Harborfields Central School District Logo
Washington Drive Primary held a special ribbon cutting ceremony for
their new Makerspace, which has long been in the works, on Nov. 8. The
school was honored by the presence of Mr. Roger Tilles, who represents
Long Island on the New York State Board of Regents at the ribbon cutting
ceremony, along with Superintendent Dr. Francesco Ianni and other
Students lined the halls outside the space, peering in, eager to explore
what the room had to offer. Once a few students assisted Dr. Ianni in
cutting the room’s ribbon, students poured in. The students treated
those in attendance by singing the school’s theme song to christen the
room. First grade teacher Melinda O’Donoghue explained to the students
what a makerspace was, and how fortunate they were to have such a space
that most primary schools don’t have.
Students were then released to explore all of the items within the
space, where they tinkered with the Lego wall, programming robots, and
more. Mr. Tilles spent some time interacting with the children,
encouraging them to be creative, and reading them a few inspiring poems
by various authors, including Shel Silverstien.
Creating this unique space that enables students to explore creativity
and innovation aligns with the district’s goal to maximize student
opportunities in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and
mathematics (STEAM). These spaces, which are a part of the “Maker
Movement”, incorporate all of those areas in a new and fun way.
“Watching small ideas turn into tangible experiences for our students is such a source of pride for us,” said Dr. Ianni.
The Makerspace, which was made possible by a grant gifted to the school
by the Harborfields Community Educational Foundation (HACEF), was
dreamed up and made into reality by Assistant Principal Kathryn McNally,
Interim Principal Kelly Fallon, Karin Fey, Co-President of HACEF and
“Makers are needed to add to the global sum of human knowledge,” said Mrs. McNally, “so we’re starting now!”
Additionally, we would like to recognize the staff members who were
instrumental in bringing the Washington Drive Makerspace to our
students. A special thank you to Melinda O’Donoghue, Christopher
Maresco, Guy Semione, Joey Rice and Jimmy Brauer for all their efforts!
In honor of Veterans Day, Thomas J. Lahey Elementary hosted the Bring a
Vet to School program on Nov. 8. This program, sponsored by Altice and
in collaboration with the History Channel, allows schools to honor
veterans by having them visit, showing appreciation for their service,
and giving students the opportunity to ask them questions. Nine veterans
were in attendance that day, and most of them were family members of
students at TJL, including Mr. Eric Harris, a Persian Gulf War veteran,
who was responsible for bringing the program to the school.
The veterans entered the school’s multipurpose room to reverent applause
from everyone in attendance, expressing gratitude for their service.
Students performed “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” accompanied by piano, for
the veterans. Two by two, selected students read letters, poems and
essays to thank the veterans for all they’ve done.
“Thank you for protecting our freedom,” read a letter from Mrs.
Sheehan’s third-grade class. “You are so brave to risk your safety to
protect ours, and we are so honored to have you with us.”
Veterans then dispersed to visit third-grade classrooms to engage in a
Q&A time with the students, where they were asked questions about
their time serving the country.
“We want our students to realize that Veterans Day is not just another
day off,” said Principal Susan Kenny. “It’s an opportunity to show honor
and respect to those who’ve given up so much to protect us.”
Seventh graders at OMS tried their hands at learning the mountain
dulcimer during the month of October. Learning this extremely accessible
instrument enabled beginning musicians to learn the basics of making
music, while challenging advanced musicians to build melodies,
harmonies, and chords. Students had the opportunity to compose their own
solos, to play duets, or collaborate and create rounds with other
students. Each shared their solo composition with the class, as well as
the title of the piece and the story behind it.
“This project was the first opportunity students had to create their own
compositions,” said music teacher Ms. Jessica Lowenhar, “and it was
wonderful to watch them express themselves creatively with what they
learned in class.”
Both experienced and beginner musicians alike enjoyed experimenting with
the mountain dulcimer. Some played multiple instruments already like
the piano, clarinet and ukulele, while others had little to no musical
experience at all.
“Working in groups to compose and play music together is different than
playing sheet music that’s just been handed to us,” said Sydney, a
seventh grader at OMS. “It was really cool.”
On Saturday, Sept. 29, the district held their homecoming parade and
football game — culminating the weeklong celebration of Harborfields
spirit and pride.
Following Friday night’s pep rally, where seniors Eric Werbitsky and
Kate Driver were crowned king and queen, students put the finishing
touches on their floats for the parade Saturday morning. This year’s
theme was “Generations: HF Through the Years”, and just as in years
past, students went above and beyond with their designs. In grade order,
themes included the Prehistoric Age, Medieval Times, Wild West, and
60’s & 70’s.
As the floats traveled from the Harborfields Public Library to the high
school, students waved to the crowds of community members lining the
sidewalks. Many students walked alongside the floats as well, collecting
donations to fund research for childhood cancer, which is near to the
Harborfields community’s heart. For homecoming week, HHS joined the
Greenlawn Civic Association in their “Greenlawn Goes Gold” movement,
which was developed and put into action by sophomore Natalie Pedrazzi.
Along with collecting donations, cancer awareness gold ribbons were
available for purchase, and all proceeds from the awareness week went to
Maggie’s Mission. This local organization supports awareness and funds
pediatric cancer research, and came into existence in honor of Maggie
Schmidt, a Harborfields High School student who lost her battle with
cancer in 2017.
At the homecoming game, the spirit-filled crowd anxiously awaited the
start of the game against Eastport South Manor. Some crowd members had
large cutouts of players’ heads and shook them wildly and cheered when
the team ran out onto the field. The Harborfields cheerleaders, marching
band and kick line all worked together in pepping up the crowd, and
there was no lack of spirit in the stands that day.
At the end of the first quarter, Harborfields held its first ever “Stand
Up 2 Cancer” event, which was initiated by students Catherine Capodanno
and Brooke Semmelmeier. Throughout the week and the morning of the
game, those in attendance were able to purchase signs to write the name
of a loved one battling with cancer. When the moment came, community
members all over the stadium stood up in support, holding their golden
signs high in recognition of loved ones and their immense strength in
The Harborfields Tornadoes competed fiercely against ESM throughout the
game, but unfortunately lost by three points, with the final score being
In an effort to further build a community of inclusion and acceptance,
TJL participated in “Start with Hello” week, beginning on Sept. 24. This
program, created by Sandy Hook Promise, focuses on uniting people of
all beliefs and backgrounds and creating climates of inclusion to
prevent social isolation—and to ultimately protect children from gun
“Awareness weeks such as “Start with Hello” are so important for our
students,” said school Psychologist Michelle Meskin, “because it teaches
them that no member of any community should ever feel isolated, alone
Throughout the week, students were encouraged to make efforts to say
hello to someone new and to perform random acts of kindness.
Additionally, students participated in some ice-breaker activities, such
as “In My Shoes” and “Human Bingo.” Children learned how to realize
when someone is reaching out for help, how to accept differences in
their peers, and more. Students and staff truly gave their hearts to the
weeks’ mission, and had discussions on how to reach beyond “Start With
Hello Week” and to incorporate inclusiveness and acceptance into the
school year, and the following years to come.
“My brother and I have a competition going to see who can say hello to
the most new people each day,” said Emerson, a fourth-grader at Thomas
J. Lahey. “It’s been so much fun, and it’s making so many people happy.”