Message from the Principal
June 22, 2020
Congratulations Class of 2020 !
Matthew Lawrence, Ed.D.
Principal - Mahopac High School
(845) 628-3256 Ext. 11510
Follow me on Twitter: Dr. Matt Lawrence@PacHS_Principal
MHS News & Headlines
MHS Celebrates 2020 Honor Societies Inductees
Throughout June, MHS students were inducted into various Honor Societies in virtual ceremonies.
We are pleased to share videos of each these events:
Congratulations to all our inductees!MHS News & Headlines
Drumbeat 2019-2020 is here!
Mahopac Arts & Writing is an afterschool club that publishes Drumbeat, Mahopac High School’s art and literary magazine. Drumbeat features the creative talents not only of our club members but all MHS students who wish to publish their work.
It is the only place where you can see the variety of our students’ artistic talents in one place. We welcome you to explore this, our first digital issue:MHS News & Headlines
AP Art & Design Students Share Year-End Collages
AP Art & Design at MHS is a course for seniors who are serious art students. This rigorous course encourages students to achieve at high levels, think for themselves, develop a personal style and to search for original, inventive answers to problems set out by the teacher and by the individual student. The skills refined in the class include the ability to analyze a problem and solve it with original ideas drawn from personal artistic, academic, and life experiences. Students create works that incorporate past art experiences with new ones and focus. Technique, skill, media, visual elements and ideas are integrated into each work the student creates throughout the year. These pieces, created by the 2020 AP Art & Design students Catherine Cassidy, Sophia Cotroneo, Emily Doherty, Samantha O'Brien, Megan Pereia, and Justin Soza-Soto, exemplify a mastery of the class.MHS News & Headlines
Video of 2020 Senior Awards Ceremony
The 2020 Senior Awards Ceremony was held on June 10. Watch the Watch it here: https://events.locallive.tv/events/38094 MHS News & Headlines
World Language Honor Society Inductees
Congratulations to the inductees of World Language Societies:
Raven Barksdale, Cynthia Butler, Tay Chang, Jack Edwards, Maximus Head, Piper Klammer, Sydney Mascoll, Bruce Procel, Chelsea Ritter
Shannon Becker, Anthony Biondi, Jaimison Castrataro, Alyssa Chiuli, Emma Hirschmugl, Kelsey Leary, Caitlin Racanelli, Julianna Russo, Alex Sadler, Andrew Silkowski, Nicole Silvagni, Kylie Solomon, Kara Thimm
Ariela Berisha, Molly Decker, Daniela DeDona, Jenna Duffy, Annelise Fidanza, Alex Gaspar, Kaylie Ann Hammond, Arianna Ivezaj, Anne Kasparian, Altin Krasniqi, Rebekah Lazar, Robert Margiotta, Hailey Martinez, Molly McGrinder, Sophia Palminteri, Erin Sheedy, Dayana Soza Soto, Ashley Usewicz, Sereena ZitoMHS News & Headlines
Drama and Stage Crew Present a Digital Wizard of Oz Performance
Along with so many traditions, the Spring Production was a casualty of this year's school closures. The Drama and Stage Crew students worked remotely, together over the last several weeks to create a digital version of Wizard of Oz which they would have performed live for audiences April 25 & 25.
As described in the video's introduction, it "was made possible by the tireless work of the members of the Mahopac Drama Company."
The video mostly recorded remotely by cast, crew and musicians and includes rehearsal footage, original artwork, and photographs.MHS News & Headlines
A note from Dr. Lawrence regarding Honoring Deceased Students
Dear Mahopac High School Community,
I would like to begin this correspondence by stating that all of our students are at the center of our thoughts and decisions. As we prepare for graduation and other end of the year events, I would like to reiterate our practice for commemorating members of the class that have passed away prior to graduating.
Historically, the administration of MHS has worked with families to find a mutually acceptable way to honor and remember the deceased as part of the Commencement. We recognize that this is a very emotional time for families and we want to be respectful as to how they would like their loved one recognized. Whether or not the student is remembered at a Commencement is very much a family decision.
