and Crew!

Sold-Out Performances Get Rave Reviews

The Todd Middle School production of Lion King, Jr., was a sell-out success.  See below for memorable scenes. 

Click here to read the program.

Lion King, Jr.

Hail to the Chiefs

The First Grade Presidents Day Musical at Nassau was as cute as it was touching. Each student had a unique role and contributed to making this annual event a success. To prepare for the show, students explored what it means to be a leader and a hero. Parents and relatives streamed in to Nassau to get a good seat for the performance. Enjoy a few photos below.


1st Grade Presidents Day Musical
Click here to view a video of the President's Day play.

SGO's Month of Kindness at SHS


The Spackenkill High School Student Government decided to expand Random Acts of Kindness week (celebrated the second week of February) to a month of kindness activities. Students and faculty were encouraged to nominate fellow students or staff for the first-ever Spack Kindness awards. This award is a way to recognize those who show kindness in their daily life and make life better for others at SHS because of their actions. Nominations were received via a Google form that was e-mailed to everyone in the school.  SGO officers created a special video announcement that was shown on Friday, March 1st recognizing the following individuals: Mia Eng Kohn, Eden Boden, Brendan Caldwell, Ian Horvath, Tehreem Hasin, Anoushka Swain, Julia Gill, Julia McLaughlin, Sean T Lucas, Vanessa Aagaard and Mr. Aagaard. Obviously, kindness runs in the Aagaard family since both received nominations! They all received a certificate of appreciation and candy treats courtesy of SGO. 

As part of Kindness week the HS Student Government sponsored a free cocoa bar in the cafe. For the free cocoa the students were simply asked to write a note with a positive comment, compliment ,or words of  encouragement to help create a wall of kindness. By the end of the lunch periods, the wall was filled with positivity! Special thanks to the ladies in the cafe for providing the big hotpots for SGO to use. 


month of kindness

Safety First

Nassau students recently learned about how to be safe around train tracks, thanks to a TRACKS (Together Railroads And Communities Keeping Safe)  presentation by Deidre Mitchell, Metro North's Safety Education Program Coordinator and Community Outreach Specialist. Ms. Mitchell taught the students that it’s never OK to walk on train tracks and that you can’t always hear a train approaching (especially if you’re wearing headphones) and not all trains blow horns.   The students took a pledge not to ever walk on tracks.

TRACKS safety presentation

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.

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