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Music Students Selected for All-State

Five highly talented musicians from North and South High Schools have been selected for the prestigious and very competitive 2017 New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) All-State Conference, to be held in Rochester, Nov. 30–Dec. 3. In addition, eight South High students were named Alternates for the event. North High School All-State music students are: Isabel Yang (violin, String Orchestra) and Omeed Tartak (euphonium, Wind Ensemble). This is Isabel's second year in a row to be selected for All-State. She and Omeed are taught by Joseph Rutkowski, instrumental music teacher. Dr. Pamela Levy is fine & performing arts department head. South High All-State music students are: Michelle Xing (bassoon, Symphonic Band), Eric Yang (clarinet, Symphonic Band), and Asia Zhang (violin, Symphony Orchestra). This is Asia's second year in a row to be accepted for All-State. Alternates are: Deep Datta (violin), Susan Fendt (soprano II), Anderson Gu (alto saxophone), Emily Huh (flute), Nicholas Langel (cello), Haylie Lempert (alto II), Samuel Levine (flute), and Fiona Lyngstad-Hughes (soprano II). These students are taught by Michael Schwartz, performing arts department head/instrumental music teacher; Mark Boschen, band teacher; and Dr. Janine Robinson, vocal music teacher. At the All-State Conference, sponsored by NYSSMA, the State's finest student musicians will perform together in various ensembles. Thousands of students auditioned for this competition last spring at solo and ensemble festivals throughout the State.


International Music Visit Via Skype

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An article in the New York Times about a suicide bomber at an Afghan music school caught the attention of North High School's instructional music teacher Joseph Rutkowski and now-graduated student Zachary Lee, then president of the school's Tri-M Music Honor Society. Under Zach's skillful leadership, what followed were numerous fundraising events sponsored by Tri-M for the Afghan school and an international exchange of music, via Skype, between North music students and those at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) in Kabul, Afghanistan. Former Tri-M member and graduated North High student Vanessa Kordmany, wrote about the bombing and the determination of the ANIM students to continue with their education: "Mr. Rutkowski often preaches about the joys of being able to practice for hours and before we found out about the situation of our friends in Afghanistan, we would often laugh such lectures off, unable to appreciate the privileges we were born into. We took for granted the countless hours spent in class, in after-school rehearsals, and performing in the lobby every week and in various centers around town, that we could share with our fellow musicians and appreciative audiences. But to hear that these [ANIM] kids came to school not knowing if they'd come back alive or if they would be able to see their families again, and that they were willing to come to terms with that for the sake of playing music, was enough to inspire all of us." Affected by the aftermath of the bombing and wanting to help ANIM, Tri-M sponsored several bake sales and other fundraisers to help ANIM buy instrumental accessories and sponsor needy students. They also came up with the exciting idea of having an exchange of music between the two schools, where a group of music students from one school would perform for the class of music students from the other. After many, many months of planning between the two schools, on the morning of April 5, 2017, at 8 a.m. Great Neck time, and 4:30 p.m. Afghan time, in a 30-minute Skype visit, the two groups shared animated stories about the importance of music and what it is like to be a music student at their respective school. They then performed musical pieces for each other. Mr. Rutkowski noted, "It was beautiful to see how we played the same pieces so differently, us with traditional western instruments and them with instruments like the sitar." Invaluable in the Skype visit were Afghanistan native and former South High parent Latifa Woodhouse who served as interpreter for the event, and Michael Meehan, North High TV North director, who enabled the Skype visit to happen. Robyn Ryczek, music director of ANIM, wrote to North High about the Skype visit, "In addition to their enjoyment during the exchange, ANIM students left for home that day with huge smiles on their faces, and music and new friendship on their minds. With the daily challenges we face and hard work they put forth to learn music, this was very meaningful (and fun!) for us all. Thank you for your wonderful performance and participation in this event. It was really fun to listen to you perform the Afghan songs, and as we have some young conductors emerging at ANIM, also great to see Zachary Lee conduct these pieces. It is truly a remarkable example of the great things that can be accomplished through hard work and caring. We thank you for your vision, dedication, and friendship." It is the sincere hope of North High's Tri-M Chapter to continue to Skype with Afghanistan musicians this coming year.


Open House at GNPS Community Ed

If you've never taken a class at Great Neck Public Schools (GNPS) Community Education, we invite you to come see what we are about! Mark your calendar to attend our annual Open House Week, from Monday, Sept. 25 to Friday, Sept. 29. You'll find classes that are fun, thought-provoking, unique, and creative. You are welcome to attend classes at no cost. Meet our instructors, see our facilities, and learn about an exciting program right here in your community! The Week offers a wonderful opportunity to join in one of our fitness classes. We have Mindful Meditation, Aerobics, Zumba, Standing Vinyasa Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Body Workout, Movement for those with Parkinson's, and more. Dance your heart out in Jazz, Ballet, Creative and Classical Dance, or Line Dance. You may find your inner artist in Pottery, Stone Sculpting, Painting, Drawing, Pastels, Printmaking, Jewelry Making, or Silversmithing. Experience the Foreign Languages we offer--Chinese, French, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, or Yiddish. Play some Bridge, Canasta, or Mah Jongg. Participate in a writing class or a book group, or enhance your vocal abilities in one of our many singing classes. New to Community Ed this year are these classes: Archaeology, Aromatherapy, Art History, Belly Dancing, History of the Decorative Arts, Kuhimino Jewelry Braiding, History of NYC/LI Transportation, Origins and Consequences of WWI, Pediatrics for Grandparents, and Presidential Greatness. So many possibilities await you! The schedule of classes for the Open House will soon be available on our Web site,, as well as on our Facebook page, Great Neck Community Ed. Remember to Like us on Facebook. Please feel free to invite your friends to visit and like us as well. Stay up-to-date on all the latest happenings at Community Ed, as well as view our complete Open House schedule. Community Ed classes meet at the Cumberland Adult Center, 30 Cumberland Ave., Great Neck (one block south of Northern Blvd., off Lakeville Rd.). If you have any questions, please give us a call at (516) 441-4949. We look forward to hearing from you!