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Faith and Basketball Promo

Saint Mary’s Elementary School to Host First Faith and Basketball Clinic

Saint Mary’s Elementary School will be hosting its first Faith and Basketball Clinic this Friday, Nov. 13 from 5:00-9:00 PM and Saturday, Nov. 14 from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Boys and girls of all skill levels in grades 6, 7 and 8 from both public and private schools are welcome to participate in this unique and exciting event.

The clinic, which will include drills, scrimmages, dodgeball games and fun competition, was organized by St. Mary’s middle school social studies teacher Michael Griffin, a native of Wantagh who attended Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, Molloy College in Rockville Centre and is in his third year teaching at St. Mary’s Elementary School. Mr. Griffin’s twin brother, Thomas, is a third-year seminarian studying for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie. Growing up, all the Griffin brothers ever did was play basketball together, noted Mr. Griffin. The idea for this clinic, he explained, came from them wanting to use the sport they loved to play as kids to reach out together to students in a way where they could have fun and learn about faith at the same time.

In addition to enjoying two days of high-energy athletics led by both male and female coaches, student participants will attend Eucharistic adoration on Friday night with Father Sean Magaldi, a recently ordained priest serving at St. Patrick’s Church in Smithtown and Catholic chaplain at Stony Brook University. Father Magaldi’s mother, Deborah, teaches fifth grade at St. Mary’s Elementary School. Mass will also be celebrated at 9:00 AM Saturday morning, followed by more fun on the basketball court. Visitors to the clinic will talk about their love of sports and faith will include teachers, seminarians and priests.

“This clinic will challenge the students physically through sports but also challenge them mentally and spiritually in how they can make a difference in the world,” explained Mr. Griffin. “The theme of the clinic comes from the first chapter of John’s Gospel, in which Jesus asks his future disciples, ‘What are you looking for?’” Mr. Griffin hopes that interacting with the young clinic volunteers on and off the court as well as talking with them about their love of sports and faith will help the middle school students become aware of the bigger world around them and allow them to spend quality time interacting with peers and mentors in a faith-based environment.

The cost is $50 for both days, which includes dinner on Friday, lunch on Saturday, drinks, snacks, music and a St. Mary’s Faith and Basketball Clinic T-shirt. Payment for St. Mary’s Faith and Basketball Clinic can be made by cash or check (payable to St. Mary’s Elementary School) or register online by visiting or the St. Mary’s Elementary School Facebook page. For more information, please contact Mr. Griffin via E-mail.

October 18, 2015
Saint Mary’s Elementary School PTO Welcomes Parents at Cocktail Reception

The Saint Mary’s Elementary School PTO welcomed new and returning parents to kick-off the academic year at a cocktail reception at Plandome Country Club on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Father Robert A. Romeo, pastor of the Church of Saint Mary, was on hand to greet those in attendance. Dr. Celeste Checchia, Principal of St. Mary’s, and Grace M. Cavallo, President of The Schools of St. Mary, also joined the parents and PTO at the event. It was a fun and entertaining evening to mingle with old friends and make new ones and to begin an exciting new school year.

October 11, 2015
Saint Mary’s Elementary School Students Work Together Using iPads

At Saint Mary’s Elementary School, the use of technology in the classroom as well as collaboration between older and younger students are common sights. Recently, Mrs. Hoffman’s sixth graders used their iPads to help the third grade students in Mrs. Tripi’s class with a vocabulary lesson. The students had fun working together using the iPad’s thesaurus app to put to rest overused words and then decorating a Halloween-themed RIP headstone worksheet with a list of new and better words.

October 4, 2015
Reading Buddy Day at Saint Mary’s Elementary School

Saint Mary’s Elementary School’s younger students started their school year with a fun Reading Buddy Day. Miss Orgera’s first graders spent time meeting, greeting and reading to Mrs. Klag’s Pre-K class. It was a wonderful opportunity for the first grade students to practice the reading skills they are acquiring and for everyone to make new friends!