There are many variations as to how the remembrance of our deceased students occur in our Commencement ceremony, however all decisions are made mutually between the family and the District in line with our practice.
Our current staff and administration have a strong record of being student-centered in all that we do. MHS is committed to working with our families in times of tragedy, and we will do so in the same manner this year and every year.
Matthew Lawrence, Ed. D.MHS News & Headlines
Meet the Class of 2020 Valedictorian and Salutatorian
Mahopac High School Seniors Thomas O'Brien and Matthew Luongo have earned the school’s top honors. They were named the valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the Class of 2020.
Throughout his high school career, Thomas O’Brien has proven to be a stellar student dedicated to achieving great academic success and being an active member of his school community. “I started in Mahopac Schools in 1st grade at Fulmar Road Elementary School with Mrs. Stefunek.” He excelled in rigorous courses, was awarded Signature Student on multiple occasions, is an AP Scholar, and will graduate with an Advanced Regents Diploma with Honors and Mastery in Math and Science.
“I’ve enjoyed numerous classes at MHS. Some that stand out are Algebra 2, Geometry, Personal Finance, and Introduction to Engineering,” he said. “My parents have inspired me both in my studies and in life to do my best and give my best effort in everything I do. I would like everyone to know that with hard work and dedication, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I would like to thank all of my family, teachers, friends, coaches, and peers who have helped me succeed and have always been there for me.”
In addition to being a top-notch student, Thomas has been a member of and has held leadership positions for various clubs and activities, has volunteered and worked in his community, has earned All-Section for Cross Country, and is a member of our Varsity Basketball and Lacrosse Teams.
“Thomas has been a positive role model to his peers and demonstrates a value for excellence that is beyond compare,” said Principal Matt Lawrence. “We are so proud of all of his accomplishments and wish him continued success in his future.”
Thomas, who will attend Notre Dame University in the Fall to study business analytics, added, “I would like to thank all healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers helping us through this tough time. I want them to know their work is appreciated by the entire community. I am very disappointed to miss out on all of the senior year milestones like prom, graduation, and my final lacrosse season at MHS. I am staying optimistic and hope for the best. However, I understand the greater picture. Go Pac!”
“Matthew Luongo’s focus, confidence and unwavering drive has led him to many accomplishments over the past four years in both academics and athletics,” said Dr. Lawrence about this year’s salutatorian. “Over the course of his high school career, Matthew has taken the most challenging classes offered at Mahopac High School, including eight honors classes and eleven AP and college level classes, earning high honor roll throughout every semester of high school.”
A student in Mahopac’s schools since Kindergarten, Matthew's stellar academic performance was matched by both his athletic talent, and commitment to community through clubs and service. On the field, Matthew is captain of both the Varsity cross-country and baseball teams, earning the NYSPHSAA Student Athlete award every year since he was a freshman. He is also the vice-president of the senior class, president of the Italian Club, captain of the Math Team, member of the Student Athletic Council, Biology Club, National Honors Society, Science National Honor Society, Italian National Honors Society, and Math National Honors Society. In addition to his participation and leadership in school, Matthew has given back to his neighbors and peers by volunteering over 300 hours of community service through his work as a youth basketball coach and peer tutor.
“My parents have inspired me throughout my life, both in and out of the classroom,” Matthew said. “They’ve always stressed the importance of having balance in my life between school and fun. I would like to thank my family, my teachers, my coaches, and my friends. They’ve all inspired me in different ways and have all been a part of my successes.”
Matthew, who will be attending University of Southern California in the Fall, majoring in Engineering, added, “I like math and science and would love to make a positive impact on the world. This is why I chose engineering.”
