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Art & Music Department

Robert J. Wottawa II, Ed.D.
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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

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.”

HS Presents Virtual Winter Concert

The high school presented its 2020 winter concert virtually this year, sharing the student-musicians’ talent and hard work with the community via YouTube and social media. The concert was sponsored by the local East Islip Music and Arts Program Support organization.

The concert band, directed by Christopher Neske, performed Henry Fillmore’s “His Honor”; the treble choir, directed by Bethany Affelt, performed Mark Miller’s “I Believe”; the concert choir, directed by Patricia Bryan, performed Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s “Once Upon a December” from “Anastasia”; the string orchestra, directed by Giovanna Ruggiero, performed the traditional holiday favorite “Deck the Halls”; and the honors choir, directed by Affelt, performed Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne’s “Do You Hear What I Hear.” Closing out the concert was the symphony orchestra – composed of the honors wind ensemble, directed by Neske, and the honors strings, directed by Ruggiero – performing Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride.”

“We would like to thank the East Islip community and school administration for their continued support during these unprecedented times,” said Ruggiero. “Thank you so much and we hope you enjoy.”

Avitable Chosen for NAEA Exhibition

High school student Isabella Avitable was recently selected for the 2021 National Art Honor Society/National Junior Art Honor Society Juried Exhibition, held annually by the National Art Education Association.

Avitable’s piece, “Lavender Hotel Room,” was one of only 93 works chosen out of 1,187 submissions. Representatives from eight member schools of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design participated as jurors for the NAHS/NJAHS . In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NAEA has transitioned to a completely virtual exhibition, which opens on Jan. 11. It can then be viewed here:

“We are so excited and proud that Isabella was accepted into the exhibition for her interior architecture design,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “She plans to pursue the arts in the future, and we are excited to see her in more art classes next year. This was a project she created in Electronic Illustration 2 class this year, and even with our current challenges, she was able to create a wonderful interior design.”

“Isabella’s interior design skills are on point and her attention to detail and lighting is beautiful,” said teacher Daniel Figliozzi.

“It’s such an honor to be chosen and represent the East Islip National Art Honor Society,” said Avitable. “I chose to create this piece because I’m into interior design and I want to pursue that for college.”

HS Musicians Play Carols for a Cause

Prior to the holiday break, East Islip High School’s Tri-M Music Honor Society students participated in Carol for a Cause. The TJX Foundation initiative donates $10 to Feeding America for each video of a holiday carol performance posted to Instagram Reels.

JFK’s Young Artists Draw Homes

Students in Donna Bernard’s art class at JFK recently created a “Home for the Holidays” project. The young artists drew and decorated images of their homes while learning to use oil pastels to add light to their work.

student holding up his drawing of a house

Exploring Shadow Photography at the HS

Artists Join Teacher in Virtual Show

High school art teacher Heather Toomey recently exhibited her work alongside two of her students, Cammi Shaw and Sarah Strick, in the Suffolk County Art Leaders Association’s virtual Invitational Show.

“I chose Cammi and Sarah to exhibit alongside me because I immediately saw a connection in our work,” Toomey said. “Photography is one of my favorite mediums and Cammi and Sarah have both excelled in this area. The content of our pieces worked well together, and I thought they were a perfect choice for the Invitational Show. I could not be prouder to have my work exhibited alongside them.”

Shaw, a senior, has worked to become a skilled photographer and will graduate in June.

“I have worked with Cammi since she was a freshman in studio art and I am honored she took my photography class as a senior,” Toomey said. “She is so talented in photography. I will miss her dearly when she graduates and I have no doubt that she will continue to explore photography and show the world her vision through her photography.”

Strick, a sophomore, is also a member of the school’s National Art Honor Society.

“Sarah is extremely creative and talented,” Toomey said. “She has proven to have strong compositional skills and a photographic eye, and I look forward to even more from her in our department over the next few years.”

Recognizing EI's NYSCAME and SCMEA Musicians

Kaleidoscope Creations at EIHS


Photojournalists Document School Year

black and white photo of two girls sitting in the cafeteria

EIHS Musicians Rehearse Larger and Louder!

Music is filling the hallways at East Islip High School a little more loudly these days since cohorts 1 and 2 combined for in-person classes last week. The school’s honors symphony orchestra kicked of the larger ensemble rehearsal with pieces by Mozart and Atwell.

Orchestra rehearsing in the orchestra room

“Splashes of Hope” at EIMS

Guided by Joy Taylor, the middle school’s Art Service Club recently created “Splashtastic Winter Wonderland” character designs. The students met virtually and transformed their favorites Splashes of Hope characters to be ready for winter.

Two HS Artists Win SCCC Awards of Excellence

High school art students Kelli Karlin and Sarah Piccinini were recently honored with Awards of Excellence in Suffolk County Community College’s 13th annual Gallery West High School Art Competition. Both students are members of East Islip’s National Art Honor Society.

“These two young women have bright futures in the arts,” said teacher Heather Toomey.

“I am so proud of them both for winning Awards of Excellence,” said teacher Daniel Figliozzi, their AP art teacher.

“Kelli is one of our department’s most hardworking and talented students, and the co-vice president of the National Art Honor Society,” said Figliozzi. “She has the ability to excel in any media. The works she presented for the High School Arts Competition were masterfully executed and display her strong technical drawing ability.”

“The body of works Sarah Piccinini chose to showcase in this show are gorgeous depictions of her personal connection to nature,” said Figliozzi. “They are evidence of her ability to take risks with her works and demonstrate strong conceptual thinking. Sarah has a unique voice and a lot to share with the world. Art is her language.”

“It was an honor to have my art represented alongside many other talented artists,” said Piccinini.

The other 14 participating students from East Islip were Rayanne Abdelbaky, Jillian Bradley, James Buonincontri, Robert Camlet, Alessia Carcone, Brianna Fairbrother, Sophie Jensen, Melissa Molina, Nathaly Molina, Sarah Strick, Joelle Tomossone, Connor Tricoukes, Joshua Vasquez and Nicholas Winegard.

The virtual exhibition can be viewed at:

Four HS Artists Go “APE”

High school seniors Jillian Bradley, Robert Camlet, Kelli Karlin and Sarah Piccinini – all students in Daniel Figliozzi’s AP Art and Design class – were recently selected for the Art League of Long Island's 14th annual Go APE Advanced Placement Student Exhibition. Go APE showcases exceptional work by 124 art students from 36 Long Island high schools. The virtual exhibit, on view at the Art League’s website from March 15 to April 2, allows viewers to “stroll the gallery” in virtual rooms.

Displayed works by East Islip’s students include Bradley’s digitally manipulated photography piece “Too Much of Myself”; Camlet’s photo manipulation piece “Lost Souls"; Karlin’s “Hidden, Out and Open,” done with graphite, colored pencil, chalk pastel and gel pen on paper; and Piccinini’s “Decomposing,” done with gouache, graphite, tracing paper and colored pencil on cardboard.

“I am incredibly proud of Jillian, Rob, Sarah and Kelli,” said art teacher Heather Toomey. “They have all been my students over the course of their years in high school, and it is a tremendous honor to watch them grow as artists and young humans. Their artwork, in its variety of forms, shows excellent technical quality and skill. They are the hardest workers and should be honored that they are representing AP students across Long Island. I also appreciate the Art League for offering this opportunity for our young artists.”

“I am continually impressed with these four students and the exceptional artwork they create every week,” Figliozzi said. “The AP art course they are enrolled in is challenging and time consuming, and requires so much drive and ambition. These four students are so wonderful and hard-working, which made the selection process easy. I am excited to continue working with them this year and to see where their creative futures take them. I would also like to personally thank Mrs. Toomey, who continues to work closely with all of these students daily. She knows all of them and their body of work so well, and is such an integral part of our AP art family.”

Additionally, Karlin's piece was selected by the Art League for their Go APE press release.

“It is a great honor to have been chosen to be featured on the press release,” Karlin said. “It is really exciting to have my work reach so many people because of this selection.”

The Go APE virtual exhibit can be viewed here.

Four HS Artists Chosen for NYSATA

Work by high school students Adelie Barbera, Robert Graziano, Jeilene Law and Olivia Milo was recently selected for the 31st annual New York State Art Teachers Association Legislative Student Art Exhibition. Co-sponsored by New York State United Teachers, it is held in Albany’s Capitol Building each spring.

Barbera, a sophomore, is showing her photograph “Natural Refraction.” Graziano, a sophomore, is showing his electronic illustration “Mosaic Skyline. Law, a senior is showing her photograph “Fluorescents.” Milo, a junior, is showing her electronic illustration “Weaving Emotions.”

“It can be difficult to find the right way to express different emotions through photography,” Milo said. “The cool thing about this project is it represents an internal conflict and duality with the use of multiple pictures.”

“I am so proud of all our students selected for this prestigious exhibit,” teacher Heather Toomey said.

This year’s NYSATA exhibit is virtual for COVID-19 safety reasons, and the show will be available for viewing through December 2021 on the NYSATA website.

HS Art Students Learn to Liquify

HS Congratulates Seven Scholastic Winners

Seven students from the high school, all members of the National Art Honor Society, were recognized in the annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Brianna Li was awarded three Gold Keys, four Silver Keys and an honorable mention for her work “I Mattered, Voice Heard,” and Julian Covarrubias won a Silver Key in photography for “Start of a New Era.” Also earning honorable mention were Jillian Bradley in digital art for “Asking Too Much of Myself,” Robert Camlet in digital art for “Surreal Self-Portrait,” Nathaly Molina in photography for “No Escape,” Mia Oquendo in drawing and illustration for “Allegorical Still Life” and Sarah Piccinini in art portfolio for “The Cycle of Life.”

“Even though these are hard times, it’s always nice to take photographs to remember the moments we live in,” said Covarrubias. “I am honored to be chosen from the many other artists who also applied and be recognized for my photography.”

“I am incredible proud of all of our students who participated and very impressed that so many of them were recognized for their talents,” said art teacher Heather Toomey. “Their hard work on their art pursuits, both during class and outside of school, is deserving of these awards and recognition.”

“We are so proud of these seven students,” said art teacher Daniel Figliozzi. “Their artwork reflects their efforts and talents and I see an awesome future for every single one of them in the arts.

A student in the Cleary School for the Deaf, Li is enrolled in electronic illustration class at East Islip High School and attends Saturday art study at MorningSun Art School.

“Brianna is an exceptionally talented artist,” said MorningSun Art School educator Oliver Zhao. “Over the past three years, she has constantly improved and has developed her own unique visual style. Despite her hearing impediment, she has always strived to communicate with the community around her, making her a great role model and showing a true testament to her bravery. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been moved by how hard she has worked and how well she has communicated through online learning. We are very proud of her accomplishments this year and see a bright future ahead for her.”


Three Chosen as “Long Island’s Best”

Three of East Islip High School’s most talented art students – Robert Camlet, Mia Oquendo and Sarah Piccinini – were chosen to be featured in the 25th annual “Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at the Heckscher Museum” exhibition, which runs at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington from April 17 to May 23. The three students, all National Art Honor Society members enrolled in teacher Dan Figliozzi’s Advanced Placement Art and Design class, were among just 83 artists selected out of 331 submissions from over 50 high schools.

The show can be seen online at beginning on April 24. The Heckscher will also be hosting a series of virtual events in addition to the in-person show, including a virtual reception and awards ceremony on May 1 via Instagram Live, as well as an artist meet-up on May 20 on Zoom.

Camlet’s piece, “Castaway,” is a digitally manipulated photograph that depicts the artist with a halo-like ring around his head and glowing eyes, as well as swimmers in the sky that almost evaporate into the horizon, mimicking a flock of birds. “Robert has been creating amazing surreal works all year, and this piece highlights his strong digital art-making ability,” Figliozzi said. 

Oquendo’s work, “Personal Still-Life,” showcases her technical drawing skills, precision, and attention to detail. “Mia’s skill with colored pencil in this work is evident as the refracted and reflected light in the camera lens is gorgeously executed,” Figliozzi said. “The textures and color in are strong and help to create visual balance in the image.”

Piccinini’s piece, “Decomposing,” is a 36x44 mixed media drawing on cardboard. Butterflies were made with tracing paper, mushrooms and frogs were intricately drawn with graphite and the ribs of the figure were conveyed through cutting into the cardboard surface. “Sarah’s work is breathtaking, and its large scale makes it worth seeing in person,” Figliozzi said. “It is delicate and ethereal and displays her desire to connect with the natural world around us. This piece displays Sarah’s strong risk-taking ability when it comes to making art, as well as her commitment to her craft.”

“I am beyond honored to share this experience with everyone else that won and so proud of my classmates,” Camlet said.

“I am so honored that I was selected to be a part of this show,” Oquendo said. “I can’t wait to see all the other talented artists’ work in person.”

“I am so grateful and thrilled to have my artwork displayed in the Heckscher Museum alongside my peers,” Piccinini said. “I am excited to see the show. Additionally, it was cool to create an artwork inspired by another artist, as it was my first time doing something like that.”

“This show is exciting,” Figliozzi said. “It was our first year applying, and Mrs. Toomey and I are so happy that Rob, Sarah and Mia were selected. This is a huge honor for these three and I am really proud of all of them. They have been working hard all year, developing their body of artwork, and the three pieces they have in the show are evidence of that. It’s also so exciting that their works were selected to be featured on the Instagram press release. I would like to personally thank Mrs. Toomey for continuing to push me as an educator. She works so closely with our AP kids. I do not know where we would be if it wasn’t for her.”

“I am incredibly proud of Rob, Mia and Sarah,” Toomey said. “It is such a huge honor to be selected for Long Island’s Best and they truly are deserving of this recognition. The Heckscher provides such an amazing opportunity by having elite high school students exhibit in their museum space that has held famous artists, local artists and the best high school artists on Long Island. I also give a ton of credit to their AP art teacher, Mr. Figliozzi, who pushes them to excel and achieve high-quality professional work.”

