On March 9, 2018 Port Richmond High School celebrated the opening of their STEM classroom. Principal Swinton, Mr. Spaventa and Mr. Rosch presented the STEM classroom to District 31 Superintendent, Anthony Lodico, PRHS administrators, teachers, students and borough representatives. Mr. Rosch and Mr. Spaventa showcased their robotics, 3D printing, woodworking and design areas. Another highlight of the classroom that was brought to the spectators’ attention was Spanish teacher,
Mr. Noto’s stained glass station.
Earlier this year, what began as a conversation between math teacher Michael Spaventa and Principal Swinton quickly turned into the creation of the first STEM initiative in a non-specialized high school. In an effort to expand upon a Makerspace that was already established, Mr. Spaventa asked science teacher, Zachary Rosch to collaborate with him on the STEM initiative. Mr. Rosch’s science expertise combined with Mr. Spaventa’s mathematics and computer science background provides Raiders with a total STEM experience.
Prior to the PRHS STEM ribbon cutting, there was only one school with a STEM program on Staten Island - Staten Island Technical HS - which screens its students to get accepted. STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, is an approach that combines the four disciplines for various applications. It is about exposing students to ideas and practices that allow them to think critically and to use those skills to enjoy disciplines which are often a cause for anxiety and apprehension.
Students are invited to visit the STEM MakerLAB during their lunch periods. “The STEM MakerLAB is open periods 4 through 8. We are an initiative and not a program. Students will not be screened to be part of STEM; it is open and accessible to all students.” Mr. Spaventa stated. “We hope that exposure to these ideas in practice will help our Raiders in college, career, and life readiness,” added Mr. Spaventa.
Mr Spaventa and Mr Rosch in their outside weather station
On April 10th, Tony Bennett and his wife, Susan Benedetto visited Mr. Scarano’s Jazz Band class. Both the students and staff were excited to perform for a musical legend. “The students were so thrilled to meet Mr. Bennett and perform for him. As an ETA (Exploring the Arts) partner school, I make sure our students know all about Tony Bennett and his musical contributions,” said Assistant Principal, Ms. Suzanne Woodman. The excitement was also shared by music instructor, Mr. Frank Scarano. “Doing anything in front of a legend is crazy, but to teach in front of someone who advocates for what you do as a profession is stress inducing! I felt the pressure going into the moment, but once Mr. Bennett walked in, he made it easy. It felt like any day teaching. Only difference was that I had a 19-time Grammy Winner sitting in the corner,” said Mr. Scarano. “Completely star struck; I was shaking when I found out; it’s absolutely insane. I listen to him pretty much every day. He is one of my idols,” expressed student, jazz guitarist, Peter Gillece. "For me, it has most definitely been the highlight of my time here at Port Richmond. What's cool about this is that many of our music students were fans of his before he even came to the school. To see the kids’ reactions as they performed for him today was absolutely special," stated Ms. Woodman. Mr. Scarano also expressed how special it was to host Mr. Bennett in his classroom, “This was a monumental moment for me. I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett with my grandfather. He is one of the icons that helped me find my passion. To be able to met him and have him observe me will be a moment of history that will be embedded in me forever. I feel humbled and blessed to have had this experience with our unbelievable students.”
Ms. Woodman procured a grant for Exploring the Arts, a program funded by Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Benedetto. The Exploring the Arts grant funds the purchase of new instruments and gives students the opportunity to train with professional artists to perfect their craft. Students and staff were excited to show Mr. Bennet and his wife how they have benefitted from their generosity.
Mr.DeFazio received the UFT Teacher of Excellence award on Friday, April 13 at UFT Headquarters in Manhattan. Several faculty members from Port Richmond Richmond High School attended the event to support Mr.DeFazio.
Mr. Defazio is dedicated to teaching his students how to become strong writers and critical thinkers. “My students are what inspires my passion for teaching. I really enjoy helping them grow and learn how to do new things. Writing is hard work. It takes a lot of practice. But anyone can do it. As Benjamin Franklin said, ‘Energy and persistence conquer all things,’” expressed Mr. Defazio.
