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Calhoun High School Named National Blue Ribbon School

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The district is proud to announce that Sanford H. Calhoun High School has been named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education.

Calhoun High School was nominated for the award by the New York State Education Department. District administrators then completed a comprehensive application about school practices. Calhoun High School was recognized as an Exemplary High Performing school – among the top schools in New York State and joins Merrick Avenue Middle School, which received this distinction in 2008.

“Being named a National Blue Ribbon School is an exceptional achievement for Calhoun and Bellmore-Merrick,” said Superintendent Michael Harrington. “This designation is the result of a collective school community effort, as well as a continued commitment to providing educational and engagement opportunities for our students.”

After being nominated by the New York State Education Department based on data from the 2018-19 school year, Calhoun Principal Nicole Hollings had to submit a comprehensive application last year.

“The application that I submitted last year included demographic data, a thorough overview of Calhoun, our educational philosophy, and what makes Calhoun a special place.  Information about our curriculum, instruction, assessment, and academic supports were explained,” Hollings explained. “Additionally, there was an extensive section delving into school culture and how we engage students, families, creating professional culture, leadership, and culturally responsive teaching and learning.”

According to the Department of Education’s website, National Blue Ribbon Schools are public and non-public elementary, middle, and high schools that are producing outstanding results for all students.

“They have demonstrated consistent excellence and made progress in closing gaps in student achievement,” added Hollings.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools recognition program is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about effective school leadership and promising instructional practices.  

“I am so proud of our students, staff and families as this distinction belongs to all of us for doing the best we can with and for each other every day,” added Hollings. 

District officials are invited to represent Calhoun High School at a two-day awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., in November to celebrate this prestigious recognition.

Mepham’s Sofia LaSpina’s Touchdown Makes History

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Sofia LaSpina, a junior at Mepham High School and wide receiver on the football team, made history Sept. 18 as the first female to score a touchdown in Long Island high school history.

The Pirates went on to defeat Roslyn 49-21, advancing them to 2-0 for the season.
“When the ball was in the air, I just wanted to catch it and that was the only thing I had in my mind,” LaSpina explained about the game play.

LaSpina said she has received an outpouring of support and congratulatory messages from friends and family, as well as regional and national media attention.
“As soon as I caught it, my teammates were already congratulating me in the end zone and from the sideline,” she added.

“When she caught the touchdown, the sideline erupted and celebrated like we had won a championship,” added head coach Anthony Cracco.

During the post-game huddle, Cracco gave LaSpina the game ball right on the spot – a first for the coach of 13 years.

“We couldn’t be prouder of Sofia,” Cracco said. “She has worked exceptionally hard to achieve success on the field. At the time, none of us realized the historical achievement that we had just witnessed, the celebration was for an outstanding teammate that earned the respect and admiration of her peers and coaches.”

LaSpina said she fell in love with the sport while playing it with siblings in her backyard.

“I would always watch the Jets and want to play so I waited for middle school to try football out and I ended up loving it,” she explained.

It’s very fitting that LaSpina was also named the New York Jets Player of the Week after this accomplishment. She will be honored at an upcoming game.

Two Students Named National Merit Semifinalists

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Two students in the Central High School District have been named National Merit Semifinalists in the 2022 competition.

Eric Avellone of Calhoun High School and Helena Fu of Mepham High School were included on the list.

“This achievement is a great reminder of how remarkable our students performed academically last year, despite so many challenges,” said Superintendent Michael Harrington. “Eric and Helena represent the best of the CHSD and we are very proud of both of them.”

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school juniors entered the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Approximately 16,000 students, or approximately one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, qualified as semifinalists.

Finalists will be notified in February 2022 and scholarship winners will be announced in the spring of 2022.

Congratulations to both Eric and Helena on this significant achievement. This achievement is a great reminder of how remarkable our students performed academically last year despite so many challenges. Eric and Helena represent the best of the BMCHSD and we are very proud of both of them.

Mepham Gears Up for Flag Field of Honor

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Mepham High School is hosting its Flag Field of Honor sale through Oct. 22.  

American and military branch flags are available for purchase and will later be installed along the front lawn of the school and remain through early December.

This is a fundraising effort led by social studies teachers Kerry Dennis, Matt Moody and Chris Patten, where students participate in a senior service learning project.  

This year's proceeds support the Senior Service Learning's partnership with Tuesday’s Children. Tuesday’s Children was formed in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The goal of Tuesday’s Children is to ensure that families who have suffered losses due to the events of 9/11, post-9/11 military service, or other acts of mass violence and terrorism always have a comforting place to turn to for support and community.

For more information contact social studies teacher Kerry Dennis ( or Chris Patten ( or call 516-992-1500.

Bellmore-Merrick CHSD Marks 20th Anniversary of 9/11

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A multitude of learning lenses were utilized as part of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School’s efforts to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11.

During the course of several days, students in all grade levels will spend time learning about the events of 9/11. Using a variety of approaches, students had multiple opportunities to explore the event from different angles. Teachers used a several resources to help students, all born post 9/11, learn about how the events on that Tuesday morning 20 years ago unfolded before the eyes of America.

Silent passing between periods on Sept. 10 served as a time of reflection.

“During this time, all staff and faculty came out to the hallway to join students to reflect and pay their respect to victims, families, first responders, and those who continue to fight for our freedom,” explained Wellington C. Mepham High School Principal Eric Gomez.

Eric Arlin, the executive director of the district’s alternative education center housed at Brookside, led a poignant ceremony in the courtyard. Students, staff and administrators gathered around the rusted 1,600-pound steel girder that once held up the Twin Towers.

At John F. Kennedy High School, students raised funds for the Tunnels to Towers Foundation via a flag sale. Flags were dotted along the front lawn throughout the day Sept. 10.

“Our social studies department and school and community leadership classes provided many opportunities for students to learn about these tragic events and find ways to honor the lives lost through acts of community service,” explained Principal Gerard Owenburg. “Additionally, our entire school contributed to creating a 20th anniversary 9/11 Field of Remembrance in front of our building.”

At Sanford H. Calhoun High School, building administrators pushed into English classes “to talk about the responsibility we all have to build a community in which every person has a right to feel safe and that they belong,” explained Principal Nicole Hollings.

Students at Grand Avenue and Merrick Avenue middle schools were encouraged to speak to an older relative to “get a better understanding of why we never forget this day, or even participate in an act of service big or small.”

“We spent time commemorating the events of that day, but also focused on remembering the ways in which ordinary citizens rose to the challenge, united together, and responded with extraordinary acts of courage,” added Merrick Avenue Principal Katelyn Dunn.

“Students in humanities and elective classes will investigate the historical context of the events that transpired on 9/11, discuss the significance of honoring the sacrifices of so many who served, and acknowledge the selfless acts of heroism that took place on that day,” added Grand Avenue Principal Carlo Conte.

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