Board of Education to Hold Anticipated Executive Session and Special Meeting - April 21, 2015


Strong Science Olympiad Showing

John Jay Middle School’s Science Olympiad team impressed with strong performances across multiple categories during a March competition at Scarsdale Middle School. The team placed sixth overall among the 25 regional teams competing and received high marks and medals in the Anatomy, Dynamic Planet, Green Generation, Invasive Species, Meteorology and Wheeled Vehicle categories.

“The students performed very well, and we are very proud of them,” said advisor Tina Russo.

Eighth-graders Ashkay Amin and James Chen placed first in Dynamic Planet’s oceanography event.

“We felt like we did well, but we didn’t know we would do that well,” said Amin.

The duo is looking forward to competing in Science Olympiad events at John Jay High School next year. Chen said the team’s dedication to studying the designated topics ahead of the competition contributed to the success. He advised younger students to adopt similar techniques if they hope to compete in Science Olympiad.

“Really read the syllabus and know the topics,” he said. “Maps and diagrams, if they are applicable to the event, are very helpful.”

A Look at Life in Kenya

Increase Miller Elementary School third-graders got a taste of what life is like for Kenyan natives through presenter David Johnson’s Walk Through East Africa program.

Johnson shared a slideshow detailing his many trips to Kenya over the past 40 years, pointing out differences between the lifestyles of those living in East Africa and students in Westchester.

“You can encounter elephants and hyenas in Africa,” he said, “not like the deer walking around here.”

He also addressed the differences in transportation, urging students to “appreciate [their] school bus” as he shared a photograph of students crammed into a small van.

“If you own a bike in Africa, you are considered middle class,” he said.

He also showed students a number of items from his travels, including clothing, musical instruments and utensils. Johnson and his family have made several visits to Africa to help install sources of water in villages.

“I go there to help them improve their health and live better,” he said.

MS Student’s Passion Inspires Action

John Jay Middle School student Ashley Stagnari has always loved visiting the South Salem Wolf Conservation Center and was inspired to take action when she learned about government-led action to put down wolves living in British Columbia.

“I have always been interested in wolves, and I follow the Wolf Conservation Center on Instagram,” she said. “I saw they posted a picture of wolves being shot, and I decided I wanted to do something.”

Stagnari received permission to speak in all of the school’s home base classrooms about the effort and collected 75 signatures through a petition she created. She then went on to speak with representatives from the WCC, publicizing the petition through the organization’s website and collecting more than 1,000 signatures.

Stagnari believes wolves are a misunderstood breed and hopes her efforts will help change people’s minds.

“A lot of people don’t like them and think they are scary,” she said. “I asked my [peers] to think about them like a family member or pet to show them I think they are good.”

When she started the petition, Stagnari was not sure of the impact she would have and is blown away by its momentum.

“All your little voices can seem big,” she said. “You should always speak up if you have something on your mind.”

Writer Inspires During PARP Month at MPES


As part of Parents as Reading Partners month, Meadow Pond Elementary School students were treated to a visit from children’s book author Kate Klise.

Klise, an Illinois native, has written a number of popular children’s books – including the “43 Old Cemetery Road” series – illustrated by her sister, Sarah.

When meeting with MPES students, Klise shared her secret formula for writing a good story. She told students it is important not to be discouraged if their first draft isn’t perfect. Her first book, written at age 10, was inspired by “Stuart Little,” but ultimately lacked any real excitement.

“It wasn’t a very good book,” she said. “It was kind of boring.”

Since then, she said she found that introducing characters, problems and adventures to her stories makes them more colorful and fun.

“We don’t start with the details; we start with the bones and add the details later,” said Klise, who encouraged students to write many drafts of their work. “Remember that writing is a messy business.”

Students were invited to create their own characters, problems and adventures and many took home books signed by Klise.

Klise’s visit was one of many special events held throughout the month of March to celebrate PARP. To learn more about reading at MPES, view the below video.


Increase Miller Celebrates Diversity

Increase Miller Elementary School students spoke openly about their similarities and differences during a special character assembly on March 27.

Students watched an animated story, “The Crayon Box That Talked,” in which crayons learn that by working together, they can create a beautiful picture.

“If we were all the same, the world would be a boring place,” said Assistant Principal Andrew Galotti.

Students said that despite differences in hair or skin color, height or weight, friendship is the most important quality.

The assembly ended with a performance by third-graders Jesse Collins and Alexander Shtohryn, who wrote an original song about the value of getting along and maintaining friendships.

Mock Trial Excels at Regional Competition

John Jay High School’s Mock Trial team presented cases and argued in front of real Westchester County judges on March 10 and 12.

The team competed at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, where JJHS students advanced after competing against teams from Good Counsel and Clarkstown North.

“We assembled a defense team and a plaintiff team, learned a case inside and out from both sides and then went to court to argue against the other schools,” said advisor Chandler Lewis. “The judges weighed in on the arguments and scored our students’ tactics, demeanor, eloquence, confidence and poise, ability to wage and answer objections, enter and use evidence and deliver opening and closing arguments.”

The students worked hard to excel in presenting their cases, questioning witnesses and cross-examining opponent witnesses during a two-to-three-hour trial.

