GRAMMY Signature School Semifinalists

Great Neck North and South High Schools have been named 2012 GRAMMY Signature School Semifinalists by the GRAMMY Foundation. They are among 126 music programs in the nation (and only six in Nassau County) to receive this honor. The GRAMMY Foundation recognizes and honors public high school music programs that promote and support music education as an integral part of their curriculum.

From the schools selected as Semifinalists, up to 40 will be named GRAMMY Signature Schools. Selection will be based on submitted printed and audio materials highlighting the school's choral, string, and wind/percussion programs. Performances by other ensembles, e.g., jazz, guitar, and piano, may also be included. A distinguished panel of music industry and educational professionals determines the winning Signature Schools. Signature Schools receive monetary grants. Winners will be announced in March 2012.

North High's music teachers are Joseph Rutkowski, instrumental, and Roger Ames, vocal. (Neil Saggerson is fine & performing arts department head.) Music teachers at South High are Michael Schwartz (performing arts department head), Mark Boschen, and Anthony Virgilio, instrumental; and Pamela Levy, vocal.

Both North and South High have been named GRAMMY Signature School Semifinalists numerous times and have gone on to receive the distinction of being named GRAMMY Signature Schools--North in 2000 and South in 2003, 2005, and 2007.


Winter Concert I at South High

The South High School Winter Concert I will be held on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m., in the school auditorium, 341 Lakeville Road. Featured will be choral groups: A Little Off the Top and Soul Sisters, and instrumental groups: Jazz Band, Pops Orchestra, String Orchestra, and Concert Band. The community is invited to this free musical event.

Performing groups and their musical selections follow. A Little Off the Top will perform Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song." The Jazz Band will follow with "Frosty the Snowman," "Feliz Navidad," "Winter Wonderland," and "Jingle Bell Rock." Soul Sisters will perform "River Deep Mountain High." The Pops Orchestra will play "The Fab Four" ("Eight Days A Week," "Yesterday," "Can't Buy Me Love"), "And So It Goes," and "Calypso Jam." The String Orchestra will present Handel's "Allegro Vivo from Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 5"; "Con Te Partiro (Time To Say Goodbye)"; and Mozart's "Divertimento K. 138, Allegro." The Concert Band will close out the evening with "?Legacy," "Crossgate," "The Lion of Lucerne," and "The Great Locomotive Chase."

The Winter Concert will be under the direction of Michael Schwartz, performing arts department head/instrumental director; Mark Boschen, concert band/instrumental director; and Pamela Levy, vocal director/theory/piano. For further information regarding this concert or other musical activities at South High, please contact Mr. Schwartz at 441-4851 or at


School Board Is Recognized

In recognition of the dedication of school board members throughout New York State, boards of education are honored through the annual School Board Recognition Week (this year, held Oct. 31&endash;Nov. 4), as declared by Governor Andrew Cuomo. More than 700 school boards statewide were commended for their devoted service to children. In his official proclamation, Gov. Cuomo wrote, "The men and women serving as members of school boards are dedicated to children, learning, and community, and devote many hours of service to elementary and secondary public education as they continually strive for improvement, excellence, and progress in education."

The Great Neck Public Schools tradition of honoring its school board at the Board meeting closest to the Recognition Week also includes presentations by students. At the Nov. 14 Board of Education meeting, President Barbara Berkowitz, Vice President Fran Langsner, and Trustees Donald Ashkenase, Lawrence Gross, and Susan Healey were recognized by students from North and South Middle Schools through song, personalized placards, and an ESL presentation.

After the student presentations, Ms. Berkowitz was quick to point out that while the elected Board members are all volunteers, "they are not really 'volunteers,' as we have been paid 10-, 100-, even 1,000-fold by all that was presented tonight.… We thank the parents for their support…and the teachers for their work on a daily basis and for making us feel so proud of what you do and how committed you are. We are humbled by what you do. Tonight you have given us something we will never forget." Mr. Ashkenase added, "We are looking at the best of America here this evening."

Choral Performers

The evening's recognition of the Board began with a joint choir of 26 North Middle School and eight South Middle School students singing Josh Groban's poignant "You Raise Me Up." Many in the audience were misty-eyed when the singers turned to face the Board for the final chorus, singing the words: "You raise me up…To more than I can be." The choir, formed especially for the recognition event, was jointly directed by Denise Eisner, North Middle choral teacher, and Shelley Willcox, South Middle choral teacher.

Poster Recognition

Students then presented the Board with personalized posters decorated and signed by the artists from the two schools. Their messages of gratitude included: "Thank you for all you do for the arts and the other programs in our schools," and "We can't thank you enough for all you do." Twenty-three North Middle artists contributed to the placards. Their teacher is Elaine Brendel, art/technology department head. Twenty-six South Middle students worked on their placards. Their teacher is Cynthia Smith, art department head.

