By Mrs. Sandi Swerdloff, SSLI Lower School Principal


Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16, 2017
By Sandi Swerdloff, Lower School Principal

Dear Schechter Families,

It is hard to believe that our school year has ended. Not so long ago, we were bundled up in coats and hats enduring the cold weather of winter and then spring arrived and brought rays of sunshine into our lives. September and the start of our learning adventure seems like ancient history. We enjoyed a full school year of action-packed days, special occasions, and SSLI traditions. Now it's time to reflect on our time together and prepare for moving on.

It has been an honor to work with the creative and talented group of professionals on the Lower School team. Our devoted faculty and staff love and value the K-5 students; their flexibility, humor, and tirelessness keeps our school climate safe, supportive, and happy. It's wonderful to see this team in action every day. 

A successful year cannot happen without the help and support from parents and community members. Many thanks are due to all of our wonderful families, especially our amazing PA President, Debbie Gubin and her wonderful and supportive cadre of volunteers. Now that Debbie has retired from her term of presidency, I want to welcome our two new co-presidents Sheryl Gordon and Andrea Bitton. I am sure we will spend time together planning wonderful events for the coming school year in true Debbie fashion. She has certainly left an indelible mark on our school's programming and I promise to keep it going forever.  I would also like to acknowledge Rabbi Joel Levenson who has been a most valuable Schechter friend and leader. Every Wednesday Rabbi Levenson shared his wisdom as he led the third grade children in Tefila. His commitment and tireless work for our school is greatly appreciated.

This year we shared many wonderful moments. We began our year welcoming our Shinshinim, Maya Ben Yaccov and Neta Azouly. These two young girls brought absolute joy and infused excitement into the very fibers of our building. Every Thursday morning, they joined the students in the gym and began the day with singing and dancing. They introduced our very hip and savvy American kids to the wonderful sounds of Israeli music. Each week they came up with games and challenges that taught our children about the geography, culture and history of Israel. They spent time at recess teaching our youngsters how to play Israeli outdoor games and created bulletin boards throughout the year that made everyone stop and notice their handiwork.  

Maya and Neta wanted to leave a legacy of their own to our school and came up with a beautiful idea that was created and implemented with the help of our general studies assistant teacher, Rikki Chaskes. Together, Maya, Neta and Rikki sketched a picture that would be transferred onto 150 pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Ms. Chaskes drew the picture and Neta and Maya color coded each piece according to the sketch. Then they asked every child in grades K-5 to color in a piece of the puzzle and the additional pieces were colored in by faculty and staff. Every person in our school had a chance to leave their mark on this magnificent piece of art that hangs proudly in our lobby. A huge debt of thanks and gratitude goes to Jodie Fineman of Marlin Art for framing the puzzle so that it will remind us of the wonderful joy these two girls brought to Schechter.

As a going away gift for Maya and Neta, we wanted to give them something they would always have to remember their year in New York. Once again, Ms. Chaskes came to the rescue with a creative idea where every student left their mark. An outline map of North America was drawn on a piece of paper and all the students placed a fingerprint to fill up the empty space. Some left their print in blue to represent water while others left their mark in green to represent land. Around the circumference of the circle is written YOU MEAN THE WORLD TO US! Then each child wrote their names on index cards and these were transferred to another piece of paper with the inscription, "Our fingerprints don't fade from the lives we've touched." The two pictures were then infused onto tote bags which we filled with Schechter gear and memories of New York. Maya and Neta each received a Schechter T- shirt, jersey and baseball hat that I hope will remind them of the special times we spent together during the 2016-2017 school year.  They both became integral parts of our lives and they will be sorely missed.

Photos of the Shinshin's Last Day at SSLI

Every week we welcomed Shabbat with members of our fourth and fifth grade choir singing   traditional and non-traditional melodies. Each week our guest rabbis and cantors entertained us with stories and helped celebrate Shabbat. Our own Rav Beit Sefer, Yosi Cirlin, was a strong presence every week and we were all fond of the times he was our Guest Darshan.

Our grade level performances proved to be meaningful highlights of the year. We watched the third grade students receive their Chumashim and the second graders celebrate The Creation. The fourth graders presented "A Brave New World" a play about Jewish Americana focused around the 23 Jewish people who in the year 1654 sailed from Recife, Brazil to the shores of New Amsterdam in their continuous search for freedom of religion. The first graders received their first Siddur and the fifth graders celebrated their Moving Up Ceremony through an original script and songs about the 50th anniversary of Schechter as well as the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. On Wednesday of this week we watched as our Kindergartners proudly sang and danced their way through the Gan Siyyum. 

Enjoy additional photos of our Kindergarten Moving Up Ceremony

Our students went on interesting field trips and returned with memories and stories that will last a lifetime. To name just a few of the trips: the third graders went to Safety Town in Eisenhower Park and the Math Museum in Manhattan where they experienced a day of hands on math explorations. Second and fourth grade spent a day each at the Bethpage Village Restoration Center learning about life on Long island in the 18th and 19th centuries. The fourth graders also enjoyed a great day of team building at Project Adventure right here in Brookville. The fifth graders enjoyed two full days in Manhattan visiting Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the Lower East Side.

We held out annual Read-A Thon and recited the Oath of Reading with Judge Roy Tarantola officiating. We raised over $3000 in support of Mazon and we welcomed Guest Authors, Mylisa Larsen and Michelle Knudsen. After spending a week at TEVA The fifth graders held a snack sale to raise money for the purchase of resusable water bottles to be distributed to all the students in school. In addition they held a car wash to raise money for the Cohen's Children's Medial Center in New Hyde Park. 