The three selected EIHS art students could use your support for a chance to win the Visitors Choice Award. Please vote for artwork by Rob Camlet, Mia Oquendo or Sarah Piccini (vote once per email) at

Earth Day Poster Contest Winner

Middle school sixth grader Angelena Smith was named the first-place winner of the grade 5-8 category in the Town of Islip’s Virtual Earth Day Poster Contest. The school was awarded a $250 gift card to Barnes and Noble, while Smith received a Nook tablet as a prize. A member of the middle school’s Art Service Club and Craft Club, Smith was recognized at an Earth Day ceremony on April 22, hosted by Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter at Islip Town Hall.

“Angelena is a very bright and creative student, and I’m very proud of her accomplishments,” said art teacher Joy Taylor. “Congratulations on this very well-deserved award.”

The Study of Self-Portraits at JFK

After studying the works of famous portrait artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh, Donna Bernard’s fourth-grade students at JFK created portraits of one another as well as self-portraits. The lessons integrated fractions within guidelines on a template.

student drawing a self portrait

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


HS Artists Create with Canvas

The first project of the year for the high school’s electronic illustration class was to use Google Chrome’s Canvas platform to explore mark-making, a simple program that allows for a wide range of results. After mark-making, each student created a work of art using the tools.

Getting Creative with Cropping at EIHS


Exploring Toy Photography!



Morning Music Rehearsals Return to Elementaries

After extensive and cautious planning by the district’s team of teachers and administrators, morning music rehearsals at JFK and RCK elementary schools successfully resumed in November. Band and orchestra students previously met with their teachers in smaller groups to maintain social distancing.

“I am so proud of how our team strategically planned for this transition, and it is a blessing for our students to share music together again,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music, and world languages.

“It’s wonderful to hear the beautiful sounds of our musicians attending in-person lessons again,” said JFK Principal Deborah Smith. “I may move the rehearsals to these locations from now on so I can hear the children from my office.”

Letterform Project at EIHS


Three HS Student-Musicians Earn All-State Recognition

Three outstanding seniors recently earned All-State recognition by the New York State School Music Association. Viol player Michelle Mirabelli was named to the All-State String Orchestra, tenor Andrew Timmins was named to the All-State Mixed Chorus and clarinetist Shannon Wodicka was named to the All-State Symphonic Band.

This year’s NYMSSA All-State Music Conference will be held in a virtual format. Students will rehearse, perform and record a virtual 2020 All-State Concert in December.

Message on Elementary Music Rehearsals

Click to read letter

Getting Creative with Cropping at EIHS

HS Orchestra Tackles “Clapping” Composition

The East Islip High School Honors Symphony Orchestra recently worked on a socially distant arrangement of "Clapping Music," the 1972 minimalist piece by composer Steve Reich that is performed entirely by clapping.


National Art Honor Society 2020 Induction

HS Theater Students Treated to Celebratory Parade

Sponsored by East Islip Music and Arts Program Support, the high school held a celebratory parade on May 29, recognizing the 95 students who were involved in the production of the school’s musical, “Into the Woods,” which was unable to be performed due to the pandemic.

Cast, crew and pit members were provided with a token of appreciation from eiMAPS for their hard work as they were led by the local fire department. The school’s music teachers sang the songs from “Into the Woods” as the students drove past in the car parade, calling out each student’s name and their role in the musical.

“There was not a dry eye after the evening’s event,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music and world language. “I am so blessed to be surrounded by community members and teachers who love our students and program with all of their heart. I cannot thank each of them enough for sharing their passion for our musical students.”

Tri-M “Living Room Recital” Showcases Student Work and Skill

The high school’s Tri-M Music Honor Society presented its annual spring recital virtually this year as a “Living Room Recital” to showcase the hard work and skill of the school’s student-musicians.

EIHS Virtual Art Exhibition 2019-2020

Photographers Chosen for Colors of LI

High school photography students Samantha Koslow and Clarinda Vilardi were selected for the 22nd annual Colors of Long Island student art exhibition, sponsored by Sterling National Bank and held at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook. Their work will be on view from Feb. 21 through March 22, and both students were invited to attend an opening reception on March 8.

“It was awesome to be chosen to have my photography exhibited in a professional museum,” said Koslow.

“I am so proud of Clarinda and Samantha,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “These are two very talented and dedicated photography students. Their hard work and talents are paying off and now they get to exhibit their work in a professional gallery. I give my warmest congratulations to both of them and thank the Long Island Museum for this amazing opportunity.”

HS Artists Make Memorable Mural for Connetquot

Members of the high school’s National Art Honor Society recently donated their time and skills to paint a magnificent Hungry Caterpillar mural on Connetquot’s cafeteria wall. The effort was organized by Connetquot PTA member Jessica Frazer, who developed the mural idea, facilitated the details and obtained paint donations from other parents.

“I am so proud of the students that came to paint,” said NAHS co-adviser Heather Toomey. “The transformation that took place was remarkable and the end result will be enjoyed for years to come. It exciting to watch the progress, seeing it evolve from a sketch to a fully painted mural. My thanks to Mrs. Frazer for allowing us to bring her concept to life.”

“I am more of a photographer, so it was a new and fun experience for me,” said Jolie Iamunno. “I was happy to be a part of it.”

“This was a great experience for our students to share their talents with the younger students at Connetquot,” said NAHS co-adviser Daniel Figliozzi. “I am impressed with how our group of students was able to complete the mural over their break. We worked really well together and enjoyed our time there, and we are excited to see what other mural opportunities we may have within the district.”

“It was very fun and challenging, and the end result was pretty neat,” said high schooler Leah Neville. “I hope the kids like it.”

“We all absolutely love the new cafeteria wall,” said Connetquot Principal Nicholas Bilotti. “It is exactly what I wanted and hoped it would be. Thanks to the National Art Honor Society students and advisers who helped bring our wall back to life."

“The kids who created this mural are amazingly talented and dedicated,” said Frazer. “The Connetquot teachers, staff and students are in love with this beautiful work of art and it makes the cafeteria such a happy environment to for all to enjoy.”

RCK's Dedicated Drama Club Presents “Annie”

The Drama Club at RCK recently presented the memorable musical “Annie,” directed by third-grade teacher Dennis Clancy. Cast and crew dedicated many hours learning songs, memorizing lines and creating the set. With more than 50 students participating in the Drama Club, two performances were necessary to accommodate all of the proud participants. In lieu of charging a admission for attending, donations were requested to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, earning a total of $450 for the charity.

“Our students did an outstanding job making this endeavor a great success,” Clancy said.

Dedication on Display with “Frozen”

More than 90 dedicated middle school students joined forces to present a remarkable production of “Frozen” on Feb. 7 and 8. Based on the modern classic animated Disney film from 2013, the musical was directed by Alyssa Tripi, with Nicole Panetta serving as assistant director and Diane Doyle providing set design.

The outstanding cast included Madison McNamee as Young Anna, Jordan Maloney as Young Elsa, Ethan Greene as King Agnarr, Emily Farrell as Queen Iduna, Gregory Federico as Pabbie, Brooke Lubin as Bulda, Ava Panepinto as Middle Elsa, Aidan Godbout as Bishop, Lexi Hernandez as Butler, Juliana Banville as Handmaiden, Stephanie Sabillon as Cook, Julianna D’Addario as Anna, Sophia LoMonaco as Elsa, Patrick Vasquez as Kristoff, Christian Kozak as Sven, Brendan Kroupa as Hans, Sophia Aurrecoechea as Steward, Anderson Ross as Duke of Weselton, Hanna Ross as Olaf and Peyton Klipp as Oaken.

“It was incredible to watch the kids grow as performers and as people from auditions in September until our performances in February,” Tripi said. “We are all very proud and impressed by the dedication and talent of these young ladies and gentlemen. Every student involved contributed to its success.”

Senior Artists Selected for Go APE

High school seniors Hailee Cornell, Alyssa Huss, Jessica Montijo and Leah Neville were chosen for the Art League of Long Island’s 13th annual Go APE Advanced Placement Exhibition, which highlights outstanding work by art students from across Long Island. Displayed at the Art League’s Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery in Dix Hills, the show will run from Feb. 15 through March 1. The four students, all enrolled in Daniel Figliozzi’s AP Art and Design classes, will attend a closing artists’ reception and awards presentation on March 1.

“These extremely talented students are four of the most hardworking and committed artists I've ever met,” Figliozzi said. “Each has a unique vision and demonstrates a variety of strong technical abilities in their chosen craft, and I have no doubt they will all pursue creative pathways in their future. I’m excited for them to exhibit with some of the most talented student-artists on Long Island and proud to see them showcase their work to a larger community.”

Cornell plans to attend Alfred University’s School of Art and Design this fall. She has been awarded their highest merit scholarship, the Art Portfolio Scholarship, a renewable award of $14,000 for up to four years, and was also recognized as a Miller Portfolio Scholar, a $5,000 annual award recognizing an elite group of talented artists. Hailee will begin Alfred's intense Foundations program this fall, which will allow her to broaden her already successful art practice. Cornell’s Go APE piece, “Peanut Butter and Caramel,” is a photorealistic colored pencil drawing, part of a body of artwork that showcases traditionally executed portraits that have been obstructed by various textures and materials. At first glance, her works appear very literal but upon further inspection, explore ideas relating to tension, friction and frustration.”

“As Hailee continues her art education at Alfred, she will certainly become an important asset to their community as she has been here at our high school,” said teacher Elizabeth Gibbons.

“It is an honor to represent East Islip’s art department in this show,” Cornell said. “The teachers have helped me grow so much and develop my craft. I am truly pleased to be a part of this wonderful art community.”

Huss is a skilled illustrator, character designer, draftswoman, sculptor and painter. She plans to work for her uncle’s Los Angeles production company, Molecule Productions, after graduation, using her multiple creative talents to help with set design, fashion and make-up for a horror movie he is producing. “Release II,” her Go APE selection, is a large-scale mixed media piece that explores tension and release through self-portraiture. The work connects to a larger idea she is exploring in her art that relates to the concept “what lies beneath” and how that idea can be conveyed both literally and metaphorically.

“Art has been my passion for my whole life,” Huss said. “It gives me the confidence and balance that I need to keep myself going. Having the power to decide what happens in my world, to see how my skills can develop and grow over time, is truly empowering."

Montijo has shown a strong sense of design and the ability to master any medium. As a junior, she explored digital manipulation of nature photography in AP 2D Design. This year, she has delved into various traditional and unconventional painting techniques, including making her own natural pigments. Montijo is creating sustainable architecture structures for her AP Drawing exam this year, using a variety of reclaimed and recycled materials. She plans to pursue architecture next year at the New York Institute of Technology and has received a $25,000 annual merit award. Full of rich color and expressive marks, Montijo’s self-portrait featured in Go APE displays her confidence in exploring new painting techniques.

An accomplished illustrator, cartoonist and animator, Neville plans to enroll in the animation program at New York City’s School of Visual Arts this fall, where she can pursue her passion for character design and animation. Her Go APE artwork, the acrylic painted illustration “Sailing in the Clouds,” depicts a daydreaming young girl floating over the light of the moon. Vibrant in color and whimsically rendered, it demonstrates Neville’s ability to create imaginative environments and worlds to explore.

“To be a part of this gallery show is an absolute honor,” Neville said. “I’m extremely grateful that my work will be presented with other amazingly talented artists.” 

Dedication on Display with “Frozen”

More than 90 dedicated middle school students joined forces to present a remarkable production of “Frozen” on Feb. 7 and 8. Based on the modern classic animated Disney film from 2013, the musical was directed by Alyssa Tripi, with Nicole Panetta serving as assistant director and Diane Doyle providing set design.

The outstanding cast included Madison McNamee as Young Anna, Jordan Maloney as Young Elsa, Ethan Greene as King Agnarr, Emily Farrell as Queen Iduna, Gregory Federico as Pabbie, Brooke Lubin as Bulda, Ava Panepinto as Middle Elsa, Aidan Godbout as Bishop, Lexi Hernandez as Butler, Juliana Banville as Handmaiden, Stephanie Sabillon as Cook, Julianna D’Addario as Anna, Sophia LoMonaco as Elsa, Patrick Vasquez as Kristoff, Christian Kozak as Sven, Brendan Kroupa as Hans, Sophia Aurrecoechea as Steward, Anderson Ross as Duke of Weselton, Hanna Ross as Olaf and Peyton Klipp as Oaken.

“It was incredible to watch the kids grow as performers and as people from auditions in September until our performances in February,” Tripi said. “We are all very proud and impressed by the dedication and talent of these young ladies and gentlemen. Every student involved contributed to its success.”

JFK Artists Shake It Up with Snow Globes

JFK students recently shook it up in the art room with snow globes, learning about foreground, middleground and background.

Success at SCALA Art Show for Four from EIHS

Four exceptional East Islip High School students – Isabella Carlozzi, Hailee Cornell, Emma Jakits and Joshua Vasquez – were recently selected to exhibit in the Town of Babylon’s annual All-County SCALA/BACCA Art Show Exhibition. Cornell earned second place in the senior Scholarship category and received $500, and Jakits earned All-County first place in the photography category. The award ceremony was attended by Cornell and her mother, and Town of Babylon Councilmen DuWayne Gregory and Terry McSweeney were on hand to honor the artists.

“It was such an honor to participate in the SCALA show and an even greater honor to represent East Islip High School,” Cornell said.

“It was great seeing the students of East Islip being recognized for their talents,” said teacher Joy Taylor. “We are all very proud of them.”

“Our East Islip participants submitted amazing artwork and SCALA provides such a great opportunity,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “The ceremony was beautiful and the artwork from across the county was incredible to see.”

“The photorealistic artworks Hailee Cornell created deserved recognition as they demonstrate her ability to master any material in the arts,” said teacher Daniel Figliozzi. “I am excited to watch her continue to grow as an artist post-high school and I am proud of her for this accomplishment.”

Nine Fantastic Fifth-Grade Musicians Chosen for SCMEA

Nine fantastic fifth-grade musicians from East Islip were selected by the Suffolk County Music Educators Association for All-County Festival honors.

