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New ELA Programs Inspire Students

The Hampton Bays School District is proud to announce that it has initiated new English language arts programs in all of its schools this year. The programs aim to engage students in reading and assist them in meeting the Next Generation Standards.

Students at the elementary school are learning through the new Fountas & Pinell Literacy program, which uses interactive read alouds, book clubs and shared reading experiences to cultivate a greater love for reading. The middle school has adopted a new book club where each Friday, in class, students gather to discuss a book that they selected to read. At the high school, all students participated in a community read of “The Cage” by Ruth Minsky Sender. They enhanced their literary experience by participating in lessons and activities surrounding the reading, and even met the author. 

Learn more about the programs in these three short video clips. 



Coding with Botley

Coding with Botley
During the month of December, students in first through fourth grade at Hampton Bays Elementary School have been learning to code using Botley the Robot during their STEM lab period. Under the direction of STEM lab teacher Jonathan Della Speranza, the students used code to solve challenges and program Botley to navigate through a maze, catch a ball, score a goal and detect objects in his path.  

Teens Teaching Teens

Teens Teaching Teens
In its mission to teach students about the dangers of vaping, Hampton Bays High School has instituted a new Teens Teaching Teens program. 

The program, which is being conducted in partnership with the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, is designed to address the vaping epidemic by training students to conduct presentations to fellow students on the dangers of vaping.

On Dec. 12,  25 Hampton Bays High School students began training, working closely with two representatives from the department of health. They will continue to meet with them during the school year. Many of the program participants are also members of the school’s three-year-old Peer Education Program, which is co-advised by school psychologist Michelle DeBlasio and health teacher Jake Davidson.  

Hampton Bays to become AP Capstone school

Beginning in September 2019, Hampton Bays High School students will be afforded the opportunity to earn a prestigious AP Capstone diploma through the College Board’s rigorous AP Capstone Diploma program. 

The two-year program, which is only offered in about 1,800 schools across the country, consists of two college-level courses, AP Seminar and AP Research. The courses use an interdisciplinary approach to develop students’ critical thinking, research, collaboration, time management and presentation skills.    

“We are very proud to offer this program,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen. “The AP Capstone Diploma signifies outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills.”

Students enrolled in the two-year program will be required to take AP Seminar first, where they will work on research papers, written arguments and presentations. In AP Research, students will design, execute and defend a yearlong, research-based project. Those who successfully complete both courses and score a 3 or higher on four additional AP exams will earn an AP Capstone diploma upon graduation. 

Since 2005, the Hampton Bays School District’s AP program has grown 150 percent. The district currently offers 15 AP courses for students to pursue. 

Teachers will be trained to instruct the new courses as part of the implementation process.

Native American Lesson

Native American Lesson photo
Hampton Bays Elementary School fourth-graders learned more about the life and history of Native Americans during a special presentation by Journeys into American Indian Territory on Dec. 11 at the Hampton Bays Fire Department. 

Through the interactive workshop, students explored a Native American museum featuring numerous artifacts, including clothing, dolls, pottery and a longhouse replica. Students also listened to traditional Native American stories, played Native American games and constructed clay pots.

Varsity Teams Earn Distinguished Award

Varsity Teams Earn Distinguished Award  photo
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has recognized nine out of the 11 Hampton Bays High School fall varsity teams as Scholar-Athlete Teams.

To earn this distinction, each team met the criteria of holding a GPA above 90 percent during the fall season.  

The Hampton Bays School District extends its congratulations to the following athletic teams: girls gymnastics, girls tennis, girls soccer, girls cross-country, girls volleyball, football cheerleading, girls field hockey, boys golf and boys cross-country. 

Top Student-Athletes Recognized

Top Student-Athletes Recognized photo
Hampton Bays High School Baymen Christina Coulton and Patricio Pulla were honored by the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance on Nov. 28 as winners of the Suffolk Zone Student Leadership Award. The seniors were selected based on their excellence in physical education, leadership ability and service to the community. Coulton is a member of her school’s cross-country, winter track and spring track teams, and Pulla participates in cross-country and tennis.

Students win 100-word essay contest

Students win 100-word essay contest photo
The essays of 13 Hampton Bays Middle School students have been selected for inclusion in “Stranger Sagas – New York,” a collection of students’ creative writing published by the Young Writers organization.

The students’ winning essays were culled from a pool of 13,500 entries to the “Stranger Sagas” contest, which required entrants to write a 100-word essay based on a sentence starter. The essays were to carry a mysterious or suspenseful tone, in the vein of the Netflix original series “Stranger Things.”  

“I cannot tell you how proud and ecstatic I am for these students,” said teacher Laura Fitzgibbon, who offered the essay contest as an extra-credit assignment. “They worked hard on their pieces and had the courage to submit writing that would be judged.” 

