November 2018

“When you extinguish hope, you create desperation.”
Abraham Lincoln

From the desk of Mr. McLaughlin:

The month of November began with our Annual Alumni Memorial Mass on November 4th to remember those graduates and their family members who are deceased.  Starting on November 13th, faculty, staff, and students engaged in another very successful Donation Drive for our sponsor organizations. Thank you to everyone who contributed to our Thanksgiving Drive! A special thanks to the members of our Campus Ministry Team for organizing this great event! Once again, our true Franciscan spirit came shining through for those that need the help most. As we leave the many blessings of the Thanksgiving season behind us, we set our sights on the Advent season in preparation of Christmas. We now await and prepare for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

This month’s Newsletter will include stories that are inspiring and demonstrate why SFP is one of the finest schools in NYC!

Upcoming events:

  • The 6th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in the Library on Friday, November 30th. Parents, staff, faculty, students, and alumni are all welcome. Enjoy free hot chocolate and the famous SFP Chocolate Chip cookies. Please consider donating an unwrapped toy!  Doors will open at 7:00 pm. Then consider staying for …
  • The Art Department and Alvernian Drama Society production of Beauty and the Beast in our school auditorium. Two shows: Friday, November 30th, at 8:00 pm and Saturday, December 1st, at 7 pm.
  • Project Joy, conducted by the Franciscan Youth Movement, invites the entire Prep community to bring joy to the elderly by writing Christmas letters: December 4th to the 14th.
  • Music Department Christmas Concert 1 on Friday, December 7th, and Christmas Concert 2 on Saturday, December 8th. Concerts start at 7:45 pm.
  • Our Friends with Special Needs Christmas Party will be held on Saturday, December 15th, starting at 10 am in the school cafeteria.

From the desk of Mr. Castellano:


St. Francis Prep sponsors a Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program that works with students to increase awareness and promote living a life that is drug- and alcohol-free.   This year, we have 65 seniors who serve on the team.  These students give presentations in Religion 9 and 10 classes to discuss the program, their experiences, and their choices.  We thank these students for their commitment and service.

We are all aware of the prevalence of drugs and alcohol in our society.  Please continue to talk about these concerns with your child.   Encourage them to speak with you with questions.  Please feel free to contact your child’s guidance counselor, either of the Deans, or Joseph Castellano if you have any concerns or questions.  The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has a web site with great information:


Juniors and sophomores took the PSAT in October.  The College Board, the organization that oversees the PSAT and SAT, has informed us that students will receive an e-mail from them sometime in December; this e-mail will include information about how students can access their scores.  Once we receive word that the students have received this e-mail, we will send home information about how to understand the score report.

Design and Construction by Julia Yoo, ‘20

 Julia Yoo is an eleventh-grade student at St. Francis Prep, set to graduate in 2020. She is currently a student in Mr. Biondolillo’s Fashion Design class and hopes to attend college for costume design.

This year, to coincide with the Fall drama Beauty and the Beast, Julia wanted to make something for the play.  She decided to create a display dress for the show. The design is a reimagining of the famous gold gown Belle wears for her ballroom dance with the Beast. Having taught herself how to sew at the age of five, Julia found that sewing this dress is not as difficult as she had thought it would be. Julia started off with the pattern Simplicity 1026 (originally a pattern for the live action Cinderella gown) as a base for her Belle dress. Julia stated that the pattern made it easier to sew the dress, rather than drafting it herself. 

After cutting the pattern and fabric to the size that she wanted, Julia gathered the skirt to create the perfect size and fullness. The bodice required an interlining of duck canvas to give it structure and boning to make it fit to the model’s body. The center of the bodice was gathered in the middle and the sides to create a ruched effect. The bodice is made wearable by an invisible zipper. For the ruched overskirt, Julia adjusted the pattern to have eight panels gathered at the seam, which she said was less difficult than she ahd imagined. For the finishing touches, Julia added fake red roses strategically to give a flare and pop of color to Belle’s gown. 

Julia is very proud of this dress, cannot wait to improve her work, and honored to create the display gown for Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast in our school auditorium. Two shows: Friday, November 30th, at 8:00 pm and Saturday, December 1st, at 7 pm.

Thanksgiving Donation Drive

“Prep the Halls”  for Christmas

As we prepare for the Christmas season, Mrs. Verdi and her little elves were in the building on Sunday, November 25, to lay the groundwork for the rest of the student body’s project of Prep the Halls. Special thanks to Christine Glynn (Mamma Glynn), Graziella Zerilli, Nicole May, Father Ralph, Susan Sparagna. Elizabeth Kalkau, Shawn Sempowich, and Lisa Jones.


