01/04/18 2:00pm
COURTESY PHOTO | Local singers are invited to join in the annual singing of Handel's "Messiah" on January 7 at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church.

COURTESY PHOTO | Local vocalists are invited to join in the annual sing-in of Handel’s “Messiah” on January 7 at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church.


The third annual sing-in of Handel’s “Messiah,” will be held Sunday, January 7 — the first Sunday after the Epiphany — in honor of Jack Monaghan, at 3 p.m. at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church. (more…)

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06/29/15 8:00am
REPORTER FILE PHOTO Former interim school superintendent Gil DeCicco left the district 10 years ago after a replacement was named.

Former interim school superintendent Gil DeCicco left the district 10 years ago after a replacement was named.


The United States Senate approved eliminating all silver from dimes and quarters and reducing the silver content from 90 percent to 40 percent in half dollars, a move backed by President Lyndon Johnson because of a silver shortage.

The first major combat offensive by American troops started in Vietnam.

Two Viet Cong terrorist bombs ripped through a floating restaurant on the Saigon River, killing 31 people.

The Rolling Stones topped the music chart with “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”

Frank Sinatra released his album, “Sinatra ‘65: The Singer Today.”

And on Shelter Island … (more…)

10/05/11 6:54pm

I’m not talking about the movie “True Grit.” I’m talking about fortitude, resilience and the ability to recover quickly from setbacks. I wrote an article about child and adolescent resilience years ago when I was an elementary school principal. Frank A. Clark postulates, “If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably does not lead anywhere.” The September 18 issue of the New York Times Magazine just released an article, “The Character Test — Why our kids’ success — and happiness — may depend less on perfect performance than on learning how to deal with failure.” It was one of the most honest and provocative stories I have read in quite some time. I was more intrigued with the aspect of students needing to be resilient than the author’s reporting on character.

The article begins by describing the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx and its headmaster, Dominic Randolph. Mr. Randolph is “surprisingly skeptical about many of the basic elements of a contemporary high-stakes American education.” He encourages his teachers to limit the homework they assign and believes that if schools judge and evaluate students based on I.Q., schools are “missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.” What he and many other educators are referring to is character, character in the sense of working hard and showing grit.

Mr. Randolph asserts, “Strangely, we’ve now forgotten that. People have an easy time of things. I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re … [in trouble], to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to handle that.” The article continues on about students needing the ability to learn how to dust themselves off after dealing with setbacks. As one Riverdale teacher is quoted, “Our kids don’t put up with a lot of suffering, and when they do get uncomfortable, we hear from their parents.”

Please do not misunderstand my attempt to bring this subject to light. As a former elementary and middle school principal, and more importantly as a parent, I struggle with balancing my ability (or inability) to not intervene every time I see my students or children struggle. My first instinct is to protect and make them feel secure. As I write this article, I think about my own experiences and how I learned to deal with failure. It’s hard for me to quantify how many times I’ve fallen down; I will say it is too high to count. I truly believe I am a more resourceful and independent adult by building my capacity to recover from setbacks.

I think about the opportunities that surfaced when learning to deal with adversity, to have that “true grit.” If I didn’t get cut from the JV basketball team, I never would have played tennis. I think of the jobs I interviewed for and didn’t get on my first interview, the schools I applied to and didn’t get into, the financial struggles many people are going through right now; by learning how to fail and building grit and self-control, I believe we are on the right track to assisting our children to truly succeed. Confucius once stated, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” Let’s continue to work together in shaping the future of our children.

07/06/11 10:23pm

It is with much anticipation and excitement that I finally have the opportunity to address our wonderful community as the new superintendent/principal. Over the next few months, I will be meeting with anyone who is willing to talk with me about your thoughts and feelings about our school district. As I have stated repeatedly over the last month, I want to get to know anyone who has a stake in our school and children.

