The 2016-17 school year may only be in its second calendar week, but there’s a lot going on in the district already.
Teacher and staff of the year recognition
Stacey Butterfield was named Riverhead’s Teacher of the Year on September 2 at the Welcome Back for Teachers and Staff day. She is currently a third-grade teacher in the Aquebogue School. Cindy Hynds, who works in the high school’s food service department and Michael Butler, who works in the maintenance department were honored as Staff Members of the Year.
The high school and middle school commemorate 9/11
Teachers across all disciplines in the high school incorporated the events of September 11, 2001 into their lessons. Some shared their memories with students on Friday, September 9. Others chose to do so on Monday, September 12.
A moment of silence at the time of the attacks was held at the high school. A poem was read over the loudspeaker which prompted each class to reflect and incorporate the day of remembrance into the lesson.
While many adults remember exactly where they were, who they were with, and what they were thinking during the 9/11 attacks, children in middle school weren’t even born yet. Most high school seniors were only two years old. The adults always share their stories.
“I was an Assistant Principal at the high school,” remembered RMS Principal Andrea Pekar. “I had an office right next to Dave Densieski, who was also an AP there at the time. We had a television nearby and watched as the second plane hit the tower. We just couldn’t believe our eyes.”
RMS Latin teacher Lorene Custer shared, “I always teach the Latin phrase: ‘Requiescat in Pace’ this week. This is abbreviated RIP. Students are always surprised to learn that RIP stands for a Latin phrase, not the English one, ‘Rest in Peace.'”
She explained to the students that “there’s a slight but significant difference between them. ‘Rest in Peace’ is a command, as if we are telling the dead to rest in peace, as if we really have the power to that. ‘Requiescat in Pace’ translates to ‘may s/he rest in peace’ as in a prayer, or a request, about the dead to a higher power. I begin the lesson by showing them an image of the towers before they fell but on fire, and the students will all say, ‘Rest in Peace.’ Then Bam! The lesson teaches itself! Latin is like that!”
Nicole Honovich, a leave replacement teacher in social studies at RHS, shared her lesson. “Today, I set up a display of 9/11 artifacts. My father worked for the Port Authority at the time and was at the site multiple times after the attack. The display included magazines, including Time, and newspapers from right after the attack. There was a poster that had pictures of all the Port Authority police who fell as well as a shirt with all their names on the back.”
Honovich continued to show the students about the outpouring of emotions after the tragedy by saying, “I also had two teddy bears that city school students left at the site. They tied notes of encouragement to the WTC workers on the bears’ hands. I unrolled two of the notes so my students could see. Finally, I had a flag that was created with the names of all who died during the attacks (including all the flights and the Pentagon) and [those of] the 1993 bombing at the WTC. I think it’s of the utmost importance students recognize what a tragic day this was and visuals always help get the point across.”
RMS teacher Anna Quigley shared, “My social studies students will be learning about 911 through pictures, a short video clip and class discussion. Then, they will write a short response about why we remember 9/11 and why we remember the heroes from 9/11.”
RMS English teacher Darren Dunn noted, “I plan on showing parts of the student film ‘The Second Day’ in my mainstream ELA classes, with discussion questions, and in my other classes, showing a clip of the Tunnel to Towers 5k.” He has the students write in their journals as well.
Music teacher Annette Brewer, who teaches in both the high school and the middle school had her students listen to an amazing piece of music by composer Steven Reich. At one point early in the performance, the audience hears a phone ring and the ensuing conversation. While the students listened, they wrote reaction statements to what they were hearing.
RMS social studies teacher Rachel Seedorf shared, “my personal experience of 9/11. I was 14 years old and in 9th grade at the time – a very relatable age for them. I’m also sharing my father’s experience as a volunteer at Ground Zero. He works for Safelite Autoglass, and he and many others in his company drove into the city each day to clean out the emergency vehicles for the hospitals, law enforcement, etc. So far in my first two classes, my tudents have expressed a lot of interest and compassion during our discussions and have had some things to share as well.”
Some of the ENL classes create a “Know-Want to Know-Learned” chart, by making a list of what they know about 9/11 and writing down any questions they may have. They all shared their responses in order to learn from one another. Then they watched a memorial video with subtitles in Spanish that pinpointed the timeline of events leading up to and after 9/11.
The libraries displayed books that are related to the events of 9/11.
Global History classes talked about the two major attacks on American soil (9/11 and Pearl Harbor.) Later in the year, the classes will revisit this idea during units on WWII.
Bus Safety Drills
During the first two weeks of school, the Transportation Department visits each elementary school in the district to conduct Bus Safety Drills with the students and teachers. The drivers teach the students how important it is to approach and enter the bus correctly. Students go over the rules on the bus, and they learn how to safely exit the bus.
The Transportation Department also conducts an emergency exit drill with the children and has them practice crossing in front of the bus in the crosswalks. Present during the first drills at Phillips Avenue Elementary School were Deputy Superintendent Sam Schneider, who is in charge of the Transportation Department, and the new Director of Security Richard Andersen. Mr. Andersen comes to the district after a career as a policeman in New York City. Overseeing the drills were Transportation Co-Directors Colette Furcht and Leslie Moore.
Source: Press release issued by Riverhead Central School District dated September 12, 2016.