Community & School News December 2015

Important School Dates
December 3 – Pre-K Non-Attendance Day
December 8 – Feast of Immaculate Conception (some Catholic Schools may be closed)
December 10 – Deadline to complete TACHS
December 24-January 1 – Winter Recess (Schools Closed)

Staten Island Boy Saves Classmate, Goes Viral
13-year-old Brandon Williams made national headlines last month after performing the Heimlich Maneuver on classmate Jessica Pellegrino as she choked on an apple. Brandon and Jessica are seventh grade students at I.S. 24 Barnes Intermediate School in Great Kills and both students have autism. Brandon says his heroic actions were the result of an episode of SpongeBob Squarepants, where he claims he learned the lifesaving technique. The story quickly went viral, making headlines on both local and national news outlets and TV programs, as well as popular websites like and Way to go, Brandon!

SAT School Day
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina recently announced that the New York City will begin offering an SAT School Day for public high school juniors, wherein the SAT exam will be given on a school day free of charge to students. The test is traditionally given on a Saturday and the fee is $54.50 to take it. The new initiative aims to encourage students from low-income families to sign up it and thus gain better access to a college education.

“The opportunity to go to college should never be decided by students’ backgrounds or zip codes. The new SAT School Day and the expansion of College Application Week demonstrate our commitment to providing every student with the support and resources they need to pursue college,” Farina said in a statement. The SAT School Day will begin a partial rollout in the spring of 2016, and will be offered in all schools citywide by 2017.

2015 Total Fitness Challenge 
Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Total Fitness Challenge! Hosted by Assemblyman Michael Cusick, the challenge is an annual contest aimed at encouraging kids to stay active both mentally and physically over the summer months. Students must read at least 30 minutes per day and exercise as much as possible, thus earning points for each day they complete these activities. “I started the Total Fitness Challenge to ensure that our children stay active, both mentally and physically over the summer months. I have been a lifelong advocate for living a healthy lifestyle, and with rising rates of childhood obesity & the prevalence of video games as the favorite hobby of our youth, I felt I could do something to help” said Assemblyman Cusick.

This year, over 50 schools and 800 students participated, making it one of the best years to date. The winners were announced at a ceremony held at CSI recently. The overall winning school was P.S. 29. Below are the winners for each grade:

1st Josephine Rosenzweig – PS 29
2nd Alivia Ha – St. Rita
3rd Ryan Rieb – St. Clare

First Grade
1st Vincent LaBella – PS 55
2nd Olivia Testa – PS 29
3rd Lila Evans – PS 30

Second Grade
1st Maxymilian Zygmanski – PS 59
2nd Robert Rieb – St. Clare
3rd June Ka – Gateway Academy

Third Grade
1st Jasmine Karkis – PS 3
2nd Mackenzie Lane – PS 41
3rd Cameron Bracker – PS 29

Fourth Grade
1st Olek Zygmanski – PS 65
2nd Isabella Testa – PS 29
3rd Sabrina Banchetto – St. Charles

Fifth Grade
1st Katelyn Banszelc – PS 36
2nd Salvatore Donato – PS 36
3rd Sabrina Gronock – PS 30

Sixth Grade
1st Vincent Donato – IS 7
2nd Alice Yegorova – IS 75
3rd Samara Vazquez -St. Teresa

Seventh Grade
1st Joseph Caviris – Academy of St. Dorothy 2nd Teagan Ka – Gateway Academy
3rd Kaitlyn Lorentzen – St. John’s Lutheran

Eighth Grade
1st Aisha Hashmi – PS/IS 48
2nd Gabriella Marinelli – St. Ann
3rd Peter Freeman – IS 51

Freezin’ for a Reason!
It’s time to finally check subzero swimming off your bucket list. The 9th annual Staten Island Polar Plunge is set for Sunday, December 6, when participants will brave the icy waters of South Beach to raise money for the athletes of the Special Olympics. Awards will be given to the top fundraiser, top fundraising team and best costume.Click here to register for the take the plunge or support a Plunger.

Send a Letter, Grant a Wish
Kick off this Christmas season with a heartfelt letter to Santa in the name of a great cause. Now through December 24, bring a letter addressed to Santa to Macy’s and drop it into the big red letterbox, send a letter online at, or create a letter using the new Macy’s Wish Writer stylus and app and for each letter received, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1,000,000. Help spread the word about the Believe campaign by taking a photo or video of your child mailing their letter and sharing it on social media using the hashtag #MacysBelieve.

On December 11, Macy’s stores nationwide will celebrate National Believe Day with special celebrations. The Believe campaign is based on The New York Sun’s famous “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” editorial. Believe Stations at every Macy’s store will also feature several “Yes, Virginia” products to benefit Make-A-Wish. 10% of the purchase price from each DVD and storybook, and $1 from each Wish Writer sold will be donated to Make-A-Wish.

Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, granting a wish somewhere in the United States every 37 minutes. Since 2003, Macy’s has raised over $83 million for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Click here to learn more and to get your kids started writing their own letter.

AMNH Gets a New Dino
Is your child dinosaur-obsessed? Soon there will be a new reason to visit (or revisit) the American Museum of Natural History – a very, very big reason, that is. In January the museum will welcome the cast of a 122-foot-long dinosaur to its popular fourth floor prehistoric exhibits. Paleontologists say that this dinosaur, a giant herbivore that belongs to a group known as titanosaurs, weighed in at around 77 tons—as much as 14 or 15 African elephants.

“When the monumental titanosaur cast is unveiled at the gateway of our fossil halls, it will join such beloved Museum icons as the giant blue whale, the great canoe, and, of course, Tyrannosaurus rex, as a destination, anchoring a journey of discovery for visitors of all ages,” said Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History.

The January unveiling of the Museum’s new dinosaur is part of a special year of events, exhibitions, and digital offerings that highlight the dramatic developments in paleontology over the past few decades. The spotlight on dinosaurs continues next spring with the new exhibition Dinosaurs Among Us (on view at the Museum from March 19, 2016, through January 2, 2017), which will examine how one group of dinosaurs evolved into birds, as well as a dinosaur symposium, a weekend of dinosaur programs, and a new dinosaur app from the Museum.

Flu Season
Flu season is already underway and the NYC Department of Health recommends anyone over six months old receive a flu shot to prevent falling ill with influenza. Since children under five are more likely to suffer from flu complications, New York City public schools now require all children between 6 months and 5 years receive a mandatory flu vaccine between July 1 and December 31. The requirement includes all city-licensed day care centers, preschools and pre-k programs. Click here to find out where you can get your flu shot.

That’s What Friends Are For
Fun family-friendly events, exclusive online giveaways, big savings from local merchants, and always up-to-date seasonal happenings are just a few great reasons to become a Family of Friends member! To start receiving the SI Parent weekly newsletter, just click here and fill out some basic info. It’s fast and easy. You can also sign up directly from our Facebook page by clicking on the “Sign Up” app button. We promise we won’t spam you; we’ll only send you the good stuff!