Echoing the sentiments of many seniors in the class of 2020, he said, “It’s devastating to think about missing graduation and my senior baseball season because those are the things that I have worked the hardest for my entire life. It’s also sad to possibly miss out on events like prom, senior day, and Seaside because I’m missing out on all these memories I could have been making with my closest friends before we go off to college. It’s been a process working through all these monumental senior events that we’ve lost, but I understand it is more important that everyone stays safe so we can go back to our lives before this. I hope that everyone stays safe during these unpromising times and thank you to everyone who is helping in any way.”MHS News & Headlines
Fashion Club SeniorsA shout out to The four seniors in the fashion club! Tonight would have been their last Mahopac High School Fashion show. The entire MHS fashion club can not wait to see what they bring to their schools this fall. As for the rest of the club we will make next year's show extra fabulous!Miss you allMrs. UszakMHS News & Headlines
MHS Senior Takes Her Sports Medicine Studies to the Next Level
Mirka Marga, a Sports Medicine student at the Tech Center at PNW BOCES, was accepted into Binghamton University’s First Year Student Research Immersion (FRI) program recently. The program, provides first-year students with a three semester authentic research experience in sciences and engineering, and is limited to only 30 students. The program also allows students to combine their studies with actual research that can lead to publishable results.
“The acceptance into the research program at Binghamton is very competitive, and Mirka has earned her way into it,” said her Career and Technical Education teacher, Dr. William Brightman. “I am confident she will make an impact in the program as she has done here at the Tech Center.”
Mirka, a Mahopac High School senior, credits the Sports Medicine program and teachers with helping her gain this distinction.
“I do not think I would be asked to participate in this program without my participation in the Sports Medicine program,” said Mirka who plans to study premed. “This is really like a college class. We got the opportunity to learn about so many different careers in the field and are doing hands-on work.”
Mirka plans to research molecular biology and human genetics once she starts the program at Binghamton.MHS News & Headlines
MHS Band Makes Beautiful Music From a Safe Social Distance
The Mahopac High School Band students continue to make music on a daily basis during distance learning.
"This was our first attempt at a Virtual Ensemble performance. We learned a lot from this experience and look forward to making the next one even better. The students proved to be team players, risk takers and problem solvers," explained MHS Band Teacher Rich Williams. "This was the first time we got to hear each other playing "together" since March 13th and it felt - and sounded - great!"
Kudos to each of these fine musicians! Enjoy their collaboration here: https://youtu.be/d7IQXfCACu4MHS News & Headlines
Watch MHS Class of 2020 Graduate LIVE
Thank you LocalLive!MHS News & Headlines
MHS Counselors Talk to Lohud About Coronavirus' Isolation, Uncertainty Affects on Students Mental Health
Psychologist Eva Hecht and social worker Kristel Halton participate in the important conversation about high school students and mental health.MHS News & Headlines
Free time = Screen time?
It’s not going to shock any of you with teens and tweens that your kids are rather obsessed with technology. But do you have a good handle on just how they’re engaged with different types of media and how much time they’re actively spending on their devices? USA Today
Check out this infographic with highlights from the just released 2019 Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens.
Kids' media preferences are changing, and one of the biggest changes is time spent watching online videos. More than twice as many young people watch videos every day than did in 2015, and the average time spent watching has roughly doubled. The shift from TV to online viewing means kids are often watching content alone, and there are fewer opportunities for shared experiences with family. This also means more time engaged with unregulated and unrated platforms like YouTube. PR NewswireMHS News & Headlines
Congratulations Vincent Vitanza, our National Merit Scholarship Finalist
A Mahopac High School student has advanced to finalist standing in a national scholarship competition. Vincent Vitanza, a senior who is in the band and orchestra at MHS playing saxophone, cello, piano, base, violin, and viola, was one of more than 1.5 million students in nearly 21,000 high schools to enter the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) qualifying test in the fall of 2018. The pool of approximately 16,000 semifinalists, representing less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors, included the highest-scoring entrants in each state. Approximately 15,000 semifinalists met all the requirements to advance to finalist standing in the competition sponsored by The National Merit Scholarship Corporation, and as one of them, Vitanza is now in the running for the prestigious National Merit Scholarships which will be awarded between now and June.
Vitanza said he was shocked to learn that he had made the first cut in September when he was named as one of approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the program, “There’s only so much preparing you can do for the test. I got a good night's sleep and showed up to take the test without really thinking about the possibility that I might be named a Semifinalist.”