Chosen from JFK were Lucas Brelsford (band), Ava DeMaria (orchestra), Erin Kolensky (orchestra), Paige Mathers (chorus) and Crystal Reustle (chorus).

Chosen from RCK were Cora Cappellino (chorus), Charlotte Galli (band), Peter Gernard (chorus) and Oliver Rivadeneyra (orchestra).

HS Artists Create Powerful Pandemic Self-Portraits

While at home due to the school closings, high school student-artists recently created powerful pandemic self-portraits wearing medical masks as part of a special assignment on social issues in art from teachers Daniel Figliozzi, Elizabeth Gibbons and Heather Toomey.

“This was Mr. Figliozzi’s original idea, and at the time, we weren’t even sure that it would be an assignment, but if it was, the intention was to have an exhibition with all of the pieces,” Toomey said. “This is our virtual gallery and the students’ visual interpretation of self-portraits during this pandemic. They have a range of emotions from sad or lonely to hopeful and they are all wonderful. I am proud of all of the students that are continuing to make art and express themselves.”

“I believe this assignment created powerful imagery and is a clear reflection of what is happening right now in the world,” Figliozzi said. “I am proud of my students for taking the time to really think about this assignment and tackle it with everything they had. They really followed through and generated technically strong self-portraits that have an impact.”

“Jenna Scandale and Sophia Stryjewski are two students that have gone above and beyond with all of their artwork in my studio art and fashion illustration classes,” said Gibbons. “Both continue to create excellent art with what they have at home.”

Caroline Meehan, a student in Figliozzi’s drawing and painting class, painted a self-portrait on stretched canvas.

“With this painting, I tried to convey the helplessness that I think we all feel during this pandemic, especially the Class of 2020,” Meehan said. “I wanted this art to act as a message to my fellow seniors, saying that it may feel like we’ve lost a lot. Memories have been taken from us that we cannot get back. But we can still keep our heads above the water, succeed despite everything that’s trying to stop us and look to the future with hope.”


EI Music Teacher Ron Fox Performs in Special Music Video

East Islip music teacher Ron Fox recently performed in a video with more than 70 other Long Island musicians, playing “We Are the World 2020 - The Quarantine Mix, Long Island” to bring hope and healing and help people during this difficult time. The video has been viewed more than 400,000 times on YouTube and was featured in local news broadcasts.

View here:

Vote for EIHS in Vans Shoe Contest

East Islip's art students need your help. EI is in the top 25 in the Vans Custom Culture Shoe Design Contest.

Please visit and click on "Vote Now!" in the digital shoes category, then select East Islip.

Voting is open until May 15.


“Concerned” HS Student Photographers Share Pandemic Images

In a recent distance learning assignment from art teacher Joy Taylor, high school student photographers were asked to create images of the coronavirus pandemic based on an initiative from the International Center of Photography in New York City.

The ICP is collecting a virtual archive of Covid-19 images shared by professional, student and amateur photographers. The inspiration for the project was late ICP founder and first director Cornell Capa, who coined the phrase “concerned photographer” to described what he called “images in which genuine human feeling predominates over commercial cynicism or disinterested formalism.”



Art Students Create Moving Portraits for Memory Project

Seventeen students from the high school’s National Art Honor Society participated in the Memory Project this year, creating moving portraits of children from Venezuela using different media of their choice, based on provided photographs.

Since 2004, the Memory Project has been dedicated to promoting intercultural awareness, friendship, and kindness between children around the world through the universal language of art.

“I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to create a portrait for a child in Venezuela,” said senior Jenna Moceri, the NAHS treasurer. “I hope he loves the portrait I made for him.”

“I think the Memory Project is a really special service project for the NAHS, as our students have to opportunity to share their talents with young children across the globe, and bring smiles to their faces,” said NAHS co-adviser Dan Figliozzi.

“Even through these difficult times, we managed to get some wonderful portraits to send to the children in Venezuela,” said NAHS co-adviser Heather Toomey. “This is our second year participating in this fantastic project and I hope we continue every year.”



Recognizing Our Middle School Musicians


Click to view

National Art Honor Society 2020 Induction




HS Theater Students Treated to Celebratory Parade

Sponsored by East Islip Music and Arts Program Support, the high school held a celebratory parade on May 29, recognizing the 95 students who were involved in the production of the school’s musical, “Into the Woods,” which was unable to be performed due to the pandemic.

Cast, crew and pit members were provided with a token of appreciation from eiMAPS for their hard work as they were led by the local fire department. The school’s music teachers sang the songs from “Into the Woods” as the students drove past in the car parade, calling out each student’s name and their role in the musical.

“There was not a dry eye after the evening’s event,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music and world language. “I am so blessed to be surrounded by community members and teachers who love our students and program with all of their heart. I cannot thank each of them enough for sharing their passion for our musical students.”


Meehan Earns Scholar Athlete Award

Honored for her talents in track, art, music and academics, senior Caroline Meehan was chosen as one of only 30 Long Island students to receive the News12 Scholar Athlete award for the 2019-2020 school year. Meehan will be featured on News12 Long Island and received a $1,000 college scholarship from Bethpage Federal Credit Union.   

An AP Scholar with Distinction and member of the Art Honor Society, Meehan’s long list of accolades also include All-Division and All-League honors as a member of East Islip’s varsity girls cross-country team; a 2019 Long Island Scholar Artist Award of Merit in the visual arts category; and 2018 selection for the Long Island String Festival Association as a violinist.

Meehan’s News12 Long Island profile segment will air on Jan. 7, starting with the 5 p.m. newscast and running hourly to the 10 p.m. newscast. Tune in to Optimum Channel 12 and Verizon Fios Channel 529.


Musical Meet and Greet for Orchestra Students

In a unique music department “Meet and Greet” initiative, eighth grade string musicians from the middle school crossed the street on Dec. 17 for a visit to meet and play their instruments side by side with the East Islip High School Honors Orchestra. The event included a Q-and-A period designed to ease the middle schoolers’ transition to high school music study.


A Joyous Winter Concert Series 

As December arrived in the district, excited student-musicians from the high school, middle school, JFK and RCK demonstrated their skill in front of proud families in a scintillating seasonal series of winter concert performances in the secondary school auditoriums.
“Our winter concert series was filled with joy and jubilant cascades of sound, leaving us breathless from the hard work of our students and the dedication of our teachers,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music, and world languages. “Congratulations to all of our students, their families and our teachers. We hope you enjoyed the very special season of giving.”






Photography Students Explore Bayard

Guided by teachers Joy Taylor and Heather Toomey, high school photography students recently enjoyed a field trip to Bayard Cutting Arboretum. While cold, it was a sunny day and proved conducive for taking photos. Some of the students were working on shooting film photography for their narrative project while also completing a digital scavenger hunt.

“Bayard is such a beautiful and serene place,” said Taylor. “I’m glad we brought the photo students as many of them had never been there before.”

“It is such a wonderful experience to go on location to a site and photograph a beautiful local place,” said Clarinda Vilardi.

“It was a fun learning experience and a great environment to be able to practice using my camera skills and have questions answered by my teacher,” said Katryna Mullen.

“The arboretum was a very open area to explore,” said Gerson Tamayo. “It lets a photographer really capture the moment.”

“There were so many opportunities to capture beautiful photos, ones that you don’t get to see in a regular park,” said Victoria D’Amico.

“It is extremely valuable to the learning experience to be able to go to a beautiful local spot and help students on location have a better understanding of their cameras and natural lighting,” said Toomey. “We also had a lot of fun as a class.”


HS Artists Showcased at Library

Artwork from more than three dozen high school students from photography, electronic illustration and studio in art classes was recently showcased at the East Islip Public Library's Bohlsen Gallery. The event was curated by National Art Honor Society student Michael Kilbourne.

Dr. Deborah Smith, principal of the district’s John F. Kennedy Elementary School, initiated the partnership with the library and attended the opening along with John Dolan, the district’s superintendent of schools; Assistant Superintendent Paul Manzo, the assistant superintendent for instruction and personnel; and Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music and world languages.

“It was my first time being shown in a gallery and it was nice to have my family there,” said student Steven Brown. “This is a huge step for me and my future.”

“It was an honor to be chosen, and it was exciting to see the great work other students contributed to the show,” said student Thomas Tricoukes.

“It was our first year at the library gallery and it was a great night of beautiful artwork for our students and their families,” said teacher Joy Taylor.

“The library has such a beautiful space and it was such a wonderful opportunity to showcase student artwork,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “They are all so talented.”

Continuing the Mandala Tradition at EIHS

For the third consecutive year, high school students in Heather Toomey's electronic illustration classes continue a tradition of creating a mandala coloring book as a class project.  Sarah Kern’s work was voted to be on the cover of the book.

“It was an honor to be chosen by my classmates for the cover,” said Kern.

 “I am so proud of Sarah,” said Toomey. “Her work definitely deserves to be on the cover. Everyone in the electronic illustration 1 classes created an amazing mandala to create this collaborative art project. I invite everyone to color a page and post it on social media with #eifinearts.”

Mandala Coloring Book


RCK's Ruber Wins Coloring Contest

Fourth grader Dakota Ruber, a student at RCK, was recently named one of three grand-prize winners in the “Start With Hello” coloring contest sponsored by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department.


Board Honors All-Staters

All-State musicians Luke Ferrari, Peter Gerace, Jason Novellano and Andrew Timmins were recognized at the Oct. 17 Board of Education meeting for their outstanding achievement. Ferrari and Timmins were in attendance to receive the congratulations of Superintendent John Dolan and Board President William Carpluk.



Jakits Wins First Place Award at Long Island Fair

High school art student Emma Jakits recently received a first place award from the Agricultural Society of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties at the 2019 Long Island Fair.

“I was so surprised that I was chosen,” said Jakits. “It was really cool seeing my work with the blue ribbon on it at the exhibit.”

“I’m excited to have Emma in my Photography 2 class this year,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “She is so talented, and I know everyone will see more of Emma’s amazing work this year."

Seniors Named Scholar Artists

High school seniors Caroline Meehan and Jessica Montijo were recently named Award of Merit recipients as part of the Long Island Scholar Artist program. Sponsored by the Long Island Arts Alliance, this annual program recognizes students who excel academically and in the arts. Meehan earned the designation in the visual arts category, Montijo in media arts. Both students were honored at a Sept. 11 induction ceremony at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.

“These two are phenomenal and inspiring to be around,” said art teacher Daniel Figliozzi. “It has been a pleasure to work with them these last three years and I’m excited to continuing working with them this year. Watching them grow as artists and as individuals has been a wonderful experience for me, as their teacher and their friend. They both worked tirelessly last year to create amazing bodies of artwork that showcase their unique conceptual visions and strong technical abilities. My fellow teacher Heather Toomey has been a great mentor to them and continues to help our advanced placement students every year. We couldn’t do it without her.”

“We are so honored that Jessica and Caroline were recognized for these prestigious awards,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa, the district’s director of art, ENL, music and world languages. “It is a direct reflection of our teachers’ passion for their craft and highlights our program opportunities here at East Islip. We are fortunate to work with wonderful teachers who have such a positive impact on our students. East Islip is very proud of Caroline and Jessica and we know that their futures are bright.”


Four Given All-State Recognition

Four East Islip High School student-musicians – seniors Luke Ferrari, Peter Gerace and Jason Novellano, and junior Andrew Timmins – were given All-State recognition by the New York State School Music Association. At this year’s All-State Music Conference, to held in Rochester from Dec. 5-8, Ferrari and Timmins (both tenors) will perform with the All-State Mixed Chorus, Gerace (double bass) will perform with the All-State Symphonic Orchestra, and Novellano (alto saxophone) will perform with the All-State Wind Ensemble.


Two Selected for NYSSBA Exhibit

High school student-artists Kimberly Rauber and Joelle Tomossone were selected for the New York State School Boards Association Exhibit, an annual art show sponsored by the New York State Art Teachers Association and held on Oct. 24-25 at the NYSSBA Conference in Rochester.

“I’m honored to be chosen for the NYSSBA exhibit,” Tomossone said. “I enjoyed creating this piece and I am excited to share it.”

“I am so proud of Joelle and Kim,” said art teacher Heather Toomey. “They are creative and talented digital artists, and most of all, I have enjoyed seeing their amazing projects each lesson. This is a wonderful opportunity for both students to showcase their artwork at an exhibited viewed by all that attend the NYSSBA Conference.”


Art Honor Society Students Show Off Their "Ink"

Artwork by high school National Art Honor Society students was recently displayed in a pop-up gallery at 1st Ave Tattoo Studio in Islip.

“I am really grateful that 1st Ave Tattoo welcomed our student-artists to create artwork to hang in their shop,” said teacher and NAHS co-adviser Heather Toomey. “They were given an opportunity to showcase their talents in the community and represent the National Art Honor Society here at the high school.”

“I’m glad I got to expand my techniques and I’m grateful to 1st Ave Tattoo for displaying our work,” said student Julia Desiderio.


Bosco and Neville Chosen for NYSATA

High school students Jenna Bosco and Leah Neville were chosen for the 29th annual New York State Art Teachers Association Legislative Student Art Exhibition. Their work was exhibited in the Legislative Well in Albany’s Capitol Building.

“It was an honor to be exhibited in Albany with other cool art students,” said Neville. 

“I am so proud of Leah and Jenna,” said art teacher Heather Toomey. “They are creative and talented digital artists, and most of all, I have enjoyed seeing their amazing projects in all the different art courses they have taken over the years.”

HS Photog Edel Recognized by Huntington Camera Club

High school student Taylor Edel was recently recognized at the Huntington Camera Club’s 29th annual High School Photography Competition, with her darkroom photograph earning an honorable mention. Edel’s work was selected from 1,262 entrants from 16 high schools across Long Island. 

Held since 1991, this Nikon-sponsored event honors outstanding high school photographers. Edel received a certificate, cash award and an Ambassador Coin keepsake medallion, created by Nikon to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the company. 

