(December 2021) Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights. This Jewish celebration is observed for eight nights and days, which this year began on the evening of Sunday, November 28, and ended at sundown on the evening of Monday, December 6. In celebration of Hanukkah, each of the District’s schools developed activities designed to help students appreciate the meaning and importance of the holiday to those of the Jewish faith.
“It’s always a festive time around the holidays for our schools. It’s also a time that affords us the opportunity to educate students to all the different cultural celebrations that take place at this time of year,” said Dr. Don Sturz, Superintendent of Valley Stream 24 District. “Our District is dedicated to fostering inclusion and awareness of diversity by taking a culturally responsive approach. Including activities that increase our students’ understanding and appreciation of Hanukkah, which holds special significance to our Jewish neighbors and friends, is part of this commitment. We will continue to create opportunities to enhance our students’ multicultural awareness and appreciation of the value of diversity.”
One of the ways William L. Buck Elementary School celebrated Hanukkah was by lighting their digital menorah each day. The students also created sun catcher dreidels and hung them up on their classroom windows to witness their beautiful creations catch the light.
Brooklyn Avenue Elementary School read Arielle and the Hanukkah Surprise by Devra Newberger Speregen. Students made their own dreidels and received Hanukkah gelt.
In honor of Hanukkah, Robert W. Carbonaro students learned how to draw their own menorah and colored in a candle each day to light it. Students also read The Magic Dreidels by Eric A. Kimmel and created their own paper magic dreidels.
(November 2021)—Valley Stream District 24 schools celebrated Native American Heritage Month by incorporating lessons and activities that engaged students and shed light on the meaning and importance of Native American Heritage Month and the contributions Native Americans have made to our culture and history.
All three VS24 schools created dream catchers in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. The students also read books including Grandfather’s Dream Catchers by Becky Ray McCain, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorrell, and Totem Tale: A Tall Story From Alaska by Deb Vanasse.
“Our District prides itself on its diversity and our commitment to engaging and teaching our students about the different cultures that comprise the melting pot that is our country. Developing lesson plans and activities around Native American Heritage Month is consistent with that commitment,” said Dr. Don Sturz, Superintendent of Valley Stream School District 24.
At William L. Buck Elementary School, students assembled for a virtual visit from author and cultural educator, Jim Bruchac. Bruchac, a citizen of the Nulhegan Abenaki Nation, shared traditional Native American legends that were passed down to him from his own father. The storyteller went on to share details of his experience growing up in the wilderness adjacent to the Adirondack foothills.
One of the ways students at Robert W. Carbonaro celebrated Native American Heritage Month was by learning about author Traci Sorell. The students watched a video interview with Ms. Sorell conducted by Rocco Staino from Storymakers. Ms. Sorell spoke about her experiences living in Oklahoma within the Cherokee Nation. She explained to the class the reason she wrote We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga was to feature current Native Americans and their way of life today. Her book talks about the Cherokee population, their culture and their struggles and celebrations in each of the four seasons.
Brooklyn Avenue Elementary School celebrated Native American Heritage Month by reading Totem Tale: A Tall Story From Alaska by Deb Vanasse. The students conducted their own research on tribes and constructed Native American artifacts with Ms. Calamiong, Brooklyn Avenue’s Library Media Specialist.
(November 2021) – Valley Stream District 24 schools celebrated Diwali on Thursday, November 4 by incorporating lessons and activities that engaged students and illuminated the meaning and traditions of the holiday.
“It was an awesome day for all three schools in the District. Diversity is the strength of our community, and celebrating different cultural holidays is integral to fostering an inclusive mindset in our students,” said Dr. Don Sturz, Superintendent of Valley Stream School District 24.
In Brooklyn Avenue Elementary School, students celebrated Diwali through art and music. For example, the kindergarten students in Mrs. Walbrecht’s class had a great time learning the traditional folk dance, Lavani. The students also created their very own rangolis with colored pencils.
The second graders at Robert W. Carbonaro learned all about Diwali from their fellow classmate, Kimberly Goorsammy, She spoke about diyas and then the class created their very own paper lanterns in honor of the holiday.
One of the ways Diwali was celebrated at William L. Buck Elementary School was by students creating PowerPoint slides touching upon different aspects of the holiday and making presentations to their classmates. Fifth-grade students also celebrated the holiday by reading stories about Diwali to the school’s kindergarten students.
(October 2021)—Unity Day was a huge success at Valley Stream School District 24. Unity Day, organized nationwide by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, is celebrated as a signature event for bullying prevention month. On this day, everyone is encouraged to wear orange to create a visual unity statement.
