Vallie Announced As Award Of Excellence Recipient

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Jun 102020

The Award of Excellence this year is presented to Paula Vallie.  Paula has worked in Amity Regional High School’s College and Career Center for the last seven years.  Before coming to Amity Regional High School she worked for 9 years at Amity Middle School in Orange and at Turkey Hill School in Orange prior to that.

In the words of her colleagues, Paula Vallie is a bright star within the Amity Regional High School Counseling Department.  As the Career Center Coordinator Paula’s ability to find jobs, community service projects, and mentors for our students has been truly a gift to our community.  Paula has built a strong community outreach, often researching SSLP sites or stopping in to visit on her way home from work or on the weekends.

When Amity went to virtual learning Paula came up with the idea of creating a document with links to virtual college tours for the 50 colleges that Amity students most frequently apply to, which could be shared with students and parents.  Paula always puts students first and will never hesitate to go above and beyond, no matter the time of day or day of the week, if one of our students needs help with something.   

Paula greets everyone who enters the office with a smile, along with her innate kindness and respect.  She is a student-focused educator, patiently working to answer students’ questions and assisting them in creating solutions.  Whenever there is a task that needs extra hands Paula is always the first to volunteer. 

She has a team approach to work, and her presence is felt.  She is unusually kind to all.  Described as a true friend, a steadfast employee, and a loyal colleague, her work ethic and energy are rare; and the students and community of Amity are blessed to have her.

Amity District 5 Teacher Of The Year

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Jun 102020

This year’s Teacher of the Year has been with Amity schools since 2006. Described by her colleagues as “lighthearted and approachable, she will always make the time for you and never makes you feel like you are
unintelligent with respect to technology,” the Amity Teacher of the Year from Amity Middle School in Orange is Kristen Yaekel.

Kristen started her work at Amity as an English teacher and now serves as the school’s library media specialist. Kristen’s colleagues note that she is always available to support faculty and staff. She is amazing at technology, and whether the issue is small or major she responds quickly. They know that can always rely on Kristen. Whether it is to spark some enthusiasm with the students, support school activities, organize a field trip, or clean up at the end of a day, Kristen is always first to help.

As a teacher, Kristen is enthusiastic and always willing to try new things. She was one of the first teachers to Skype with the outside world, so her students get a firsthand account of how life is in other places, and she continues to help other teachers connect their students to the world around us.

As a teacher Kristen is amazing, and students enjoy her instruction. As the building’s library media specialist
she has brought a new ambiance, joy, and rich learning experience to the library area. She was nominated by
her peers not only because of her expertise in technology and instruction, but also for her patience, persistence,
and kind helpful spirit.

She has been a tremendous support with distance learning, not only to the staff but also to the students. As noted by a teacher at Amity Middle School in Orange, “When our learning and global community was in chaos her calm comforting spirit, her understanding of my goals, and her expertise was how I got through to the other side.” Kristen is going to be an exemplary representative as Amity’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.

Amity Seniors WILL Get Their Graduation Ceremony

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Jun 092020

Sadly, we won’t see this moment in 2020, but the seniors will get their graduation ceremony.

The year 2020 is one of uncertainty and disappointment, especially for anyone with a loved one in the hospital or nursing home, business owners, Athletes of all ages, and High School Seniors.

Across the state, high school administrators have been struggling for months to find a way of honoring their graduates in a meaningful way so this once in a lifetime event will leave them with happy lasting memories.

Here’s what Amity Principal Anna Mahon, Amity Superintendent  Dr. Jennifer Byars and the rest of the administrators have planned:

Dear Amity Regional High School Community,

Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 10, is our official date of graduation for the 2019-2020 school year. Due to the circumstances, the commencement exercises will begin this evening with a virtual ceremony, continue tomorrow with the majority of the senior class receiving their diplomas, continue to a radio recap of graduation on WPLR, 99.1 FM starting at 5:00 p.m. and conclude on July 7 with the final group of students receiving their diplomas.

The virtual portion of the ceremony will include the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Junior Class President Isabella Pfannenbecker, addresses from Mrs. Anna Mahon, Principal of ARHS, Dr. Jennifer Byars, Superintendent of School for Amity Regional School District #5, Mr. John Belfonti, Chairperson of the Board of Education, Jayson Hutchinson, Senior Class President, Martin Gnidula, chosen to address the class for outstanding extra-curricular achievement, Sophia Wang, chosen to address the class for outstanding academic achievement and Mrs. Jill LaPlante, Director of Counseling Services, to present the Amity Award of Excellence.