The defense team — Kailas Amin, Reed Feldman, Will Palmieri, Ashley Ramsay, Sasha Suser and Tess Tobin — argued against Good Counsel, while Jacob Agona, Tara Carroll, Mya Labbay, Katie Ricca and Marisa Tagliaferro represented the plaintiff against Clarkstown South.

The team’s scores qualified them to move on to round three of the competition.

Meadow Pond Powers Down and Plays

Meadow Pond Elementary School’s PTA hosted the annual PEP Night (Play More, Eat Right and Power Down Electronics) on March 13. During the evening, students put their skills to the test in fierce competition with their own parents by playing fun games and moving their bodies.

“It was an active evening for all, with lots of movement and fun with friends and family,” said Principal Carolann Castellano.

2015 Winter KaLeidoscope


Stark Heads to State Geography Bee

After winning the John Jay Middle School Geography Bee, Alex Stark’s impressive score qualified him to compete at the state level bee on March 27 in Albany.

“I was surprised to find out I made it to the next level,” said Stark, who said he was initially nervous when he qualified as one of the school’s 10 finalists to compete in front of the whole school.

The National Geography Bee, open to students in grades four through eight, includes tough questions about U.S. and global geography. After winning the JJMS Bee, Stark took a qualifying test to continue to the next level.

“I studied online and looked at a lot of maps,” Stark said.

He remembers a specific question that referenced the geographic location in the Disney movie “Frozen” that he was able to successfully answer as he worked toward winning the JJMS Bee. (He correctly identified the Scandinavian peninsula as the location where Norway is located.)

Stark is looking forward to being one of 100 competitors in the statewide competition and has been studying every day to prepare. The highest-scoring students at the state level will continue to the national competition in Washington, D.C.

He advises other students looking to participate in similar competitions to try to shake the nerves.

“Don’t worry too much,” Stark said, adding, “Try your best and study.”

Front of the Class Charitable Book Drive


Bringing Childhood Books to Life

John Jay High School seniors in the Advanced Acting class have been visiting the elementary schools this month to excite their younger counterparts about reading as part of Parents as Reading Partners Month. “The students picked their favorite childhood books,” said teacher William Friedman.

This year’s selections include a book about a girl with an especially long name, “Chrysanthemum,” an outcast in “Ferdinand the Bull” and a girl with unusual hairstyles in “Stephanie’s Ponytail.” The actors narrated the stories for the elementary students and were rewarded with many moments of laughter as they drove home the books’ lessons about being inclusive and not bullying peers.

PARP is continuing throughout the month of March at Increase Miller, Katonah and Meadow Pond elementary schools with a number of assemblies, reading opportunities, guest authors and more.

Harlem Wizards Entertain at JJHS


The Harlem Wizards’ tricks, dunks and jokes provided an evening of laughter and fun for local families at John Jay High School on March 7.

The event, which served as a fundraiser for the John Jay Booster Club, was wildly successful.

“We were thrilled to have more than 500 people attend the game,” said JJHS Principal Jessica Godin.

Added Booster Club representative Theresa McAvey, “The game was fantastic! The Booster Club did very well and the kids had a blast.”

Browse photos by Gabe Palacio below.


Celebrating Reading at KES

Katonah Elementary School kicked off March with a special word of the month – “read.”

The choice is especially fitting, as March is Parents as Reading Partners Month districtwide. During the March Sharing Assembly, students enjoyed a performance by John Jay High School students, who acted out their favorite books and sang “Celebrate Good Books” to the tune of “Celebrate.”

KES Reading Interventionist Enid Linden, with the help of some of the older students, introduced PARP by saying, “March is my very favorite month.” Linden introduced “Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel” by Virginia Lee Burton as the KES community read for PARP. The book was published 75 years ago, the same year the school was built. She also reminded students to enjoy 15 minutes of reading with a parent or other adult, Monday through Friday, during March.

Special themed days are being held throughout the month, from Wear a Word Day to Character Day. Students will also bring in new paperback books to donate to the Community Center of Northern Westchester at the conclusion of PARP.

“Our students have the opportunity to develop good reading habits and at the same time reach out to others with the gift of books,” said Linden.

Bedford /Lewisboro/Pound Ridge Drug Abuse Prevention Council presents: A Spring Workshop Series


Prospective School Board Candidate Packets Available

Prospective Board of Education Candidate Packets are available for community members interested in running for a vacant seat on the Katonah-Lewisboro School Board of Education.   Candidate packets can be obtained from Ms. Kimberly Monzon, District Clerk, at the District Office located at 1 Shady Lane, South Salem, New York, Monday – Friday during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  

The Katonah-Lewisboro School District Board of Education will have two (2) trustee vacancies to be voted on during the May 19, 2015 Annual School Election and Vote.  A trustee’s term on the school board runs for three years.
Each candidate must properly file a nominating petition with the District Clerk in order for his or her name to appear on the ballot for the Annual School Election and Vote.  The deadline to submit the nominating petition is Monday, April 20, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.

Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association will host a workshop for Prospective School Board Members on Thursday, April 9, 2015.  Details on the workshop will be provided in the Prospective School Board Candidate Packets.