“Unity Day was a spectacular day in our District,” said Dr. Don Sturz, VS 24 Superintendent of Schools. “It was amazing to see everyone wear orange to visibly share a united message. I loved the responses of our students when asked what Unity Day meant to them and the awesome Unity Day-inspired illustrations they created at their schools.”
Students in all three schools in the District went to their playgrounds to draw positive pictures and affirming messages. They also did Unity Day activities in their classes. For example, in William L. Buck Elementary School, students shared in a schoolwide read aloud of Say Something by Peter Reynolds.
Robert W. Carbonaro students created colorful posters and booklets celebrating Unity Day to encourage others to be kind, loving, thoughtful, and friendly.
Brooklyn Avenue Students created a Unity Tree on the first floor of the school’s building where they added leaves explaining how they would individually spread the message of unity.
(October 2021)—Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana! Throughout the month of October, Valley Stream School District 24 celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month. Each of the schools in the District incorporated lessons and activities that illustrated for students the richness and scope of Hispanic heritage.
“It was great to see all three schools in the District participate in Hispanic Heritage month,” said Dr. Don Sturz, Superintendent of Valley Stream School District 24. “It is important that we highlight and celebrate Hispanic culture and those Hispanic Americans that have contributed so much and made a mark on our country’s history.”
In Brooklyn Avenue Elementary School, students celebrated Hispanic heritage through art and literacy. For example, the third-grade students in Mrs. Biley’s class learned about a Mexican painter named Frida Kahlo. After reading Me, Frida by Amy Novesky, the class had a group discussion about her powerful message of staying true to oneself. Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits inspired the third-grade students to create their own, including a portrait of Frida that they made as a class.
One of the ways Hispanic Heritage month was celebrated at William L. Buck Elementary School was with a multicultural dance assembly. While the focus was mostly on Hispanic dance, the dancers of the Phyllis Rose Dance Company, who performed as part of the assembly, demonstrated dances from a wide range of countries. The dancers taught the students about each country of origin before showcasing the dance. Throughout the assembly, there were interactive sessions in which the students were able to dance with Phyliss Rose Dance troupe members.
At Robert W. Carbonaro, 6th grade students selected a variety of Hispanic historical figures such as Ellen Ochoa, engineer and former astronaut; Roberto Clemente, Hall of Fame baseball player; Celia Cruz, Cuban American singer; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a former United States Representative from Florida; Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; and Julia de Burgos, a Puerto Rican poet, to study. The students presented their historical figures and spoke about the importance of their contributions.
In looking at the totality of activities that took place during Hispanic Heritage month in all three of Valley Stream School District 24’s schools, it was evident that students came away from the month with a newfound appreciation and understanding of Hispanic culture, customs, and the importance Hispanic Americans have played in all aspects and sectors of American life.
(September 2021)—The Valley Stream District 24 officially welcomed its students back for the 2021-2022 school year on September 2nd. The day was filled with excitement as students streamed into all three of Valley Stream 24’s elementary schools for the start of a full time, in-school instruction year.
“The first day of school is always filled with anticipation and excitement for students and staff,” said Dr. Don Sturz, Superintendent of Valley Stream District 24. “Our staff, teachers, and administrators have done a tremendous job of preparing their respective schools to be safe and engaging environments to learn in. I have full confidence that we will have a successful school year.”
Valley Stream 24 dedicated the first days of school to welcoming everyone back, establishing connections, and attending to physical and emotional wellness. This was supported by school wide and classroom based activities in each building.
At Brooklyn Avenue, the students excitedly entered the building – with masks on - and greeted their new classmates and teachers for the first time. The students played a game called “Welcome Back Mindfulness Fun!” Students were given a sheet with a spin wheel and dice. The students rolled the dice and matched the numbers and colors on their sheets. Principal Comis visited Mrs. Walbrecht’s class, where the students were doing a “Wellness Lesson” as they read “The Pigeon Has to Go to School!” Mrs. Walbrecht’s and Mrs. Sandoval’s classes shared their favorite part of starting Kindergarten. They also went on a tour of the school building and greeted Principal Comis along the way.
At William L. Buck, the students enjoyed an ice breaker game outside with Principal Gaddy, who was sporting a mask that read, “This Principal loves her school.” The game was called “Hi5 Circle” where students stood in a circle and one student would say a statement out loud. Any students that agreed with the statement would give themselves a high five. The students also received a health and hygiene lesson to remind them of the importance of washing hands.
