March 2018

“If you don’t make mistakes you aren’t really trying.”
Coleman Hawkins

From the desk of Mr. McLaughlin: 

As the unpredictable weather month of March comes to a close, we continue to celebrate the great work and accomplishments of our teachers and students. We ended the month with two Honor society induction ceremonies: the Foreign Language Honor Society and Social Studies Scholars Induction. I congratulate the students and faculty of both departments.

As a result of the unprecedented weather this month, we adjusted our schedule for the remainder of the school year. An email was sent to every SFP family on Friday, March 23rd, and is posted below as a reminder:

April 20, 2018 - Originally scheduled as a Professional Day, this day will now be a regular school day. The day will be run as "Day 3."
 June 5, 2018 - Transitional Regents Examination for students enrolled in Global History II, Global History II Honors, and AP World History II. No regular classes will be held on this day. Teachers, however, may schedule review classes at their discretion.
 June 7, 2018 - Originally scheduled as the Earth Science Lab Practical Day, this day will now serve as the last day of classes for all students. This day will be run as "Day 4."
 June 11, 2018 - This day will be our year-end faculty and staff meeting.  We will also administer the Lab Practical to all students currently enrolled in Earth Science and Earth Science Honors. The schedule for that day will be announced at a later date.

Once again, we marched in the St. Patrick’s Day parade down 5th Avenue. Our march is always dedicated to the courageous Irish Franciscan Brothers who founded our great school in Brooklyn way back in 1858.

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As we begin this well-deserved vacation and time filled with rest and renewal, we enter the Easter season, the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. Easter Sunday marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, the last day of the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday), and the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year. On behalf of the St. Francis Prep community, I wish all of our families a Happy Easter!

March 14, 2018 - National School Walkout-Walkup

On Wednesday, March 14th, a 17-minute National School Walkout was called across the country for all high school students to unite for school safety and to remember the victims of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. SFP participated, but did not walk out of the building. We felt a walkout compromised the safety of the entire community. We held assemblies in both the gym and auditorium (as we did at Christmas with 2 levels at each assembly) and conducted a prayer service. 

We were aware of our students’ desire to create a prayerful, appropriate, and peaceful statement of school safety and support. I encourage all of our families to have conversations with their children about protecting each other and reporting anything that compromises our safety and security to any adult in our school community. Below is a statement read by the President and Principal at each service:

One month ago today, another school shooting occurred in our country.

This time, 14 teenagers and 3 faculty members were killed senselessly in Parkland, Florida, in their place of learning – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Several students from that school have been calling for changes within our country and school districts to improve school safety.

These student leaders have asked other students across the country to “walk out” of class today as a sign of protest and remembrance of those who were killed. 

Instead of walking out of our school building, we are gathering as a united school community and Franciscan family of students, staff, and faculty.

Let us take this opportunity to Walk Up to people, giving them the respect we all deserve.

Walk Up and defend someone who is getting bullied.

Walk Up to the person who sits alone quietly; sit next to him or her and say hello. 

Walk Up to a teacher or coach and thank that person. 

Walk Up to a person with another point of view and get to know him or her.

Walk Up to 14 other students and 3 adults and say something nice in honor of those who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14th.

I challenge all of us to build on our Franciscan foundation of joy, hope, respect, and peace.

After the horrific shooting that took place in Florida, Brother James sent out an email about writing letters to the faculty, staff, and students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Ms. Petrone decided to take the opportunity to talk to her students about the tragic event. We discussed how awful the situation is and also how amazing the students who are trying to fight for change are doing. 

In keeping with our Franciscan tradition, we decided to write our own letters of peace, love, and hope to help the individuals at Stoneman Douglas High School through this difficult time. Students wrote various messages stating both that we’re praying for them and we’re so proud of them. We sent all of their letters to the school a few weeks ago with the hope of putting smiles on their faces. 

I am so proud of the effort that they put into their letters and the empathy that they felt for the individuals in Parkland, Florida. I am so thankful each day to be able to teach at St. Francis Prep where there is so much emphasis on spreading peace and love to others! 