ESL Presentation

English as a Second Language (ESL) students from North and South Middle Schools closed out the recognition with their many heartfelt words of thanks to the Board and their school community. Students read their messages in English and also in their native language. Some thoughts expressed were: "Thank you for making our schools better." "I love this place. The Board makes our schools more wonderful. Thank you for your hard work." "Thank you for your commitment to this district and for your service to this community." While the students were reading, a simultaneous slide presentation showed them working on their speeches and engaged in other classroom activities. The three North Middle ESL student presenters were natives of China, the Dominican Republic, and Hong Kong. Their teacher is Ronald Silva. The South Middle ESL students were from : China and the Dominican Republic. Their teacher is Elizabeth Piperno.

Board Responsibilities

All board members are residents of the school district, elected by fellow residents in the annual school district election in May. Each serves a three-year unpaid term as trustee. The Board is responsible for legal issues, and for determining educational policy, supervising the administration of the schools, and levying taxes on properties to support school district operations. In the 1790s and early 1800s, New York State passed laws establishing school districts and empowering its citizens to elect school boards. Great Neck established its first board of education in 1894 and the Board has continued since then as a proud institution.


Adult Program Winter Registration in Progress

Registration is now taking place for over 200 winter courses offered by the Great Neck Public Schools Adult Program. The semester begins on Jan. 3, and runs through the end of March. Winter courses, trips, and special events are in the current Fall/Winter catalog and on our Web site at Several of these classes, including a kid-friendly, wholesome cooking class, SAT/PSAT preparation for high school students, mah jongg for beginners, chess for adults, and music appreciation featuring the operas of Verdi, are described below. Take advantage of a $5 Early Bird Discount for most courses over $99, if you register by Dec. 16. All classes meet at the Cumberland Adult Center, 30 Cumberland Ave. For more information or to register, please call the Adult Program at 441-4949.

Kid-Friendly Foods

Learn how to transform kid-friendly foods into wholesome and delicious meals that you and your child are sure to enjoy. You will see that these recipes are quick and simple enough. Once you make them, you will never go back to the frozen or boxed variety. The demonstration and food tasting will include homemade chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, and a lunch-box treat of sweet potato and kale chips. Everyone--parent or grandparent and child--will be engaged in making a delicious berry-yogurt parfait for dessert. Lisa Levine, a Registered Nurse, and Adult Program culinary arts teacher, along with Valerie Engelson, a certified nutritional consultant and Board Certified holistic health practitioner, will lead this new class on Thursday, Jan. 12, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Fee: $49 for one adult and one child, grades 1-5; additional child, $10.

Operas of Verdi

Following early poverty and personal tragedy, Giuseppe Verdi wrote 27 operas, making him Italy's foremost operatic master. He retired rich, an Italian icon. Learn and enjoy the development of his unique operatic genius against the background of his epic life. Instructor Sina Kiai, composer, conductor, and pianist has been involved with numerous opera productions at the Aaron Copeland School of Music. He teaches this new course on 10 Thursdays, Jan. 12-March 22 (no class Feb. 23), from 4:15-6:15 p.m. Fee: $109 for residents of Great Neck and Manhasset school districts; $119 for nonresidents.

Chess Club for Adults

Sharpen your thinking skills and exercise your mind! A quote to consider: "The game of chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it." --Benjamin Franklin. All levels are welcome. Garrett Christian, an expert chess player and professional chess instructor and coach, teaches this class on nine Fridays, Jan. 13-March 16 (no class Feb. 24), 1-3 p.m. Fee: $159.

Mah Jongg: Beginner

Learn how to play the centuries-old game of mah jongg according to the rules of the Mah Jongg League. A professional instructor looks forward to guiding you through the excitement of the game. Learn the language, and play defensively, while having fun! As this experience ends, you will be playing the game fluidly and understanding the moves that you make. Mah jongg cards ($8) can be purchased in class. If you have access to a set, please bring it. Pleasure and socialization await you! Toby Israel teaches this course on five Tuesdays, Jan. 31-March 6 (no class Feb. 21), from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Fee: $89.


This intensive course covers the Math and Verbal content of the SAT and PSAT exams and the strategies for getting a great score on both. Students will be shown how to efficiently handle even the most difficult questions and how to speedily solve the simpler ones. Particular attention will be given to Word Problems (translating complicated problems into simple equations). Students will also learn to eliminate wrong choices when faced with unfamiliar vocabulary (students should review vocabulary on their own, since class time will not be spent on this). The Writing Skills section is also covered. Purchase and bring to class: The Official Study Guide for the New SAT (published by the College Board); this book, the only one with questions from the actual exams, will be used throughout the course. Anita Friedman, a veteran Great Neck Public Schools teacher, certified in mathematics, and an SAT tutor, teaches this class on five Mondays, Jan. 30-March 5 (no class Feb. 20), from 7:15-9:15 p.m. Fee: $99.


Office of Community Services • 30 Cumberland Avenue • Great Neck, NY 11020

Contact: Jessica Vega • (516) 441-4940 / Fax (516) 441-4937 •