We will post a schedule of days and times on our website within the next few days. If you are unable to attend these meetings, I can meet you for a cup of coffee, speak to a group of community members at your organization, or come to your home if need be. My goal is to acquire as much history and knowledge about our Island and school district so I can get a more complete perspective of your collective thoughts and feelings. Please know my door is always open to anyone who would like to discuss their expectations about the Shelter Island School District.

In my speech to our 2011 graduates, I mentioned that during my transition I noticed many things about our community. I noticed a community that prizes its children above all else and a community that respects and embraces its responsibility for their future. It is apparent that our community cares passionately in honoring those who have gone before us and will never forget those who have given their lives above all else. I see a community in which I will be proud to move their children into the future. Most of all, I look forward to making sure that Shelter Island maintains its gracious, charming and motivated kinship while elevating the academic standards within our jewel of a school.

With the New York State Education Department making rapid and sweeping changes in regard to standards and curriculum, a new evaluation system for teachers and administrators and a redesigning of state assessments, we have a lot of work to do, work that I fully intend to be a collaborative effort.  Work that will define our school and more importantly, ensuring that each and every student will succeed within and outside of our classroom walls.

I always thought a school is the hub of a passionate and caring community. It brings people together and defines a true purpose. Please join me in making our school the best it can be. I look forward to the journey and working with everyone (as our mission statement states) in assisting our students to engage, explore and empower.

03/31/11 12:06am

One more surprise to me as I learn more about Shelter Island School is the reality that some of our students are involved in everything while too many of them are doing little or nothing beyond attending school. For a few, even coming to school regularly is beyond their current capacities.

Recently one junior told his guidance counselor that with sports, the school musical and homework, he was up past 1 a.m. each night that week catching up.

On the other hand an Island resident in the video production field had asked me to offer one or two student volunteers the opportunity to intern on a project to produce a video for the 10K Shelter Island Run Committee.Neither our technology teacher nor our Guidance Counselor could find a student for that. They explained to me that our active students are over-committed and our other students are unwilling to participate in school or community-related activities.

Shelter Island School has a “no-cut” policy. Clearly, the athletic teams need every “body” they can keep healthy on the field or the court. It gives kids a chance to pursue every dream they have for stardom. On the other hand, it denies them the reality check that other students get earlier in their lives that they need to make choices, they need to cope with failure and they need to respect that others have talents they may not have.

The dilemma I see is that those students — too many — who withdraw from the whole range of non-classroom school experiences also tend not to do well in their classroom work. One student told his math teacher that the only math he needed to know was enough to bill his future customers in his father’s business.

He probably wasn’t thinking even of keeping the family’s business books, payroll, tax records, etc. He certainly wasn’t considering life off this Island.

At a time when New York State is seriously considering increasing its academic requirements for a high school diploma — four years of high school math; four years of high school science; new passing grades of 75 or 80 percent on Regents exams — we struggle to get more than our top quartile into the advanced academic courses that many other schools fill with a majority of their students.

The underlying question is whether this school and community expects us to prepare most/all of our students to be competitive with the graduates of Long Island and Metro New York, in terms of college placements and competitive careers, or is our mission limited to preparing the next generation for work on Shelter Island?

The School Mission Statement — Engage, Explore, Empower — has one of seven bullets refer to “knowledgeable and literate readers, writers, mathematicians and scientists.” If it isn’t the most essential part of the mission, I question how we get to “creative and analytical thinkers” and to “skilled and successful workers and consumers.”

News and Notes

Congratulations to our girls’ varsity basketball team on their successful season.

Tickets for the high school musical “Zombie Prom” (April 7, 8, 9 and 10) will be available on school days, at the front desk in the lobby of the school from 8:10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The Board of Education is moving toward completion of their superintendent search process and plans to make an appointment in April.

The School Budget for 2011-12 is in the final stages of board review (4/4 workshop, 4/11 adoption date) for the May 17th public vote on the budget, several bond resolutions and for three board positions. Details to follow.

Results of the second Communities That Care (CTC) Student Survey will be released soon. The committee thanks parents and students who participated in the project.