Important notice to the Parents of Seniors: 

Please have your child bring all college decision letters and scholarship and or grant awards to the college office as soon as possible. 

Campus Ministry

Ariana Gonsalves '21, Jane McNamara '21, and William McNamara '20 represented SFP at the Diocesan Leadership Day held on Friday, March 2, 2018, at Immaculate Conception Center.  This new program offered by the Office of Youth and Young Adult Formation brought student leaders together from Catholic high schools from across the diocese.  "It was great to see the students make friends from the other schools and discuss their faith and how to share their gifts and talents in the church now," said Dr. Sullivan, Director of Campus Ministry.  The day was led by SFP alumnus, Dr. James Walters '00, Director of Residence Ministry at St. John University and youth minister at St. Mel's Parish in Whitestone.

National History Scholar Society

Congratulations to the newest members of the National History Scholar Society. The following students were inducted in the National History Scholar Society this month. These students have excelled in their Social Studies classes and have actively participated in a Social Studies related actively during their time at St. Francis Prep.


  • Sarah Baksh 
  • Arianna Collura 
  • Victoria Del Vecchio 
  • Christina DeMeo 
  • Nyla Firoz 
  • Elias Germanakos 
  • Andrew Goetz 
  • Joanne Gotanco 
  • Olga Gotsis 
  • Carolann Kenny 
  • Grace Lugo 
  • Joshua Mathew 
  • Zoe Mitchel 
  • Marin Murphy 
  • David Murtha 
  • Christine Nash 
  • Janeen Rico 
  • Samantha Rooney 
  • Kathryn Ruiz 
  • Yuri Seo 
  • Vincent Smedile 
  • Alex Soohoo 
  • Matthew Stabiner 
  • Olivia Sudol 
  • Julia Sultana 
  • Monica Torres 
  • Christopher Tuffy 
  • Matthew Van Praagh 
  • Kate Zahner 
  • Marianna Zehas 


  • Gabriella DiMuro 
  • Joseph Freda 
  • Lance Hill 
  • Olivia Houri 
  • Claire Iriarte 
  • Ashley Mangra 
  • Joshua Persad 
  • Lauren Secilmis 
  • Lea Vallone 
  • John Vicari 

SFP – NYPD Explorer’s Program

On Tuesday, March 6, 2018, Police Officer Aydiner and Police Officer Durham from the 111th Precinct visited St Francis Prep during the lunch hour, providing interested students a chance to speak with them about the NYPD Explorers Program.

We currently have 5 students involved in this program:

9th-graders: Julianne Korakis and David Ortiz.

Sophomores: Anthony Lygeris, Caleb Otero, and Anthony Olivieri

The program gives students a chance to interact with police officers while working on projects associated with crime scenes and to participate in community service events, receive training, go on trips, and take part in an annual law enforcement conference and competition. Students must be in good academic standing and be at least 14 years of age. Any student who is interested in learning more about this program is encouraged to contact his or her local NYPD Precinct. We continue to appreciate the good work and community building the NYPD demonstrates with our students.


On March 9th, at the Hosmer Auditorium in the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, Prep junior Amy Mwai competed in the New York State Finals of Poetry Out Loud – the largest poetry recitation competition in the country.  After winning runner-up in the NYC Regional competition in February, she still continued to work on the 3 heartfelt classic poems that she carefully and emotionally committed to memory and made her own.  

Her cheering section in the audience included her mother Rachel Mwai and English teachers Mr. Paccione and Mr. Hafker, who were all so proud of her poise, grace, and mastery of this beautiful and important dying art of memorizing poems and breathing them into life for others to hear the voice and soul of the poets who wrote them.

Note:  St. Francis Prep is the only high school in New York City that has sent 4 of its students to the New York State Finals!