“The photo was taken from the first roll of film that Taylor shot last fall,” said photographer teacher Joy Taylor. “Her assignment was texture, and this print stood out to me immediately as an exceptional darkroom print. I loved the simple subject matter as well as the composition. The judges commented on the tonality and range of dark and light, and mentioned how Taylor was able to create a very successful print despite the difficulty of manipulating prints created in a traditional darkroom setting. I’m very proud of Taylor.”

“When I first took this photo at the beginning of the school year, I never imagined I would win a contest like this,” said Edel. “I’m very thankful to receive this honor.” 


Memorable ‘Memory’ Experience for Art Honor Society

A group of 20 students in the high school’s National Art Honor Society recently participated in the Memory Project, an initiative which invites art teachers and their students to create portraits for youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as neglect, abuse, loss of parents and extreme poverty.

The East Islip students – Alexis Barber, Sophie Bingham, Steven Brown, Lauren Florenz, Mikayla Henderson, Alyssa Huss, Brandon Jinete, Kelli Karlin, Sarah Kern, Michael Kilbourne, Madeleine Lanberg, Kaylee Matos, Jenna Moceri, Katryna Mullen, Leah Neville, Hillary Ng, Katie Spina, Joelle Tomossone, Samantha Winegard and Logan Witte – were given photographs of children from Peru and then created portraits of those children using media of their choice, including pencil, watercolor, charcoal, colored pencils or digitally rendered portraits. 

“The Memory Project is such an amazing organization and really is a perfect fit for our National Art Honor Society to showcase their talents and help youth around the world who face a number of challenges,” said teacher Heather Toomey, who served as the project’s co-adviser along with Daniel Figiozzi. “I am proud of all the artists that participated in creating beautiful portraits of these 20 young children from Peru.”

“It was a true honor being able to give this wonderful gift to these children,” said Bingham. “I think it is wonderful that we get to put a smile on these children's faces.”

“It was an experience I will always remember,” said student Mullen. “I hope the child I drew enjoys it as much as I enjoyed drawing her. I am happy she gets to keep it. It was a nice experience to participate in something that gives back to people.”

“As president of the NAHS, I am very involved in all the service projects being done,” said Florenz. “I think the Memory Project was such an amazing activity and an honor for all the students to participate in. Being able to create art for kids in other countries is a really great concept because although there may be a language barrier, it’s cool how the art can bring us all together, and I think everyone in the Society was really appreciative of the opportunity.”

High School Sends 10 to 12x12

High school students Rebecca Bast, Jenna Bosco, Danielle Catanzarite, Brandon Jinete, Michael Kilbourne, Rachel Kuhlman, Leah Neville, Judy Orellana, Alyssa Orlando and Kerri Smith were recently selected for the 16th annual 12x12 High School Art Exhibition, sponsored by LIU Post. The show debuted on May 3 at Post’s Student Art League Gallery, culminating in a reception on May 15. For this competition, student-artists were required to create works that are 12 inches wide by 12 inches high.

“I love art and I am continuing on next year in Advanced Placement Studio Art, so it was an honor to be chosen for this show,” said Kilbourne.

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity that LIU Post offers in exhibiting Long Island high school artists,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “I am so proud of these wonderful photography and electronic illustration students.”


A Successful Spring Concert Series

Another superlative season of music study came to a close in East Islip, as the district’s spring concert series presented the fruits of a school year filled with student talent and tenacity. The well-attended performances included three middle school concerts on May 8, 13 and 14; high school concerts on May 20 and 22; and in-school and evening concerts at JFK and RCK on May 22 and 15, respectively.

“Our spring concert series extended from our third grade students performing on their recorders and singing, to our seniors performing at their high school for the last time,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music and world languages. “Our music program is supported by so many, and our students’ hard work throughout this series was evident. All of our students’ success is directly related to the impact that each of our teachers has on our students and program.  I am most proud of all that participate and share the magic of music with our world.”






HS Theater Students Earn Record 16 Teeny Nominations

High school theater students garnered a record 16 nominations in multiple categories for this year’s productions of “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Miss Saigon” – and swept every single category in the drama/comedy division – at the Islip Arts Council’s annual Teeny Awards ceremony, held on June 2 at Bay Shore High School. The event marked the 11th year of the Teeny Awards, a theater recognition program for high school students modeled after Broadway’s famous Tony Awards.

Karina Gallagher won Best Actress, Andrew Timmins won Best Actor, Alex Bertolini won Best Supporting Actress, Luke Ferrari won Best Supporting Actor, Katie Spina won for Featured Actress and Connor Barnes won for Featured Actor. In addition, the entire cast of “Lend Me a Tenor” won Best Ensemble.  

The pit orchestra of “Miss Saigon” earned a Teeny Award for their high-caliber playing, Emily DaSilva and Tori Tiernan were selected for Director’s Choice awards, and Tori Tiernan earned an Islip Arts Council scholarship. 

“It was an incredible honor for East Islip to receive so many nominations and awards, and we are so proud of all of our talented theater students,” said Bethany Affelt, the high school’s choral and theater director.  



High School Holds Debut Art Honor Society Induction

The high school held its first Art Honor Society induction ceremony on June 6 in the school’s library, with Jenna Donnelly recognized as the Service Award recipient for 2018-2019.

The 57 inductees included officers Robert Camlet, Nicholas Conzo, Lauren Florenz and Logan Witte as well as Alexis Barber, Rebecca Bast, Hanna Benardos, Sophie Bingham, Steven Brown, Alexandra Bunde, Robert Campanaro, Alessia Carcone, Hailey Cooke, Hailee Cornell, Kerri Davis, Julia Desiderio, Jenna Donnelly, Kaitlyn Donnelly, Daisy Ferrandino, Ashley Flyntz, Aidan Furey, Sabine Gebhard, David Gomez, Sarah Haanraadts, Mikayla Henderson, Grace Hurlbert, Alyssa Huss, Jolie Iamunno, Brandon Jinete, Kelli Karlin, Sarah Kern, Michael Kilbourne, Madeleine Lanberg, Nicholas LaRocca, Heather MacNamara, Kaylee Matos, Caroline Meehan, Jenna Moceri, Katryna Mullen, Kristy Murphy, Leah Neville, Hillary Ng, Judy Orellana, Emily Palomba, Sarah Piccinini, Emily Puglisi, Brian Quinn, Micarlys Ramirez, Kimberly Rauber, Brooke Rizzuto, Katelyn Spina, Joelle Tomossone, Thomas Tricoukes, Connor Tricoukes, Gianna Viviano, Samantha Winegard and Isilay Yildiz.

“Being a co-adviser for the NAHS with Heather Toomey this year has been amazing,” said Daniel Figliozzi. “We collaborate well and in turn have done some unique service projects with our students. Toomey organized a beautiful induction ceremony that I think our students and their parents really appreciated. I'm excited to see what else we can do with our talented NAHS members next year.”

“It was a beautiful ceremony and I am incredibly proud and honored to be the adviser to such a creative, dedicated and talented group of student-artists,” said adviser Heather Toomey. “They have given many hours of art service to the local and global community and uphold academic and artistic standards. I am so proud of our officers, scholarship recipients and all who supported our organization this year.”


Elementary Art Spotlight

In the final segment of our three-part video series, take a look at how our elementary students at Connetquot, JFK, RCK and Timber Point are learning and growing as artists. 


Art Honor Society’s Memory Project Video


Learning About Lighting with Lennon

Photography classes at the high school recently participated in a lighting workshop with local photographer John Lennon. The students explored the properties of hard and soft light and how color and lighting can change mood in portraiture as well as still life photographs.

“John has volunteered his time and expertise on numerous occasions to the photography students of East Islip,” said art teacher Heather Toomey. “They always enjoy and learn so much from his knowledge.”   

“It was a wonderful experience to learn how to put lighting on someone’s face so they look good,” said Sabine Gebhard.

“Mr. Lennon was a great teacher and I learned so much about a subject that I wanted to explore,” said Jenna Donnelly.

“It’s always an exciting day when John Lennon visits our classes,” said art teacher Joy Taylor. “Getting to work alongside a professional photographer and use his high-end equipment is a great experience for the students. His advice about hard and soft lighting and the effects it has on portraits was really inspiring.”


Montijo and Shaw Selected for Colors of LI

High school students Jessica Montijo and Cammi Shaw were recently selected to have their work showcased in the 21st annual Colors of Long Island student art exhibit at Stony Brook’s Long Island Museum.

Montijo is currently enrolled in Daniel Figliozzi’s Advanced Placement Studio Art class.

“The triptych that Jess contributed to Colors of Long Island beautifully captures Long Island’s wildlife and landscape,” said Figliozzi. “She is an amazing photographer and designer and is one of the most hardworking students I've ever worked with.”

“It was a great honor to have my photo displayed with amazing artwork from students across Long Island,” said Shaw. “I love being out in nature and capturing its beauty with my camera.”

“It’s such an amazing opportunity to have these two wonderful student-artists showcased at a professional museum,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “I am so proud of Cammi and Jessica. They are wonderful artists and deserve the honor of being exhibited at the Long Island Museum.”


HS Trio Earn Town Arts Awards 

Three high school students were recognized at the Town of Islip’s Student Achievement Awards Night on April 16. Senior Victoria Keenan, nominated by Giavanna Ruggiero, won in the Performing Arts category, while senior Jenna Donnelly and junior Haile Cornell, both nominated by Heather Toomey, won in the Fine Arts category.


East Islip Sends 57 Musicians to SCMEA All-County Concerts

Recognized by the Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association for their skill and diligence, 57 exceptional elementary, middle and high school students from East Islip were selected for this spring’s All-County Concerts.

John F. Kennedy Elementary School musicians chosen were Keira Bloch, Angelina Codispoti, Jayden Dell’Isola, Heather Heffernan, Justin Manfredi and Olivia Primiano.

Ruth C. Kinney Elementary School musicians chosen were Mya Dandona, Krista Deutsch, Alexandra DeVita, Zeynep Oztas, and Matthew Pasfield.

East Islip Middle School musicians chosen were Erin Ackerman, Ryan Buchan, Daniel Carroll, Stephen Coleman, Joseph Cruz, Rachel Furey, Kiersten Galli, Tristan Hearth, Lauren Holmes, Brendan Kearney, James Kelly, Stephen Law, Samuel Martinez, Natalia Mendolia, Melissa Mirabelli, Jada Poindexter, Olivia Quintero, Ryan Renganeschi, Ella Tantillo, Keira Tantillo, James Terhune, Aidan Thompson, Marissa Triolo, Brianna Tucci, Brooke Tursi, Nicholas Wodicka and Brandon Zane.

East Islip High School musicians chosen were Jacob Arens, Ryan Auffant, Robert Finn, Joseph Graziano, Kelli Karlin, Mia Lembo, Jillian Lopez, Michelle Mirabelli, Chiara Mosca, Vince Papillo, Olivia Pause, Olivia Pena, Joy Petersen, Kaitlyn Rice, Emily Rottkamp, Samantha Seibert, Marie Tohill and Shannon Wodicka.

Middle School Art Spotlight

This video feature takes an in-depth look at the middle school's art program and the work of our student-artists. Look for a future video on the elementary art program at the end of the school year.


‘Miss Saigon’ Draws Standing Ovations 

Record-breaking numbers of tickets were sold for this year's high school musical, “Miss Saigon,” directed by Bethany Affelt and performed on March 28, 29 and 30 at Rydzeski Hall. Set during the Vietnam conflict, the Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil creation was nominated for an impressive number of Olivier, Tony and Drama Desk awards.

East Islip’s dedicated stage crew worked tirelessly to build and maneuver a stunning set that incorporated multiple staircases, two-story buildings and a giant “Lady Liberty” crown, and the school’s pit orchestra musicians played continuously throughout, as the production featured no spoken dialogue.

The talented cast included Tori Tiernan as Kim, Luke Ferrari as Chris, Kieran Tohill as the Engineer, Andrew Timmins as John, Karina Gallagher as Ellen, Kevin Coles as Thuy and Alex Bertolini as Gigi.

“We are incredibly proud of this year’s production,” said Affelt. “The talent featured on stage was of Broadway caliber and the audience was brought to tears by the leading actors’ beautifully emotive performances. The students and advisers all worked so hard on this extremely challenging production, and their efforts were acknowledged each night by an instantaneous standing ovation as soon as the stage lights were brought up for the curtain call.”


Nine from HS Chosen for College Art Show

High school students Louis Akl, Nicholas Bentrewicz, Camila Corral, Jake Kenny, Samantha Koslow, Madison Kranz, Michael Laird, Emily LaMorta and Michaela Penafiel were chosen to participate in the annual High School Art Competition at Suffolk County Community College, culminating in an artist reception. Kenny earned an honorable mention in the exhibit, held at the college’s Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood. The nine students are all enrolled in classes with art teachers Joy Taylor and Heather Toomey.

“I had a positive experience at the art show,” said Penafiel. “It was cool to see art from other people who share the same interest as me.”

“It was nice to be exhibited in a gallery at a local college, and I am so happy I was picked to have my artwork shown,” said Corral.

“These students work hard consistently and always do exceptional work,” said Taylor. 

“I am incredibly proud of all of the students that were selected to be exhibited, and I am happy Suffolk Community College provided this opportunity to showcase student work in a professional gallery,” said Toomey. “Their artwork demonstrates their hard work, talent and creativity.”


Gebhard & Stephen Chosen for NYSATA

Artwork by seniors Sabine Gebhard and Cassidy Stephen was recently showcased at the New York State Art Teacher's Association exhibition, held at the 99th annual NYSSBA Conference at the Sheraton NY Times Square.

“It was very nice to have my artwork exhibited,” said Gebhard. “I worked really hard on my digital painting in electronic illustration class.”

“I am so proud of Cassidy and Sabine,” said art teacher Heather Toomey. “They were two of the top students in electronic iIllustration when I had them last year, and it was an honor to have their work exhibited.”




Passionate Production of ‘Beast’ 

Showing skills in acting and singing beyond their years, students from the middle school put on a masterful musical presentation of the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast” on Feb. 8 and 9. The production was guided by director Alyssa Tripi, aided by assistant director Nicole Panetta, set designer Diane Doyle, and student directors Emily Blair, Leah Bloom and Kaitlyn Reilly.