“Vincent was a pleasure to have in class,” said Mahopac High School science teacher Robert D'Alessandro about Vitanza’s characteristics as a student. “He has demonstrated an ability to evaluate environmental issues and provided scientific solutions for these matters. This strength is one of the reasons why he was chosen to be part of the team that represented Mahopac High School at the Hudson Valley Regional Envirothon his freshman year. Vincent was one of the leaders of his team and helped assist them to a second place finish for Putnam County.”
In addition to being named a National Merit finalist, Vitanza is on the varsity tennis team, and an active member of both the National and Spanish Honor Societies and the secretary of the Science National Society. He is also the president of the Teen Leaders Group at YMCA Camp Combe in Putnam Valley, which focuses on volunteer service, team building, and leadership exercises. Vitanza plans to attend Fordham University and major in environmental science.MHS News & Headlines
A First for New York State: MHS Offers Students a Course in Substance Abuse, Addiction & Recovery with Counselor Certification
When students learn the facts about what’s happening with substance abuse, addiction and recovery in their local environment, they have a stake in the vitality of it. This is what two Mahopac High School educators are determined to prove next semester.
In an unprecedented feat, Davia Bugge, LCSW-R, Mahopac High School student assistance counselor, and Valarie Nierman, MS, SDA Mahopac Central School District health coordinator and high school health teacher, have designed a half-credit class “Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Recovery” for junior and senior students that not only provides an instructive immersion in substance abuse awareness, prevention and treatment but also enables a viable career path opportunity.
“Our goal is to help students better understand the plight of those who have seen their lives thrown into chaos as a result of drugs and alcohol abuse and then offer a practical way for making a possible profession in helping with recovery,” said Anthony DiCarlo, superintendent of schools.
Holding true to the Mahopac Central School District’s strategic plan for supporting students in becoming caring, collaborative and compassionate lifelong learners, this elective debuts in the new year offering rigorous coursework focused around three core modules:
- Basic Knowledge of Substance Abuse Disorders:
- Overview of the Addictions Field
- Diversity of Intervention and Treatment Approaches
The curriculum will include functional partnerships with local and state services, such as Arms Acres, Cove Care Center ®, Drug Crisis in our Backyard, The Harris Project, New York Department of Education and New York Department of Health.
“Just with the subject nature, each lesson will root in the MHS core values of compassion, resiliency, risk taking and problem solving,” Nierman said. “Twenty-seven students have already registered for this elective and will learn to view difficult situations from a new perspective. Students may or may not have a personal connection to substance abuse and addiction issues. Regardless, this course will help them gain the knowledge and skills for challenges they may face.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), nearly 50 percent of all high school seniors nationwide have used some sort of illicit drugs in their lifetimes. Furthermore, 60 percent of them had consumed alcohol within their last year of school. As illicit substance abuse continues to increase in the United States, so does the need for qualified, dedicated professionals to treat those suffering from addiction.
“This is why we included the OASAS [New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports] certification component to the elective which will provide each student the first-level of becoming a certified substance abuse counselor,” Bugge said.
Mahopac High School is the first school in the entire state of New York to request and be granted approval as an OASAS Education and Training Provider. The Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) is the sole New York State credential to require the specialized addiction training needed to fully understand and treat the intricacies of addiction and at the completion of this elective, Mahopac student participants will earn their first-tier (85 hours) of certification towards the 350 hours required to be credentialed a substance abuse counselor.
The certified substance abuse counselor has a wide variety of employment options and is in high demand. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health counselor employment is projected to grow 22 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. This job growth is expected as people continue to seek addiction and mental health counseling.
Falling fourth to California, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, New York has the highest employment level in this occupation in the nation. Furthermore, the Bureau reports that the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania metropolitan area has the highest employment level in this occupation and the highest annual mean wage of $56,400.
With just a prerequisite of successfully completing a required NYS health education class, any Mahopac junior or senior may register for this elective that offers the potential for a bright career path.
