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Art & Music Department

Robert J. Wottawa II, Ed.D.
 Dr. Wottawa’s Website


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Secretary Carol Bartlett 631-224-2075



Click Here for the Concert Livestream

eiMAPS and Gio’s Fundraiser - Thursday, November 18, 2021 - Click here to view the flyer

Taiko Drumming at East Islip

In March, third graders engaged in a Taiko drumming presentation with Kyoshi Gerard Senese and Hiroko Senese of the Ryu Shu Kan Martial Arts Center in Farmingville. Our students had an opportunity to experience the Okinawan culture and the historic meaning of the Taiko drum in relation to the culture.

They were able to see a full performance of the Taiko drums with the elegance of Japanese folk dancing. Kyoshi Senese engaged our students in the use of Japanese vocabulary, imagery and stories that piqued the interest of our students.

After the exploration of the background, our students, teachers and administrators had the opportunity to perform on the Taiko drums. The performance assisted our students to understand the art of engaging in a Taiko drumming ceremony and the Okinawan festivals that are centered around the drum.

"I am so glad that we piloted this program with my karate instructor of many years," Director of Art and Music Robert J. Wottawa II said. "Our students and teachers enjoyed the experience so much that Dr. Smith, Mrs. Jones and I are working to make this an annual event for our third-grade students. There is something magical when culture, music and empathy come together for our students and teachers."

A Dozen EIHS Artists Continue Memory Project Tradition

A dozen members of the high school’s National Art Honor Society participated in the Memory Project, creating artwork in various mediums from photographs of children in India. This year, the subjects in the Memory Project photos were children unable to live with their parents due to issues of abuse, neglect or loss of life.

“Our tradition of participating in the Memory Project has continued, and our National Art Honor Society students did such a wonderful job and created custom one-of-a-kind artworks for these special children in India,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “I want to thank the Memory Project for providing us the opportunity to make a direct impact on children from around the world.”

“This is a powerful project and I believe it is a great way for our students to share their talents with others,” said teacher Dan Figliozzi. “It makes me happy knowing that our students are creating beautiful artworks for children around the globe.”

“I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to bring smiles to kids in need around the world,” said recent Class of 2021 graduate Robert Camlet.

Stunning Senior Art Gallery Show Premiers at EIHS

Watch here!

Music Program Pairs Up “Practice Buddies”

The high school’s Tri-M Music Honor Society piloted a new mentoring program during hybrid learning this year, providing a chance for the members to connect with younger musicians. Guided by Tri-M advisers Christopher Neske and Giovanna Ruggiero, high school music students were paired with elementary instrumentalists as their “practice buddies,” meeting for a weekly video chat to work on fundamentals of playing their instrument. The high schoolers listened, demonstrated on their own instruments and provided feedback on everything from posture and instrument setup to intonation and rhythm. Elementary orchestra and band teachers Jaime DeMaria, Ron Fox, Lynda Maniscalco and Angela Stewart provided the high school students with the materials they needed and ensured that the program was a complete success.

“I loved to be able to have to opportunity to play with younger students,” said Tri-M President and senior cellist Maggie King. “I really saw a growth between the start of this program and where the kids are at now. I think this program established a positive relationship between elementary students and high school students that went both ways., and I hope that it encourages the fourth and fifth graders to continue with music through high school.”

King noted how this program, if it had existed then, would have impacted her as an elementary student.

“I would have felt so much more comfortable approaching the older kids for help,” she said. “I think allowing the kids to enjoy music at such a young age will help them develop a lifelong love for it.”

“We were so happy with the results and plan to make this an annual partnership,” Ruggiero said.

“I am so glad that we were able to provide this opportunity for our elementary students,” said Robert Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music and world languages. “I know that our high school students learned just as much as our elementary students.”

Jakits Takes Third in HCC Contest

High school student Emma Jakits recently won third place in this year's Huntington Camera Club High School Competition. Jakits, who is the president of East Islip’s Photography Club, plans to pursue photography in college and has already been accepted into several excellent photography programs.

“I was such an honor to be chosen and this was such a cool opportunity,” Jakits said.

“I am so proud of Emma,” teacher Heather Toomey said. “She has taken two years of photography here at East Islip and is now in Advanced Placement art with Mr. Figliozzi.  She is really dedicated to her work, and has also taken outside photography classes at FIT and SVA during her high school career.”

“Congrats to Emma,” teacher Dan Figliozzi said. “As a photographer, she has an amazing eye and has proven herself in AP Art this year. It has been a pleasure working with her and I am excited to see what she does in her future.”

Valuable Feedback for HS Orchestra Students

The high school’s music students worked hard to learn solos for this year’s virtual NYSSMA festival. Several orchestra students recently participated in a collaboration with Lawrence University music education students in Wisconsin. The high schoolers were paired with Lawrence students who viewed their solo recordings and responded with helpful feedback that the younger musicians could then apply to their NYSSMA solo performances. The university students provided insightful advice on how to improve and demonstrated excerpts on their own instruments. Feedback was recorded in a video-to-video format where the high school students’ performances could be viewed side-by-side with the music.

