Monthly Archives: September 2016

A worldly poet brings her powerful words to students in Bay Shore

naomi-shihab-nyeNaomi Shihab Nye is a self-proclaimed wanderer.

The award-winning songwriter, poet, essayist, and educator has wandered her way across Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, the Middle East and the United States, producing more than 30 volumes of poetry and inspiring countless artists along the way.

Her next journey will bring her to Bay Shore High School on Thursday, Sept. 22, where she will share her experiences with over 600 students and lead two intensive writing workshops with Bay Shore’s aspiring young authors. 

The Writers Series is funded by a multi-year grant from the Bay Shore Schools Arts Education Fund, a local not-for-profit organization whose mission is to enhance participation in the arts for all Bay Shore students.

Over the course of three years, the series has brought in award-winning authors Kyle Dargan, Veronica Golos, Jeanann Verlee and Regie Cabico to present their work to students.

“The response from students and teachers is tremendous,” said Matt Pasca, the curator of the series. “Some students have even sent inspired letters and emails to the authors we’ve brought in.” 

Naomi Shihab Nye will present two 20-minute poetry readings to an audience of over 600 students. Between those presentations, she will conduct two separate 60-minute poetry workshops with a smaller group of students who sign up beforehand.

“I love Naomi’s energy, it instantly makes you feel more positive about the future and your role it in,” Pasca said. “I believe that young people have that same exuberant, creative energy and will connect with that. Our goal is to expose as many students as we can to that energy, to generate a conversation about the purpose of writing and art.”

The nonprofit has continued to fulfill its commitment to bring deliver the arts to all Bay Shore students since its founding in 1997.

In March, the Bay Shore Schools Arts Education Fund took over 500 students to see the acclaimed musical Hamilton on Broadway.

Pasca, an English teacher who has been with the district for 20 years and is a published author himself, sees the Writer Series as a way of giving back to the community that shaped his artistic development.

“What’s wonderful is the Bay Shore community has always had such a strong commitment to the arts,” he said. “By the time they reach high school, our students already have this level of sophistication. We want to build on that and provide all Bay Shore students with access to the great theatre, music, writing, and poetry.

“It’s not just for the AP kids, the theatre kids, or the honors students. It’s for everyone.”

This article was originally posted on
Author Emily Mancini is from Smithtown and will be completing her graduate studies at Binghamton University this spring. 

The Envy of All… Bay Shore Goes to Hamilton!

The day could not have been more perfect.

On Wednesday March 30, Bay Shore students woke up to beautiful blue skies and spring like weather…a perfect day for a perfect field trip.


After over a year of planning, the big day had finally arrived.  Thanks to the Bay Shore Schools Arts Education Fund, Bay Shore’s junior class (and some lucky seniors) were going to make the trip to Broadway to see the acclaimed musical Hamilton.

Written by the reigning genius of the stage, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton tells the story of Alexander Hamilton and his contemporaries.  Miranda’s Hamilton was inspired by historian Ron Chernow’s magisterial 800 page biography, ”Alexander Hamilton,”  a book that Miranda just happened to pick up in an airport bookstore.

5891314_1442349793.9659The story of this ambitious, brilliant but self-destructive and ultimately tragic figure struck a chord inside Miranda.  He realized that hip-hop was the perfect musical style for describing the Hamilton and his era, because it is “the language of youth and energy and of rebellion….I treat it as a musical form, and a musical form that allows you to pack in a ton of lyric.”  And the sum total of all those lyrics is an extraordinary tutorial on American History…….a tutorial that our students are not likely to forget.

Bay Shore Schools Arts Education Fund (BSSAEF) chairperson, Susan Barbash, was fortunate enough to see Hamilton during its off- Broadway run at the Public Theater.  By intermission Barbash realized that she wanted the BSSAEF to take Bay Shore’s entire junior class to see this important show.  Barbash pitched the idea to Mr. Joseph Lemke, the chairman of the Bay Shore High School Social Studies Department, Mrs. Kristina Cope (English Language Arts) and Mr. Terry Nigrelli (Director of Cultural Arts) All agreed that this would be no ordinary one-day excursion.

As Joseph Lemke observed, “Taking our students to see Hamilton presented the opportunity for an exemplar of school field trips — one that was highly engaging for the students and revolved around a multi-disciplinary curriculum in the classroom both before and after the trip.  In Social Studies, students explored the role and influence of Hamilton as a ‘Founding Father’.  In English Language Arts, students would examine the spoken word genre. Through the Cultural Arts program, students analyzed and practiced with styles of hip-hop.  If our goal is for students to recognize the relevance of the curricula beyond the walls of our school, the ‘Hamilton’ project would be a model of this approach.”

And so, on July 1, 2015 – a month before the show opened on Broadway – Barbash purchased 580 tickets the for March 30, 2016 matinee performance of Hamilton.  (Note: Because of the extraordinary demand for tickets, buying large blocks of tickets through Group Sales is no longer an option.)

Hamilton talk back all

Enhancing an already amazing experience:
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of  American History arranged for a post-performance talk back.
From left to right: Javier Munoz (Alexander Hamilton),  Moderator Kaitlin Fine, David Guzman (Ensemble), Jonathan Groff (King George), Sasha Hutchings (Ensemble),
Okieriete Onaodowan (Hercules Mulligan/James Madison),
Daveed Diggs (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson)
Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler)

The student "Hamilton Board"

A student Hamilton Board had prepared questions for the cast members, the first being, “What kind of high school student were you?”  FYI Ensemble member Sasha Hutchings was her high school valedictorian.

Hamilton was played by Miranda’s understudy Javier Munoz who some critics think is in some ways a better performer than Miranda (read NYTimes Article here). He was extraordinary in every way.

DSC_3818“Bay Shore in the House”

Hamilton publicist Sam Rudy said that this was the biggest talk-back audience they had ever had…most are no more than 50 people. He also shared the following:  In today’s performance report as issued by stage management, it was noted what a robust and responsive group yours was during the matinee.” 

LILife: Bay Shore Hamilton Read full story hereLILifeBayShoreHamilton-1


LI LIfe: 
A field trip to envy Read full story here


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NewsdayTop celebs find ways to get kids into music and to see Broadway read more >>

Newsday: To Broadway for Free / Barbash treats Bay Shore High (November 17, 1995) read full article: BSSAEF, Having Our Say Newsday articles >>