At Robert W. Carbonaro, the morning was dedicated to greeting students as they arrived at the school. Once all students had entered the building and had found their way to their respective classrooms, Principal Iacono visited each class to welcome the students and to talk to them about personal responsibility. Nurse Dempsey visited the primary grades to talk about the 3Ws which are: wear your mask, watch your distance and wash your hands. She also spoke about the excitement of making new friends. Robert W. Carbonaro’s theme of the day was “Getting to Know You” which was mentioned in the morning announcements. The quote of the day was “Be the one who makes others feel included.” The students were each provided with inspiration stickers to end their first day of school.icles, long mission statements, company policies, executive profiles, company awards/distinctions, office locations, shareholder reports, whitepapers, media mentions and other pieces of content that don’t fit into a shorter, more succinct space.
(August 2021) - Our Kids Place, Valley Stream District 24’s educational partner in offering the state-funded Universal Pre-K program to district children four years old by December 1, 2021, held an orientation and open house for incoming Valley Stream 24 Pre-K students and their families at the school’s Hewlett location. Forty-four Valley Stream 24 children were registered during the registration period, eliminating the need for a lottery. Our Kids Place offered both in-person and virtual orientations. The in-person orientation and open house was held on Tuesday, August 10 from 4:00PM to 6:00PM and the virtual orientation was conducted on Thursday, August 12 from 5:00PM to 6:00PM. During the orientation, Our Kids Place staff answered questions from families about the Pre-K program and went over school policies and procedures to help both the children and their families be ready for the start of the school year.
“It was my absolute pleasure to visit with the Our Kids Place staff and students,” said Dr. Don Sturz, Superintendent of Valley Stream District 24. “It is clear that the staff at Our Kids Place are professional in everything they do and that they truly care about our students. This is going to be an exciting and engaging year for these youngsters, one that will be fun, instructive and foster creativity and a love of exploration and learning, requisites for success in school and in life.”
The Pre-K program for Valley Stream 24 children, which will take place at Our Kids Place Hewlett school, uses as its guiding principles the 4 F’s: Fundamental, Fantastic, Fun and Fabulous. The curriculum covers subjects in mathematics, science, social studies, reading, phonics, and life skills. The lesson plans are created to inspire and to maintain the students’ attention. Students also have the opportunity to participate in other activities such as ballet, piano, soccer and karate classes. The Our Kids Place program is accredited by the National Association for the Education for Young Children (NAEYC).
“Partnering with Valley Stream 24 to begin the education of the District’s youngest students makes this year very exciting for all of us here at Our Kids Place. We are ready for a safe year, full of learning,” said Lorraine Peters, the director of the Our Kids Place program. “The Universal Pre-K program we have developed in collaboration with Dr. Sturz and the extraordinary educators of Valley Stream 24 is designed to create an environment that is conducive to healthy learning for all students. Our goal is to engage students using a curriculum that is balanced and rigorous. Our goal is to ensure that the young Valley Stream 24 students we have been entrusted with complete this year with the foundational skills that will help them become independent thinkers, problem-solvers, and seekers of knowledge.”
In addition, the District, through the state grant funds, is providing support, equipment, supplies and materials for the program.
(August 2021) —Popsicle with your Principal was a huge hit! Johanne Gaddy, William L. Buck’s newly appointed principal, hosted a fun meet and greet for K-6 students and their parents. The event was divided into 30-minute time slots for individual grades so that Principal Gaddy could spend quality time getting to know the students and parents in each grade.
“The event was successful and it was great to see William L. Buck Elementary students have the opportunity to connect with their new principal,” said Dr. Don Sturz, Valley Stream District 24 Superintendent of Schools. “It’s always great to see our staff, families and the district’s Board members come together to create a fun and positive event to kick off the new school year. I have full confidence that Principal Gaddy will excel at William L. Buck Elementary School with her leadership skills, passion for education and always putting her students first."
"The event was every principal's dream come true when starting off in a new school and community! The families were receptive and welcoming,” said Principal Gaddy” “Our scholars were excited to come say hello, see their friends and enjoy a sweet treat! I'm so thankful for all of the W.L.B. teachers, staff, district administrators, and Valley Stream 24 Board members who came out to support the event. It truly was a successful event for the whole community!"
Students were able to enjoy a popsicle and meet their new principal for the first time while playing at the playground. Ms. Gaddy spoke about her vision for the new school year and parents were able to join the PTA. Principal Gaddy’s goal is to create a safe environment where learning is fun and expectations are high. She wants to work in partnership with both teachers and parents to benefit the students she serves. Ms. Gaddy values the staff’s expertise and input. Most importantly, she wants her scholars to feel loved, supported, and seen in every corner of the school’s building so that the students see W.L.B as their home and not just their school.