Model UN

The St. Francis Prep Model United Nations team participated at PortMUNC, Port Washington Schrieber high school's Model UN conference with over 250 students from 10 different high schools across Queens and Long Island. Once again we had a strong showing and left the conference with three awards. Congratulations go out to all those who participated, including Abigail Bossa 302 and Joanne Gotanco 307 who earned "Honorable Mentions" and Thanasi Dilos 204 who won "Best Delegate." We are very proud of the all our members’ performances at the conferences we attended this school year, but especially with their academic growth. 

Science Research

This year, three seniors from the Science Research Program were honored at the 2018 New York City Science and Engineering Fair for their work. Kayla Keenan came in second place in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category for her project "Exploring the Relationship Between KRAS Mutation Station, Interferon Gamma Stimulation, and SEH001 Expression in Lung Adenocarcinoma." Gabriella Varvarigos came in second place in the Animal Sciences category for her project "The Outcome of Metronomic Chemotherapy on Survival Time in Canines with Hemangiosarcoma." Patrick McArdle came in second place in the Engineering Category and received the Frank W. and Jane J. Stahl Memorial Award for Technical Excellence for this project "The Application of Shear Thickening Fluids in Impact Resistant Sport Equipment." All of the program's students will be showcasing their work at the 20th Annual Science Research Symposium starting at 6 PM on May 31st. All are welcome to attend. 

Music Department

On Friday, March 16th, Prep’s Music Department presented their annual Jazz-Pop Concert. The evening kicked off with the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy Jazz Band, under the direction of Anthony Russo, performing two selections, after which Prep Principal, Patrick McLaughlin, praised the young musicians. 

The concert then featured Prep’s top tier groups: our Chamber Choir, Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Band, and Honors Percussion Ensemble. 

Highlights of the evening included Chamber Orchestra performing “It Is Well,” arranged by Matt Riley, with piano soloist, Prep alumna, and current Prep faculty member Beatrice Soderberg. It was suggested by senior orchestra member, Marianne Bohn, that the orchestra perform a piece that was reverential; and the performance was dedicated to the victims of school violence. The evening concluded with Honors Percussion Ensemble performing a medley from SpongeBob Squarepants, arranged by Prep alum, Julian Cubiero. 

On March 24th, Prep welcomed the Paul Effman Honor Bands. Nearly 400 5th-8th grade student-musicians from 59 different schools and Catholic Academies performed for a standing room only audience. Paul Effman himself publicly lauded Prep as being in the lead of Arts Education.  

Coming up next, our Spring Concerts on April 27th and May 4th! Hope to see you there!


On February 22nd at the Brooklyn Museum, junior Sanaia Layne won the Black Arts Movement Scholarship writing competition with her powerful and moving poem, "Can I Touch Your Hair?" and had the opportunity to read it in front of a packed house, which included honorary speaker and award winning author-activist Sonia Sanchez herself.


On Saturday, March 24th, students from Advanced Placement Chemistry and future nanotechnology students visited St. John’s University to perform a nanotechnology lab with Dr. Gen Long. The students had to be in St. Albert Hall, room B37, at 9 a.m. Science teachers Mrs. Istrico, Dr. Bennett, Mr. Caiafa, and Ms. May supervised the students. A nice breakfast of bagels, muffins, and drinks were provided in a small meeting room. Dr. Gen Long, accompanied by grad students, came to introduce themselves and told us that they will be helping us throughout the laboratory experiments. St. Albert Hall consisted of many fascinating laboratories which hold high-priced equipment such as micromechanical testing machine, cell detector, and scientific cameras. Having the chance to see all the awesome laboratory equipment was enthralling. St. John’s University allowed us to conduct a laboratory experiment called “Solar Energy Conversion: Making a Dye- Sensitized TiO2 Solar Cell.” We were able to create and test a dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) that converts light waves into electricity. The DSSC generated electricity when some sunlight was provided outside. It acted as a battery. It was an intriguing experiment as we discovered how solar cells work and learned if we are able to use them in the future. Thankfully, St. John’s University generously provided the finished products and amazing laboratory goggles to take home. The trip was astonishing. Having the opportunity to see a beautiful college campus and conduct an awesome nanotechnology experiment was a blessing. Students definitely should have more opportunities to go on such fascinating science trips. Experiencing and exploring are the best ways to spend productive time on a Saturday!