In addition to having their pieces published, the students are in the running for a top award. 

The Hampton Bays School District extends its congratulations to the following writers: Zakaria Chami, Marco Cifuentes, Stephanya Derogatis, Matthew Drake, Shane Jamieson, Samantha Kraycar, Leonardo Valdespino Lopez, Christopher Martinez, Colby Peterson, Brian Pina, Juven Reyes, Emily Robinson and Aiden Zielinski Mendez.

Learning About Holidays Around the World


Hampton Bays Elementary School first-graders put on an entertaining and festive performance for family and friends on Dec. 14. 

During the annual “Holidays Around the World” show, each first-grade class stood to recite facts and poems about various holidays they studied during December. The students, dressed in colorful holiday costumes, also sang holiday songs. 

Flag flies for Bob Ettl

Flag flies for Bob Ettl photo

In its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to Bob Ettl by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of December.

“The district is proud to honor Mr. Ettl for his bravery and service to the United States,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen. 

Opening the ceremony on Dec. 7 at Hampton Bays Elementary School, members of the Hampton Bays High School jazz band performed the national anthem. High school student Ian Hubbard read his “Voice of Democracy” essay, while fellow student Michael Blanco read Ettl’s biography. The ceremony culminated with the raising of the flag on the school’s flagpole.  

Ettl was born in 1945 in the Bronx. In 1951, his parents had a house framed out in Shinnecock Hills, just a stone’s throw from Cold Spring Pond. His father had obtained a job with the Town of Southampton, for which he worked for many years. Because it was not finished, Ettl helped his family paint the house, as well as clear the property, every weekend. After the day’s work was done, he recalled, he would swim in the Peconic Bay with sawdust in his swimming trunks. 

Ettl graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Marist College in 1967 and joined the Army the following year. He completed basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in spite of a particular challenge. A week before graduating, he fractured his foot and was told by his drill instructor that he would have to undergo basic training a second time if he did not complete the obstacle course. Determined, he had the medics bandage his foot and lace up his boot as tightly as they could, and he was able to complete the course.

After basic training, Ettl went to Fort Gordon, Georgia, for cryptography training and was told he would be assigned to NATO Headquarters in Europe. For 12 weeks, he studied and learned everything he could and was the honor graduate of his class. Unfortunately, he and his entire graduating class were sent to Vietnam, and Ettl never saw a cryptography machine again.

In January 1969, Ettl found himself stationed in the Northern I Corps in the Hue/Phu Bai area of Vietnam with the 26th General Support Group. The group was responsible for operations with the 101st Airborne Division. During the next 12 months, Ettl moved around to different fire support bases, the 101st base camp (Camp Eagle) and eventually A Shau Valley. He transferred back to the U.S. and, after 18 months in the Army, was discharged and sent home. He remembers sitting at Shinnecock Inlet and thanking God for getting him home alive.

Once settled back at home, Ettl went to work in a management training program for New York Telephone. He used his GI Bill benefits to complete two graduate degrees in night school, one in marketing from Iona College and the other in public information systems from the New York Institute of Technology. After several years with New York Telephone, he was transferred to AT&T Global Headquarters in New Jersey. While at AT&T, he attended Penn State for a graduate degree in global business management and to the University of Michigan for postgraduate certification in strategic management. During this period with AT&T, Ettl worked on projects with Lucent Technologies, the U.S. government, Bell Laboratories and the Boeing Company.

In 1984, Ettl left the business world and became a professor of management at Southampton College, Long Island University. After the campus was closed, he taught in the graduate program at Stony Brook University and the master’s program at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He joined and is still a member of the graduate faculty of the Seoul School of Integrated Science and Technology in South Korea.

In 1998, Ettl joined the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, for which he held assignments with the boat crew and as master instructor, flotilla commander and eventually division commander of Division 18, located on Long Island’s East End. He now spends time supporting operations at Station Shinnecock and is an active member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and 101st Airborne Association. He enjoys spending time with his five grandchildren and taking advantage of the good life in Hampton Bays.

Sewing Together Family Traditions

Sewing Together Family Traditions photo
Hampton Bays Elementary School second-graders shared special holiday traditions through a paper quilting project spearheaded by teacher Heather Ellis. Each student wrote about their family’s holiday traditions on a piece of paper, which became part of a quilt on display in the second-grade hallway. Among the traditions were visiting family, drinking hot chocolate, making holiday crafts and eating good food. 

Stuff a Fire Truck for the Holidays

Stuff a Fire Truck for the Holidays photo
As part of their school’s character education program, Hampton Bays Middle School students helped the Hampton Bays Fire Department with its Stuff-A-Truck toy drive. Throughout the month of December, the students are collecting donations and helping to get the word out to the community. All donations will be delivered via fire truck to the Ronald McDonald family room in Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. 

