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North Bellmore Teams Dominate in Stock Market Game

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The North Bellmore School District boasted the top three teams from Long Island in the 2021 Stock Market Game, sponsored by the SIFMA Foundation. Students participated from September through April in the simulation in which they invest fictitious money in real stocks.

Fifth and sixth graders in the ALPHA gifted and talented program, as well as sixth graders from Martin Avenue Elementary School, competed in this year’s game. North Bellmore had 16 of the 158 teams, including the first-, second- and third-place finishers. Teams were ranked based on their percentage of return above or below the growth of the S&P 500. Each team started out with $100,000.

Gayle Angert, sixth grade teacher at Martin Avenue and the district’s ALPHA teacher, said North Bellmore students have been participating in the Stock Market Game for the past seven years as an introduction to financial management. Since this year’s ALPHA program is held virtually after school, students from those teams met via videoconference.

The first-place team, from the ALPHA program, consisted of fifth graders Lily Boehm, Sofia Galarza, Emma Jaskowiak and Dahlia Petroro from Saw Mill Road Elementary School and Scarlett Wilson from Park Avenue Elementary School. They finished with a total of $176,455 and a 55% rate of return above the S&P 500 growth.

Ms. Angert noted how close the top two teams were, with only $800 separating them. The second-place team, also from the ALPHA program, consisted of sixth graders Kamil Chaudhary and Brian Niedfeld from John G. Dinkelmeyer Elementary School and Elias Katz and Erik O’Sullivan from Martin Avenue. Their rate of return above the S&P 500 was also close behind, at 54%.

Third place went to a team of sixth graders from Martin Avenue – Ryan Ascher, Elias Katz, Matteo LaSpina and Nicholas Pascalli. They finished with $153,404 and a 29% rate of return above the S&P 500.

Among the 2,022 teams from all of New York State who competed, the three teams ranked 17th , 18th and 27th, respectively.

“Our savvy traders swept the top three sports out of more than 150 middle school teams,” Ms. Angert said. “Every team had different strategies. We are so proud of all of the participants.”

From the first-place team, Lily, Sofia, Emma, Dahlia and Scarlett said the experience was a lot of fun and they learned about the importance of teamwork. They had to come together to make important decisions including what stocks to buy, how much to buy and how to spend their money wisely. The group chats were often spent analyzing information to see how their investments were going.

Many of the teams made their money from Game Stop. Erik noted that his team bought 1,000 shares at $11, and they would have actually made even more if they sold their stock later, which could have put them over the top. One of the rules of the Stock Market Game is that teams could invest no more than one-third of their money in a single stock, so they had to diversify.

“Every day we would check to see how the stocks were doing,” Erik said. “It was exciting.”

The young investors learned how to identify market trends and how current events affect the financial world. They also explored careers in the financial industry and how the stock market can work for them as adults for investment opportunities.

“It was a really good learning experience,” Matteo said. “It helped me with teamwork because you had to communicate with your team to decide what is a good stock and what is not a good stock.”

iPads Expand Learning Opportunities at Martin Avenue

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More information is now at the fingertips of second graders at Martin Avenue Elementary School who recently took part in a pilot program for the North Bellmore School District’s iPad expansion.

Jason Fischetti, executive director of technology, data and information services, said that district is expanding its 1:1 initiative to provide all second graders with iPads this spring. Students in grades 3-6 already have their own devices, and next year kindergarten and first graders will receive iPads. The second grade pilot at Martin Avenue allowed the district to gather information, such as how well students adapted to the devices, what digital resources best supported instruction and the importance of headphones when using certain programs.

“It’s technology that creates learning opportunities that you wouldn’t be able to have any other way,” Mr. Fischetti said, adding that second graders used set from technology department for the pilot and will soon receive their own brand new devices. So will their peers at North Bellmore’s other elementary schools.

Teachers Antonietta Fischetti and Tiffany Joosten said they quickly found many uses for the iPads. In Ms. Joosten’s class, students have been working on nonfiction reports on different states, so they used iPads to look up information such as historical facts and notable people. They also access digital books through Epic and Raz-Kids, and work on their keyboarding skills with Typing Agent.

Ms. Fischetti’s second graders are tech buddies with sixth graders in Rachel Graber’s class, connecting to learn about different apps on the iPads. Most recently, sixth graders taught their second grade buddies how to use Book Creator, showing them different features such as changing the background, importing photos and graphics and adding text.

Each sixth grader is paired with a second grader, and they meet in Zoom breakout rooms, which, Ms. Graber explained, is “how to be buddies in this COVID world.” In addition to the digital instruction, the buddies also like to read together.

The second graders are excited to be paired up with the students they look up toas roles models. The sixth graders love to pass down their knowledge, like Mattingly Bendig, who said she enjoys showing her buddy how to use the different programs she has become quite familiar with over the last few years.

“It’s fun because we get to teach them how do different stuff,” she said. “We get to bond with them in the breakout rooms.”

Ms. Fischetti said that in addition to having the support from their tech buddies, her second graders are also given some time to explore apps independently, so they can become more familiar with the capabilities of their devices.

Two Administrators to Take on New Roles

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Two administrators in the North Bellmore School District will be taking on new positions for the 2021-2022 school year. Martin Avenue Elementary School Principal Leyna Malone will move to the district office as the executive director of pupil personnel services and special education. Replacing Ms. Malone as principal of Martin Avenue will be James O’Brien, the current assistant principal of Saw Mill Road School.

Ms. Malone came to the district in 2015 as Saw Mill Road’s assistant principal before moving on to Martin Avenue a year later. Prior to that, she was a teacher in New York City.

When she assumes her new position on July 1, she won’t be moving very far as the district’s central office is located at Martin Avenue. In her new position, she will oversee the special education program as well as the district’s guidance counselor, nurses, psychologists and social workers.

With several special education classes housed at Martin Avenue, Ms. Malone has gained extensive knowledge of the program. She was part of a team that opened new 8-1-2 classes at the school (eight students, one teacher and two aides). Her goal is to continue to grow the special education program, ensure that all students have access to the same learning opportunity and maintain North Bellmore’s strong reputation as an inclusive school district.

“We deliver an incredible special education program here in North Bellmore,” she said “I’m really looking forward to having an impact on education throughout the district.”

In her five years as principal of Martin Avenue, Ms. Malone said she supported teachers with the implementation of Reader’s Workshop and Writer’s Workshop, and fostered a sense of community and pride in “our little school with a big heart.”

Mr. O’Brien returns to the school where he attended kindergarten. He said he looks to continue the legacy of Ms. Malone and her predecessors in building a strong school community and fostering a nurturing environment for students.

“I’m definitely excited to work with the staff, the parents and especially the students,” he said. “I look forward to building relationships with the entire Martin Avenue School community.”

Mr. O’Brien is in his 20th year in the district. He was hired in 2001 – the same year that Martin Avenue reopened – as a sixth grade teacher at Saw Mill Road after student teaching there. In January 2019, he became Saw Mill’s assistant principal. Mr. O’Brien said that in that role, he was able to see the school community from a more global view and better understand the synergy that is created to provide students with great learning experiences.

After two decades, he will leave with many treasured memories and a fondness for the Saw Mill Road community, but is looking forward to the new challenge ahead at Martin Avenue. He wants to bring his knowledge as a classroom teacher and his ability to forge relationships to “enrich the vibrant community that is Martin Avenue School.”