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Pride on Display at Islip’s Hispanic Heritage Celebration

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The district held its fourth annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration on Oct. 20, recognizing Hispanic students who have engaged in civic and community engagement and participation within their school while demonstrating pride for their language and culture. Held during the Board of Education meeting at the high school auditorium, the event coincided with Hispanic Heritage month, which pays tribute to the generations of Hispanic, Hispanic Americans and heritage speakers who have positively influenced and enriched the nation and society.

Selected by Islip’s ENL and world languages department, in collaboration with the Hispanic Heritage Committee, nine district students were honored: Zuleyma Coto Guzman of Wingl; Cristian Martinez Ortiz, Alexis Montoya and Emily Sarai Coronado of Commack Road; Dennys Alfaro Umanzor and Bryan Alvarenga of Sherwood; Viancy Cordova Mejia of the middle school; and Daiana Fuentes Velasquez and Jimmy Larrea Salvatierra of the high school.

Suffolk County Legislator Samuel Gonzales, a Hispanic community leader, was on hand as a special guest to recognize the students along with administrators and Board of Education members. As their proud families watched, each of the honorees received a proclamation from Gonzales, an award certificate from the ENL and world languages department, and a gift coupon from BJ’s Restaurants.

“This year’s theme was ‘Hispanics Proud of Their Culture and Language,’ and there are many ways that our students show pride for their culture and language,” said Priscilla Zarate, Islip’s coordinator of ENL and world languages. “Often times this pride can be visible through three concepts of a culture: products of a culture, practices of a culture and perspectives of a culture.

“Products of culture are the tangible and intangible pieces of our Hispanic culture. For example, we sometimes hear our students share stories about how a Sunday cleaning home chore is also about teaching the children how to dance merengue, salsa or cumbia or vallenato. Nothing is done in isolation in our Hispanic culture. Everything is done with intention, to help our children become multi-taskers. So, children learn how to clean, dance and become stronger as Spanish speakers through this task. Another example is when our students share with their peers how they helped their parents cook a ceviche or rice and beans or an arepa con queso for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

“Practices of a culture are the social interactions and behaviors of our culture, and we often see these reflected in our students when they share their traditional celebrations such as: Three Kings Day, Day of the Dead, the Patron Saint Festival of San Salvador and the many other national celebrations that take place throughout Latin America.

“Perspectives of a culture are the attitudes, values and beliefs of our culture that are represented by the importance of family unity, or when students demonstrate signs of respect towards an adult or an elder by making minimal eye contact when an adult is speaking, as it can be taken by our elders as an affront or a challenge of authority. All of these concepts – products, practices and perspectives – are merely examples, representative of the Hispanic culture.”


Stories by 42 Islip Students Published in “Mission Contamination” Anthology

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It’s not often that middle schoolers can claim to be published authors, but for 42 Islip students, the assertion is valid.

Last year, while enrolled in Steven Taff’’s eighth grade Honors English class at the middle school, they wrote short pieces for the Survival Sagas fiction writing contest “Mission Contamination: It's Going Viral....Tales from New York.” Inspired by the theme of “contamination,” whether from a natural mutation, a chemical attack or a manmade experiment gone wrong, the students – all now freshmen at the high school – crafted original tales of fear and redemption, grim sacrifice and struggles of survival against the odds, in just 100 words. The resulting mini-sagas by these young writers were recently published in a “Mission Contamination” anthology paperback book, which can be read in the middle school’s library.

Six HS Students Chosen for All-State and All-County Ensembles

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Six students from the high school were recently recognized for their musical accomplishments. Two student-musicians were selected to perform with All-State Honor Ensembles and three students and two alternates were selected to perform with the All-County Vocal Jazz Ensemble. This year’s All-State Ensemble performances will be held virtually in December. The All-County Vocal Jazz Ensemble performance is scheduled for Nov. 7 at East Islip High School.

Shannon Brody was chosen for the All-State Symphony Orchestra and Tyler Cirulnick was chosen for the All-State Treble Chorus. They were selected based on their performances in the New York State School Music Association Solo and Ensemble Festival.

Cirulnik, Leah Cyran and Madelynn Lang were chosen for the All-County Vocal Jazz Ensemble, with Maggie Frazzer and Jordyn Zurbaran as alternates. Vocal Jazz participants were selected through a video audition process that took place last spring.  

Students prepare for the festivals with the assistance of their school music teachers and then participate in a series of rehearsals that conclude with a concert. The students will have the opportunity to work and perform under the leadership of highly skilled directors from the college music community and the professional music industry.

“We are extremely thrilled to have these remarkable student-musicians representing Islip in the All-State and All-County Jazz festivals,” said Brian Kroll, Islip’s director of fine and performing arts. “Their selection is a testament to their hard work and their teachers’ support.”


Junior Chamber of Commerce Club Shows Support for Breast Cancer Awareness

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The high school’s Junior Chamber of Commerce Club kicked off October by hanging Northwell Health’s Pink by the Bay breast cancer awareness banner and pink bows to the campus gates.

“Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Junior Chamber students wanted to participate in an activity to raise awareness and show support for community members that are affected by this disease,” said club adviser Renee Clock. 

The students are also accepting orders for face masks with pink cancer ribbons. The masks come in white, black or tie-dye pink and are $14 each. To request an order form, email A portion of the proceeds will be donated.  


HS Cosmetology Program Continues to Thrive

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The cosmetology program at the high school has continued to thrive in the era of distancing and masks. Teachers Mercedes Cipkin and Lorraine Knoblauch have worked to maintain high standards of safety and technical education while sporting their new uniforms.

“We love teaching cosmetology and every year we are committed to success by implementing whatever means necessary for every challenge we face,” said Knoblauch.

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