In learning the reality of substance abuse, addiction and recovery together, Mahopac High School students will likely transform it. And that is promising.MHS News & Headlines
Mahopac Teaching “Life” Beyond Academia
A well-rounded student is often considered to have an overall understanding of the world, along with the ability to write well and calculate. But students who haven’t grasped basic life skills — such as managing their time, being organized or knowing how to care for their social and emotional well-being — may graduate from high school, but also face challenges with entering adulthood.
This is largely why the Mahopac Central School District has created a required course for middle school sixth grade and high school freshman curriculum that focuses on helping students build and master skills for holistic success in and outside of the classroom. This also aligns with both the district’s strategic plan for supporting students in becoming caring, collaborative and compassionate life-long learners.
The sixth grade and freshman classes were selected to participate in this credited course because they are in transition to a higher level of learning with a new (larger) school and culture. The goal of this “skills” course is to prepare each student for college and career readiness, and to educate all students to be responsible and productive members of the community.
The need for preparing students beyond academics is not unique to Mahopac. Recently, the Pew Research Center released an analysis of Census Bureau data revealing findings that most Americans say parents are doing too much for their young adult children. “We believe incorporating real-life learning for our middle school sixth-graders and high school freshmen will help set them up for success and overall independence in school and beyond,” said Anthony DiCarlo, superintendent of Mahopac Schools.
Mahopac High School Life Class
Led by Mahopac High School Assistant Principal April Ljumic, the MHS Life curriculum creation was a collaborative effort of the High School Climate Committee, in addition to feedback from a consortium of stakeholders including students, teachers, teacher leaders, clinicians, counselors and administrators. It is rooted in the high school’s core values (risk-taking, compassion, resilience and problem-solving) and the STRIVE initiative, which stands for Be Safe, Take Responsibility, Be Respectful, Act with Integrity and Value Excellence.
“The overarching conceptual framework behind MHS Life was born from research on organizational wellness, which is near and dear to my heart,” said Dr. Matthew Lawrence, Mahopac High School principal. “One of the key factors to wellness is “Personalization,” meaning the level to which an individual or groups of individuals feel connected to each other and the organization. MHS Life is an overt mediation to increasing our sense of personalization among staff and students.”
“This is designed to be a high-impact, low-stress class,” Ljumic said. The goal is to introduce freshmen to the expectations and rigor of high school life and beyond, including activities and conversations centered on boosting social, emotional, non-cognitive, executive functioning and academic skills growth.
With tactics such as social media education, digital citizenship, meditation, practicing a growth mindset and civic responsibility, the class structure varies forms of introspection work, small groups activities, guest speakers and project-based learning. Instruction is innovative, interactive, multimedia rich, and learner-centered
“The organization of MHS Life provides the opportunity for high school resources that are important for freshmen to get to know, such as counselors, clinicians, and our SRO (School Resource Officer) to give instruction in a small student setting. Also, this benefits us logistically since we do not have to take students out of class for an assembly which was how this type of instruction was previously shared,” said Dr. Lawrence.
Throughout the school year, the curriculum is divided into three modules:
- #WeEngage: Creating a supportive learning community
- #WeEffect: Developing self-awareness and self-management
- #WeUnite: Building relationships and resolving conflicts
Perhaps the most poignant component to the class is the student self-reflection and teacher-student check-in/check-out. Students complete an individual self-reflection which allows their MHS LIFE teachers to get a pulse on how students are doing socially, emotionally and academically. Surveys include self-reflection, goal setting and an exchange on how teachers can help their students be set for all-around success.
With the real-time data from students’ surveys, teachers not only are able to have a timely check-in individually but also measure curriculum impact. “The teacher-student check-in/check-out is our opportunity to connect, build positive relationships, and trust with students on a one-on-one basis and respond to individual student needs to support success. We’ve been blown away by the honesty and openness of the students’ self-reflections, and it has really made a positive effect on how we can effectively support them to meet their individual goals and the MHS LIFE curriculum therein,” Ljumic said.
This also allows teachers to thoughtfully prepare lesson plans that are data-driven based on the needs of students.
