FIS’s 2019-2020 Applied Academics, Support Services, & Administration

October 2019
By Jade R., Betsy C., David S.

The support services, administration, and applied academic teachers at Fishers Island School were interviewed about the activities they are/were most excited about for the month of October in 2019.

Mr. Arsenault, the principal at Fishers Island School keeps a very busy schedule to make sure the school is the best it can be.

During the beginning of the month, the Eastern Suffolk Boces Superintendent visited the school to further work on school accreditation. They offer any support they can to a new superintendent and also spoke very highly of the school.

On October 10th, we had an Open House during the school day for the first time. Parents from the mainland took the 11:30 AM boat to be able to experience the last three periods of the day. Each parent followed their own child to gain a better insight into what their day includes. Mr. Arsenault spoke very highly of the Open House and deemed it more effective than the previous format. Ms. Hall, the Enlglish teacher stated, “it’s great to have parents seeing what is happening in the classroom in the moment.”

Mr. Arsenault’s biggest excitement for the month of October is the completion of the Fishers Island School recruitment video. He said that the video showcases how unique our school is. We conducted over 20 interviews with staff, students, and parents. The plan is to have the video shared across Connecticut to increase enrollment and make sure interested parents and kids gain a better perspective on school life.

Mr. Dollar, the music teacher at Fishers Island School, has been working on many projects with students throughout the school.

Currently, band and chorus students are working on multiple songs in preparation for the winter concert. Two selections currently being worked on are Celtic Air and Dance and March Slav.

Mr. Dollar is very excited about the completion of sound effects in the Music Tech class. Students have been working very diligently to create different effects. The 5/6 class is starting to learn individual instruments in preparation for high school band. The younger elementary class is working on different aspects of music and movement to create a strong basis for music.

Mr. Dollar also expressed excitement for the students auditioning for Eastern Regionals, which is a large music competition where students go and audition for either band or chorus to hopefully be selected to participate in a large concert during the winter.

Adam Murray, the technology teacher at Fishers Island School, has been working on many exciting hands-on activities with the 2nd, 5th, and 6th graders.

Currently, the 2nd graders are learning elementary coding with Sphero Robots and recently had a Sphero soccer game. The students instructed their robots to make two or three turns to get from one soccer net to another soccer net. If the student’s robots encountered a problem, they had to use their problem-solving skills from previous lessons to overcome the obstacle. In another activity, they used their robots to create art. The robots were dunked in red, green, and blue paint and then rolled on paper canvases. In both exercises, the robots were controlled through computers by Bluetooth.

The 5th and 6th graders recently concluded their bottle rocket project where they created bottle rockets with a 3D printer. At the end of the unit, the students launched their rockets into the sky to see which bottle rocket designs went the highest and performed the best. In the coming weeks, the 5th and 6th graders will be using an R2D2 program to build droids similar to Star Wars droids. The purpose of this project is to teach students how different circuits interact so they can learn if circuit work is something they are passionate about.

Jade Redo, a senior at Fishers Island School, has been studying sign language since her sophomore year when she took ASL 1 online. She then went on to teach simple ASL phrases to the 3rd-6th grade students in her junior year. Currently, Jade is taking ASL 2, teaching ASL to the 1st-6th grades, and using her skills in her internship at High Hopes in Waterford.

Jade takes her ASL classes through the Virtual High School (VHS) where she is in a class with twenty other students across the country. She has to work collaboratively with her classmates and complete projects assigned by her virtual teacher. To show that she truly understands the content, she records videos of her signing the current topic and sends them to her class.

This month, Jade has been creating lesson plans for her 1st-6th grade students. To get ideas, she researches lesson plans online and talks with Fishers Island teachers. Jade plans to teach the 1st-6th graders the same lessons and hopes to identify the different learning abilities in each grade.

In addition to taking classes and teaching Fishers Island children, Jade has also been working with people at High Hopes to follow their mission of improving people’s lives through therapeutic horseback riding. Some of these people are deaf or hard-of-hearing. At High Hopes, Jade is a sidewalker, which means she walks alongside the horse to make sure the people riding are secure and safe, while also having fun.

Jade continues to follow her passion for ASL and hopes to use her knowledge and real-life-experience with ASL professionally later in life.

In the Art department, Mrs. Sawyer jumped right into the school year excited to work with her students and create different types of art. Mrs. Sawyer was impressed with the amazing contour drawings created by a senior and a few sophomores. There were two different types of contour drawings that Mrs. Sawyer had the students work with: blind and modified. Students started with blind contour drawing before modified. The idea of blind contour drawing is to keep your eye on an object and do not look at your paper. After the students faced the hardest part of contour drawing, they went outside to start their modified drawings. Mrs. Sawyer noted that during the activity, students were “all focused and really in their own zones.”

Another activity Mrs. Sawyer is currently involved in is the high school drama club. Mrs. Sawyer has been helping students in her Graphic Layout class find ways to be interactive with the audience and create advertisement materials.

In the elementary, Mrs. Sawyer and the students are extremely excited for students to work with a Halloween theme, including painting pumpkins and other activities.

Julie Arcelus, the guidance counselor at Fishers Island School, works closely with all students to guide them to be the most successful that they can be.

Mrs. Arcelus meets with elementary classes to remind them that she is always there if anyone would like someone to talk to. She works with the younger elementary grades on how to adjust to going to school and regulate their emotions. With the older elementary, she is focused on building self-esteem and conflict resolution as that is more relevant to their age group.

With 7th-10th grade, Mrs. Arcelus is focused on having students work on early career exploration and creating their Naviance accounts. Naviance is a digital platform where students can input their personal data and interests. This account is linked to College Board and will follow the students through the end of 12th grade and will eventually help them in applying to colleges.

The month of October has been a very busy time for Mrs. Arcelus with high school students as the 10th-12th graders all take the PSATs and SATs, and 12th graders are finalizing their applications for college. Many seniors this year are applying early decision or early action, which means that their applications are due in November.

On October 16th, the 10th and 11th grade took the PSATs and the 12th grade took the SATs. Students took the test at the school and in the Fishers Island Community Center. Seven classrooms were utilized with multiple proctors to meet all student accommodations. By taking the SAT in one’s own school with familiar teachers as proctors, students are relaxed and able to perform their best. By testing on a school day, rather than the weekend, it is ensured that every student takes the SAT since there is no cost to the student, and students do not have to choose between working or participating in a sporting or extracurricular event. Students at FIS take the PSAT twice (Fall of 10th and 11th grade) and SAT twice (Spring of 11th and 12th) before applying to colleges and career training programs. The tests were taken in the morning, and to keep the school quiet, other grades went on field trips to the Groton Public Library, the movies, and Buttonwood Farm.

On top of working with individual grades on testing, Mrs. Arcelus is also focused on organizing school programs such as Encountering Survivors with Mr. George and Ms. Hall, where high school students interview holocaust and children of holocaust survivors through a seires of meetings and interviews.

As a special education teacher, Mrs. Mesite is here to help anyone at any time. She is willing to let people work in her room if they need to work in a quiet place.

This year, Mrs. Mesite has been given the opportunity to teach a student a math class by herself. Mrs. Mesite mentioned that math was never her wheelhouse, but she said “ I didn’t feel confident in my math abilities, but I think I explain it in a way that it is accessible.”

Mrs. Mesite also goes to science with the sophomores to help students. This month she was able to witness the oceanography class going snorkeling and dissecting fish and other organisms.

Other than academics, Mrs. Mesite will be attending the school trip to Pennsylvania and is excited to see students and teachers create memories with each other.

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