Hampton Bays High School senior and aspiring journalist Julia Heming earned third place in the New York State VFW Voice of Democracy essay contest.
In her essay, “What Makes America Great,” Heming expressed that America is not just great for one single reason, but rather its diversity.
Heming said her piece is a testament to her love for, and roots in, America. The daughter of a U.S. Navy vet, she has ancestors on both parents’ sides who can be traced back to the Mayflower, as well as an ancestor who was an original signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
Heming serves as editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, The Tide, and is an intern at the Southampton Press. She is also a member of her school’s Key Club and coaches cheer at Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School.
She plans to study journalism in college.
Hampton Bays High School seniors Gabrielle Caine and Skye McMorris were recognized as commended students in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program as a result of their outstanding scores on the qualifying exam.
The seniors are among 34,000 students in the U.S. to earn this distinction. To earn the title, they placed among the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the program by taking the PSAT.
Both students are involved in activities and clubs at their school. Caine is a member of the interact and rotary youth leadership clubs. She also sings, plays the cello, and is the founder of the Healthy Harmony Club, a group of student musicians who perform at area nursing homes. She intends to pursue studies in the music industry in college. McMorris is a science research student and a member of her school’s Key Club, Interact Club, and Science Olympiad team. She also plays volleyball. She plans to study biochemistry in college.
The students and staff at Hampton Bays Middle School continued an ongoing tradition of celebrating kindness by participating in the 30-day teach kindness challenge in December.
As part of this nationwide initiative, the middle school community took part in hundreds of research-based lessons on kindness.
“The middle school created a sustainable kindness ritual that focuses on keeping kindness as an important part of a positive school culture,” Principal Dennis Schug said. “We are so proud of our students, staff, and middle school community for their commitment to kindness.”
In 2018, Hampton Bays Middle School was named a finalist in the Middle School Kindness Challenge. Through this recognition, the school was able to purchase the materials and equipment used to promote active and inclusive lunch and recess periods.
The Hampton Bays Middle School hosted college awareness day January 8. The yearly event serves to motivate eighth graders to start thinking about their postsecondary plans.
Hampton Bays alumni who are currently enrolled in college led the event, providing the eighth graders with insight and perspective into college life. They answered questions about their college experiences and discussed their typical schedules, as well as their schools’ admissions process and extracurricular offerings.
In just five short months, Southampton Elementary School’s new assistant principal, Jeremy Garritano, has proven himself a leader and champion of education.
“We couldn’t be happier with Mr. Garritano and the energy, ideas, and excitement he brings to our elementary school,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Dyno said. “He has embraced and is already building upon our educational traditions.”
Joining the district in September, Garritano, a West Islip resident, said he was immediately welcomed into the Southampton family.
“It puts a smile on my face to know that I am part of an amazing family here in Southampton,” he said. “Whether it’s the daily smiles of students coming off the buses, the warm greetings from parents, or the unwavering support of the staff and my principal, Southampton has truly become a home for me. I have enjoyed every moment of my time both inside the school and throughout the community.”
Prior to joining Southampton, Garritano worked in the Riverhead Central School District, where he was a special education teacher for six years. He was also a chairperson on the Committee on Special Education and drafted an updated special education plan for the district. He also served as coordinator of the science-based summer school program for English-language learners. He sat on a number of education committees, served as a science fair coordinator, and was a member of the district’s parent university planning team.
Garritano also worked as a middle school special education teacher in the North Shore School District from 2011-14. He was also a leave replacement teacher in the Bayport-Blue Point and East Islip school districts for grades four and two, respectively.
The assistant principal holds a Bachelor of Arts in government and policies and philosophy from St. John’s University, a Master of Arts in childhood education from Dowling College, and an administrative certificate from the College of Saint Rose.
But he didn’t always have the goal of becoming a teacher. As a child, he wanted to be a Navy fighter pilot after watching the movie “Top Gun.” He would pretend to do barrel rolls and practice his flying skills until he ventured onto his first roller coaster — when he quickly realized that he didn’t have the stomach for it.
“Growing up, I can recall my mother saying, ‘Things don’t always work out the way you want them to, but they always work out the way they should,’” he said. “Today, I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else or happier than I am right now.”
Nine students were named Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports students of the month. Gonzalo Alvarez, Erick Alvarez, Emely Boch, Andy Cabrera, Jan Carlos, Alysson Pichon, Ashli Reyes, Nahla Titus, and Kevin Tuba were recognized for efforts to create effective relationships within the classrooms.
The district said it is grateful to staff members physical/health education and athletic director Michael DeRosa, literacy teacher Hamra Ozsu, English as a New Language teacher Maria Reilly, and assistant principal Michael Cox for their continued efforts in promoting opportunities for engagement, teamwork, and building positive relationships to create a more focused environment.
Bridgehampton students had an entertaining presentation when the Hip Pickles, a popular drum band that performs in elementary schools, visited the Bridgehampton School with an interactive performance with music and a motivational message — inspiring kindness and promoting a bully-free school.
Students at Pulaski Street Elementary School learned more about bullying through an in-school assembly presented by Theatre Three January 8. The musical production addressed bullying in the classroom, cafeteria, and schoolyard, and focused on the rise of bullying over the internet. The performance was followed by a question-and-answer period.