Special Education

NYSSD Circle Newsletter

2011-12: Spring 2012 Issue | PDF version of this newsletter PDF icon (4.99MB)

Table of Contents

Superintendent's Message

Submitted by Superintendent Carriann Ray

The saying "April Showers bring May Flowers", has always been thrown around but who knew that we would be talking about April snow showers and school cancellations.  It just goes to show you never know what the weather will bring in Central New York!

NYSSD has been bustling with activities since the last submission of the CIRCLE and students are in full swing for the last stretch of the school year.  NYSSD staff has been very busy with training on a new reading and language program, called Fairview.  This program is designed specifically for students who are deaf or hearing impaired and it focuses on ASL, language and reading skills.  The whole school is excited to move forward with this program and we will be participating in a four day training this summer.  Students were very busy preparing and taking Regents exams and 3-8 testing is under way.  Students at NYSSD were very excited to cheer on Syracuse University this year as they made their annual trip to the Dome to watch the Orange.  Rome City Hall worked in collaboration with NYSSD to host a 4-H Club meeting at the school to encourage proper care of dogs within the city limits.  Children were able to work with animals and get tips on how to properly play and groom a pet.  This was a great experience for our students as they were able to interact with members of the community.  NYSSD students were once again celebrated at the Annual Star Luncheon through the Rome College Foundation.  Two students received scholarships towards college in the Fall.  NYSSD is preparing for graduation, family day and the sports banquet.  The end of the year is always very busy with testing and activities.  We do hope to see you at some of these activities that are coming up.  During these busy times we ask that you take some time to sit down with your child and remind them of the importance of testing, exams and working towards graduation requirements.  Thank you all for your continued support of NYSSD and Happy Spring!!,/

Carriann Ray

Educational Review

Submitted by Assistant Superintendent Dan Roberts

I would like to commend the hard work and effort of our students at NYSSD. On Friday, February 17, 2012, NYSSD recognized several students that had earned Honor Roll or Merit Roll for the 1st and/or 2nd marking period. Honor Roll students who earn this distinction have a cumulative average of 88.5 or higher in all academic course work. Merit Roll students who earn this distinction have a cumulative average of 85 – 88.4 in all academic coursework.

In addition to receiving awards, students were invited to an awards breakfast for their achievements. The breakfast was a huge success and a wonderful way to give back to the students who continue to strive for excellence.

These students are role models and should be recognized for their academic success. It is with great honor I present the following names with the accompanying award recognitions for the second marking period:

Honor Roll

Merit Roll

Jamel Edwards
Miranda Matthews
Justin Corron
Sarah Davis
Austin Howard
Fayra Santiago
Kyle Sova
Shanice White
Francesca Zegarelli

Girls Basketball 2011-2012

Submitted by Coach Gloria Broadbent

The Girls Basketball team had a winning season. The team ended with a 500 record. Almost every game was won or lost within five points.   It was an exciting season.

The members were Cynthia Randolph Porter, Fayra Santiago, Sarah Davis (captain), Francesca Zegarelli, Alexis Beckwith, Maya Nelson (captain), Abby Gray (captain), Emily Whaley, Kimberely Larkin, Rebecca Johnson, and Marissa Patnode. The girls wanted to thank their fans for all their support.

A special thanks goes to Susan Sharpsteen, Tom Nelson, Mark Kohlbrenner and Laurie Kohlbrenner for all their help this season.

When I Grow Up…

Submitted by Theresa Matt Little Listeners K/Gr.1 Class

Students in Theresa Matt’s Little Listeners class presented a few ideas they had for what they want to be when they grow up! They learned about many community helpers and other jobs in class and picked some individual favorites. Then, families helped their child select one occupation choice that they may choose to do in the future. Together they made a vehicle for the job, a model of where they will work or a picture. Students dressed up like their occupation and practiced good communication skills telling about what they want to do someday as they presented their projects to classmates.

