“Omne trium perfectum,” is the phrase Fire Island Union Free School District (FIUFSD) Superintendent Loretta Ferraro used in her commemorative speech, which is Latin for “every set of three is complete.” With graduating classes of three in both Pre-Kindergarten and sixth grade, her choice of words could not have been better as she addressed the audience of proud parents who crowded into the gymnasium on a rainy Thursday evening on June 20, to celebrate the achievements of the graduating class of 2019.
The night began with some musical entertainment, courtesy of the Woodhull Elementary School Concert Band, Vocalists and Ukulele Ensemble, under the direction of Music Teacher Phillip Tamberino. It was a busy program, with over a dozen performances, but things moved along quickly. Highlights included the adorable first- and second-grade students singing the Cat Stevens (Yusuf) classic, “If You Want to Sing Out.” Another great number was young vocalist Olivia Asaro-Apsley singing a haunting rendition of the ballad “Castle on a Cloud” from “Les Miserables.” Then there was the young posse of ukulele players including Zoey Zeman, Joshua Vizcarrondo, Evan McEvoy, Angelo La Rosa, and again Olivia Asaro-Apsley, who brought the island vibe to several numbers. It is not surprising that for five consecutive years the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation has recognized FIUFSD.
The sun started to peak out through fog as diplomas and awards were given. Donning little white caps and gowns, Pre-Kindergarteners Julianna Burrison, Beckett Easter, and Vanessa Lippman collected their diplomas from FIUFSD Board of Education President Jay Lippert. John Brennan, Cailee Couch, and Jerzi Swanson as sixth-grade graduates, followed them, smartly dressed. Some of these children have been with Woodhull School a long time, and will be missed as they go off to join mainland middle schools next September.
Awards are always a special part of the evening, recognizing individual achievements that make each student special.
• Patricia Stretch – a Woodhull alumnus herself, handed out the Conrad & Muriel Wirostek Memorial Awards, which were established by her parents. This year’s recipients included Ariel Vizcarrondo, fourth grade; Jerzi Swanson, sixth grade, and Ethan Greider, 12th grade. (There was no fifth grade class this year, so no fifth grade Wirostek award to bestow.)
• Former District Treasurer Virginia Horton of Ocean Bay Park gave the Barbara DeWolf Achievement Award to Seaview’s John Brennan, and the Woodhull Scholarship to Ethan Greider. Greider is the only FIUFSD student graduating high school this year. He will be attending BOCES Electrical Program next fall.
• PTA President Melinda Hines delivered the Douglass Wyckoff Memorial Scholarship to be shared by the three graduating sixth-grade students.
• The Fire Island Association Tuition Scholarship, which is determined by lottery, was awarded to Fallyn Moran.
Additional awards were given at a pre-graduation awards luncheon two days prior, including the President’s Award for Educational Achievement to Jerzi Swanson; the President’s Award for Educational Excellence to John Brennan; Triple C as well as Physical Education Awards to all graduating sixth graders; the New York State School of Musical Achievement Awards to Olivia Asaro-Apsley, Cailee Couch, Kingston Johnson, Catherine Phillippe, and Ariel Vizcarrondo; John Brennan received an Art Award; and Cailee Couch completed her sweep with the State Comptroller Award.
Small classes at Woodhull School are nothing new. It is part of the charm of FIUFSD, as well as one of the challenges the petite district faces in changing times. However the modest population of year-round residents, families assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard Station that come from all corners of the country, and greater Long Island students that take advantage of the now firmly established out-of-district tuition program bring diverse experiences and strength in small numbers that has long been the secret to the success of this tiny school that has continued to endure on Fire Island for over a century.
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