St. Mary’s Eighth Graders Get Away to Club Getaway
Saint Mary’s Elementary School’s eighth grade students enjoyed an overnight trip to Club Getaway in Kent, Connecticut Sept. 24-25. The School’s annual excursion to this lakeside camp in the Berkshire Mountains, kicks off the eighth-graders’ final year at the Elementary School. This curriculum initiative of team building skills and bonding helps the students to prepare to succeed as a group all while having fun sharing in activities such as hiking, rock wall climbing and karaoke.

September 27, 2015
Saint Mary’s Elementary School Students Prepare For Pope’s Visit

In honor of Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States Sept. 22-27, the students of Saint Mary’s Elementary School have been engaging in a variety of projects to celebrate the occasion and learn more about the pontiff. Mrs. Hoffman’s sixth grade students created prayers, poems and small posters featuring photos of and quotes from Pope Francis in the school computer lab. They used the internet to learn “25 facts about Pope Francis” and to peruse what’s on the pontiff ’s to-do list for his papacy. Mrs. Hoffman noted that while Pope Francis is in New York Sept. 24-26, she hopes to show her students live coverage of the events in her classroom – meanwhile, students will also watch coverage at home and journal about their thoughts and feelings about it. In conjunction with a classroom emphasis on being everyday superheroes, Mrs. Tripi’s third grade students participated in a “Flat Francis” project, taking photos and selfies with a paper cutout of the pope while going to church, praying, doing services projects, even going to soccer practice and a Mets game, illustrating how they are “super” Catholics. On Sept. 21 they presented their projects to the class, and Mrs. Tripi made a slideshow of all the photos they submitted. Mrs. Hoffman noted that the pope’s visit is a “momentous” event in the lives of St. Mary’s students, one they’ll remember forever, and that this trip is a great teaching and learning opportunity not just for the children of St. Mary’s, but for all Catholics and Catholic school students.

September 27, 2015
Saint Mary’s Students Serve at Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Two brothers and members of both of The Schools of Saint Mary’s Class of 2016 – Vincent Vaccaro, a senior at Saint Mary’s High School, and his brother Matthew, an eighth-grader at Saint Mary’s Elementary School – had the exciting opportunity to participate as altar servers at Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Saturday, Sept. 12.

The young men were selected by the Central Labor Council to represent members of the United Federation of Teachers – it was the fourth time Vincent was selected to serve and the second time for Matthew. After enjoying this exciting experience, the brothers left a letter with Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the New York Archdiocese, sharing with him the wonderful place that is St. Mary’s and inviting him to come visit, complete with a personal tour from the brothers. “There is nothing like watching your children walk up the main aisle of St. Patrick’s,” noted the boys’ mother, Mary Vaccaro. “Vincent and Matthew had an opportunity to go ‘behind the scenes’ and see St. Patrick’s in such a different way. They went below the altar and were able to go where past cardinals are interred.” Mrs. Vaccaro noted that she and her husband “were so honored not only that the boys were selected but we also loved watching how they were actively engaged in the Mass. They didn’t miss a beat!” She added that she hopes Cardinal Dolan “takes Vincent up on his offer to come to St. Mary’s.” After graduation in the spring, Vincent plans to attend The Catholic University of America, where he will play lacrosse, and Matthew plans to become a member of the Class of 2020 at St. Mary’s High School.

September 20, 2015
Welcome, Early Childhood Students!

Saint Mary’s Elementary School welcomed their littlest students to the nursery and Pre-K programs for their first day of school Tuesday, Sept. 8. The children spent their first week adjusting to saying goodbye to their parents, discovering their bright and colorful new classrooms, getting to know their helpful and friendly teachers, playing games and making new friends. We’re sure it’s going to
be a wonderful year for these budding students and we welcome them to the St. Mary’s family!

8th Grade Breakfast
Saint Mary’s Elementary School continued an annual tradition Friday, Sept. 11 with its eighth grade breakfast, organized and assisted by the students’ parents. The eighth-graders, along with their teachers, enjoyed a beautiful spread of bagels, muffins, fruit and juice amid balloons and an official “Class of 2016” banner, as they kicked off their final year at the Elementary School.