The musical’s memorable songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice were brought to life by the remarkably poised cast, who included Andrew D’Amico as Prince and the Beast; Kelly Waldron as Old Woman and Enchantress; Julianna D’Addario as Belle; Tristan Hearth as Gaston; Marisa Triolo as Lefou; Samantha Federico, Hanna Harbison, Sydney Holmes, Natalia Mendolia, Alexandra Totillo and Nina Walsh as Silly Girls; Brendan Kroupa as Maurice; Patrick Vasquez as Cogsworth; Hanna Ross as Lumiere; Elizabeth Ericson as Babette; Sophia LoMonaco as Mrs. Potts; Brooke Lubin as Chip; Keira Tantillo as Madame de la Grande Bouche; and Matthew Miller as Monsieur D’Arque.   

“We are very proud of the students for their dedication and hard work to make this show a success,” said Tripi. “We are very lucky to work with such a talented, passionate group of students.”


RCK's Scholl Attends Day of Horn

Peyton Scholl, a fifth-grader at RCK, recently attended the 14th annual Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association Day of Horn, held at Northport High School. Scholl participated in clinics and rehearsals with acclaimed guest artists and performed in an evening concert with horn players from all over the county.


Photographing Beauty in Nature at Bayard

High school students in Joy Taylor’s and Heather Toomey’s photography classes recently enjoyed a working field trip to a local state park, Bayard Cutting Arboretum. Toomey's students were photographing a narrative in film photography, and also had a digital scavenger hunt to complete.

“It was great to get to see all of the students interact and work together,” said Taylor. “Taking photos is something that the students have to do on their own time, and it was really nice to be able to help them as they worked to complete the assignments. For a lot of students, it was their first time visiting the Arboretum.  What a beautiful day we had.”

“It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to photograph beauty in nature at a place so close to home,” said independent study photography student Gia Piazza.

“I hope we can continue the tradition of field trips in photography, it’s such a valuable experience for the students,” said Toomey.


Drama Club Presents Terrific ‘Tenor’

Inducing raucous laughter from the audience each night, the high school Drama Club recently performed a hilarious full-length play, Ken Ludwig’s “Lend Me a Tenor,” over two terrific evenings on the middle school stage.

This year’s production featured eight students. In the leading roles of Max and Maggie were sophomore Andrew Timmins and senior Karina Gallagher. The roles of Italian couple Tito and Maria Merelli were played by junior Luke Ferrari and senior Alex Bertolini, while sophomore Kieran Tohill played the comic role of Saunders. Rounding out the supporting cast were Jenni Profera as Diana and Katie Spina as Julia, while Connor Barnes brought down the house with his uniquely amusing interpretation of the Bellhop.

“I was extremely pleased with the turnout and proud of all of the students who were involved,” said Drama Club director Bethany Affelt. “The level of professionalism, comic timing and instincts, and overall talent of the actors was simply amazing. These students really raised the bar for future straight plays in East Islip. The fact that they were able to master such challenging dialogue, complete with Italian accents and an operatic duet, as well as blocking is truly a testament to their talent and love for the theater.”


Middle School Musicians Impress with Holiday Favorites

In a happy holiday tradition, middle school musicians from the band, chorus club and Tri-M Music Honor Society visited the district’s elementary schools and the South Shore Preschool for Early Childhood Education at the Early Childhood Center, imbuing the day with impressive holiday spirit. The holiday ensemble performed with verve, tackling classics like “Deck the Halls,” “Joy to the World,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and a Hanukkah medley.

“This is always one of our favorite days of the year,” said band teacher Concetta Stevens.

High School Art Spotlight

This video feature takes an in-depth look at the high school's art classes and talented student-artists. Look for future videos on the middle school and elementary art programs later in the school year.


Fourteen Chosen for LISFA

Fourteen fabulous string students from East Islip will participate in this year’s Long Island String Festival Association concert series. Each student was chosen through a rigorous process that included New York State School Music Association scores, teacher recommendations and the LISFA selection committee.

East Islip High School students Sophia Bates (violin), Trevor Garnett (cello), Peter Gerace (bass), Victoria Keenan (violin), Joshua Koretz (viola), Mia Lembo (bass), Caroline Meehan (violin), Michelle Mirabelli (viola), Chiara Mosca (viola), Kathryn O’Neill (bass) and Samantha Seibert (viola) will rehearse for LISFA on Jan. 11-13, culminating in a performance at St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip.

Ruth C. Kinney Elementary School fifth-grader Zeynep Oztas and East Islip Middle School students Melissa Mirabelli and Keira Tantillo will rehearse for LISFA on Jan. 25-27, culminating in a performance at Hauppauge High School.


Creating a Beautiful Mandala in Electronic Illustration

As part of learning about the tools and capabilities of Adobe Illustrator, students in Heather Toomey’s electronic illustration classes at East Islip High School recently created a mandala coloring book for a class project.

“I was really excited about this collaborative class project,” said Toomey. “Creating art and being able to share it with others is one reason why I love teaching art so much. Each student was able to create a beautiful work of art as an individual, and then as a group, we created something that others can use and enjoy. I would invite everyone to color in a page, photograph it and post it to social media with the hashtag #eiFineArts.”

Matthew Mahon, the student chosen for the cover artwork, said, "I was honored to be selected by my classmates.

“It’s nice that we got the opportunity to express our artistic creativity and share it with others so they can experience it too,” said student Alyssa Huss.

Mandala Coloring Book

Timber Point Students Learn About the Skeleton Through Song

Students in Kathy Carter’s music class at Timber Point recently learned about the human skeleton through music and movement. Rhythmic concepts were incorporated in the songs “Hello, Mr. Bones” and “Dry Bones,” accompanying the “Mr. Bone’s Cupboard” activity based on the David Pelham book “The Skeleton in the Cupboard.”

Outstanding Orchestral Masterclass

Three SUNY Fredonia professors – cellist Natasha Farny, viola player David Rose and violinist Maureen Yuen – visited the high school on Oct. 24 to teach orchestra students in a masterclass. Senior musicians Trevor Garnett, Victoria Keenan, Joshua Koretz and Kathryn O’Neill performed solos and were given feedback by the Fredonia faculty.

“Everyone in attendance remarked on how great it was to hear the students perform individually and learn from the feedback they were given,” said Giovanna Ruggiero, East Islip’s orchestra director. “I am so glad my students had this wonderful opportunity and I hope to provide more experiences like this in the future.”

Fantastic Flutist Earns Award of Merit

High school flutist Alexandra Stewart was recently chosen to receive a Long Island Arts Alliance Scholar–Artist Award of Merit for 2018-2019. The LIAA’s Scholar-Artist Awards program, presented by the New York Community Bank Foundation in cooperation with Newsday and the Arts Reach Fund, annually recognizes 20 outstanding Long Island seniors who have demonstrated excellence in academics as well as their chosen arts specialty.

Stewart received her LIAA award and certificate on Sept. 12 at the annual Scholar-Artist Gala at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. She has received numerous accolades during her high school career; in 2017, she was chosen for the New York State School Music Association’s All-State Symphonic Band as well as the Suffolk County Music Educators Association’s All-County Orchestra.

eiMAPs Middle School Concert Polo Shirt

The winter concert season is rapidly approaching. Once again, eiMAPs will hold an online sale for the black polo shirt for the middle school concerts. Click here to order.

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Four RCK Musicians Perform Anthem for Field Day

Four of RCK band teacher Lynda Maniscalco’s students – Lucas Aparicio, Taha Canan, Kiersten Galli and Christian Martinez – performed the “The Star-Spangled Banner” over the morning announcements to kick off the school’s Field Day event. 


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Tri-M Honor Society Rises $2,004 for Food Banks

The middle school’s Tri-M Honor Society’s main objective is community service. In the past, the Honor Society has adopted families during the holidays, collected hygiene products for women’s shelters, collected socks for the homeless, ran food drives and gift drives for children’s hospitals, and this year, with the help of the For the Kids organization, helped install a beautiful memorial garden in front of the school.

Tri-M members participate annually in the Long Island Cares-Harry Chapin Food Bank Practice-a-Thon, with all proceeds going to local food banks. This year, Tri-M raised a new high of $2,004.

“The Practice-a-Thon is a wonderful way to strengthen students’ practice habits while encouraging empathy and empowering them to make a difference in their community,” said adviser Concetta Stevens. 

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A Record Number of Teeny Noms

The high school has been fortunate over the past decade to have earned several nominations for the Teeny Awards, the Islip Arts Council’s theater recognition program for high school students. At this year’s 10th anniversary awards, held on June 3 at Bay Shore High School, East Islip’s talented theater students earned a record number of Teeny nominations and several wins for their performances in March’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

Tori Tiernan was named the winner for Best Actress in a Musical, the school’s ensemble won Best Ensemble Performance of a Musical, East Islip’s pit orchestra was rewarded for its high-caliber playing with a win for Best Performance by a Student Pit Orchestra, Michael Silva was selected for the Director’s Choice award and Kyle Westgate-Addessi earned a scholarship from the Islip Arts Council.

Also nominated were Karina Gallagher for Best Actress in a Musical, Katie Spina for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, Andrew Timmins and Westgate-Addessi for Best Actor in a Musical, and Kieran Tohill for Outstanding Male Cameo Actor in a Musical.

“It was an incredible honor for East Islip to receive so many nominations, and the members of the high school music staff are extremely proud,” said Bethany Affelt, the high school’s choral and theater director. “The combination of our students’ hard work, dedication and love for the theater; coupled with our strong production team proved to be a winning combination, and we are so excited for next year’s production.”

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A Year of Musical Dedication

An entire school year of hard work, passion and dedication to music from both students and teachers was celebrated in style at East Islip’s annual spring concert series. The performances, all held at Rydzeski Hall, included the middle school on May 7 and 9, JFK on May 14, RCK on May 16, and the high school on May 22 and 23.

"Our spring concert series, featuring students from grades 3-12, began with our third-graders performing on the recorders and singing, and ended with our seniors performing their final number on the East Islip High School stage,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art and music. “Smiles and tears of joy were shared among our students, teachers and community members as the music department took our breath away with each performance. We are so very proud of all the students and teachers who shared their musicianship this spring season.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of both of my beginner and advanced orchestras,” said JFK Orchestra Director Jaime DeMaria. “They performed with energy, dynamics and – most importantly – heart. I am so honored to be their teacher and wish the fifth-graders all the best as they continue their musical journey to the middle school.”

“I am exceptionally proud of the performances of the seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra students,” said East Islip Middle School Orchestra Director Judith Fischer, whose students performed material ranging from Rimsky-Korsakoff to The Beatles. “I truly believe that their concerts were an outstanding example of the hard work we do each and every day in class. Congratulations on a job well done.”



Keenan Wins SCMEA Scholarship 

High school junior Victoria Keenan was recently announced as the winner of the $500 SCMEA Burnhart Rydzeski Summer Scholarship, providing her the opportunity for music study at the Ithaca Summer Music Academy this summer. Keenan, a violinist, has previously been selected to perform with the All-County Orchestra and Long Island String Festival Association concert. She also plays in the school’s pit orchestra for musicals.

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Excellent EI Students Selected for 12x12 Art Exhibition

A group of talented high school student-artists were chosen for display in the 15th annual 12x12 High School Art Exhibition, held from May 7-16. Sponsored by LIU Post, the competition asks students to create works of art that are 12 inches wide by 12 inches high.

Chosen students included Caitlin Breitenbecker, Kaylin Cuba, Julia Lambert, Christopher Palmer, Gia Piazza and Alicia Rodriguez for photography; and Eliza Channing, Hailee Cornell, Sabine Gebhard and Kevin Mesa for electronic illustration.

“I’ve never had my artwork shown in a college exhibit, and it’s an honor,” said Mesa.

“The students selected for this exhibit have such excellent pieces, and I am so proud of their artwork,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “It is such a wonderful opportunity that LIU Post provides, exhibiting high school students in their gallery space.”

JFK Fifth-Graders Display Art at ‘Colors’

Tammy Chen and Johanna LeRoux, fifth-graders at JFK, were selected to have their artwork displayed in the 19th annual Colors of Long Island student art exhibit at Stony Brook’s Long Island Museum. Sponsored by Astoria Bank, Colors of Long Island gives students from kindergarten through high school an opportunity to display their artistic talents in a museum setting. 

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EI Perseveres to Present ‘Mystery of Edwin Drood’

Persevering despite the opening night’s rescheduling due to snow, the high school’s annual musical, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” was presented on March 23, 24 and 25. Based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel of the same name, “Drood” is a comedic, interactive murder mystery that allows the audience to take part in the action as detectives. Dickens died in 1870 before he was able to reveal the culprit, but the award-winning 1985 Rupert Holmes adaptation solves the predicament by asking the audience to vote on the identity of the murderer and other characters.

The East Islip cast included Kyle Westgate-Addessi (The Chairman), Andrew Timmins (John Jasper), Karina Gallagher (Alice Nutting/Edwin Drood), Victoria Tiernan (Rosa Bud), Sara Rapuzzi (Helena Landless), Stone Locke (Neville Landless), Katelyn Spina (Princess Puffer), Jake Acocella (Mr. Crisparkle), Sebestian Ovalle (Durdles), Michael Silva (Bazzard) and Kieran Tohill (Deputy).

“Our high school students performed amazingly,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music and world languages. “From vocal work to the pit orchestra to the stage crew and the choreography, each element was wonderfully executed. It is due to the dedication of our teachers to our students’ success that we could incorporate audience participation to provide three different endings that replicated professionalism.”  

Three Named Photography Finalists

Three talented high school students – Hailey Cooke, Kerri Davis and Julia Desiderio – were selected as finalists in Photographer’s Forum magazine’s 38th annual College & High School Photography Contest, sponsored by Fujifilm. The winning photos will be published in June in the “Best of College & High School Photography 2018” book. Their work was chosen from more than 12,000 submissions from college and high school students from the United States, Canada and around the world.