On any given school day, you’ll find no two MHS Life lessons are alike. For instance, Kelley Posch, MHS Algebra teacher, begins her class with a guided meditation that leads to a discussion about the growth mindset principle. The class does an exercise of matching famous people who have learned from failures and risen to success. Some of her examples include Walt Disney, who was fired from a newspaper for “lacking imagination,” and JK Rowling, who was rejected by 12 publishers for her first book. The students then share their learnings via a shared virtual Google Classroom with fifth graders in Austin Road Elementary School.
Down the hall, Christine Honohan, MHS History teacher, is leading a discussion about effective study techniques. Upstairs, Amy Mahoney, MHS English teacher, and Dominic DeMatteo, MHS Physical Education teacher and varsity football coach, have combined classes and are discussing paradigm shifts. Leveraging text from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey, the class is discussing methods for shifting perception with real-life scenarios that range from interacting with teachers to peers. They work in small groups and then share with the class ways to broaden their interpretation of the way they view day-to-day situations and the world.
“There are kids on all social and academic levels in the class and this gives each one tools for success in the next level of their education and then adult world,” DeMatteo said.
Mahopac Middle School Success
Like MHS Life, the middle school curriculum, MMS Success, emphasizes strategies for personal growth and development to help sixth graders figure out their place as good citizens in their community and the world. The half-credit MMS Success class are comprised of four components: technology (including topics such as key boarding skills, Chromebook care, and responsible media usage); organization (time management, collaborating for project-based learning and making reading selections); character building/social and emotional wellness (mindfulness and positive peer interactions); and middle school logistics/safety (ranging classroom expectations to safety procedures in and out of the classroom, including the use of social media)
“Middle School is a big change for sixth-grade students, no matter where they are academically. Some students are adept in coursework but lacking the skills of navigating life as a new middle-schooler,” said Tom Cozzocrea, Mahopac Middle School principal.
With full class discussions, small groups and individual reflections submitted via Google Classroom, teachers work with students on learning and understanding different learning styles. From there, students can self-identify what type of learner they are and establish the study habits and time management techniques that work best for them. Teachers then weave in strategies for students to explore, such as note-taking methods, establishing a study routine to accommodate their busy schedules and how to access help for emotional self-care.
A recent lesson in teacher Paula Frey’s class focused on the importance of morning routines. She encouraged the students to share their routines with each other in detail, including the time their alarm goes off, morning hygiene regimes, eating breakfast and getting to school. With no right or wrong answers, she skillfully pointed out examples of growth mindset in the discussion. For example, one student commented on wanting to get up a little earlier after listening to another student talk about waking up early, so he doesn’t have to rush.
Digital citizenship is another major focus for MMS Success. “We see a big disparity among sixth-graders on this issue. Some sixth-grade students have had a cellphone for a while and are very adept with social media and others do not yet have a phone,” Cozzocrea said. “Our goal is for MMS Success to help build a foundation for our students with responsible digital citizenship for years to come."
As the sixth graders learn how to set themselves up for success in and out of the classroom, the teachers also tie in the importance of community. Embracing the core value of giving back to those in need, the sixth graders chose to collect the following items for the Putnam Humane Society through December 12:
- Pro Plan Canned Chicken & Rice for Dogs
- Pro Plan Dry Chicken & Rice for Cats
- Friskies Canned Pate Cat Food -Kitten Food (any brand) *
- Kitty Litter
- Dog Treats*
- Dog & Cat Toys
- Large “Bully Sticks”
- XL Red & Black Kongs
- 6 ft. 1 in.-thick Nylon Leashes
- Large & Extra-Large Elk Antlers
- Blankets, Comforters & Towels **
- Gift cards to office supply stores
- Postage stamps
- Paper towels
- Dishwashing liquid
- Large Black Industrial-Sized Garbage Bags
- Hose Nozzles
* Please no treats or food that is made in China
**Please no sheets, pillows or mattress pads
Anyone interested in donating items can deliver them to the Mahopac Middle School main office.
As these freshmen and sixth graders continue their education at Mahopac, it will be interesting to follow their progress. “Something magical is going on here,” says Ljumic.MHS News & Headlines