On March 15, 2018, seniors from the Forensic Criminology class visited Hofstra University to meet FBI Retired Supervisory Special Agent James Fitzgerald who is a forensic linguist and criminal profiler. His presentation highlighted how he and his team solved the UNA-bomber case and other high profile cases. Mr. Fitzgerald is also the technical advisor for the TV show Criminal Minds and has authored a series of books entitled "A Journey to the Center of the Mind." Students brought copies that Mr. Fitzgerald signed. We appreciated the special attention and the captivating presentation. He has promised to pay us a visit the next time he is in NYC. 


On Wednesday, February 28, Saint Francis Prep participated in Adelphi University’s annual Press Day. This event celebrates journalism and its role in modern media and invites student journalists from schools across Queens and Nassau Country. These schools send in their best work to be judged and - if they’re lucky - win an award. Mark Milian, John Vicari, Charlize Ruiz, Rachel Luscher, Rachel Zhang, Havilland Firoz, and Nicole O’Connor represented Prep at the event, joined by Ms. Becky Barell and Ms. Robyn Armon, who help make the Seraph possible.
 Press Day began with a panel of distinguished journalists and professors who give their take on journalism’s role today, followed by a Q&A session. After the panel, attendees entered breakout sessions in which they split into groups to discuss the year’s topic. This year’s topic was fake news, a term popularized by President Donald Trump. In the breakout sessions, students were asked a series of questions, such as how their school newspapers covered the election and the women’s march, and how they think fake news has affected the public’s view of journalism. After the breakout sessions and a quick lunch break, it was time to present the awards.
 Press Day was a success. Rachel Luscher, class of 2019, won an Honorable Mention for her sports article “Boys Varsity Hockey Season Preview.” Hard work and a passion for journalism made this achievement possible.

Art Department

Juniors and seniors in Video Game Design with Mrs. Lynch completed their own original 2D platformer games!!! Students created every element of the game from start to finish - a big milestone and a huge accomplishment! Their design process was very involved and took many weeks of class time to complete, spanning every element of the game from original artwork to programming in Unity to back end development and working with code. Students’ original art assets include character art, background, platforms, and collectible items. They had to incorporate these elements with lessons on game mechanics, level design, and programming to create a fun user experience in a game that actually works. Play testing was a big part of the process, and students worked together to debug their games and make sure every interactive element functioned properly. These games are great for portfolios for college admissions and on personal websites. So far students from the class have been admitted to NYU, LIU Post, Parsons, and SCAD for Video Game Design, and Hofstra, NYIT, Stony Brook, SUNY Farmingdale, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for Art, Architecture, and Engineering majors.

Pictured (from left to right) : John Schuff, Angelo Bartolotta, Angelo Chen, Neal Martin, Michael Lombardi, Alexander Ramlall, Samantha Marmol, Jenna Altmansberger, Michael Thompson, Fernando Ng, (bottom row): Cara Edelkind, Giovanni Carucci (and several camera shy members of class!: Jukang Kwon, Amber Dimaculangan, Justin DiMaggio)

Work above by Alexander Ramlall

Work above by Samantha Marmol

Work above by Amber Dimaculangan

Work above by Michael Thompson

On March 24th, art teacher and alumna Anthony Biondolillo ('00) and his best friend fellow alumna Kristin Foti-Errico ('00) attended the parents' guild paint night at SFP. It was wonderful for these two former Prep students to reunite and take another class in the building they'd taken so many others together - and for Mr. Biondolillo to be an art student for a change!

A Night At The MET! 