“I’m very proud of my students,” said teacher Joy Taylor. “I can’t think of a more deserving group of photographers to be chosen for this honor. It is quite an accomplishment to be selected from such an impressive selection of photos.”

Superb SCMEA Selections from MS, JFK, RCK

Recognized for their hard work and musical skills, 22 elementary and middle school students from East Islip were chosen by the Suffolk County Music Educators Association to perform in this spring’s All-County Concerts.

Selected from JFK were Julianna D’Addario (chorus), Ryan Flad (band), Lexi Hernandez (chorus) and Ella Tantillo (orchestra).

From Ruth C. Kinney Elementary School, students chosen were Lucas Aparicio (band), Allyson DeLorenzo (chorus), Kirsten Sorbi (chorus) and James Terhune (orchestra).

Middle school students chosen by SCMEA included All-County Band selections Ella Micalizzi (flute), Cierra Stephens (flute) and Damon Swinson (French horn); All-County Chorus selections Emily Blair (soprano), Ryan Canarozzi (baritone), Timothy Hogan (baritone) and Stephen Law (baritone); and All-County Orchestra selections Ryan Auffant (trombone), Michael Baldino (trumpet), Caleigh DiBenditto (cello), Robert Finn (tuba), Chiara Mosca (viola), Keira Tantillo (violin) and Brandon Zane (bass).


Two Selected for SCALA

Works by two exceptional high school student-artists – Hailee Cornell and Julia Desiderio – were recently chosen by the Suffolk County Art Leaders Association for display at this year’s All-County SCALA/BACCA Art Show Exhibition. The annual exhibition was Open to high school students in grades 9-12, the annual exhibition was presented at Old Town Hall in Babylon during February.

“The SCALA show was an astounding experience,” said Desiderio, who attends Joy Taylor’s photography class. “I was honored to be chosen and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to see the perspectives of each contestant. I am proud to have received this opportunity.”

Cornell, who is enrolled in Heather Toomey’s electronic illustration class, said, “It was an honor to be chosen for the exhibition, and with my new experiences in digital arts, I am able to express myself more every day.”

“I am so proud of Hailee for her work in electronic illustration,” said Toomey. “She is an excellent student and exceptional artist. She deserves the honor of being chosen for the SCALA show and have her artwork hung with the best art students around Long Island.”


Middle School Trio Attend Day of Horn

Eighth-graders Ameer Basher, Jake Kilrain and Damon Swinson were chosen to attend the 13th annual Suffolk County Music Educators Association Day of Horn, held recently at Northport High School. The three young middle school musicians participated in clinics and rehearsals with acclaimed guest artists, culminating in an evening concert featuring the students as part of a giant horn ensemble.

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Middle Schooler Chosen for Day of Tuba

Ryan Renaneschi, a seventh-grader at the middle school and exceptional young musician, was selected to participate in the Suffolk County Music Educators Association’s 37th annual Day of Tuba and Euphonium, held at Smithtown High School East. At the event, hundreds of Suffolk students gathered for a day of rehearsing, clinics and a culminating concert.

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Milito and Montijo Chosen for NYSATA

High school student-artists Jessica Montijo and Stephanie Milito were chosen for the New York State Art Teachers Association’s 28th annual Legislative Student Art Exhibition. Their artwork will be displayed from March 1-14 in the Legislative Well in Albany’s Capitol Building. The Legislative Student Art Exhibition, cosponsored by New York State United Teachers, showcases New York State’s art programs.

“I’m excited to have my work on display up in Albany for this exhibit,” said Montijo.

“I was honored to be chosen to exhibit because I want to pursue the visual arts as a career,” said Milito.

“I am so proud of Jessica and Stephanie,” said their teacher, Heather Toomey. “They are really talented and always work really hard in class. They were chosen for their high quality work and creative projects.”


Four Seniors Go ‘APE’ with Art League Exhibition

High school seniors Melissa Mavrich, Jordan Rant, Zoe Stengel and Jenna Tergesen have been featured in the Art League of Long Island’s 11th annual Go APE Advanced Placement Student Exhibition. The exhibit, which will run from Feb. 17 through March 4 at the Art League’s Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery in Dix Hills, celebrates the exceptional talents of Long Island’s young AP art students, as selected by their teachers.

These East Islip students are enrolled in Daniel Figliozzi’s AP art 2D design course; they will attend a Go APE closing artists’ reception at the gallery on March 4. All four seniors plan to attend art school in the fall and are in the process of applying and committing to schools.

“These four girls are amazing,” said Figliozzi. “This is my fourth year teaching all of them, and they have shown amazing growth and transformation in their art practices. I was more than happy to select them for this exhibition, as it is a wonderful opportunity for them to share their work with a larger audience.”

“I’m honored to be a part of such a prestigious event and couldn’t wait to see artists’ works from other schools,” said Stengel.

She has taken nearly every art course that East Islip High School has to offer and received a 5 on her AP drawing exam last year. Stengel plans to pursue a career in illustration, and was awarded with the highest merit scholarship to attend the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan next fall.

“I can’t believe I was given this amazing art-pportunity,” said Rant. “My artwork, ‘Peacocking,’ is based on personal experience and my interactions with the people I surround myself with.”

A skilled drawer and cartoonist with a knack for humor, Rant is likewise considering SVA, but plans to pursue cartooning. She has also been accepted to Columbia College in Manhattan and Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, and is in the process of making a decision for her college career. 

“Being selected for the Go APE show was unexpected,” said Mavrich, acclaimed for her ability to create photorealistic portraits. “I feel accomplished. My artwork, ‘Emma & Jenny,’ showcases my best friend and my cousin. I captured the calmness of Emma and the energetic nature and excitement of Jenny in the work.”

Mavrich has also applied to SVA and plans to attend the fine arts program there. 

“I was excited to be able to showcase my work after four years of hard work in my art classes,” said Tergesen of Go APE. “My progression over the years has lead to an artwork that I’m really proud of. I feel accomplished that am able to show this piece alongside other AP art students on Long Island.”

Tergesen plans to pursue interior design next year and hopes to attend the New York School of Interior Design this fall.

Photography Pair Chosen for Colors

Two high school photography students – senior Alexa Benitez and junior Sophie Bingham – were chosen for the 20th annual Colors of Long Island student art exhibit, held at Stony Brook’s Long Island Museum.

This annual student art exhibition, sponsored by Astoria Bank, provides an opportunity for K-12 students to show their artwork in a museum setting. Both students along with parents and teachers have been invited to attend the reception on April 8.

Benitez, who was selected for Colors of Long Island for the second consecutive year, said, “It is an honor to have my work shown in the Long Island Museum."

“Having my work in a museum is great, and I am really happy that I was given this opportunity,” said Bingham.

“I am so proud of Alexa and Sophie for being recognized for their outstanding artwork,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “They are excellent students and dedicated to creating high quality work. The Long Island Museum provides such a wonderful opportunity for high school students to exhibit their work in a professional space.”


Four LISFA Selections from the Middle School

The middle school has garnered four student selections for this year’s Long Island String Festival Association concert. Chosen as among the best young string orchestra musicians in Suffolk County were sixth-grade cellist Ethan Greene, eighth-grade viola player Chiara Mosca, sixth-grade violinist Hanna Ross and seventh-grade violinist Keira Tantillo.

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JFK's Tantillo Chosen for LISFA

Young violinist Ella Tantillo, a fifth-grader at JFK, was selected for this year’s Long Island String Festival Association concert, recognizing her as one of Duffolk County’s finest school string orchestra musicians. Tantillo was chosen based on recommendation from her orchestra teacher and her scores at last year’s New York State School Music Association Solo Festival. 


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Beautiful Performances Highlight Winter Concerts

The young musicians in the district showed off their growing talents and the results of long hours of practice through a memorable series of winter concerts held during December in the high school’s auditorium.

Audiences flocked to the performances by the students of JFK, RCK, the middle school and the high school, with highlights including JFK band director Ronald Fox dressing up as Darth Vader to conduct music from “Star Wars,” the JFK and RCK advanced orchestras both sharing their experiences through a “Vivaldi School Year” program; selections from the musical “Hamilton” performed by the middle school concert choir and girls chorus, directed by Patricia Bryan; and the audience joining hands to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine” with the high school’s honors choir and director Bethany Affelt.

“During our winter concert series, our students performed beautifully, and it is a pleasure to watch each grow under the direction of our dedicated teachers,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music and world languages.



Ten Terrific Student-Artists Displayed at Suffolk Competition

High school students Niamh Amitrano, Sophie Bingham, Alli Bunde, Hailey Cooke, Julia Desiderio, Cassandra Fernandez, Gia Piazza, Jordan Rant, Paige Roses and Zoe Stengel participated in Suffolk County Community College’s 10th annual High School Art Competition. The students are currently enrolled in Joy Taylor’s photography class and Heather Toomey’s electronic illustration class.

Work by the 10 terrific student-artists was on display as they attended a reception in the Captree Commons Building at the college’s Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood on Dec. 14, with friends, family and teachers in attendance.

“These students are some of the most dedicated in my class, and I'm so happy they showcased their outstanding photographs in this show,” said Taylor. “I'm fortunate to work with such great kids.”

Sophie Bingham, who had pieces chosen for display in both photography and electronic illustration, said, “I’m honored to have both my skillsets represented.”

“This was a wonderful opportunity for students to showcase their creative talents,” said Toomey. “I am so proud of these young artists and look forward to seeing how they continue to grow and develop their artistic skills.”


Terrific Tree Lighting Performance

Bringing magnificent musicianship to a happy holiday celebration, the East Islip High School Chamber Orchestra performed for the second consecutive year at the annual Orphan Tree Lighting at the Islip Art Museum’s Brookwood Hall. Led by orchestra director Giovanna Ruggiero, the ensemble performed favorites such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Silent Night” and “Let It Snow.”

“Our musicians were excited to return to Brookwood Hall for our second tree lighting performance,” said Ruggiero. “Brookwood Hall’s Grand Ballroom is a wonderful venue that has held many great performances over the years, and we are happy to be a part of that.”


The Making of a Mandala at EIHS

As part of learning about the tools and capabilities of Adobe Illustrator, students in Heather Toomey's electronic illustration classes at East Islip High School recently created a mandala for a class project.

The students worked on both black-and-white and color versions of the mandala, which Toomey then compiled into a class coloring book. The students voted and chose Katrina Shea’s work as the cover for the coloring book.

“The mandala was so much fun,” said student Connor Lennon. “We created half a triangle, reflected it and then rotated all the pieces to create a final circular design.”

“The coloring book was a very creative idea and fun to be a part of," said classmate Camila Corral.

“I was really excited about this collaborative class project,” said Toomey. “Creating art and being able to share it with others is one reason why I love teaching art so much. Each student was able to create a beautiful work of art as an individual, and then as a group, we created something that others can use and enjoy. I would invite everyone to color in a page, photograph it and post it to social media with the hashtag #eiFineArts.”

Click here to view the Mandala Coloring Book

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mandala coloring book cover image


‘Hamilton’ Actress Inspires MS Chorus

Acclaimed actress Syndee Winters, known for her performances as the three Schuyler sisters in the Broadway cast of “Hamilton,” recently paid an inspirational visit to middle school chorus students. The seventh- and eighth-graders were rehearsing a “Hamilton” medley for their winter concert, and Winters came to give them a taste of what the music sounds like when sung by a professional theater musician.

Winters, who has also appeared as Nala in the touring company of “The Lion King,” performed two songs from Hamilton, "Burn" and "Satisfied,” and spoke at length about how she achieved her level of success despite her modest beginnings. She talked to the young musicians about having a “Vision Board” upon which to put pictures of goals they would like to achieve in their future, and told them to look at it every day and be reminded of what they need to do to accomplish their dreams. She also stayed afterwards to sign autographs and take selfies with the middle schoolers.

“It was an incredible, musical, motivational, inspirational experience for our students,” said chorus director Patricia Bryan.

JFK Fifth-Grader Takes Up His Tuba for SCMEA Festival

Ryan Hilbert, a fifth-grader at JFK, participated in the 37th annual SCMEA Day of Tuba and Euphonium, held on Nov. 3 at Central Islip High School. Hilbert took part in rehearsals and clinics during the festival, and performed a concert with a massed ensemble comprised of more than 300 tuba and euphonium players including elementary, middle and high school students, teachers and guest artists.

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Orgera Takes Art on the Road(show)

Michael Orgera, a sixth-grader at the middle school, represented the district in Albany last month as part of a special New York State PTA Reflections Art Roadshow. A total of 60 works of art were chosen for this special additional honor of distinction – besides being local, regional and state winners – out of more than 1,100 pieces submitted for the 2016-2017 PTA Reflections contest that were chosen for a special additional honor of distinction.

Orgera, a highly awarded participant in PTA Reflections, is a two-time Suffolk Region Award of Excellence winner as well as a New York State Winner of Excellence, New York State Winner of Merit and 2016 National Reflections Winner.

His artwork was on display in the rotunda of the New York State Department of Education Building until Nov. 2, when it traveled to Niagara Falls for display at the 2017 New York State PTA Convention. He was also honored by the Board of Education at a recent board meeting.

HS Musicians Honored with Ensemble Selections

Continuing a long tradition of musical excellence, 18 high school students were chosen to participate in the annual New York State Council of Administrators of Music Education All-County concert, held on Nov. 17 at Hauppauge High School. NYSCAME’s All-County program showcases the best junior and senior musicians in Suffolk County to perform in bands, choruses and orchestras.

Jake Acocella (bass), Jenna Anderson (alto), Connor Barnes (tenor), Alexandra Bertolini (soprano), Gabriella Commisso (alto), Sara Rapuzzi (alto) and Kyle Westgate-Addessi  (bass) were selected for the All-County Mixed Chorus; Claudia Banville (soprano), Sarah Bloom (soprano), Madison Lane (alto), Katelyn Spina (alto) and Victoria Tiernan (alto) were selected for the All-County Treble Chorus; Victoria Keenan (violin), Kathryn O’Neill (double bass) and Alexandra Stewart (flute) were selected for the All-County Orchestra; and Alexander Cabrera (baritone saxophone), Max Calarco (trumpet/cornet) and Cassidy Triolo (clarinet) were selected for the All-County Band.