Cookies with Santa

Submitted by Cathy Lee

On December 20th the Little Listeners classes enjoyed an afternoon with Santa. The student’s families joined them at school in the afternoon for some holiday fun. The festivities kicked off with a hand bell performance by the Pre-K class and then they sang the song "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer". The Kindergarten and 1st grade classes then sang "We Are Santa’s Elves". The families enjoyed cookies and punch together and all the students were excited when they heard sleigh bells. Santa made a grand entrance with his bag full of toys for the students. Each of the students enjoyed sitting on Santa’s lap and sharing their wish lists for Christmas.

Cover Story: NYSSD Science Fair Sponsored by the Rome Academy of Sciences

Submitted by Kelli Ramer

On February 29, 2012, NYSSD held a Science Fair. This fair was sponsored by the Rome Academy of Sciences. Judges from this organization came to our school to evaluate our students Science Fair Projects. There were two groups judged, the junior division, grades 5-6 and the senior division, grades 7-12. The winners for the junior division were Mathew Heinlein and Yousef Sawaqed. In the senior division, Brian Borden and Francesca Zegarelli came away with the top prize. Congratulations to all who participated.

Brian Borden

"Conductivity Tester of Liquids"

Alexis Beckwith

"How do icicles grow?"

Miranda Matthews

"Best way to save an egg!"

Francesca Zegarelli

"Basketball Bounce"

Abigail Anzalone


Ka Dil

"Foods that contain starch"

Mathew Heinlein

"Create an electric lemon"

Alen Kendic

"Making CO2"

Michael Laughing

"Chemical and Physical Reactions"

Yousef Sawaqed

"Do we exhale Carbon Dioxide"

Thomas Cowin


Roseanna Wright

"Air Pressure"

Arif Cajic, Darlene Martin and Ella Kovaleva

"Static electricity and lightening"


Submitted by Carolyn Cronauer

On March 31st, 2012, three NYSSD 8th graders participated in a math competition in Rochester, New York. Alexis Beckwith, Miranda Matthews, and Francesca Zegarelli competed against over 100 deaf and hard-of-hearing middle school students from twenty-seven schools across the United States. The competition, which was held at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology, included individual and team rounds that required the students to solve difficult math problems from the nationally recognized MathCounts program.

To prepare for the competition, the group fine-tuned their math skills with daily lunch time practices and two evening study sessions at Barnes and Noble. Their hard work paid off. As a team, NYSSD finished in 16th place overall. Individually, Francesca, Miranda, and Alexis finished in 48th, 53rd, and 87th place, respectively. The weekend event also included a campus tour, and a trip to an arcade on Saturday night. Although all three students enjoyed the challenge of solving high level math problems, their favorite part of the trip was meeting so many other deaf and hard-of-hearing kids from other parts of the country.

The weekend was a great learning experience for all. The girls did a fantastic job. Thanks for being such wonderful representatives of NYSSD!

100th Day of School Celebration

Submitted by Mrs. Matt’s Kindergarten/ Grade 1 Little Listeners Class

This February, students prepared for their 100th day of the school year! All year, students have been keeping tally of the number of days they’ve attended school. As the big day approached they practiced counting by 1’s, and 10’s to 100; they read 100 sight words; they brought in collections of 100 things and made 100 hundred day hats! Of course they read lots of stories about the 100th Day of School and they even made a special 100th Day cake! Students illustrated foods they thought they could eat 100 of and played many counting games. On the big day, they celebrated with balloons, cake and counting games and songs. In addition, they reviewed many of the things they’ve learned or improved at in the first 100 days of the school year! They are proud and already looking forward to our 200th day!

Technology 8

Submitted by Shari Santiago

This semester, our three 8th grade students are taking Technology 8 at Strough Middle School. Strough is part of the Rome School District. No time was lost in learning about sheet metal fabrication. The final product was a cool toolbox that can be used for far more than tools. Each student was required to follow a layout drawing and use the appropriate tools and machines to layout, cut, bend, spot weld and paint their toolboxes. Miranda, Alexis and Francesca each used their creativity during the painting process.

The girls are finishing up a unit on the Theory of Electricity. After Spring Break they will begin working on teams to construct catapults. The ultimate goal of this unit is to build a catapult, using very specific guidelines, which will "chuck" a marshmallow further than any other catapult.