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards: New York City Regional Exhibition Opening Reception

On Friday, March 23th, 2018, six students from our school attended an opening reception for their accomplishment of winning Gold Keys from the Scholastic Art and Writing Award. SFP Art Department Gold Key Winners are Mariana Papadopoulos, Elise Sementilli, Victoria Reshetnikov, Janine Sahagun, Viviana Torres, and Aedan Wojciech. They have been a part of the Art Department since 9th grade and their teachers are tremendously proud of what they have accomplished during their time with us. Winning a Gold Key Award from Scholastic Arts and Writing is a massive achievement, not only because students from all of New York City entered and had their work recognized, but also because they have their art work exhibited in one of the most famous locations, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.Presented by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, the Scholastic Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in the United States. Located in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education, their art work, along with more than 600 works of art and writing, will be exhibited from March 23rd to May 29th. Thirty other students from the Art 

 Department also entered the competition, ranging from sophomores to seniors, and received Silver Keys and Honorable Mentions. The Art Department is extremely proud of all those who entered and their accomplishments!

Nassau Community College Art Competition
Honors Program Presents the Twentieth Annual Science Fair, Art and Theater Competition


On Saturday March 14, 2018, eight of out art students exhibited their work at the Nassau Community College Art Exhibition and Competition. The exhibition focused on a theme of Education and Liberation. Art students had to visually represent the answer to the question, “How has Education Liberated you?” Saint Francis Prep young artists Joshua Balina, Laima Kezys, Alexis Lodico, Mark Milian, Zahamia Nunezsimon, Isabella Perna, Charlize Ruiz, Viviana Torres, and Angelina Valentino exhibited their artwork. Jinghong Chen was awarded Art Excellence. It was truly a memorable day!

On March 14th, Ms. Shmerykowsky, Ms. Lynch, and students from AP Art History and C.A.D. ventured into Manhattan for a divine experience of religious art work.  First we visited St. John the Divine, a modern day Gothic Cathedral on 110th Street.  To see such a massive structure, which is still under construction, among the modern constructions was breathtaking! To see the high vaulted ceilings, the stained glass and rose windows, the massive piers, and the vast nave was an experience in itself!  Before the students walked around the cathedral's main floor, we took part in a vertical tour.  On this adventurous climb, we went up 124 feet through spiral staircases.  On each level, the students learned about the stained glass windows and sculpture and were able to study the architecture of the Cathedral while standing on a buttress! The tour ended with a beautiful view of Manhattan from the roof. Our next stop was to the Cloisters.  There we viewed a variety of religious icons, statues, tapestries, relics, paintings, and manuscripts of the Middle Ages.  AP Art History students were able to witness first-hand many of the art works they study in class!  The C.A.D. students were given a great opportunity to see interior and exterior designs from all these architectural structures, how they were created, and how they all have survived the test of time. This experience is sure to be one brought back into the classroom for their digital architectural plans and designs. This was a successful field trip which allowed the students to gain further appreciation of the arts, history, and religious imagery.

Girl’s Softball

From March 22nd to March 25th, the Girls Varsity Softball team traveled to Richmond, Virginia, for the Sportsplus Softball Tournament. The team as 2-2 in game play. After the tournament, the team celebrated Palm Sunday Mass at St. Ann's Church. On Sunday, the team spent the day at King’s Dominion Amusement Park.

On Friday, March 9th, Zalen Nelson competed at the New Balance Indoor National Track and Field Championships in the Emerging Elite 800 meter run, placing fourth overall out of a field of over 30 runners. His time of 1:56.19 broke the 60-year-old indoor school record set by Doug Tynan in the 880 yard run of 1:57.2, dating back to 1958.

On Saturday, March 10th, the relay team of Lance Lee, Shawn Bendeck, Dean Athanailos, and Zalen Nelson (with Andre Sobers as the alternate) ran in the Championship Sprint Medley Relay against the 36 best teams in the US this year. Their time of 3:34.96 was just 0.2 seconds off the school record they had established earlier in the year. Zalen Nelson anchored with a 1:54.66 800 meter leg. They were the top CHSAA finisher.

College Signings

Trinity Smith finished the Indoor track season by winning the CHSAA Catholic State Championship in the 55 meter dash and the 55 meter hurdles.  On March 3rd, she placed 5th in the NY State championship in the 55 meter Hurdles. On March 9, she ran at the National Championship and placed 19th in the Emerging Elite section of the hurdles.

 Chris Auricchio signing with FDU

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