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Syosset School Scores High

Syosset High School was ranked 84th on Newsweek’s recent poll of the top high schools in the U.S.

The list, released earlier this month, highlights 500 schools across the nation that best prepare its students for college. At number 84, Syosset High School is the highest ranked school in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Centered on college preparedness, Newsweek used research partner Westat to gather data under six categories: college enrollment, graduation rate, counselor-to-student Ratio, holding power, SAT/ACT test scores and AP/IB test scores. DSC_0084

“We are all very proud of our district’s accomplishments,” said Syosset Principal Giovanni Durante. “Our ranking is a testament to the dedication of our community and school board as well as the hard work of our teachers, support staff and students.” [Read more...]

Syosset Breaks Into News

Michelle Mackonochie was in the middle of another ordinary shift slinging wings at a local eatery when she got a phone call from a small town in Michigan.


Syosset’s Michelle Mackonochie landed an anchor position in Michigan.

After years of studying to be a news anchor in college — and after disseminating hundreds of job applications post-college — the Syosset native landed the weekend news anchor and reporter position at WBKB in Alpena, Michigan. She’s been there since Aug. 20, reporting on everything from local fairs to hard news — and she knows this is merely the first step in a budding news career.

“It is such a blessing to have this job; such an incredible start,” said Mackonochie. “After so many disappointments along the way, my career feels like an endless open road right now. It is such an awesome opportunity to be on camera every single weekend.”

Mackonochie’s road to weekly exposure in Alpena was dotted with many hardships and rough patches along the way. Before landing the anchor job at WBKB, the 23-year-old dealt with plenty of rejections and disappointments. But instead of succumbing and resigning herself to a lifetime of local part-time jobs, Mackonochie persevered and through hard work, put herself in the position to receive that life-changing phone call while waitressing.

After graduating Syosset High School, Mackonochie entered Ithaca College with a strong passion for television. During her four years at college, Mackonochie joined the Ithaca College Television team and worked in the sports, news and entertainment departments while taking external classes specializing in broadcast performance. She was the weekly field correspondent on Ithaca’s news station, Newswatch 16, and also served as assistant producer. She was also the reality television correspondent, as well as floor director for the school’s football post-game show.

Cramming all of those titles into her schedule was a monumental task, especially given the fact that she had plenty to learn when she arrived at college.

“That first year at Ithaca was a shock,” she said. “Syosset High School is a great school, but it doesn’t have a TV station. A lot of my college classmates were coming from schools that did have TV, so they already knew all the editing, cameras, lighting, mic. I was starting from the beginning. But the best way to learn is to do something, fail, do it again, fail again, then keep doing it until you know it.”

And though picking up and moving to Michigan from Long Island might seem scary, Mackonochie had a measure of experience in that department. During her junior year at Ithaca, Mackonochie entered into the school’s internship program and flew out to Los Angeles with no job and only the motivation of her professors. In L.A., she worked at The Style Network serving as an intern for the talent and casting department.

“The internship taught me so much. It threw me into the real world of the job search,” she said. “Working at The Style Network, we shared a building with E! and I would see people like Joan Rivers walking around. It was like a fairy tale. But at the same time I was really in the industry doing a real job. People were counting on me to do a job and it forced me to learn and learn fast.”


Mackonochie with her parents, Joanne and Mike

Upon graduating, Mackonochie found herself lost in the post-college wilderness of job interviews, applications and cover letters. Mackonochie addmitted to at first taking a relaxed approach to the job search, but when that proved fruitless, her father, Mike, was there to provide the motivation she needed.

“In January of this year, my dad told me that if I wanted a job, I had to fight for it,” she said, adding that she also received encouragement from her mother Joanne and her brothers Michael and James. “With his help I applied to more than 200 stations all over the country.”

Mackonochie remembered a speaker at Ithaca College said, “In order to get where you want, you have to leave Long Island.” Remembering that advice, Mackonochie expanded her search to all corners of the country. And while on a family vacation in Florida — where Mackonochie spent more time applying to jobs on the computer than sunning herself on the beach — the ambitious young woman got a response from that small station in Alpena.

While the nearest mall is about three hours away, and the nearest decent bagel is more than 800 miles away, Mackonachie is adjusting to life in her new home. However, there is no way of knowing how long it will be her home, as opportunities in the media industry are predictably unpredictable.

“I’ve made my apartment here very homey, but people told me I shouldn’t spend too much effort on it because my next job could be in who knows where,” she said. “And that is exciting to me. It’s cool. Who else can say they’ve lived in so many different places?”

And no matter where this media tour takes her next, Mackonochie will always remember and appreciate the toughest parts of her journey, from Long Island to a small town in Michigan.

“Tell yourself that you can do it. Represent yourself the best you can and you can do whatever you want,” she said. “Millions of people are fighting for the same spot, you have to show just how better you are. But it’s ok to accept help when you need it.”

Syosset Academy Adds New Principal

Lisa Harrison has been appointed as the new Principal of Our Lady of Mercy Academy (OLMA) in Syosset, New York. A resident of Long Island, Harrison previously was Principal of the Academy of Mount St. Ursula in the Bronx.

“The Mercy community welcomes Harrison and we anticipate that she will make major contributions to the mission of the OLMA school community and the many exciting initiatives we have underway in academics, C-STEM, EDucational and ENvironmental (EDEN) program research, technology and athletics,” said Margaret Myhan, President of Our Lady of Mercy Academy.