Submitted by Pat Miller

Yes, they are for real.

You can take a teacher out of the school but you can’t take the school out of the teacher! This past weekend, Kelli Ramer, science teacher, and Pat Miller, Librarian, went to the Philadelphia Flower Show. Almost every display and vendor was examined for possible use with students. Their jaws dropped at the sight of giant, dark green emu eggs. Since they returned, students and staff alike have been also dropping their jaws in amazement.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss lessons, Internet search lessons, life lessons, farming lessons, art lessons…all are being derived from just a couple of fascinating green eggs. With the need to pass all the NYS assessments it is always great to find something that is awe-inspiring as well as educational.

Lights, Camera, INSPIRE!

Submitted by Nikki Ann Walters

Wonderful, positive, uplifting thoughts come to mind when I think about Movie Night with our special guest Matt Hamill presenting his movie "The Hammer" at NYSSD on April 18, 2012.

A few weeks had passed since movie night had been announced and you could feel the excitement growing in the dining rooms as students and staff were chatting about the arrival of Matt Hamill! Our students were very prepared to welcome Matt to our school. I saw wrestling t-shirts, cool hats, copies of Matt Hamill’s movie to be signed, and a few giggling girls! Well, half way through my delicious baked Ziti, I looked up and saw Matt Hamill standing in our very own dining room! Screams filled the air, and I had a flashback of the old tapes they play on TV showing the Beatles in concert!

It was very exciting to say the least! Matt and his beautiful daughter Tierra sat in our dining room, enjoyed a baked Ziti dinner, and chatted with our students and staff.

Just as planned, Matt, our students, staff, and families went over to the gymnasium where you could smell the wonderful aroma of fresh popcorn. Robin Lewis stood at the popcorn machine smiling ear to ear waiting for the festivities to begin! There were many rows of chairs waiting, and some mats down in front for anyone who wanted to sit right in front of the big screen. Marty Gorski set up a fantastic assortment of goodies to offer to our families, including my favorite, nachos! As I approached the table, Austin Howard was drizzling some of that delicious cheese over a fresh plate of crispy chips, and Erika Furbeck was serving beverages and Kit Kat bars! Wow, does it get any better than this?! The Paparazzi were flashing their bulbs in every direction, especially Tom Nelson! Tom is very slick, I don’t think he missed a single photo opportunity, he was everywhere!

The line to see Matt was long, yet students, families and staff continued to fill the gym. There were pictures, autographs, and good food everywhere. Everyone was very excited. I even saw that more chairs were needed to accommodate all the visitors!

After everyone was able to get an autograph, meet Matt and snap some photos, Matt went on stage to greet us, explain a little about his movie, and offered some encouraging words, asking us to always "reach for our dreams". Everyone listened carefully to every word he said, and the crowd thanked him with roaring applause.

The lights dimmed and the movie started, everyone settled in with snacks in hand, some in chairs, some on the mats, some wearing their favorite pajamas, holding their favorite pillows, and some people were sitting in the bleachers. Some fans were watching the movie for the first time, while others have seen it two or more times before; nonetheless, attention was always on the big screen.

In my experience, the most profound moment during the movie was when Matt was up against his biggest rival for the wrestling championship; the movie goes silent, but you can see that the crowd watching the event was cheering "Hammer! Hammer! Hammer!", yet not a sound on the movie could be heard. Our students began whispering the very words…."Hammer! Hammer! Hammer!" Everyone was rooting for him in the movie, and in our gymnasium. Matt Hamill is a true hero to us all.

The movie came to a close and the lights came on. Everyone was chatting about the movie, what their favorite parts were, and how they felt it was a very accurate reflection of life as a deaf person in a hearing world.

Many thanks and hugs were given, and everyone parted ways. I am sure that our students slept well that night while dreaming of what their future can be.

It was a very inspiring night for all, deaf or hearing, young or not so young. Thank you Matt Hamill for joining us, for your generous donation to the school, for sharing your movie, and your dreams!

