05/22/15 3:00pm
05/22/2015 3:00 PM
Southold High School 2002 graduate Pete Castillo, owner of Castillo Scapes in Southold, donated $25,000 for Southold Elementary School's amphitheater. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo photos)

Southold High School graduate Peter Castillo (’02), owner of Castillo Scapes in Southold, donated $25,000 for Southold Elementary School’s amphitheater. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo photos)

Peter Castillo first learned to speak English as an 8-year-old at Southold Elementary School after immigrating to the U.S. from Nicaragua. That experience inspired the local business owner to help other students achieve their dreams.

To do so, Mr. Castillo donated an amphitheater — not just the money for it, he also designed and built it.

The elementary school held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to unveil its “Magical Playscape Amphitheater,” an outdoor area where students can perform.

Mr. Castillo, a 2002 Southold High School graduate, is the owner of Castillo Scapes in Southold, a masonry construction and design company that also has a showroom at North Fork Pools in Mattituck.

Mr. Castillo said he felt honored when the school approached him a year ago about the project because he loves the district and local community. He donated $25,000 toward the amphitheater’s construction.

“I’ve lived here for almost my whole life,” he said. “I was young and didn’t know any English when I came to this school. The school helped and supported me.

“I just love this place.”

Mr. Castillo said his father first came to the U.S. in search of a better life for his family and started a landscaping company, Castillo Landscaping in Southold, which also volunteered to lay down sod around the amphitheater.

Other local businesses that donated labor and material include: Joseph Silvestro Construction in Southold,
Atlantic Fence & Gate in East Quogue, Briarcliff Landscaping and Sod in Peconic and Laurel Stone Supply Plus in Mattituck.

Mr. Castillo has dedicated the amphitheater in the memory of his friend Lucas Pasko, a Polish immigrant who was also his classmate in the school’s English as a Second Language program.

Mr. Pasko died five years ago in a tragic accident after his friend accidentally shot him with a rifle.

“I know he was impacted by the ESL program,” Mr. Castillo said. “I thought this would be perfect to dedicate it to him because he loved it here, too.”

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, students and teachers gathered in and around the amphitheater and took turns thanking Mr. Castillo for his generosity through music, dance and words.

Superintendent David Gamberg said he’s always envisioned an amphitheater at the school because he believes outdoor learning opportunities are crucial to a student’s education.

“Our appreciation is so great, it’s hard to find the right words,” he said to Mr. Castillo. “We are here to make a statement about the importance of play, about the importance of authentic learning that can not be measured on a score.”

Over the past few years, the district’s playground committee and the Southold School Educational Foundation have been working toward creating outdoor learning opportunities.

The amphitheater is located next to the school’s 7,000-square foot garden, which not only provides fresh produce for students in the cafeteria, but also acts as an outdoor classroom for science, math and literacy lessons.

In addition, there are sandboxes and art easels nearby.

The foundation is now fundraising to install an life-size chessboard outside. [For information on purchasing an engraved brick, visit www.bricksrus.com/order.ssef or www.southoldef.org]

“Having older students help younger children develop intellectual skills by playing chess is a very healthy activity,” said Judi Fouchet, the foundation’s secretary and the school board’s vice president.

Ms. Fouchet added: “It is my hope that you will use this beautiful amphitheater to create, imagine and perform for many years to come.”

The district is also planning to build a “giant Mother Goose Shoe sculpture” where students can read fairy tales to each other.

Mr. Castillo’s sister, Dina MacDonald, said she’s very proud of her brother’s accomplishments and believes the school and community’s support in providing opportunities for imagination has continued to nurture students’ success.

“This is the true meaning of the American dream,” she said.

[email protected]

Click on the tabs below for more photos.

03/14/15 2:00pm
03/14/2015 2:00 PM

Southold Elementary School will host a “Souper Bowls” fundraiser Sunday, March 29, from noon to 3 p.m. to benefit the school garden.

Participants are asked to their own bring bowls and spoons to enjoy unlimited helpings of soups prepared by local restaurants, including Founders Tavern, Noah’s and North Fork Table & Inn.

The event will also feature a bake sale, live music, basket auction and arts and crafts for kids. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children.

01/08/15 8:56am
01/08/2015 8:56 AM

On a misty May morning, a group of Southold Elementary School fourth-graders lined up outside, peered into the distance and waited for the arrival of their beloved teacher, Phillip “Skip” Munisteri.