Student String Quartet to Perform on News 12

quartet photo
A group of four local student-musicians has been selected to perform on a special News 12 holiday segment called “Sounds of the Season” on Dec. 19.  

The string quartet, made up of Southampton students Tessa Arnzen and Sofia Skoldberg, Hampton Bays student Kristina Georges and Eastport-South Manor student Ethan Young, earned the honor after participating in a News 12 contest. Only five groups of musicians were selected to perform. 

The foursome started playing together after meeting at summer camp and practice on a regular basis.

Toy Drive for Hospitalized Children

Toy Drive for Hospitalized Children photo
Hampton Bays Elementary School fourth-graders and members of the school’s student council recently held a toy drive in conjunction with the Airborne Tri Team for pediatric patients at Southside Hospital. The students collected numerous toys through the generosity of the school community. All of the toys will be delivered to the hospital along with holiday cards designed and written by fourth-grade students. Pictured, from left, with a few of the donations are fourth-grade student council members Emma Metz, Olivia Downs and Amy Rojas.   

Diversity Celebrated

Diversity Celebrated   2
Diversity Celebrated   3
Diversity Celebrated   1
The Hampton Bays High School social studies department hosted a Diversity Day on Nov. 16. The day provided an opportunity for students to celebrate the community’s rich cultural heritage.  

Students heard from a variety of guest speakers, including parents, staff members and relatives of students, who spoke about their cultural differences, obstacles they have faced and life experiences. Among the topics addressed were immigration, civil rights, racism, perceptions and the LGBQT community.  

“Our community of learners came together, shared experiences and learned from one another,” said Denise Sullivan, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “Our students engaged in a dialogue about empathy, compassion and stereotypes and hopefully learned that their voices count.”

All-In Day

All-In Day photo

As part of its character education program, Hampton Bays Middle School held an All-In Day that focused on kindness on Nov. 20.

Throughout the day, the student body rotated through several kindness-promoting activities facilitated by teachers Meghan Bishop and Carolanne Mazur. They wrote kind messages, participated in team challenges led by high school students and created flyers for a Stuff a Truck event that the school is hosting on Dec. 12. 

The activities tied into the school’s monthlong Kindness Challenge, which kicked off on Oct. 29 and to date has included more than 100 lessons on fostering kindness. 

K-Kids ready to serve

K-Kids ready to serve photo
During a ceremony on Nov. 14, 67 third- and fourth-graders at Hampton Bays Elementary School were inducted into the school’s K-Kids community service organization.  

The students became official members after filling out a brief application that asked them why they wanted to participate in the program. 

Participants of K-Kids meet before school once a month and organize fundraisers that benefit a variety of community organizations and causes, such as breast cancer awareness. They are currently holding a Thanksgiving food drive.

9/11 Memorial Museum Visit

9/11 Memorial Museum Visit photo
Thirty-two members of the Hampton Bays High School Leo Club toured the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City on Nov. 3. The students reflected on the events of the historic day and shared their thoughts on the museum with their adviser. Prior to the visit, the club members watched a documentary on Sept. 11. 

Hampton Bays STEM Lab Opens Doors to Learning

Hampton Bays STEM Lab Opens Doors to Learning photo

This school year, students in first through fourth grade at Hampton Bays Elementary School are engaging in science, technology, engineering and math lessons as part of a new STEM Lab program.

For one hour each week, the students visit the new space to take part in hands-on, multidisciplinary lessons taught by STEM Lab teacher Jonathan DellaSperanza.  

Donning a white lab coat, DellaSperanza leads the students in activities that strengthen their standard science curriculum. For example, first-graders recently investigated sound by experimenting with tuning forks and exploring the differences between wood and metal instruments. Taking these concepts further, fourth-graders tested the sound levels around their school as part of an in-depth sound lab. Meanwhile, second-graders tested Newton’s Laws of Motion using ramps, marbles and toy cars. 

“There are endless possibilities to what we can do in the STEM Lab,” said DellaSperanza. 

Moving forward, students will have the opportunity to build and code Botley robots and work with a 3D printer.   

The lab is also home to an array of animals that students learn about throughout the year, including a hedgehog, toads and a gecko. 

Drop and Give Me 20!

Hampton Bays Elementary School students learned the ropes of boot camp from Ron Hurtado and Doug Weinert, members of the nonprofit Airborne Tri Team, on Nov. 8. During the sunny afternoon, the fourth-graders participated in a number of intense exercises, including jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, high knees and races. Hurtado and Weinert also spoke about their experiences in the U.S. Army.

Hands-On Adventures for Life Skills Students

Hampton Bays students enrolled in the district’s life skills program recently gained real-life experience through two hands-on field trips.