Black History Presentation

Submitted by Jean Jackson

In celebration of Black History Month, the students of Ms. Heather Northey and Mrs. Jean Jackson honored Black Americans in a variety of ways. Students Arif Cajic, Ella Kovaleva, Darlene Martin, Asia Bohlen, Evan Hawkins, Nathaniel Hoose, Harland Oldick, Hunter Ocmand, and Cody Sharpsteen read reports, acted in skits, and sang, representing famous moments and individuals in American history. NYSSD students, staff, and friends learned a great deal from presentations on slavery, Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad, Frederick Douglas, Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King, and President Barack Obama. High school senior Austin Howard played the clarinet for the songs "All Night, All Day" and "My Lord, What A Morning" while the students from the two classes sang and signed the songs. Austin also sang a beautiful rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" with one of our honored guests, Mr. McKinley Collins. Following the skit of The Underground Railroad, students sang "Follow the Drinking Gourd". Our esteemed Music instructor, Vicky Stockton-Allen, directed all of the songs adding that special touch as always.

Mr. and Mrs. McKinley Collins of Rome were invited to our presentation by Mrs. Stockton-Allen. Mrs. Collins spoke about the Underground Railroad, the slaves who escaped by boat, and the part that Rome, New York, played in helping slaves on their journey to freedom. Mr. Collins, whose grandfather was a slave, sang, played the harmonica, and told wonderful stories. It was great having them be part of our presentation!

All of the students did a fantastic job for this very special Black History Celebration. Together with our guests, they enjoyed delicious cake and punch provided by our wonderful kitchen staff as a reward for their hard work. Congratulations to all!

Rome Art & Community Center Field Trip

Submitted by Shanice White & Fayra Santiago

On Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012, the high school art classes walked to the Rome Art and Community Center. Vicky told us that at one time, the people who owned the house where the center is, wanted to donate the building to NYSSD.

We saw three exhibits. One artist painted on plastic. Another room had paintings done with watercolor paints. The artwork in the third room used a variety of wood, metal, plastics, paper and recycled items.

It was interesting. There were good paintings. The artwork was very beautiful. It looked very difficult. You could tell that the artists were very talented. We hope that we will be able to visit another art museum.

Creative and Performing Arts

Submitted by Vicky Stockton Allen

Photo caption: Students warm-up for an evening handbell presentation. Members of Delta Kappa Gamma, an regional educators’ organization, enjoyed a tour of NYSSD topped off with a delicious dinner and fine musical entertainment.

Photo caption: NYSSD students were guests at the International Day of Peace celebration on the Village Green in nearby Holland Patent.  The Handbell Choir performed at the Peace Pole ~ a monument bearing the inscription "Peace on Earth" in several languages and alphabets including fingerspelling!

Photo caption: In recognition of  Deaf Awareness Week, the NYSSD Handbell Choir and Band performed at the Defense Financial and Accounting Services (DFAS) unit at Griffiss Business Park in Rome.  Following their performance, students shared their names, hometowns, and musical interests with the audience.  Folks are always amazed at the great distances many students travel weekly to NYSSD weekly and the wide area of New York State our school serves!

Photo caption: Yousef Sawaqed plays a cool tune on his clarinet.  75% of all NYSSD Middle and High School students choose to participate in one or more music electives including instrument lessons, band, handbell choir, and music theory class.

2012 Academic Bowl

Submitted by Gloria Broadbent

NYSSD participated in the 2012 Academic Bowl at Gallaudet University. The competition was held on April 12th -17th. The intention of the Academic Bowl is to promote academic competition among students. In addition to academics, students are to show sportsmanship. This is an opportunity for deaf and hard-of-hearing students to show what they know. For the past 16 years Academic Bowl has continued to challenge students academically. This year seventy-nine teams participated in this event from all over the United States. There was even a team from Canada.

The competition consisted of three rounds. In each round students had a chance to answer questions on general knowledge in the areas of math, science, English, history, deaf culture, and pop culture.