Our tenth annual Family Math and Science Day was renamed STREAM Day to represent SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, RESEARCH, ENGINEERING, ART and MATH. This day was a huge success where we had an abundance of hands-on math activities in the gym, hands-on science experiments being conducted in the science lab, guest participants such as Mad Science Long Island, our own students from the Engineering Club in the Upper School and the two newest additions of a MAKER SPACE where children came and designed their own creations and a fully stocked art area where students created individual masterpieces linking the knowledge with science and art. And most important of all, on this day our students in grades three, four and five proudly displayed their science projects and explained their research and data to the many visitors that came to see their interesting experiments.  

The fourth graders welcomed many of their parents/grandparents to speak to the class about their professions. Among the guest speakers were Jeffrey Pravato, Sandy Quentzel, Michele Palter, Issac Septon, Marc Chernoff, Adrienne Davidson, Evan Herbst, Scott Gubin, Jan Rogers and Eleanore Wurtzel. The students were fascinated listening to the parents and grandparents describe what they do every day and how their work is beneficial to others.

We introduced littleBits and Bee-Bots to the Science and Computer programs respectively. The fourth and fifth graders loved creating mini robots using the littleBits and the younger students learned to code using the Bee-Bots. Mr. Dan Davidson, father of Sophie, Benjamin and Zachary introduced our K-5 students to the Hour of Code and then in December Mrs. Sokoler guided each grade to do an hour of code in the computer lab. Students participated in The Hour of Code through a global movement reaching hundreds of millions of students in over 180 countries.         

We celebrated Purim with a wonderful reading of the Megillah by our fifth graders, followed by a fun filled carnival where teachers, students and parents dressed in creative costumes and participated in games and activities throughout the afternoon. 

We hosted our annual Passover Model Seder and welcomed grandparents and Special Friends to join us as Rabbi Cirlin and Dr. Dolgin led the seder using the Schechter Family Haggadah.

The fifth grade students presented a beautiful service for Yom HaShoah and the fourth grade brought tears to our eyes as they remembered the victims of those people who fought for the preservation of peace in Israel.

We celebrated Yom HaAtzmaut with our students visiting the wonderful places in Israel such as the Dead Sea Spa, the Kotel, The Shuk and topping their visit off with lunch at an Israeli cafe.

We celebrated Lag B'Omer with an incredibly well run, well organized field day filled with games, races activities and a faculty vs fifth grade kickball game. The weather was perfect, the children's enthusiasm was at an all-time high and Mrs. Marrache who stepped up to the plate to cover for Mr. Meyer, who could not be present, made sure that everyone understood the importance of good sportsmanship and fair play.

Our Schechter Long Island Lower School Choir, The AriNotes, performed at many venues over the course of the year. We celebrated Sukkot with the senior citizens at the Woodbury Jewish Center, we sang at the Meir Panim benefit at Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn, for Yom Yerusalayim we sang at the Suffolk JCC, we performed at the Israel Fest in Port Washington, we welcomed Shabbat at the Midway Jewish Center and at Temple Beth Sholom and finally we opened the Celebrate Israel Concert with the Long Island Cantor's Ensemble the Star singing the Spangled Banner and Hatikvah. We presented a medley of songs sung in Hebrew, English and Ladino and accompanied Israel's popular music star, David Broza with his well-known song Yihye Tov.    

We presented Aladdin to packed audiences and both shows were xtremely well received. Last year we made the major decision to produce two shows with different casts so that everyone had a chance to shine. Our leads in one show had minor roles in the other and some of our students became tech gurus and backstage managers. This success was due to the incredible talent and perseverance of our music teacher Mrs. Elana Stern, and her assistants Rikki Chaskes and Valarie Gosset.

Visit our school photo gallery to relive special memories of this year's wonderful events and activities 

News from the STREAM Team

All students in grades K-5 have been registered for IXL Math. Your children can do as much or as little on this website to strengthen their math skills over the summer.  Please click here for information about an IXL contest to see which students can answer the most math questions. On September 8, they will announce the winners on Facebook and the IXL Blog-each winning student will win an iPad mini!  In addition, in each grade, Schechter LI will hold a party during recess for the 3 students per grade who logged the most hours on IXL over the summer. If you have any questions about logging into IXL, please contact Sheryl Sokoler.

This year there will be optional summer packets for children in grades K-5. Please know that all summer reading suggestions for each grade level will soon be posted on the school website. In addition, lists of recommended apps and online resources for optional practice and fun (at every grade level) have also been posted. I encourage you to explore some of these fun and educational activities during travel, vacation or stay-cation time with your child. There's no need for daily practice-just occasional "dabbling" into the academics during the summer, to practice learned skills and keep them fresh.

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank all the parents who joined us each week at Kabbalat Shabbat and all the guest Rabbis who enriched our Kabbalat Shabbat experiences. 

I also want to thank Cathy Main who is truly my "right hand man". She has the uncanny ability to know what I need before I do and takes care of all the details, major and minor, so that I can be visiting classrooms and spending time with the people I care about most - the students and the teachers. Also, a huge thank you to Roy Tarantola and Dave Ostrove who never say, "No" and who are always willing to indulge my "creative" thoughts and ideas. 

Our 2016-2017 school year is over! My best wishes for a fun filled, safe and enjoyable summer. I look forward to seeing everyone on the first day of school which this year will be Tuesday, September 5, 2017.


Shabbat Shalom,


Sandi Swerdloff
Principal, lower School 

Posted in June 2017


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