Additionally, seven East Islip student-musicians were recognized for All-State honors this year by the New York State School Music Association and will perform at the annual All-State Music Conference in Rochester, NY from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3.

Evan Mauner (trumpet) will perform with the All-State Instrumental Jazz Ensemble, Stewart will perform with the All-State Symphonic Band, O’Neill will perform with the All-State Symphonic Orchestra, Bloom    and Rapuzzi will perform with the All-State Treble Chorus, and Anderson and Commisso will perform with the All-State Mixed Chorus.    

“These achievements are due to the students’ hard work, dedication and perseverance, as well as the support provided by our teachers through our performing music programs,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art and music.


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Alexis Barber Wins Art Contest

High school sophomore Alexis Barber participated in the Art League of Long Island’s Summer Portfolio Development program this past summer. Students in the program were challenged to create a cover for Anton Media Group’s Back to School special section cover for their August issue. Barber’s entry– a first-person drawing of a looseleaf notebook with several doodles, sketches and block lettering logo, titled “Notebook”  – was selected as the winner.

Barber, who previously won third place in an exhibit at the Long Island Children’s Museum when she was in the eighth grade, is currently taking two honors art classes at the high school.

Sawtelle Tops Traffic Safety Contest

Kathryn Sawtelle, a second-grader at Connetquot, won first place in the annual AAA Traffic Safety Poster Contest for her poster “Don’t Be a Fuddy Duddy, Have a Street Buddy.” After a rigorous judging process, Sawtelle’s poster was chosen out of more than 600 entries in the grade K-2 Pedestrian and Child Passenger Safety category.

The poster contest, part of art teacher Christina Spera-Bartlett’s curriculum for second-grade classes at Connetquot, helped to promote and raise awareness of traffic safety as well as introduce the topic of how to create an effective poster using art techniques.

“All of the students worked very hard for many weeks on their poster entries and should feel very proud of their effort,” said Spera-Bartlett. “Kathryn’s design and message stood out to the judges and therefore kept moving up in the judging process, landing her in first place.”

A special luncheon was held to honor poster and video contest winners for various grade levels. As a first-place winner, Sawtelle received a plaque and a $300 check, presented by John Corlett, AAA New York’s director of traffic safety.



Students Create Haring-Inspired Mural

High School student-artists in teacher Daniel Figliozzi’s drawing classes recently created a large-scale sharpie drawing mural inspired by influential 1980s artist Keith Haring.

The mural, located on a high school wall between the cafeteria and the music wing, features a famous quote from Haring – “Whatever you want to do, the only secret is to believe in it and satisfy yourself. Don’t do it for anyone else” – surrounded by student doodles and designs. Many of these designs were technically inspired by the intricate line work of Renaissance artists Francesco Bartolozzi and Albrecht Durer, as well as the cluttered and condensed work of contemporary artist Kath Fidler.

The students filled the mural with multiple memes, cartoon characters and numerous images of “SpongeBob Squarepants” character Squidward Tentacles. In a manner reminiscent of Where’s Waldo, Squidward is located in the mural multiple times, hiding and peeking out in places, challenging viewers to see how many they can find.

“My students enjoyed doing the mural, as they got to draw whatever they wanted,” said Figliozzi. “The work is expressive, dense and fun and really did come together; unifying with line work and ranges of dark and light values. The two central large figures in the work were inspired by Haring’s iconic figures. Each figure’s head is opening up, releasing the designs to signify endless possibility, relating to the quote from Haring.”







Hillman Honored for Photography

Recent high school graduate Sarah Hillman was honored at the Town of Islip’s 2017 Student Achievement Awards for her work in fine arts. Hillman’s exceptional photographs have been displayed at numerous exhibits including the town’s Festival of the Arts, Colors of Long Island in Stony Brook, and the 2017 Long Island Media Arts Show at Five Towns College’s Performing Arts Center in Dix Hills. She has been recognized for her work in the school’s yearbook and “Broadcaster” newspaper, and won two consecutive PTA Reflections Awards of Excellence.

Hillman will attend Cazenovia College in upstate New York this fall on scholarship, where she plans to major in photography.


HS Photographers Chosen at LIU Post

Outstanding work by 10 high school photography students was recently chosen for LIU Post’s 14th annual 12x12 High School Art Exhibition. The selected students were senior Max McGibney (for “Nightmare”); juniors Alexa Benitez (“Somber Contemplation”), Keala Sanders (“Negative-Creep”) and Nina Senn (“Morgue”); and sophomores John Camlet (“Behind Blue Eyes”), Jenna Donnelly (“Reflections”), Tyler Franklin (“Earths Tears”), Jake Kenney (“Juniors”), Chris Palmer (“Strike 3”) and Gia Piazza (“Creepy Night”). Their work was displayed at the Art League Students Gallery at LIU Post’s B. Davis Schartz Memorial Library in Brookville.

"The students chosen for this exhibit have demonstrated an strong interest in their photography and I am so proud of them for getting to exhibit their work in a professional gallery,” said teacher Heather Toomey. “I am happy that LIU Post gives high school students this opportunity.” 

“I plan on continuing photography next year and this was a good experience to have for college,” said Donnelly.

A Successful Spring Concert Series

East Islip closed out another school year of growing musical skill and diligent practice with a terrific May series of spring concerts representing musicians from the high school, middle school, and John F. Kennedy and Ruth C. Kinney elementary schools.

The programs of the six concerts, all held at the high school’s Rydzeski Hall, included classical compositions by Bach, Dvorak, Haydn, Holst, Mozart, Stravinsky and Vivaldi; traditional and folk tunes from various traditions; pop songs like “From a Distance” and “Happy”; and dramatic pieces from films and musicals such as “Hairspray,” “Les Miserables,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Jurassic Park” and “Moana.”

“Our spring concert series was a brilliant success,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art and music. “Our children’s hard work and dedication is a reflection of their teachers’ passion for their teaching craft, performance level, and high expectations.”




Seventh-Graders Perform Cello Demo

In a special demonstration performance, middle school orchestra teacher Judith Fischer and three of her seventh-grade students – cellists Wendle Huang, Mia Mendozza and Gabrielle Olds – played an unusual cello duet at the April 6 Board of Education meeting.

The three student-musicians performed the baroque “Lully gavotte”, while Fischer played the Marin Marais composition’s piano part on her cello. Teacher and students then shared various techniques with the audience, explaining how those techniques apply to their music.

All three students, described by Fischer as “wonderful, talented and dedicated,” will perform the piece at the NYSSYMA Solo Festival this month.

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12 Win Best in Show at LI Media Arts

Twelve talented students from the high school were awarded “Best in Show” at the 2017 Long Island Media Arts Show, recognizing their creativity and hard work in the fields of video as well as visual arts such as photography. The competition was held on March 31 at Five Towns College’s Performing Arts Center in Dix Hills.

“The Media Arts Show really stepped up its production values this year,” said teacher James Connell. “There were several interactive experiences that the students who attended could engage with. We had students taking film classes, as well as students joining live television and radio broadcasts throughout the day.”

Best in Show winners from Connell’s video production classes were writer/directors Steven Murello and Kaela Sanders. Murello won for “Old Soul,” a film about a young man making a connection to his grandfather's past; it starred Eddie Sallie and Brook Helmsorig. Sanders earned her prize for “Handsprings,” a music video film inspired by current punk rock music; it starred Kathryn Bingham and Kyle Bishop.

“As always, our students represented their craft well,” said Connell. “Coming home with two video Best in Show awards was great, and the other videos submitted by seniors Tom Murphy and Kara Tejada were also very well received by the judges and audiences at the show. I am extremely proud of the hard work and extra effort my students put in each year, helping East Islip High School shine at this event,” said Connell.

Participating visual arts students came from Joy Taylor's and Heather Toomey's photography classes, Jen Geduldig's electronic illustration classes, Liz Gibbons' 2D design classes and Dan Figliozzi's AP drawing classes.

Best in Show visual arts winners included Sanders as well as Alexa Benitez, Defne Duyku, Sarah Hillman, Destiny Kohlhepp, Stone Locke, Tristan Makinen, Kara Tejada, Zoe Stengel, Damian Vargas and Sam Zimmer.

“We had a record number of students attend as well as receive Best in Show awards this year, and even the judges noticed how East Islip had a powerful presence at this year’s show,” said Toomey. “I am proud of all the students that participated, as it is not easy to take criticism from professionals, and they all took advice and criticism with poise and professionalism.”

“This was a very good opportunity get feedback from professionals to improve my work,” said Amanda Seegers.

“It was a lot of fun to look at artwork from other students across Long Island to get inspiration,” added Chris Palmer.

“I was nervous at first, presenting my photographs, but in the end, the evaluator feedback was really helpful,” said Sarah Renner, from Joy Taylor’s class.

“This was my first year attending, and I was nervous about putting myself in such a vulnerable position with my artwork,” said Kendra Canavan. “It was a little overwhelming, but I made friends and was asking more evaluators to look at my work by the end of the day. I was proud to be a part of this event.”



Freshman Gomez Wins Huntington Fine Arts Scholarship

David Gomez, a high school freshman studying drawing under teacher Daniel Figliozzi, attended a scholarship competition in March at Huntington Fine Arts, and won second place, proudly walking away with a $500 scholarship to attend advanced art classes at the prestigious Greenlawn art school. HFA’s scholarship competition provides freshmen, sophomore and junior students on Long Island with the opportunity to draw the live figure.

“This life drawing technique and process is challenging, but essential for further collegiate study in fine arts,” said Figliozzi.

“I was very stressed knowing that I was going to participate in this competition,” said Gomez. “However, when I got there, it turned out to be wonderful place and I really enjoyed it. They also had dogs roaming around the building, which were very motivating. While there, I most enjoyed the instructors, who were kind and helpful.”

An excited Gomez returned to school eager to share his experience.

“After the competition, I was somewhat sure that I had done well because the instructors were very complimentary of my work,” he said. “After learning that I had won the second-place prize, I was happy and proud of myself. I am excited to take the painting class there this spring and summer.”

The win for Gomez was no surprise to his teacher.

“When I saw David’s first drawing this year, I immediately knew he would do well in this competition,” said Figliozzi. “I advised David to go into it with confidence, and to not worry about what other students were doing. He is a tremendous talent and will do wonderful things with his art…and he’s only just begun.”

Classmate and former HFA student Michael Dondero spoke to Gomez before the competition, sure of his chances and advising him to take the painting course there, which he himself enjoyed.

“David has a lot of potential to be one of “the greats” of East Islip,” said Dondero. “As a freshman, he already displays a confident drawing technique and a plethora of imaginative ideas.”

Gomez has always loved art.

“I like art because it allows me to create new ideas and imaginative things,” he said. “I am excited to continue to take art at East Islip, broadening my skills and learning new media.”

Gomez plans on continuing to broaden his practice by taking courses in AP art, electronic illustration and drawing in the coming years at East Islip.



Elaborate "Aida" Wows Audiences

For this year’s spring musical, the high school’s Musical Club presented an elaborate production of "Aida,” wowing audiences over three nights in March at the school's Rydzeski Hall. An intimate, epic and timeless tale of love in ancient Egypt, “Aida” was based on the based on the opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The score by Elton John and Tim Rice won both the Grammy and Tony Award.

Aida was played by Alex Bertolini. Michael Robert Krebs played the conflicted Egyptian captain Radames. The role of the heartbreaking princess Amneris was performed by Victoria Tiernan. Roy Anderson portrayed the evil minister Zoser, father of Radames, who employs sinister techniques to gain the Pharaoh’s throne for his son. Kyle Westgate-Addessi played the wily Nubian slave Mereb, who befriends Aida and assists her captured father, Nubian King Amonasro, portrayed by Alexander O’Neill. Michael Kelly made his East Islip stage debuts as the Pharaoh, while Karina Gallagher portrayed the Nubian slave Nehebka.

The talented ensemble cast also included Jenna Anderson, Fiona Ashe, Emily DaSilva, Karina Gallagher, Mikayla Henderson, Mikaela Naccarato and Sarah Powell as the Palace Women; Jake Acocella, Connor Barnes, Marc Espinosa, Richie Hughes, Michael Kelly, Vincenzo Mediate, Alexander O’Neill, Evan Ostrowski and Kyle Ostrowski as the Ministers and Soldiers; and Shequira Ashley, Kayla Cappe, Emily DaSilva, Beth Hillman, Sarah Hillman, Rachel Kuhlman, Emma Mendolia, Jen Nolet, Judy Orellana, Angelina Parisi, Jenni Profera and Sara Rapuzzi as the Nubian Slaves.

Director and club adviser Brad Frey headed the creative team which included choreography by Samantha Berkowitz and imaginative costumes by Jeanine Ecklund; both joined the Music Club this year along with William Lackner, who handled set design and construction direction. Megan Lombardi served as stage manager, assisted by Michael Dondero, who also headed set design. Joanne Pafundi served as assistant stage crew director, backed by Rebecca Kraemer as costume chief. The master carpenters were Tommaso Rotella and Tim Trapanese. Photography was by Sarah Hillman and make-up by Sabrina Frenino. The dance captains were Mikaela Naccarato and Sarah Powell, and on stage wings were managed by Hunter Engrassia and Allison Epstein. The scenic designer and EIMU organizational chief is Jacqueline Motsiff served as scenic designer and top Music Club organizer, while Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s art and music director, handled program design.

The pit orchestra, conducted by Frey and assisted by associate conductor and keyboardist Michael Stevens, included drummer Eric Ayala; percussionist Joe Pinz; guitarist Kurt Eide; bassist Joshua Koretz; keyboardist Zachary Schurman; reed players Vincent Harty, Anthony Jinete, Sarah Quinn and Cassidy Triolo; horn player Liam Greene; trumpeter Max Calarco; violinists Sophia Bates, Joe Bauco, Julia DeMaggio, Marcela Gallardo, Victoria Keenan, Kerri Kolensky, Connor Lennon, Caroline Meehan and Katrina Shea; viola players Victoria Goldfader, Elisa Mingo and Isabel O’Neill; and cellists Anthony Cialdella, Emma Elliott, Nicole Humpf and Skylar Pipitone.

