Before the 2016-17 school year came to a close, Woodhull Elementary School students joined together to celebrate their accomplishments during the building’s annual spring concert.
The event, which showcased the talents of the school’s pre-kindergarten through sixth-graders, featured a mix of music genres and small and solo performances.
Fifth-grader Patryk Warzecha, who began learning the alto saxophone in September, led the room in a beautiful rendition of the national anthem before being joined by the rest of the Woodhull Concert Band to perform the theme from “Star Wars.” The band then switched gears to perform the jazz standard “When the Saints Go Marching In,” featuring improvised solos by fifth-grader Edoardo Giua on clarinet, fourth-grader Jack Brennan on trombone, and sixth-grader Thomas Brennan on drums.
Third graders then performed on ukulele while members of the very first ukulele ensemble at Woodhull — now graduating seniors — watched from the audience. Giovanni Giua performed his NYSSMA solo and Patryk Warzecha put his stamp on the jazz standard “Summertime” before the Concert Band re-emerged to perform the theme from “Batman” and “Gonna Fly Now” from the film “Rocky.”
The school then performed as one large ensemble for the popular songs “Yellow Submarine,” “You Can Make It If You Try,” and “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” with grades preK-2 singing, students in grades 3-5 singing and playing ukulele, and sixth-grade students performing in the horn section and on the drums.
Fire Island Health Services Director and School Nurse Janet LaViolette recently coordinated a dynamic and engaging event to promote learning about health and safety as well as Fire Island’s environment and history.
The “Mermaid Ball,” transformed the school gymnasium into an eclectic wonderland of learning and creativity for two days, attended first by students and staff of Woodhull School, and then opened to the public with a limited number of complimentary ferry tickets provided by Fire Island Ferries.
The event was very much a group effort both within and beyond the school. Woodhull staff members led activities including “Yoga Under the Sea,” where Superintendent Loretta Ferraro taught students yoga poses, “Surf Shack Cafe” where art teacher and librarian Bianca Hansen served smoothies and nori, “Captain’s Reading Room” where reading specialist Colleen Ferry donned pirate attire and read to students, and an outdoor drum circle led by music teacher Philip Tamberino.
The event also drew residents, parents, and former students, including Dana DeRuvo-Hanner of Saltaire, who taught about safety at the “First Aid Station,” parent Blair Burke, who facilitated the popular “Dress Up” outlet featuring nautical costumes, and Fire Island graduate Mallory Wood who taught about hygiene at the “Handwashing Station.” Representatives from other Fire Island organizations also participated, including the U.S. Coast Guard, whose members taught about water safety, and the National Parks Service, whose members taught about the natural resources and environmental concerns of Fire Island.
This is far from the first time Nurse Janet has helped organize a schoolwide educational event. For many years her “Teddy Bear Clinics” filled a similar niche and last year’s “Space Station” foreshadowed the more expansive program this year.
Woodhull Elementary School’s gymnasium was transformed into an art gallery as art teacher Bianca Hansen presented the annual exhibition of prekindergarten through grade six students’ inspiring work.
The projects drew on multiple inspirations including studies of artists such as Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and Romare Bearden. Other works were interdisciplinary in nature, including tessellations made using math, drawings of fictitious animal adaptations, and large paintings of ancient Egyptian gods. Also featured was a live demonstration of 3-D printing along with works designed by students using computer software and the school’s 3-D printer on loan from BOCES.
Family and friends toured the show led by their very creative student-artists.
Although the holiday season had already passed, the spirit of it was alive and well this January as Woodhull Elementary School students performed the musical “Elf,” which had been postponed from its original date of Dec. 20.
The schoolwide musical, based on the 2003 film and the 2010 Broadway musical of the same name, featured all students in every class and delighted the full-house audience. Sixth-grader Jason Philie gave a dynamic performance as Buddy, a human accidentally orphaned and raised in the North Pole as an elf who journeys to New York City in search of his father. Throughout the play, Buddy's charming naiveté made for moments of humor and pathos alike as he tries to fit in with his new family and especially his father Walter, a serious and busy executive played by sixth grader Thomas Brennan.
The students in the primary and early elementary grades cheerily played elves in the North Pole, and employees of Macy's dressed as elves, singing the carol "Deck the Halls" and the pop hit "Jingle Bell Rock." Other lead roles included Aidan Oviedo-Torres as Santa Claus, Malia Wendt as Walter's wife Emily, Jack Brennan as Walter's son Michael, and Joey Coleman as Walter's overbearing boss Mr. Greenway.
After the performance, the school held a ceremony for peace. A large wire sculpture of a dove made by nurse Janet Laviolette was unveiled on the stage and each student in the school placed a written "wish for peace" into it as they read their wish aloud to the audience.
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