The Year in Education 2015

Southold bond passes

Local schools received new technology, infrastructure and anti-bullying programs this year. Here’s a look at some of those stories.

January — Mattituck High School students practice and later perform the long-lost school song.

Jan. 14 — New Suffolk Elementary School students work with iPads to create a mini-movie that will serve as a public service announcement on bullying.

Feb. 11 — Southold School District Superintendent David Gamberg’s comment about the state’s direction with education goes viral online: “It cannot go through because it is, without a doubt, the worst construct of improvement in public education that has been enunciated in the history of New York.”

March — The New Suffolk school board hires Christopher Gallagher as the district’s new principal.

March 4 — Mattituck High School’s “Best Buddies” program expands to help more students develop social skills and friendships.

April — Greenport High School is one of seven Long Island schools honored for increasing student access to advanced placement courses — and for its students’ high scores on AP exams.

April 13 — The Greenport school board hires Gary Kalish as the district’s new secondary school principal.

April 23 — School districts whose leaders have been most outspoken in opposing New York’s direction with public education saw more students refuse this year’s state assessments, a Suffolk Times analysis found.

April 28 — The New Suffolk school board eliminates tenured teacher Martha Kennelly’s position to cover an estimated $160,000 budget gap. Ms. Kennelly appeals the decision to the state Department of Education.

May — U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 Best High Schools report ranks Mattituck in the top 4 percent nationwide, earning  the district a silver award. Greenport High School also ranked in the report, earning a bronze award this year after having received silver awards the past two years.

May 19 — School budgets pass across Southold Town.

May 20 — Southold school district teachers and the school board reach a new four-year deal.

May 22 — Peter Castillo, a 2002 Southold High School graduate and owner of Castillo Scapes in Southold, unveils a Magical Playscape Amphitheater he donated to the elementary school.

July 1 — Jenn Wissemann becomes “teaching principal” at Oysterponds Elementary School, meaning she’ll continue to work as the school’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instructor.

July 9 — The Mattituck school board elects Laura Jens-Smith as its new president. Longtime president Jerry Diffley also announces his decision to step down after serving on the board for 16 years.

Aug. 1 — The Peconic Community School in Aquebogue establishes a memorial fund to honor its kindergarten teacher, Alison Aldredge.

Sept. 17 — Mattituck school board member Jeff Smith announces he’s stepping down and moving out of the district. He served on the school board for a total of nearly 18 years.

Oct. 6 — Gabrielsen Farms in Jamesport holds a forum for educators across Long Island to discuss the current state of agriculture-based education.

Oct. 10 — The new trophy case outside the gym at Mattituck High School is officially dedicated in honor of Kaitlyn Doorhy.

Nov. 12 — David Gamberg announces he’ll continue as superintendent for the Greenport and Southold school districts for at least another year.

Nov. 24 — Paula Nickerson is hired to serve as Greenport school district’s interim athletic director. She becomes the first woman in district history to hold the position.

Dec. 1 — Southold National Honor Society students pick brussels sprouts and other produce at Wesnofske Farm in Peconic and donate the would-be wasted vegetables to local charities — a process known as “gleaning.”

Dec. 8 — Southold school district residents approve a nearly $9.8 million capital improvement project by a 257-192 vote. Construction projects, including a turf field other facility upgrades, will begin in 2017.

Dec. 9 — The Department of Taxation and Finance confirms that residents in the New Suffolk Common School District won’t be getting rebates this year because the district failed to submit a cost-savings plan.

Dec. 10 — President Barack Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act into law, which includes Congressman Lee Zeldin’s amendment allowing school districts to opt out of Common Core without sacrificing federal funding. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announces a plan to overhaul the controversial program.

November — Cadet Lt. Bill Stuckart of Mattituck High School earns an appointment to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., which comes with a full scholarship worth over $350,000.

December — Cadet Ensign Joseph Saporita of Southold High School receives NJROTC’s highest award — the Cadet Meritorious Achievement Award — for the dedication and bravery he displayed when a runaway bus carrying him and his family crashed on the Long Island Expressway. Cadet Lt. Cmdr. Skyler Grathwohl of Southold High School is awarded a Marine Corps ROTC scholarship.

Dec. 17 — Mattituck School District unveils its new fiber-optic network, which replaced a residential cable modem that’s typically used in family homes. Students and teachers say the upgrade allows them to work more efficiently and collaboratively with Google Chromebooks.

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Photo: Southold Superintendent David Gamberg and school board president Paulette Ofrias celebrate the passage of the district’s capital improvement bond in early December. District clerk Patti DiGregorio is at right. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo, file)