“I have been involved with so many fine high school productions, but this one was truly special,” said Frey. “Tim Rice and Elton John teaming up with one of the most passionate love stories ever written is a director’s dream, and I am so proud of the cast and crew for venturing to stage such a popular and difficult musical. They have given me such pride and joy witnessing what they were able to create both on and off the stage, surpassing my wildest expectations. Their talents, resourcefulness, genuineness and spirit are a model for all to follow.”



East Islip’s Superb SCMEA Selections

A total of 67 of East Islip’s superb student-musicians from the elementary and secondary levels were selected to perform in the Suffolk County Music Educators Association’s All-County Concerts this spring.

From the middle school, clarinetists Jack Baranek, Jenna Borelli and Stephen Coleman; trumpeter Robert Graziano; and trombonist Ryan Jacobsen were chosen for the Division I Central Band; while trumpeter Michael Baldino, tuba player Robert Finn, flutists Ella Micalizzi and Oliva Pena, and horn player Damon Swinson II were chosen for the Division III West Band. Vocalists Abbey Lacy and Marisa Triolo were chosen for the Division I Central Chorus, while sopranos Madison LaTronica and Kaitlyn Rice, and baritones Kieran Tohill and Josh Vogel were chosen for the Division III West Chorus. Violinists Kate Alexander, Isabella Fantauzzi and Keira Ann Tantillo; viola players Allison Benowitz, Lauren Holmes, Keira McCaffery, Melissa Mirabelli and Nicholas Wodicka; cellists Nina Gerace, Sebastian Higgins, Nicole Mazza, Amanda Rooney and Brooke Stephens; and bassists Rhiannon Donahue and Brandon Zane were picked for the Division I Central Orchestra; and violinist Lucas Bates, trumpeter Joseph Graziano, bassist Mia Lembo, viola players Michelle Mirabelli,  Noelle Naccarato and Samantha Siebert; and clarinetist Shannon Wodicka were chosen for the Division III West Orchestra.

From JFK, trombonist Jack Wodicka was chosen for the Division I Central Band; vocalists Julia Fink and Samuel Martinez were picked for the Division I Central Chorus; and violinist Hanna Ross was picked for the Division I Central Orchestra.

From RCK, flutist Alyssa Deutsch and clarinetists Andrew Perez, Jada Poindexter and Batuhan Yildiz were chosen for the Division I Central Band; vocalists Ryan Kelpie and Terri Sonnanburg were picked for the Division I Central Chorus; and viola player Kayla McKenna and cellist Ethan Greene were selected for the Division I Central Orchestra.

Representing the high school, trumpeter Christopher Zanone and clarinetists Vincent Guiliano and Cassidy Triolo were chosen for the Division II West Band; tenor Connor Barnes, sopranos Alexandra Bertolini and Victoria Tiernan, bass Christopher Molinari, and altos Madison Lane and Katelyn Spina were picked for the Division II West Chorus; and violinists Emily Alexander, Marcela Gallardo and Victoria Keenan; trumpeter Max Calarco. cellists Trevor Garnett, bassist Peter Gerace, horn player Liam Greene and flutist Alexandra Stewart were selected for the Division II West Orchestra.



Artists Create Mural for Wrestlers

Michael Dondero and Cynthis Stasio, two of teacher Daniel Figliozzi’s senior art students at the high school, volunteered to create a large-scale mural for the school’s wrestling team. The mural, located on the wrestling room doors, was a vision proposed by Athletic Director Stephen Restivo. The students brought the work to fruition using enamel paint.

“Even though I don’t do sports, it was nice to contribute to one of the other departments at our school,” said Dondero.

“I enjoyed doing the mural and contributing to not only the art department, but the school itself and the athletic department,” said Stasio.

Both Dondero and Stasio plan to attend art school this fall.


Seniors Selected for NYSATA

High school seniors Skylure Blatz and Alana Fiederlein were chosen for the New York State Art Teachers Association’s 27th annual Legislative Student Art Exhibition. Their work will be displayed in the Legislative Well in Albany’s Capitol Building from March 27-29.

The flagship event for Youth Art Month, the Legislative Student Art Exhibition is a showcase for the state’s art programs and NYSATA’s largest public display of student artwork in a government building. This year’s exhibit is cosponsored by New York State United Teachers.

The two students, who will attend a NYSATA reception on March 29 alongside parents, teachers and state legislators, are enrolled in teacher Heather Toomey’s independent study photography course.

“I am so proud of Alana and Skylure,” said Toomey. “Both of these wonderful young women have been in my photography class for three years and deserve this honor to exhibit their artwork upstate in Albany.”

“I am excited to have my photography presented at the Legislative Student Art Exhibition,” said Blatz. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without my photography teacher, Mrs. Toomey.”

Said Fiederlein, “I am so honored to have been part of this exhibition, and thank everyone who helped support my photography.”


HS Photographers Display Their ‘Colors’

Three high school photography students – senior Sarah Hillman and juniors Alexa Benitez and Amanda Seegers – were selected for the 19th annual Colors of Long Island student art exhibit, held at Stony Brook’s Long Island Museum. The three were chosen for their colorful designs pertaining to the theme of the exhibit, which runs from Feb. 24 through April 16.

This annual student art exhibition, sponsored by Astoria Bank, provides an opportunity for K-12 students to show their artwork in a museum setting. A total of 179 schools participated in this year’s exhibition, many of which were new to the Long Island Museum.

“I am so proud of Sarah, Alexa and Amanda for their hard work and dedication to their photography,” said photography teacher Heather Toomey. “I am happy to see them succeed and be acknowledged for their extraordinary photographic skills.”

“I was really grateful to have this opportunity, and excited to see my work displayed in a museum,” said Hillman, who attended a March 5 reception at the museum. She plans to pursue photography in college this fall.

“This was an amazing opportunity,” said Benitez. “This experience is great for my college applications, because I plan to continue photography next year.”


Connetquot Second-Graders Create Pop Art Hearts

Second-graders at Connetquot recently learned about pop artist Jim Dine before creating mixed-media hearts during art classes.

Under the direction of teacher Dana Belfiore-O’Connell, the students were taught how to use oil pastels, paint, crayon and marker. They utilized the pros and cons of each material, such as turning crayons on their side to create texture and using the small tips of the markers to create intricate details not achievable with other materials. They tried various techniques and experimented with using the materials in new and exciting ways.

“The paint was my favorite material to use because you can blend the colors to make new ones,” said second-grader Kate Habel.

Stevens Named LI Scholar-Artist

High school senior Michael Stevens was selected to be one of 20 Long Island Arts Alliance Scholar–Artists for 2016-2017, a prestigious honor that annually recognizes top Long Island seniors who have demonstrated a successful school career in both the arts and academics
The LIAA’s Scholar-Artist Awards program, presented by the New York Community Bank Foundation in cooperation with Newsday, partners with local universities to offer full scholarships to qualified honorees.  

Last September 8, Stevens attended a reception at Half Hollow Hills High School East, introducing the 2016-2017 class of Scholar-Artists were introduced and honored. He was featured as a Scholar-Artist in Newsday during December, and this spring, he will participate in a special presentation of all the Scholar-Artists at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.

Stevens has spent every Saturday for the past seven years in both the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School Pre-College programs, studying with members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. In May 2016, his Juilliard chamber group Noname won an international chamber competition against more than 100 other ensembles from 13 different countries. Additionally, Stevens and East Islip classmate Kevin Jacobsen spend Sundays as the two youngest brass section members of the nation’s premier youth orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony.

Since fifth grade, Stevens has spent his summers participating in rigorous music programs such as Tanglewood and the New York State School of Orchestral Studies. Most recently, he toured China and Europe with the Carnegie Hall National Youth Orchestra of the USA. With the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, he visited Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria and Poland; in the latter, he performed a memorial concert on the grounds of the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp.

As a sixth- and eighth-grader, Stevens was the winner of the Northeast Horn Workshop High School Competition and runner-up in both the Juilliard and MSM concerto competitions. He has been a NYSSMA level 6 pianist since third grade and level 6 horn player since fourth grade, with an average score of 99.7, earning him All-State honors on both instruments.

Academically, Stevens has been enrolled in honors and AP classes throughout his secondary years and has been able to maintain a GPA above 102. Throughout his musical and academic years, he has played both club and school soccer, most recently with the East Islip boys varsity soccer team.

“I am so incredibly grateful for the hard work and support from my music teachers in the school district,” said Stevens. “From elementary school onward, they inspire hundreds of students every day.”

Stevens is applying to music conservatories nationwide where he hopes to pursue a career as an orchestral horn player.



Finest 14 Chosen for LISFA

Recognizing them as among Suffolk County’s finest school string orchestra players, 14 young string musicians – fifth-grader Hanna Ross; sixth-grader Keira Tantillo; eighth-graders Mia Lembo, Michelle Mirabella, Noelle Naccarato and Samantha Seibert; freshman Peter Gerace, sophomores Marcela Gallardo, Trevor Garnett and Victoria Keenan; juniors Elisa Mingo and Jessica Muroff; and seniors Samantha Smith and Devin Thelemann – were selected for this year’s Long Island String Festival Association concerts.

The students, hailing from JFK, the middle school and the high school, were chosen by LISFA based on recommendations from their orchestra teachers and their scores at last year’s New York State School Music Association Solo Festival. They were honored at the Feb. 2 Board of Education meeting.

“We are so very proud of our string students and their hard work to achieve this wonderful accomplishment,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the director of art and music. “We are forever grateful for the countless hours our teachers spent in preparing our students for these opportunities.”


Photography Students Enjoy Lennon’s Lighting Workshop

The high school’s photography classes recently participated in a hands-on workshop about lighting with a returning visitor, local wedding photographer, John Lennon. The students were given a chance to use Lennon’s professional camera and lighting equipment, enhancing their technical skills.

“It was such a wonderful experience to have Mr. Lennon come back again this year,” said teacher and Photography Club adviser Heather Toomey. “The students and I learned so much from him.”

“It was great to work with Mr. Lennon and to hear his thoughts on the importance of photographic lighting,” added teacher Joy Taylor. “It is always exciting to hear from professionals and have them share their expertise with our students."

“It was an interesting and fun learning experience that introduced us to new techniques and equipment,” said student Alana Fiederlein. 

“I got to learn about things that I wouldn’t have had the chance to, because of his equipment,” said her classmate John Camlet. “I can't wait until he returns next year.”



Passion on Display at Winter Concerts


The district’s hardworking and talented music students displayed the results of their studies at a series of six impressive winter concerts held in December at the high school’s Rydzeski Hall. During the prior months, students from the high school, middle school, and JFK and RCK elementary schools practiced at home and attended numerous rehearsals and lessons, all in preparation for their performances in front of family and friends.

“Our music students demonstrated a high level of musicianship and professionalism in their winter concerts,” said Giovanna Ruggiero, the high school’s orchestra director. “They achieved this through their consistent dedication and passion for music. I am so proud of the hard work each student displayed and I look forward to hearing continued musical growth in upcoming performances.”

JFK Orchestra Director Jaime DeMaria said, “The concert was a huge success and we all can’t wait to see what these spectacular students can do in the spring.”





MS Band Bus Tour Proves a Holiday Highlight

The middle school’s Holiday Ensemble, composed of spirited students from the school’s Tri-M Music Honor Society, traveled around the district by bus on Dec. 22, spreading cheer through music.

Led by director Concetta Stevens, the band tackled a sprightly selection of holiday classics at each stop, which included Connetquot and RCK elementary schools; the district office, where they performed for administrators; and the Early Childhood Center, where they played for students of the  South Shore Preschool for Early Childhood Education. At each site, Stevens also presented a brief history and demonstration of all the band instruments.



Honoring All-State/All-County Musicians

Four high school student-musicians – Kurte Eide, Richard Hughes, Michael Krebs and Evan Mauner – were awarded All-State honors by the New York State School Music Association, and participated in at the NYSSMA Winter Conference at the Eastman Theater in Rochester.

At the All-State concert, held on Dec. 4, Eide (jazz trombone) and Mauner (trumpet) performed with the All-State Instrumental Jazz Ensemble, Hughes (trumpet) played with the All-State Wind Ensemble, and Krebs (bass) sang in the All-State Mixed Chorus.

Additionally, 18 students from East Islip were named All-County musicians, and participated in the New York State Council of Administrators of Music Education’s All-County Festival concerts, held on Nov. 18 at Northport High School..

Zachary Schurman played alto saxophone with the All-County Band under the direction of Dr. James Tapia.

Representing East Islip in the two choral ensembles were Brittney Berke, Kendra Canavan and Sabrina Firneno in the All-County Women’s Chorus and Roy Anderson, Amanda Baranek, Sarah Bloom, Krebs, Vincenzo Mediate and Sara Rapuzzi in the All-County Mixed Chorus. Selections included original compositions by Women’s Chorus Director Joan Szymko as well as a mix of contemporary and classical pieces.

Eight students were instrumentalists in the All-County Orchestra: Eide on trombone, Beth Hillman on oboe, Nicole Humpf on cello, Richie Hughes and Kevin Jacobsen on trumpet, Samantha Smith on violin, Michael Stevens on horn, and Devin Thelemann on double bass. Under the direction of Joshua Gersen, with conducting assistance from retired East Islip orchestra director Susan W. Rydzeski and current East Islip wind ensemble director Christopher Neske, the orchestra performed “Mars and Jupiter” from Holst’s “The Planets” as well as Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture. 

“We are so proud of all our All-State and All-County students for their hard work and dedication to their musicianship,” said Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s director of art, ENL, music and world languages. “Our students’ accomplishments are a reflection of our teachers’ support and love of teaching, and we cannot thank them enough.”



Monday, July 04, 2022