New York Presbyterian Hospital Queens and St. Francis Prep have entered into a partnership to assist our students interested in pursuing a health care degree in college. The Health Care discovery program is focused on introducing students to the many career pathways in health care. Through mentorship with key preceptors at New York Presbyterian Queens, our students will be able to appreciate how the many careers in health care are distinctly different while sharing a common goal: to deliver the highest quality careto patients and families they serve.

The program will enable the students to complete a series of four-week rotations. Students will volunteer 2-3 hours after school once a week in one of the following areas:

  • Physician Assistant
  • Nursing
  • Radiology Services
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy

Students will also gain insight into areas of health care leadership, finance, operations, and patient experience. Bob Blenderman, SFP class of 1997, Chief Operating Officer of the hospital and Nancy Demers, SFP class of 1992, a NY Presbyterian nurse, had a meeting with Mr. McLaughlin at the beginning of the school year to discuss the partnership. On November 13th, Mrs. Istrico’s AP Biology students and Mrs. Rich’s Anatomy and Physiology students accompanied Mr. McLaughlin to the hospital for an initial meeting to begin the partnership.


November 5th promotion ceremony.

Major Jophiel Philips is a Special Victims' Counsel in the United States Air Force. He is currently assigned
to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ. Major Philips provides independent legal
representation and advocacy on behalf of sexual assault victims during the investigation and military justice process.

Major Philips entered the Air Force in February 2012 after graduating from the University of San Francisco School of Law. He received a direct commission into the Air Force. Prior to his current assignment, he served as the Chief of Military Justice at the Expeditionary Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. As the Chief of Justice, he provided legal advice on criminal matters to
 the commander and the six wings and two groups within Air Mobility Command.  In 2015, Major Philips deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Resolute Support where he received a Purple Heart and earned a Bronze Star.

A native of Queens, New York, Major Philips played football at Stony Brook University where he was the 2002 Raymond M. Downey Most Valuable Player. He graduated from St. Francis Prep in 1999, where he played football and was awarded the John (Zeek) Marchassalla Scholarship for his character and hard work.

 Major Philips is admitted to practice law before the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and is a member of the New York and New Jersey state bars. He and his wife, Neethu, have one son, Kaelon McKenna Philips. A special thanks to Mr. Xenos Novoa, AP-Dean, for arranging this great honor to be held in our school auditorium.

Model UN

The St. Francis Model United Nations attended a conference at Patchogue-Medford High School attended by over 300 delegates from 10 different high schools from NYC and Long Island. We had one of our most successful conferences, taking 5 awards. We would like to thank our alumnus coach Kayla Keenan '18 and recognize the following students from our delegation of 20 students:
Brendan Carrol 102 Honorable Mention as Venezuela in UNODC (committee)
Alex Kalavanos 209 Honorable Mention as Ethiopia in the African Union
Athanasi Dilos 304 Best Delegate as Israel in the Historical Security Council
Joshua Mathew 411 Honorable Mention as Iran in the Economic and Social Committee
 Vincent Smedile 415 Honorable Mention.


Athanasios, or Thanasi as he likes to be called, is a junior at Prep. He has been a member of the Model United Nations since his freshman year. Early on, he made a difficult decision to leave his travel baseball team in order to be a full-time active member of the Prep's Model UN. Thanasi is an extraordinary and very skilled delegate and one of the most experienced members of our Model UN. He has earned the coveted Best Delegate award numerous times in the Security Council, which is a committee stacked with other high school's best delegates. Currently, he teams up with newer members as a mentor. Last summer, he went for training as a Model UN delegate for an international travel team and found himself in Budapest, Hungary.  In his own words, "I had so much fun, and met some truly amazing people. The team won Best Delegation, and I learned so much about collegiate Model United Nations and international relations over the past few days. I met other delegates from all around the world, and formed some friendships with people who live across the country (who will hopefully last until our next competition in Madrid in March). Until then, I hope to share all I've learned with our Model UN."

Christmas Concert

Our annual Christmas Concerts are coming up at St. Francis Preparatory School on Friday, December 7th, and Saturday, December 8th, both at 7:45 PM.   In all, nearly 600 Prep students will be presenting two different nights of Music!

On Friday, we’ll be highlighting all three orchestras, both percussion ensembles, and our Concert Chorus.  We’ll also be welcoming the string students from the Paul Effman Music Service at Holy Family Catholic Academy.  Saturday will feature all three bands and our Prep Chorus and Chamber Choir.   We’ll also be welcoming the band students from the Paul Effman Music Service at Holy Family Catholic Academy.   On Saturday, we will also be presenting our traditional “Hallelujah Project,” where we will be joined by students and adults from local schools and parishes who will be singing Georg Frideric Handel’s ever-popular “Hallelujah Chorus” with us.