Mr. DeFazio’s teaching style has been described as engaging and inspirational. “Mr. DeFazio is a dynamic teacher who creates an engaging and exciting atmosphere for his students, and encourages them to truly take pride in what it means to be academically self-motivated. He consistently incorporates games and spectacle into his classroom, as well as current topics and controversies that are relevant to our students in order to make learning not only rigourous, but fun! Students truly flourish in his classroom, and I’ve watched him encourage even the most struggling student to see their potential and exceed it,” stated Assistant Principal Ms. DiPalma. Inspiration, dedication, and passion are words that many people use to describe Mr. Defazio. “Mr.Defazio offers inspirational life and career advice for both in and out of school situations. He is dedicated to ensuring everyone’s success, and he puts all his time and energy into his passion,”stated senior, Patrick Perrigo. “Mr. Defazio has helped me become a better writer through constant practice, writing essay after essay. He always makes us revise, re-evaluate, and re-read our writing until we identify our mistakes. Not only that, he gives his students honest advice on their writing which helps them improve,” expressed junior Darien Gayle. Mr. DeFazio’s students recognize that he has enabled them to become effective writers.
On May 20th, the BBMA (Billboard Music Awards) showcased Kpop band, BTS’s new single, “Fake Love” off of their new album “Love Yourself : Tear.” The crowd was loud and supportive of the seven boys. They also took home the Top Social Artist award, an award voted by fans, for the second year in a row. Many other fandoms reported giving up and saying that ‘We can’t win against them, they’re (ARMY) are crazy.’ BTS had 94% of the vote and were expected to win. Namjoon gave the speech and cried out to ARMY and ARMY all over the world. Jimin gave a small speech to everyone back home. BTS is being recognized all over the world for their incredible vocals, dancing skills and rap skills.
They are also gaining many fans among celebrities. Wrestler and actor, John Cena is a confirmed fan of BTS and posts pictures of them on his Instagram. Shawn Mendes and The Chainsmokers are also among the mix of celebrities who enjoy listening to BTS. There are also many who just post pictures with BTS because it ‘is cool’ or ‘maybe their fans will support me.’ No matter how famous BTS gets, veteran ARMY’s are the ones who will always know the most about BTS. I’ve been an ARMY since 2016, since before they got super famous and I am very happy to have gone through their other phases before their rise to fame. I will forever support the seven boys who make me happy. They deserve everything. Thank you BTS.
(LEFT TO RIGHT ; Taehyung, Yoongi, Seokjin, Jungkook, Namjoon, Jimin and Hoseok)
Simon Spier is a 16 year old high school student who is in the closet. No one knows he’s gay. There is only one person who knows Simon is gay and his name is Blue. Simon found Blue on his High School’s tumblr page, “Creek Secrets.” In the movie, Blue put a post up on the blog and Simon emailed him under the name Jacques. Simon leaves his email open on one of the school computers and student, Martin Addison takes pictures of Simon’s emails. Martin threatens to release the emails unless Simon can get Abby Suso to date him. Over the course of the movie Simon tries hard to get Abby to date Martin. In Martin’s final attempt to get Abby to date him, he makes a fool of himself during the football game and gets rejected in front of hundreds of students.
The acting from Nick Robinson (Simon), Katherine Langford (Leah) , Alexandra Shipp (Abby), Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Nick) and Keiynan Lonsdale (Bram) is amazing. All of the actors interpreted their characters authentically. Nick Robinson portrayed Simon in a unique way and was as awkward as Simon is described.
My favorite detail from the movie is that whenever Simon met someone who he thought was Blue, the next email he received was narrated by that person. The movie is inspiring and may be able to give teenagers, or people in general, the confidence to come out to their family or friends. Even though the movie wasn’t exactly like the book, I still enjoyed every second of it. The movie offered a new look into Simon’s life and the frustrations he experienced when he was younger. This movie shows that you shouldn’t be afraid of who you are, no matter if you’re straight, bisexual, gay or pan, you should be loved the way you are.