September 13, 2015
First Friday Mass of the New School Year

The students of Saint Mary’s Elementary School attended First Friday Mass at the Church of St. Mary Sept. 4 for the first time as a school community this academic year. Members of the Elementary School family served as lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and altar servers at the parish Mass, which was celebrated by Father Chris Costigan, parochial vicar. “St. Paul says something in today’s reading that’s very important for life but also the beginning of the school year – Christ is the image of the invisible God,” said Father Chris during his homily. After Jesus ascended into heaven, he sent the disciples to continue his work “and now, it’s up to you,” he explained. “We’re the descendants of the disciples. For us, we’re called to be images of Jesus. That’s what you’re doing here at St. Mary’s, why your parents sent you here, to learn how to be the image of Christ.”

September 6, 2015
Opening Days at Saint Mary’s

The Schools of Saint Mary ushered in the 2015-2016 academic year this week. New students and parents were welcomed into the St. Mary’s Elementary School family at the New Family Orientation Sept. 1 with a reception, introduction to the administration and PTO and classroom tours. All students in Kindergarten through eighth grade arrived for their first day of the new school year on Wednesday, Sept. 2. As they stepped off their buses or were dropped off by their parents, the children were greeted by balloons and a welcome banner, their smiling teachers, PTO members, Principal Celeste M. Checchia, President of The Schools of Saint Mary Grace Cavallo, and Father Chris Costigan. Wednesday was also the first day of orientation for the High School’s freshman Class of 2019, with icebreaker games, tours of the school as well as prayer and reflection led by the Senior Shepherds. “Here at St. Mary’s, we firmly believe that God is at the center of everything we do,” Larry Kupferman, religious studies chairperson at the High School, told the new students. Dr. Checchia had advice at the New Family Orientation for the all of St. Mary’s students on their first day: “It’s okay to be nervous. Just be focused, start off well and put your best foot forward.” PTO President Elaine Caliendo praised the teachers of St. Mary’s Elementary School and what parents can expect for their children this upcoming school year. “These teachers will not rest till your children have been challenged academically, know what it feels like to be loved and how to live like Jesus.” Welcome back to all the students and teachers; may everyone have a blessed and wonderful school year!

August 30, 2015
Saint Mary’s Summer Leadership Program

This past June, Saint Mary’s High School launched their brand new Summer Leadership Program. The Program entailed a combination of academic enrichment, leadership development, spirituality, and recreation. Participants in the 7th and 8th grade had the chance to experience what high school is like at Saint Mary’s and had quite a bit of fun at the same time.

In its inaugural year, there were 12 participants who took advantage of all that the Program had to offer. Mr. Gerard Buckley, assistant principal for academics and Program director said, “You never know how the group will take to this kind of a program. It was great to see the development of friendships and commitment to seeing each other succeed.” Program instructors, Mr. Anthony Calzetta and Mr. Michael Griffin, who are both faculty members of St. Mary’s Elementary School, lead the students through math and English instruction in the morning, as well as elective course work in film making using the iPad. Th e participants had great things to say about their teachers such as, “Mr. Griffin and Mr. Calzetta are awesome! They taught me new things about mathematics, English, and leadership.” The afternoon sports were always a big hit, as were the various field trips to locations such as the New York Hall of Science, Museum of Moving Images, and the Cradle of Aviation Museum. The four-week program culminated in a Leadership Retreat at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. The Program was blessed with the presence of Mr. Griffin’s brother, Thomas Griffin, who is currently a seminarian. While speaking to the students, Tom referenced the anniversary of the Battle of Normandy and the idea of the young men and women storming their own shores to excel in academics, faith and leadership.

The participants truly gained real life experience during their time in the Program. At the Program’s conclusion, Mr. Buckley noted, “The students who participated in this year’s Program showed great determination and skills, which are good indicators of their future success in their high school careers. Next year we look forward to more campers experiencing this great Program.”

For more information on the St. Mary’s High School Summer Leadership Program, please contact Mr. Gerard Buckley at 627-2711 or E-mail