Tickets are $5, general admission, and are available in the Music office at Prep or at the door the night of each concert.  Doors open at 7:15PM.


On November 14th, Prep welcomed representatives from the Middle States Association of Colleges and School.  In addition to a rigorous day of meetings and interviews that led to Prep being re-accredited, our Music department was presented with a plaque acknowledging our standing as having earned the Program of Distinction in Music last spring.   According to Middle States, "Schools attaining the Music Program of Distinction foster within students a deep appreciation for music as an expressive, creative art form. Music education is recognized as an essential component of the social and cultural fiber of society and the school."  Prep was the first school EVER to achieve this honor in 2011, and we were, in turn, the first school to be re-accredited for Music.

We also have been selected as an award recipient from Music for All Advocacy in Action, based upon our recruiting efforts. Music for All is a national organization whose “mission is to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all.  We believe that music and arts education is a core to students’ education and must be available to all students. Music for All is an advocate for music and arts education. Our educational programs support the efforts of instrumental music teachers on the high school and middle school levels, as well as provide positively life-changing experiences for students.”

We participated in the Advocacy in Action program, which “collects and shares the best methods to elevate music education in your community.”

On Monday, November 19th, Prep welcomed Dr. Peter Loel Boonshaft, Band Director from Hofstra University, published author, and internationally recognized educator.  Dr. Boonshaft worked with our Concert Band and exclaimed, "Thank you for allowing me to once again have the honor and joy of coming to St. Francis Prep and basking in the spirit, enthusiasm, excitement, dedication, focus, and sincerity of music-making that is palpable for anyone who watches and listens to those wonderful young people."

On November 27th, we welcomed Martha Mooke, a pioneer in the field of the electric five string viola/violin, who transcends musical boundaries by synthesizing her classical music training with extended techniques, digital effects processing, and improvisation.  Ms. Mooke spent time with our Chamber Orchestra, talking about electronic effects and improvisation.


Congratulations are in order to St. Francis Prep JV A Football Team on winning the Catholic HS AA Football Championship by defeating Kellenberg HS 28-14.

The JV B football team was undefeated this season!


The Girls Cross Country team placed 7th at the Catholic State Champs and qualified two runners for the NY State Championship:  Senior Chiara Cinquemani and Sophomore Krista Olivieri.

College Signing Day

Sara Messemer, Queens College – Knights, Soccer

Kiera Haggerty, Iona College – Gaels, Soccer

Ryan Martin, Iona College – Gaels, Baseball

Cassidy Roberts, Binghamton University  - Bearcats, Basketball

Girls Volleyball- Breast Cancer Walk at Jones  Beach

Coach Colucci’s  200th Win – Congratulations!


Computer Science Chair Joseph Sciame was among seven presenters at the fall New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS )Update and Demo Derby held Wednesday, November 14, 2018, at Ossining High School. The event was co-sponsored by the Edith Winthrop Teacher Center, the NY State Master Teacher Program, and the Westchester-Bronx section of the Science Teachers' Association of NY State (STANYS). Mr. Sciame's presentation was entitled “So, How Secure is Your Password?” The presentation included updated techniques in creating passwords in today's cyber world.

Among the attendees at the workshop was NY State Senator Shelley Mayer, from Westchester's 37th district and a ranking member of the State Education Committee.

Faculty and Staff  Having Fun on Halloween

Slideshow of Halloween Costumes


Quesada Named Skyline Conference Player of the Week

November 26, 2018

NEW YORK — For her double-double effort in the Bears' conference-opening victory, St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) junior forward Lauren Quesada (Westbury, N.Y.;St. Francis Prep) was selected as the Skyline Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week, the league office announced earlier today.

The co-captain recorded her second double-double of the season scoring 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting while hauling in 18 rebounds and dishing out five assists as the Bears took a 79-59 wire-to-wire victory over Farmingdale State on Tuesday.

A three-time Rookie of the Week selection as a freshman, this is the first time Quesada has received Player of the Week honors and just the third garnered by a Bear women's basketball player since joining the conference in the 2015-16 season.

St. Joseph's (2-2, 1-0 Skyline) returns to the court on Tuesday, November 27, with a Skyline road game against Yeshiva University tipping off at 8 p.m.

Women's Basketball Weekly Report - Nov. 26

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