The ceremony can be found below and the livestream for tomorrow’s event also will be available. We encourage the entire community to take the time to watch the ceremony and begin the commencement exercises of 2020 to honor this outstanding senior class.

Goodwin Hosts the 64th Amity Block A Awards

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Jun 082020

It is with great pride and a sense of sadness that I present to you this year’s winners of the 64th Annual Amity Block A Awards.

This is Amity’s big night to honor its most amazing athletes, a night that some of the boys and girls have looked forward to for four years. But due to the COVID-19 restrictions the ceremony, for which I have been the photographer for the past 8 years or so, was canceled.

But a pandemic wouldn’t stop Amity Athletic Director Ernie Goodwin from honoring the athletes and involving all of their coaches for the Virtual 64th annual Block A Awards (without the dinner)

It wasn’t as long as usual, and the athletes weren’t able to accept their awards in front of their peers and parents, but hopefully hearing what their coaches had to say about them and why they were chosen as the team MVP, a specialized scholarship recipient, scholar-athlete or the coveted player of the year, gave each one some comfort, especially the seniors for which this has been a really trying year.

That said, here are the 2019-2020 Block A Award-Winning Athletes:

Most Valuable Players

Boys Basketball – Joe DiGello

Girls Basketball –  Jillian Martin

Cheerleading – Isabel Cavanagh

Boys Cross Country – John Dill

Girls Cross Country – Ariana Garay

Dance Team –  Sydney Reiner

Field Hockey – Tess Csejka

Football – Joe DiGello

Boys Ice Hockey – Justin Miller

Girls Ice Hockey – Tess Csejka

Boys Indoor Track – Ariel Gordon

Girls Indoor Track – Audrey Marin

Boys Ski Racing – James Fortin

Girls Ski Racing – Natalie Prinz

Boys Soccer – Ali Bobi

Girls Soccer –  Jenna Ciola

Boys Swimming – Tyler Roy

Girls Swimming – Katie O’Connor

Girls Volleyball – Zoey DiZenzo

Wrestling – Simon Flaherty


Unified Sports

Unified Sportsmanship Award – Andrew Serrano


Coach’s Association Awards

Coach of the Year Award – Todd Patterson (Wrestling — Amity’s best year)

Assistant Coach of the Year Award – Mike Brady (Boys Basketball)

Coaches Association Outstanding Service Award – Beth Young (Booster Club)


Special Awards and Scholarships

Steven J Zeider Award (swimming) – Casey Donovan

James Dunleavy Award (hockey) – Caleb Marcin

Thomas G Laugeni Award – Tyler Roy

Thomas G Laugeni Award – Alexandra Plaza

Mark E Greco Award – (hockey) Sai Neelam

Jeremy Saxe Award – Zach Young

Athletic Director’s Award – Ethan Kaempffer

Albert J. Seymour Award – Will Rotko

Albert J. Seymour Award – Dana Della-Giustina



Scholar-Athlete – Zach Young

Scholar-Athlete – Ella Marin


Paul Mengold Award

Paul Mengold Award – Haley Cable



Versatility Award – Simon Flaherty

Versatility Award – Ana Carney


Sportsmanship Award – Nico Semonella

Sportsmanship Award – Payton Papa


And Finally Top Honors Go To

The 2020 Athletes of The Year

Athlete of the Year – Joe DiGello

Athlete of the Year – Tess Csejka


See the entire Block A Award Presentation below:


Orange Foundation Announces Scholarship Awards

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Jun 082020

Last week the Orange Foundation made its selections for 2020 scholarships.

Since it’s inception, the Orange Foundation has now granted $494,686 in scholarships. The following students are this year’s recipients.

Elizabeth Cohen, who is graduating from Amity Senior High School, received a total of $2,000 from the following funds: the William Knight Fund, the Susan Lewin Fund, and the Downey Fund.

Sophia Cuozzo, currently at the University of Mississippi, and who previously graduated from Amity Senior High School, received a total of $1,400 from the following funds: the Downey Fund, the Vaughn Family Fund, the Elizabeth C. and John W. Povilaitis Fund, and the Vincent Timmins Fund.