Our team was comprised of Sarah Davis, Jamel Edwards, Bataan Hoang, and Austin Howard with team coaches Gloria Broadbent and Stephanie Baran. Everyone worked together over the course of several months to get ready for the event. The students rode the Amtrak to Union Station, Washington D.C. The team then took the bus from Union Station to Gallaudet. The first evening was spent having dinner, participating in an icebreaker, and getting settled into the hotel.

The next two days consisted of nine matches. The top 4 teams of each pool would move on to Nationals. On Sunday and Monday they had nationals. They reserved Monday for the playoff matches. In the afternoon, students had playoffs for the consolation round and then finals were held in the evening.

There were many activities planned for the students. The students had the opportunity to go on an evening tour of the Washington, D.C. area. During their free time students watched other matches, visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and attended a college fair. The finale of the Academic Bowl was a dance. The students had opportunities to make friends. The students and coaches returned home on Tuesday via Amtrak safe, tired, and ready to start planning for next year’s competition.

Ideas to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight

Submitted by Dawn Visalli

You’ve probably read about it in newspapers and seen it on the news: in the United States, the number of obese children and teens has continued to rise over the past two decades. You may wonder: Why are doctors and scientists troubled by this trend? As parents or other concerned adults, you may also ask: What steps can we take to help prevent obesity in our children? Obesity may lead to the following health problems:

  • Heart disease, caused by: high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnea

To help your child maintain a healthy weight, balance the calories your child consumes from foods and beverages, with the calories your child uses through physical activity and normal growth.

One part of balancing calories is to eat foods that provide adequate nutrition and an appropriate number of calories. You can help children learn to be aware of what they eat by developing healthy eating habits, looking for ways to make favorite dishes healthier, and reducing calorie-rich temptations.

There’s no great secret to healthy eating. To help your children and family develop healthy eating habits:

  • Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
  • Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
  • Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
  • Serve reasonably-sized portions.
  • Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
  • Remember that small changes every day can lead to a recipe for success!

Information taken from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/children/ external link icon

Students Attend BOCES

Submitted by Michelle Simmons

This year we have two students going to BOCES in the afternoon.  Todd Delamater is taking the Auto Tech class and Justin Corron is in the Carpentry class.  Both of the boys have made the honor roll there for both the 1st and 2nd marking period.  They have also made some new friends with the other students.  Keep up the good work boys.

NYSSD Swim Team

Submitted by Michelle Simmons

This year we have started a new program with our students. We have teamed up with the Oneida YMCA swim team to have mini meets here with our students. Students are racing freestyle and backstroke across the pool or lengthwise depending on their level. The students and staff are having fun cheering the swimmers on. At the end of the meet they have a snack with the other team while they wait for their ribbons.

Our NYSSD swimmers finished up their season with a Championship at the YMCA in Oneida. Our students enjoyed the competition and cheering each other on. Most of the students improved their times each month and got their best time at the Championship. After the races were finished they received their ribbons and socialized with the other team over some cookies and juice. On the way back to the dorm they stopped at McDonalds for a dinner out. We are looking forward to doing the program again. next year.

NYSSD participants have been:

Abby Anzalone
Isaiah Corron
Evan Hawkins
Michael Laughing
Harland Oldick
Connor Schoener
Roseanna Wright
Asia Bohlen
Justin Corron
Katie Hence
Darlene Martin
Marquis Reeves
Cody Sharpsteen
Anvita Corron
Thomas Cowin
Nathaniel Hoose
Hunter Ocmand
Yousef Sawaqed
Anastasia Steele

NYSSD employees’ families also joined our students including:

Jacob Bruno
Thomas Falcone
Alona Szyper
Morgan Bruno
Bailey Simmons
Sadie Falcone
Lacey Simmons

Making Pizza in the Dormitory

Submitted by Melinda Magliocca

Photo caption: Students at NYSSD making pizza in the dormitory: Cynthia Randolph-Porter, Alexis Beckwith, and Francesca Zegarelli.

The New York State School for the Deaf
401 Turin Street
Rome, NY 13440
315-337-8400 (V)
315-337-8489 (TTY)
nyssd@mail.nysed.gov (email)

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Last Updated: June 28, 2012-->