Lisa Harrison

Harrison earned her M.S. in Educational Administration from St. John’s University and both her bachelor’s and master’s in Secondary English Education from New York University.  In addition, she holds New York State permanent certification and school building leader professional requirements. Harrison’s distinguished career at Mount St. Ursula’s since 2001, includes working as an English teacher, Chairperson of the English Department, and Assistant Principal for Academics, prior to being named Principal in 2009.

Harrison is very enthusiastic about her new role as Principal at Our Lady of Mercy Academy.

“Mercy offers students a uniquely challenging yet nurturing environment in which they can explore their God-given gifts,” she said. ”I look forward to meeting the students and working with the administration, faculty, and parents, all of whom are dedicated to their success.”

Peers Teach Character

Ninth-grade Peer Educators from Syosset High School visited third-graders at J. Irving Baylis Elementary School in the Syosset Central School District over the course of four days to teach students about friendship, accepting others, bullying and the steps of conflict resolution.BaylisB

The Peer Educators visit all seven of the district’s elementary schools as part of the program throughout the winter and spring. The ninth-graders participate in a full yearlong class, part of a four-year series, where they learn crucial communications, public speaking and leadership skills, as well as teamwork and confidence building. In order to be considered for the class, students must submit an application, obtain teacher recommendations and go through a panel interview. Next year, a second session of the class will be added due to high demand, which will enable the ninth-graders to focus on peer-to-peer programs on the high school level. The program supports the districtwide character education program PRIDE, which stands for patience, respect, integrity, dignity and empathy. PRIDE encourages students to display positive behavior both in and out of school.

Syosset Kicks Off School Year

Students in grades kindergarten through 12 were welcomed back with open arms to all 10 of the Syosset School District’s buildings on Sept. 2.

From Robbins Lane Elementary to Syosset High School, teachers and principals were on hand to greet and help students. At J. Irving Baylis Elementary School, the walls were papered with welcome back messaging and slogans of inspiration. At Berry Hill Elementary School, road signs pointed students toward academic and personal success.SyossetSchools_091214C

Second-graders learned the roots of Spanish at South Grove Elementary School, while students sang along with the teacher to help learn one another’s name at Walt Whitman Elementary School. [Read more...]

Superintendent Makes A Splash

Jericho Superintendent Hank Grishman welcomed all Jericho staff back to start the 2014-2015 school year on Sept. 2 during Superintendent’s Conference Day. Approximately 700 staff members filled the auditorium as Grishman spoke about the current state of education in New York. The superintendent also re-capped a great 2013-14 school year and said that he was excited to start this new school year and looked forward to all of the amazing things that Jericho staff and students would accomplish in the coming months.IceBuket_091214B

To conclude his speech, Grishman spoke about ALS and the importance of the Ice Bucket Challenge, which has raised more than $90 million dollars. [Read more...]

Syosset Coach Lands New Post

Garden City has named Dawn Cerrone as its new Director of Athletics and Physical Education, replacing the recently-retired Nancy Kalafus.

“I can honestly say that excellence is an expectation and standard for all,” Cerrone said. “Everyone that I have met is passionate, knowledgeable and invested in the school district and community.”


Dawn Cerrone was appointed at a recent board of education meeting as Garden City’s new Director of Athletics and Physical Education.

Cerrone’s predecessor, Kalafus, was beloved within the district. It is often difficult to replace someone that is held in such high regard. Cerrone, however, welcomes the challenge.

“I find it motivating to follow someone as legendary as Nancy Kalafus in the field of athletic administration,” she said. “Nancy has built one of the most successful athletic programs in the state. Not a day has gone by that I have not reflected on her successes as means to reach new heights.”

Although school is yet to start, there is no shortage of activities to keep an eye on at Garden City. Football practices have been under way for a couple of weeks and now all fall sports have begun practices. Cerrone noted that the priority right now is to make sure there is a “seamless start”, but school will be the focus once it begins.

Cerrone’s résumé certainly suggests she will have no issue upholding the reputation that Garden City athletics has built. [Read more...]

Green Vale At Carnegie Hall

ChorusPractice, practice, practice and you will end up singing at Carnegie Hall! That’s what members of Green Vale’s Select Chorus did this past summer and according to Jessica Chen, Choral Director, “It was an amazing experience. The guest conductor, Emily Ellsworth, was extremely engaging and inspiring and our singers were on the edge of their seats — even through 3-hour rehearsals. The 25-minute performance was spectacular.” [Read more...]

Jericho Schools Back In Time

BackInTimeAWith September upon us, our Jericho students are returning to classes at our top-rated school district. The roots of education in Jericho began with the early Quaker families, who were then, as now, staunch advocates of education. The famous Quaker, Elias Hicks, believed so strongly in the education of children that he equated it to the “salvation of our own soul.” Education in Jericho ranged from home schooling to various small schools until the first public school was built on Oyster Bay Road in 1870. It was a two-room school house with separate entrances for boys and girls. [Read more...]

Holocaust Survivor Gives Testimony

survivorEthel Katz, a Holocaust survivor, talked to eighth-graders at South Woods Middle School in the Syosset Central School District in May about her personal experience of survival, which has been documented in her memoir, Our Tomorrows Never Came.

Katz gave her testimony about living in Buczacs, Poland, which is now part of the Ukraine, when the German Army entered town in 1941. Soon after their arrival, mobile killing squads murdered her twin brother and other young Jewish men in the forest outside of the town. The remaining members of her family hid in barns and fields for several years, relying on non-Jewish neighbors for food. [Read more...]