Veronica Pisano, currently at the University of New Hampshire, and who previously graduated from Amity Senior High School, received a total of $2,000 from the following funds: the Charles L. Flynn Fund, and the Povilaitis Fund.

Mason Shepard, who is graduating from Amity Senior High School, received a total of $1,500 from the following funds: the Thomas Birmingham Jr.  Fund, the Harry Haynes Fund, and the Vaughn Fund.

Spencer Shepard, who is currently attending Lehigh University, and who previously graduated from Amity High School, received a total of $1,500 from the Charles L. Flynn Fund.

Jun 012020

Following is a message from Orange Native, Amity Grad, Connor Deane:

Each year, Broadway Method Academy has the privilege of hosting the Stephen Sondheim Awards at the Shubert Theatre of New Haven. The award program recognizes excellence in high school musical theater across Connecticut and Rhode Island. It’s one of our most treasured events of the year.
Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, the gala will not happen in person this year. Likewise, so many talented young students did not get a chance to perform their high school musical. Instead, BMA is proud to present a virtual celebration with the participating schools presented by the Shubert Theatre of New Haven, the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation, and the Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation.
Monday, June 1, 2020
7 p.m. 
With special appearances from Christy Altomare (Anastasia, Carrie, Mamma Mia!), Carolee Carmello (Hello Dolly!, The Addams Family, Parade), Samantha Pauly (BMA’s Evita, Six on Broadway) and more, the evening will feature a virtual opening number performed by students of all the participating schools, as well as a Best Actor and Best Actress medley!
Help us show support for these students by tuning in!
(Views can tune in on our Facebook & Youtube channels, or on our website!)

Another Program Provided By The Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation

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May 282020

Amity residents are no doubt familiar with Judy Primavera and her husband Fred Hulley and their generous non-stop contribution to the arts through the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation [founded in memory of their late daughter Jamie].

The tri-towns are not the only area to benefit from educational grants from the JHAF. It will be sponsoring the Sondheim Awards (which Orange native Connor Deane began after the CT High School Musical Awards folded).

In December, The JHAF helped teacher Jessica Sharpe from Prendergast School in Ansonia bring Whole-Body Math to perform at her school.

The workshop was entitled Matica Arts Whole-Body Math. It was for grades k-1 to learn math skills through body movement and using objects.
Here are photos for a look back to happier times with the help of Jamie A Hulley Arts Foundation.

Gather Up The Kids For Some FUN Recycling Lessons (link fixed)

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May 282020

This has been a very frustrating few months for families, and children especially, having to do their homework outside of a classroom setting. Not being able to hang out with their friends at the movies, or Urban Air, etc.

One thing that kids may not want to hear right now is, “Come here and learn about recycling.”

Well, guess what, there’s a site that was brought to my attention that offers children an interactive experience with a maze, word search, and drawing activities with which they can show their recycling expertise, and maybe even learn a few new things.


So click HERE and call the kids in to have a little bit of educational interactive computer fun. Who knows, maybe mom and dad will learn something new too.


The Show Must Go On: Sondheim Awards Are On Monday

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May 272020

Broadway Method Academy (Connor Deane & Scott Handley) is hosting the 3rd annual Sondheim Awards on Monday, June 1.

This year, It will be a virtual celebration of the talents of high school thespians … since so many of the shows were canceled due to COVID-19, there will be no “best of” awards given out but it will be a night of celebration none-the-less.

The Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation is one of the sponsors of the event and the Jamie Hulley Musical Theater Scholarships also will be announced that night.

Students are nominated by their high school directors for their talent and their dedication to the overall quality of the production by supporting the director and her/his fellow cast & crew members at all times. The nominations are open to all student performers from ensemble to lead roles.

Just go to the Broadway Method Academy Facebook page at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 1

May 212020

The Anti-Defamation League is celebrating the efforts that schools across the country are making to promote diversity, inclusion, and allyship through a nationwide viral campaign #noplaceforhate.

On Thursday, May 21st, Amity Regional School District No. 5 will be participating in this campaign by creating a post featuring one thing that has been accomplished in this area.

Amity is committed to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. At this uncertain time, it is even more important to celebrate these efforts.

Principal Anna Mahon would be happy to talk with you about the work the school has been engaged in with creating a positive and inclusive school culture.

Please contact Michelle Pincince mpincince@adl.org, ADL CT Director of Education, for
more information about No Place for Hate.