Stellar students, departing board members and school safety

Posted 7/6/22

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — On June 16, the Sullivan West Central School District held its final regular monthly school board meeting for the 2021-2022 school year.

First on the agenda was the …

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Stellar students, departing board members and school safety


LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — On June 16, the Sullivan West Central School District held its final regular monthly school board meeting for the 2021-2022 school year.

First on the agenda was the recognition of several students of the month.

For the elementary school, Luke Hughson was recognized by principal Rod McLaughlin. “Luke is a quiet and hardworking student who always tries his best,” McLaughlin said. “Luke is nice to classmates and friends, comes to school smiling, and feels he has made a lot of gains in math this year.”

In the middle school, Noor Mameri was presented with the student of the month award by principal Scott Haberli. He called her “sweet, polite, always a ‘Good morning!’ with a big smile. She makes people feel good. Very hard worker, diligent, conscientious, unanimously chosen by all her teachers.”

Also at the middle school, Haberli recognized Alec Hubert. “A genuinely nice person, friendly to all,” the principal said. Alec is “quietly confident, trustworthy, hard worker, unanimously chosen by his teachers.”

At the high school, Jake Nystrom was presented with the award by principal Mark Plescia. Plescia said that Nystrom “organized a safe-driving presentation, with the presenters being family members delivering a personal message of loss due to decisions made behind the wheel.”

Tariq Gambari and Grace Boyd were named students of the month at the high school too. Plescia said they “organized a students-versus-staff basketball game, with all the money raised donated to the Callicoon Hospital physical rehab [program]. The game raised over $900.”

Before leaving the podium, Plescia announced the top 10 students of the class of 2022, most of whom attended the board meeting. They were Dylan Sager, Sofia Siedl, Karl Swanson, Samantha Everett, Taylor Brustman, Recce Maopolski, Anthony Waite, Anabella Rutledge, Connor Watso and Tyler O’Sullivan.

Then it was time for board president Rose Joyce-Turner to honor the outgoing student representative, plus two long-standing members of the board.

Of Dylan Sager, Sullivan West’s student board member, she said, “He followed in the footsteps of Abigail Gaebel, who set the tone of presenting thoughtful, reflective and helpful information to the board on a monthly basis. He did not hesitate to bring the board issues from both the students and staff. He was a voice and a leader for his building and peers, and left his mark on Sullivan West.”

Joyce-Turner recognized Julie Gaebel, who served on the board for six years. “It has been an honor and privilege to work with Julie. You have brought insight to our board and the committees you have actively served.” She cited Gaebel’s questions and concerns, and her sense of humor, which was “refreshing and much needed.” Calling her a sounding board on many issues, Joyce Turner said, “your conscientious team-building on this board has left us better for having you on it.”

She also applauded Ken Cohen, a member of the board for 15 years. “Ken joined the Sullivan West Board of Education during very turbulent times in our district. The merger did not yield positive results in many areas and the board of education was certainly a strife-filled, controversial entity when you joined so many years ago.

“I recall our Sullivan West Cares group that had a mission to heal the district from the chaos the merger caused within our communities and spilled over into our schools. The children of the district healed us first, but [the hiring of former superintendent Dr. Ken Hilton] helped meld the board into a common purpose of educating all our students with one district mindset.”

Joyce-Turner called Cohen her mentor and noted his advice to read everything, ask questions, read again, “get the school law book and read that and refer to it always,” and more. She thanked him as “the person who has guided this board for one and a half decades, through some of our worst times, and part of our best times.”

Kathleen Bressler, district superintendent, recognized Kayla O’Dell as Sullivan West’s Standout for the Month, describing her as “a strong team player, and with her team put new programs into action, such as the Triple B Awards… appreciated by her teammates, teachers and administrators alike for all the work she has done in promoting positive messages in- and outside of the classroom.”

In addressing a recent social media threat to the middle/high school, in the aftermath of the horrific incident at the Ross Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, Bressler said the reported incident was investigated by the New York State Police and the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with district officials.

“We were very fortunate that it was unfounded,” she said. “Still it gave us pause, and we reflected on the safety of our schools.”

There are many measures and protocols in place, Bressler said. Of course, “there is always room for review and improvement. Our facilities needs committee has determined that updating and supporting school safety will be a priority in our upcoming capital project.”

school safety, Sullivan West Central School District, student of the month, Sullivan West, Ken Cohen


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