Middle and high school students took part in a free workshop with Alvaro Restrepo and his dance troupe, El Colegio del Cuerpo, on Oct. 26. Held courtesy of the Parrish Art Museum and the Watermill Center, the workshop offered students an opportunity to engage with the performers in therapeutic dance and movement. The entertainers also mesmerized the students with a performance that focused on the arts and culture of Colombia. 

Moving from the stage to the barn, on Nov. 1, high school students spent a day at Spirit’s Promise Horse Rescue where they learned how to clean stables, groom and exercise horses, and collect eggs from chicken coops. The visit allowed the students to build upon their vocational experiences and skills. 

Flag Flies for John Lenihan

Flag Flies for John Lenihan photo

In its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to John Lenihan by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of November.

“The district is proud to honor Mr. Lenihan for his bravery and service to the United States,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen. 

As part of the annual Veterans Day breakfast and ceremony held Nov. 7 at Hampton Bays Elementary School, fourth-grade students read Lenihan’s biography, spoke about the importance of Veterans Day and sang the songs of the armed forces’ five branches. 

Born in Astoria, Queens in March 1948, Lenihan moved with his family to Commack at the age of 10.  In July 1966, the year after graduating from Commack High School, he joined the U.S. Air Force and underwent basic training in Amarillo, Texas. After completing basic training – a feat made more challenging by the brutal Texas heat – he went on to aircraft mechanic technical training and was assigned to Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. There, he worked on EB66-C aircraft, which provided cover in the form of electronic counter measures for U.S. fighter and bomber planes. 

In June 1968, Lenihan was transferred to a U.S. air base in Japan to respond to the hijacking of the USS Pueblo, where EB66-C planes he had worked on were used to patrol the skies off the coast of North Korea. In May the following year, he was transferred again, this time to an air base in Thailand to support U.S. F-105 bombers flying missions over Vietnam.

In April 1970, Lenihan left the Air Force and returned home. He worked as a service manager at General Tire before landing his long-term career as a Suffolk County police officer in 1972. During the next 21 years, Lenihan served as a plainclothes officer, then highway patrol officer and ultimately as a detective. In 1976, not long into his law enforcement career, he earned his college degree from New York Institute of Technology.

After retiring from the police department, Lenihan attended St. John’s University to obtain a degree in security administration. He went on to work in corporate security for Equitable Life Insurance, Bank One and JP Morgan Chase. His responsibilities included security operations, fraud investigations and security for more than 60 bank branches in Suffolk County. 

Lenihan married his high school sweetheart, Geri, in 1967. Together, they have two sons, Thomas and Michael; a daughter, Tracy; and three grandchildren, Ryan, Casey and Kiarra. He and his wife also enjoy their two dogs, Quincy and Riley. He has been a Hampton Bays resident for the last nine years. 

In 2015, Lenihan began working as a bus driver for the Town of Southampton’s Senior Services Department, assisting senior citizens to their medical appointments. In addition, he is an active member of the American Legion Post 924.

Celebrating Thanksgiving

Celebrating Thanksgiving photo
Celebrating Thanksgiving photo 2
Celebrating Thanksgiving photo 3
Kindergartners at Hampton Bays Elementary School celebrated Thanksgiving in their classrooms by learning more about the holiday and taking part in several hands-on activities. 

On Nov. 20, students in Mary Beth Motz’s class re-enacted the Pilgrims’ Mayflower voyage across the Atlantic. Dressed as Pilgrims, they sat in a cardboard Mayflower as their teacher read “The First Thanksgiving” by Linda Hayward. The students also learned to plant beans, corn and squash the Wampanoag way. 

Meanwhile, kindergartners in Liliana Cacace and Meredith Ollennu’s class dressed as Pilgrims and signed the Mayflower Compact. They also learned about the Native Americans and made beaded necklaces. 

Celebrating Kindness

Celebrating Kindness photo
In recognition of October as National Bullying Prevention Month, Hampton Bays Elementary School students took part in a variety of kindness activities. 

The month’s character education initiatives kicked off with “The Me I Want to Be,” a schoolwide assembly. Students were then inspired to be kind to one another through a “Caught Being Kind” program. In the same vein of kindness, they were introduced to the school’s new buddy bench, which provides an opportunity for students to make new friends.

The school also held an antibullying poster contest, naming a winner in each grade level. 

K-Kids collect food donations

K-Kids collect food donations photo
Throughout the month of November, members of the Hampton Bays Elementary School service group, K-Kids, worked to collect nonperishable items for those in need. The third- and fourth-graders’ efforts resulted in enough donations to provide 20 families with a Thanksgiving meal.

Educational Tips – Tip 10


This year, to further strengthen our school-community partnership, our educators are providing short informational video tips for both parents and students. Our tenth tip comes compliments of Jessica Sears, Hampton Bays Middle School counselor. #WeAreHB