HS East Students Moved by 'Ryan's Story' Presentation on Bullying, Suicide Prevention

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Students at High School East heard an emotional and important message on Friday morning.

John Halligan, who lost his 13-year-old son Ryan to suicide in 2003, spoke with ninth and 10th graders about bullying, cyberbullying and teen suicide in a presentation sponsored by the PTSA and SADD.

At the time of his death, Ryan was a middle school student in Essex Junction, Vermont. It was revealed in detail after Ryan’s death that he was ridiculed and humiliated by peers at school and online.

“You are about to hear a sad story, but my intention is not to make you sad,” Halligan said. “I intend to get you to think, perhaps differently, about bullying.”

Halligan’s message: There is no simple cause and effect when it comes to bullying and suicide. But you never know how much someone is already hurting, especially from an underlying mental health issue, and you would never want to be the one who might push them over the edge.

Halligan spoke about the forgiveness he gave his son’s primary tormentors after they ultimately were confronted by him and showed remorse.

He also noted to the students, “You are loved beyond belief. Don't ever believe that you don't matter and that no one would miss you if you were gone.”

He asked students not to be ashamed to ask for help, and not to hesitate to seek help for a friend who has confided in you that they are suicidal.

He also asked bystanders who are friends with people who bully to get their friends to stop.

“Stand up to a friend who is bullying other people,” Halligan said, noting the difficulty.

Halligan closed his presentation by acknowledging that he may not have touched everyone in the respectful audience. Still, he knows someone’s life will be altered by his presentation.

“I’ve been out there long enough to know that at least one person in this room is going to take my son’s story to heart,” Halligan said. “Go up to somebody and simply say, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the way I treated you.' That apology — that real, sincere, heartfelt apology — will be lifechanging.”

Date Added: 1/14/2022

HS West DECA Students Shine at Suffolk County Regional Competition

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High School West DECA had an impressive showing at this academic year’s Suffolk County regional competition.

Students competed in various competitive exams including marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, hospitality and business management. In all, 29 West DECA students qualified for the New York State DECA competition, which will be held in March.

The students who advanced by finishing in the top 10 in their regional competitions:

Jessica Alexander, K’Daejian Austrie, Ashley Bittner, Matthew Braun, Jake Byrne, Emily Castro, Caroline D’Ambrosio, Antonio DeMarco, Anthony DiGiovanni, David Finkelstein, Dylan Frank, Nicole Gullason, Hatim Husainy, Eric Kim, Daniel Kyranakis, Isabella Manzi, Gabriella Martinez, Nick Marulis, Elizabeth Mock, Annika Prabhu, Julia Reuter, Brooke Reynolds, Greg Roman, Juliette Ryan, Victoria Starkey, Aneira Vundecode, Justin Weiner, Corina Wong and Francesco Zitoli.

New Playground Opens at Tackan Elementary: 'It’s like a wild carnival ride!'

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Tackan Elementary School students officially got into the swing at their new playground on Thursday.

With the temperature reaching the upper-40s and the sun brightly shining with no wind, Barbara Beard and Kelly Bennis’ third grade students became the first of several classes to use the new playground throughout the school day.

Students shouted, “I’m so excited!” and, “This is so cool!” and, “It’s like a wild carnival ride!” as they approached and then began using the state-of-the-art new playground.

The playground includes eight swings, a pair of slides and several other climbing structures. One swing even resembles a car seat for those who may have accessibility issues with a traditional playground swing.

Staff, including the entire group of cafeteria workers, were so excited by the Tackan addition, they posed for photos on Day 1 of its use.

The playground is part of director of facilities Daniel Leddy and the Smithtown Central School District’s ongoing project to try to introduce one new playground annually around the district, provided the budget continues to allow it.

Date Added: 1/13/2022

Mt. Pleasant Fourth Graders Go Fishing to Improve Vocabulary

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Fourth graders at Mt. Pleasant Elementary are expanding their vocabulary with a fun twist.

On Thursday morning, librarian Erica Lutz greeted students in Theodore Klug’s class for a game of “Dictionary Go Fish!”

Armed with dictionaries, students used a fishing pole with a magnet for a hook to catch a word in the “pond.” The students, in teams, then had to locate the word in the dictionary to learn the meaning as well as the part of speech — nouns, verbs and adjectives.

Examples of words the students caught included “juvenile,” “bawl,” “angle,” and “inspire.”

Date Added: 1/13/2022

Tackan Families Donate Truck-Load of Clothing to Needy

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A truckload of used clothing and other items is headed to needy families thanks to the generosity of the Tackan Elementary School community.

Students in Bill Schroeder’s fifth grade class helped load nearly 300 bags of recently collected clothing, car seats, bedding, stuffed animals and small toys on Tuesday morning. The truck filled with donated items was bound for a New Jersey distribution hub that will share it domestically and internationally with those in need.

Organized by the Tackan Elementary PTA, the generosity also will benefit the school’s cultural arts program. Once the contents arrive at the charity’s distribution hub and the truck pulls onto a scale, the program will receive a cash donation based on the weight.

Date Added: 1/11/2022