“This was the second year that our orchestra students collaborated with Lawrence University’s future music teachers,” said East Islip Orchestra Director Giovanna Ruggiero. “It has been a fun learning experience and a great new way to connect with other musicians during this time.”

Outdoor Concert Series Presented

By spring 2021, the district’s music students and teachers had completed half of a school year without an authentic performance experience and were looking for hope. Guided by Robert Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music and world languages, the administrators and music teachers discussed the idea of a safe, outdoor spring concert series, and made the necessary plans and adjustments in regard to repertoire and instruction. To compensate for the loss of sound at these outdoor events,  SDE Productions assisted with the sound system to ensure attendees could hear every note.

The concert series began on May 11 at John F. Kennedy Elementary School, with band and orchestra students performing in small groups on the blacktop while the community listened on the field nearby.

On May 13, the musicians of Ruth C. Kinney Elementary School took the “stage” on their own campus, divided into groups by instrumental section, allowing the attending families to hear the individual nuances of each instrument.

At East Islip High School, challenges arose due to a busy schedule of athletics teams, construction and outside practices, but a May 12 concert by the school’s band, orchestra and chorus students was successfully presented at the old football field behind the fieldhouse.

“Each group performed with precision, dynamics and clear articulations,” Wottawa said. “Our families had tears in their eyes and expressed how happy they were to see their children perform.”

This was followed by a final May 17 event at which the high school’s honors-level ensembles had the chance to share their last performance with the community.

“Many of these student-musicians are seniors and juniors, and this concert had a lifelong impact and will resonate in their memories as a time that our school community came together to support our musicians and teachers,” Wottawa said. “Overall, I could not be prouder of the dedication of our teachers, custodians, buildings and grounds crew, security officers, and administrators – and the patience of our parents and students – as we navigated uncharted waters with an outdoor concert series. We can count our blessings that our music program overcame each challenge with grace and perseverance.”



Piccinnini Wins Heckscher’s Visitors Choice Award

High school student-artist and National Art Honor Society member Sarah Piccinini recently won the Visitors Choice Award in the 25th annual “Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at the Heckscher Museum” exhibition, which ran at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington from April 17 to May 23. Piccinini’s mixed media piece, “Decomposing,” was inspired by Denise Adler’s “Same Battles, Same Victims,” which was on view in the Long Island Biennial 2020. More than 2,800 votes were cast for this award this year – by individuals visiting the museum in person as well as online – with over 700 cast for Piccinini’s work.

“I hope viewers discover their own connection with nature and change their perception of death when they view my work,” Piccinini said. “I also created it to spread environmental awareness. Due to industrialization and capitalism, we have forgotten the importance of environmental conservation. By creating my art on a scrap of cardboard that I would have otherwise thrown away, I hope to show how we can live in a resourceful and sustainable way.”

Honor Society Inductees Recognized

In a terrific series of outdoor ceremonies in the school’s outside sports pavilion, the high school inducted numerous deserving students into the Tri-M Music Honor Society (15 students on June 1), National Art Honor Society (52 students on June 2), World Language Honor Society (83 students on June 7), National Honor Society (66 students on June 8) and Math Honor Society (17 students on June 9). With families in attendance, the inductees were recognized and celebrated. 





Demonstrating Creativity With Refraction


Cosmetology and Art Collaborate

High school cosmetology teacher Candace Rodriguez and art teacher Heather Toomey recently collaborated to create business cards for the cosmetology students to display at their styling stations. Students decided how they wanted to market themselves to show their specialty, such as a focus on hair, skin, nails or make up. Then Toomey and her electronic illustration students created the professional designs for the cards, and used a 3D printer to make card display holders for the styling stations.

“Seeing the students light up when I handed out the cards was amazing to see,” said Rodriguez. “They were really proud to put them on display.”

“It was so much fun collaborating with the cosmetology department,” said Toomey. “The business cards look fantastic and all of the students involved are so professional. I look forward to working with Mrs. Rodriguez and the cosmetology classes in the future on more creative projects.”

Exploring Shadow Photography at the HS

Kaleidoscope Creations at EIHS


Photojournalists Document School Year

black and white photo of two girls sitting in the cafeteria


HS Art Students Learn to Liquify

NAHS Creates Coloring Book for the Community

High school art students in the National Art Honor Society recently created a coloring book to give back to the school community and share their passion for art. The young artists generated some creative designs for others to enjoy and color while earning community service hours. Community members are encouraged to participate in downloading the book (see below attachment), coloring the pages and posting the results.

“It was such a fun project that even Mr. Figliozzi and I participated in creating a page for others to enjoy coloring,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “Don’t forget to tag @eihsnahs #eihsnahs on social media so we can see your coloring creations!”

colorful psychadelic graphic


Getting Creative with Cropping at EIHS


Exploring Toy Photography!



Getting Creative with Cropping at EIHS

Friday, December 02, 2022