The students had been put to a challenge. Together, they managed to read more than 80 books in 80 days. In return, Mr. Munisteri was obliged to make good on his promise of biking more than 40 miles from his Setauket home to the Oaklawn Avenue school — rain or shine.

It was a challenge that exemplified the nature of Mr. Munisteri’s fourth grade classroom, where he creates an environment in which his students aren’t simply taught and assessed but challenged and motivated to grow academically, as individuals and as a community.  (more…)

11/20/14 6:00am
Southold Elementary School students rehearse 'Aladdin Kids.' (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Southold Elementary School students rehearse ‘Aladdin Kids.’ (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

The Southold Elementary Drama Club will be presenting its musical production of Disney’s “Aladdin Kids” on Friday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 22, at 3 p.m. in the district auditorium.

Tickets are $5 at the door. (more…)

06/14/14 10:10am
06/14/2014 10:10 AM
Debbie Slack, of Catapano Dairy Farm, introduces a 10 day old goat to Southold Elementary School students. (Carrie Miller photos)

Debbie Slack, of Catapano Dairy Farm, introduces a 10-day-old goat to Southold Elementary School students. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Lessons about goats, flounder, and edible plants were among the many facets of nature on display at the Southold Elementary School’s gymnasium Friday morning, where students gathered for an Earthfest Celebration organized by the school’s Shared Decision Making Team. (more…)

04/30/14 7:00am
04/30/2014 7:00 AM
Southold Elementary School fifth graders Ronald Gonzalez and Danielle Henry make the obstacle course look easy. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Southold Elementary School fifth graders Ronald Gonzalez and Danielle Henry make the obstacle course look easy. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Southold Elementary School students celebrated as they made their way across the finish line of a more than quarter-mile long obstacle course Monday during the school’s pilot run of the Just Finish Kids program.

The program, developed to promote physical activity and nutrition, was funded through the school’s Arts in Education Enrichment Program, challenging their endurance, balance and coordination.

It was created by Nikita Dorcinvil, owner of a race timing and scoring company Just Finish.

“I noticed that while the bulk of the crowd sticks around to see the the winners of a race — the people that are finishing last in a race, those are the real heroes,” said Mr. Dorcinvil, adding that those coming in last have often conquered more than just a race.

“Many have just completed chemo or some other types of medical treatment,” he said. “Their goal was to just finish.”

Gym teacher Pete Salerno helped Mr. Dorcinvil with the educational aspects of the program, which has now been backed by Nassau Suffolk BOCES, he said.

See more photos below:

run3

run4

run5

run2

04/17/14 12:00pm
04/17/2014 12:00 PM
(Credit: Jennifer Gustavson photos and video)

Southold Elementary School sixth-graders came up with this year’s art show theme “Artecs” — an ancient race of people who worshipped art and music instead of the sun. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson photos and video)

Science projects and artwork by Southold Elementary School students were on display at joint shows held last Wednesday, impressing fellow students and parents.

(more…)

03/13/14 6:00am
03/13/2014 6:00 AM
Southold Elementary School fifth graders  along with county Legislator Al Krupski and county Executive Steven Bellone taught Southold seniors Ana Balarezo, Judy Ollarty, Lena Raiser and Bill Faye how to use tablet computers Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Southold Elementary School fifth graders, along with county Legislator Al Krupski and county Executive Steven Bellone, taught Southold seniors Ana Balarezo, Judy Ollarty, Lena Raiser and Bill Faye how to use tablet computers Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Keeping up with ever-changing technology can be a challenge for most people, especially seniors. For kids, though, the technology often becomes second-nature.

So what better way for seniors to learn how to use a tablet computer than to ask a fifth grader? (more…)

03/03/14 3:29pm
03/03/2014 3:29 PM
Southold Elementary School fifth grader Ryan Deerkoski, 12, playing a dance game on Nintendo Wii with his fellow classmates during recess Monday. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson photos)

Southold Elementary School fifth grader Ryan Deerkoski, 12, (right) plays a dance video game on Nintendo Wii with his fellow classmates during recess on Monday. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson photos)

Despite the snow and cold — and a gym that can only accommodate so many students at one time — children at Southold Elementary School haven’t been stuck inside their classrooms during recess.

That’s because the school has been running a Nintendo Wii video game program for the past year inside the cafeteria.

(more…)