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Eighth Graders Create Unique Designs Using Tessellations

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Drawing from their understanding of mathematical concepts, Port Chester Middle School eighth graders explored the world of art and design to craft their own tessellations. The hands-on project in Austin Boehm’s class marked the culmination of their study on geometric transformations.

“For over a thousand years, Islamic art and architecture has used tessellations, which is any repeating pattern that can fill an entire plane without gaps,” Boehm said. “What impressed me most about the students’ projects was the variety and creativity of their designs.”

Throughout the unit, the students delved into the transformation of geometric figures, including translations, rotations and reflections, while also immersing themselves in the world of tessellations. In their final undertaking, the eighth graders created their own unique geometric designs and used transformations to tessellate and fill a piece of paper. Then, they used math vocabulary to explain the transformations and processes involved in creating their design.

“I hope that students took away a sense of accomplishment at creating an interesting final product and emerged with a great example of how math can be used in the real world at the intersection of art and design,” Boehm said.

Date Added: 12/1/2023

Port Chester Middle School Presents Enchanting Production of ‘Into the Woods Jr.

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Port Chester Middle School students prepare to enchant audiences with their upcoming musical production of “Into the Woods Jr.” from Nov. 30-Dec. 2. After months of dedicated preparation, a talented group of performers will unite beloved characters from classic Brothers Grimm fables, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Witch, in a lyrical and captivating retelling of the timeless tales.

Directed by social studies teacher Julie Dore, the musical features 30 actors in the cast and 26 students in the crew, who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes. The talented students are also supported by ELA teacher Rosemarie Veltri as musical director and Zachary Dore as technical director, as well as student assistant director Gabriela Reyes and student stage manager Jamie Onofrio-Franceschini.

“’Into the Woods, Jr.’ is a beautiful musical that intertwines well-known fairytale characters who all have a goal and are left into the woods to accomplish it,” Dore said. “The music is incredibly challenging and learning Stephen Sondheim music for the first time is always a difficult task. The students at Port Chester Middle School rose to the occasion and are handling the music with care and precision.”

The show tells the story of a baker and his wife, who wish to have a child; Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King’s festival; and Jack, who wishes his cow would give milk. When the baker and his wife learn that they cannot have a child because of a witch’s curse, the two set off on a journey to break the curse, and wind up changed forever.

“The intertwined lessons in the story always lend itself to important life lessons for all those involved in the production,” Dore said. “It is most important for them to know that the theater is a safe place and a place where they can best express themselves and allowing that to happen on this stage, in this production, is the most important lesson this show exemplifies.”

Performances are on Thursday, Nov. 30, at 5 p.m.; and Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. Tickets to the performances are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. For more information, visit

Date Added: 11/29/2023

Port Chester Middle School Students Shine in State-of-the-Art Planetarium

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What sets Port Chester Middle School apart is its unique educational offering – an astronomy class within a state-of-the-art planetarium – which allows sixth through eighth graders to fully immerse themselves in the fascinating world of astronomy.

“It’s a source of great pride that the students possess an extraordinary level of knowledge about space and the universe, far surpassing what is typically expected of middle school students,” science teacher Jaime Rufo said. “This exceptional program is undeniably one of Port Chester’s most distinguished features.”

During a recent lesson, the students gazed up at the stars and embarked on an intricate exploration of the fascinating characteristics of stars within our galaxy. They examined the fundamental attributes of stars and honed their skills in graphing the celestial objects, based on factors such as luminosity, temperature, and mass. Under the guidance of their dedicated teacher, the students fully engage with the subject matter. While the topics covered by Rufo align with New York State Science Standards, the experience for the students is exceptional.

“Equipped with top-tier technology, the planetarium places us on par with the finest museum planetariums,” Rufo said. “This means that students receive an education that rivals even the best planetarium facilities.”

The planetarium, which recently underwent an upgrade, features a cutting-edge laser projector and the latest programming software, Digistar7, that has transformed it into an even more immersive learning environment.

“Students benefit immensely from this upgrade as it helps them visualize and grasp complex celestial phenomena, making it easier for them to place these concepts into context,” Rufo said. “At our planetarium, the students gain a deep understanding of the science that underpins our universe and our place within it.”

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Date Added: 11/14/2023

Middle School Students Engineer Sweet Success in Candy Corn Tower

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Equipped with candy corn and toothpicks, Port Chester Middle School seventh and eighth grade students embraced the roles of budding engineers to create the tallest structure. The activity in Lisa Rinaldi’s math class thoughtfully coincided with Halloween.

During the engaging lesson, the students collaborated within groups to construct the tallest tower, using a supply of 40 pieces of candy corn and 20 toothpicks. Their mission began with sketching out their tower deigns before bringing their ideas to life within a 15-minute window.

“This activity really challenged the students because candy corn breaks very easily,” Rinaldi said. “It was interesting to see what and how the students came up with to build a tower. Many groups realized they could mold the candy corn and use it like clay to help hold the toothpicks together. Many also gave up their original design and just stacked the toothpicks and candy corn to try to make theirs the tallest.”

Upon completing the challenge, the students reflected on the experience, discussing potential alternative strategies and whether additional materials might have aided in their quest.

“I really wanted them to work together to come up with a single cohesive outcome,” Rinaldi said. “Every student was engaged and really got into the challenge, trying to come up with ways to manipulate and build their structures.”

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Date Added: 11/9/2023

Eighth Graders Embrace Tradition by Crafting Sugar Skulls

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In celebration of the traditional Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, Port Chester Middle School eighth graders embarked on a creative journey, crafting and adorning their own sugar skulls. Under the guidance of their teacher Heather Gross, the students expressed their creativity while embracing the significance of the holiday.

“Día de los Muertos is a happy celebration honoring and remembering loved ones who have passed away,” Gross said. “The authentic sugar skulls are a symbol of the holiday and often are placed on the ofrendas, or offering tables, of the families who celebrate.”

The skull mixture is made from sugar, meringue powder and water, and the students used royal icing mixture to intricately decorate their sugar skulls.

“I see a level of creativity in their production of language, but this displays their artistic ability in a way that I don’t often witness,” Gross said. “These two days really required a lot of preparation on my part, and seeing their enjoyment when creating their sugar skull does make it worth it.”

Gross expressed hopes for her students to connect the enriching experience of creating sugar skulls to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the holiday’s significance.

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Date Added: 11/8/2023