Kudos at Sullivan West: Top 10 academic achievers, e-sports, a tough hand and more 

Posted 2/25/21

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — It was a full house at Sullivan West Central School District’s (SWCSD) monthly Board of Education (BOE) meeting on February 18.

As in recent previous meetings, it …

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Kudos at Sullivan West: Top 10 academic achievers, e-sports, a tough hand and more 


LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — It was a full house at Sullivan West Central School District’s (SWCSD) monthly Board of Education (BOE) meeting on February 18.

As in recent previous meetings, it was convened via Zoom due to the pandemic.

Superintendent of Schools Stephen Walker cited the noteworthy accomplishments of Olivia Mathern, a second-grader at the elementary school, along with DJ Berthoff, who has worked as a cleaner at the elementary school for the past 20 years.

“She is an outstanding student and was recognized for helping her classmates,” Walker said in introducing Mathern, an eight-year-old student in Nicole Farrell’s class, as the recipient of the district’s Student of the Month.

Berthoff was recognized as the district’s Sullivan West Standout for the month. “For the past 20 years, DJ has gotten to know our schools as well as anyone in our district,” said Walker.

Walker continued by praising the academic performance of several students during the second marking period, from the principal’s list, the superintendent’s list, and to the top 10 academic achievers for the class of 2021. See the list of achievers at www.riverreporter.com/news. 

Sullivan West is on the verge of launching the E-Sports Club, an extracurricular activity designed to keep students involved as the district deals with the effects of COVID-19.

Kevin Moller, a high school social studies teacher, will serve as advisor to the E-Sports Bulldogs, while Dan Parisi, the district’s director of technology, hammers out the details.

“It will be a competitive online environment at the middle school and high school, and we are one of the first districts in our region to provide this opportunity,” said Walker.

During the public comment period, Brian Kitson, a parent of a Sullivan West student, shared his thoughts about the current scheduling of in-school classes, as one cohort attends classes Monday and Tuesday and the second group shows up Thursday through Friday. “By my count since December 15, the Monday-Tuesday cohort has had eight days in school. Is there any flexibility in the plans that we are using... or are we just locked into this for the entire school year?” asked Kitson.

Kitson also suggested the board take a look at instituting alternating five-day school weeks, noting “that would give them 25 percent more [in-school] instruction... five straight days of in-school instruction on alternating weeks... and a two-day weekend.”

In other matters

• In her student member report to the board, Class of 2021 Salutatorian Abigail Gaebel said, “Despite numerous snow days and spontaneous winter breaks, learning continues, musical rehearsals have begun and the parents of the senior class discussed how graduation of the Class of 2021 will be conducted.”

In addition, Gaebel reported that winter sports (basketball, track and skiing) are underway with several restrictions and limitations. With the optimism of youth, she added, “Spring sports will begin in March. That will give students more to look forward to.”

• The board approved adding three new holidays to the 2021-2022 school calendar: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Juneteenth.

• BOE member Annette Rasmussen reported on the virtual Sullivan County School Board Association (SCSBA) meeting of January 25, which featured a presentation by Sullivan County Commissioner of Social Services John Liddle.

According to Rasmussen, Liddle told the board that due to COVID-19, the county’s social services are working to capacity with a reduced staff and less funding, but an increase in foster care calls.

“We have more foster care parents coming forward now, more kids going into residential placement, and an increase in mental health issues and substance abuse. What is really impacting our schools is an increase in educational neglect calls,” she said of county-wide educational concerns. 

• BOE member Kathleen Meckle reported for the audit and finance committee, stating they are looking to “expand opportunities for kids and programs” but “hold the line on the budget.”  

• BOE member Lucas Arzill explained that the facilities needs committee is working on the district’s five-year building condition survey and plan to “move the district forward,” adding that several matters need to be addressed: energy-related issues with building roofs, casement windows and heating systems—“some of these things are getting pretty old”—along with rectifying “unsatisfactory work done on refinishing part of the gym floor... nobody will get paid until its completed,” he said.

• The BOE accepted the retirement resignation of Jackie Peters, a long-time secretary in the elementary school, and appointed several extracurricular and coaching positions.

The next regularly scheduled public meeting of the SWCSD BOE will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 18. 

For information on how to attend via Zoom, call the district office at 845/482-4610.

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