PAWS - Partners Advancing West Islip Students
2013 Annual Gala Honors George Smith, Scott Craig and Jeanne Koeper
PAWS, the education foundation, held its eighth annual Dinner-Dance Gala on March 15, 2013, honoring Scott Craig as Outstanding Educator, School Board member George Smith as Outstanding Community Member, and Jeanne Koeper as Friend of PAWS. The events of the night at Captain Bill's in Bay Shore included dinner, dancing, and a number of raffles with something of interest for all 275 of our guests.

Scott Craig is an educator with the Physical Education Department and coach of the nationally acclaimed boys lacrosse program, George Smith has served the West Islip community for 15 years as a leader, trustee, and past president of the West Islip Board of Education. Jeanne Koeper is a long-time Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent and advocate for the students of West Islip.

With your support, PAWS intends to follow the precedent of other Education Foundations around the country in providing assistance to the district through money and services that it may not otherwise be eligible to receive, such as corporate grants and fundraising dollars. PAWS is a not-for-profit organization completely run by your West Islip neighbors. Through our volunteer efforts, we will be able to use private funding to assist the district in providing a positive learning atmosphere for our students.

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Seventh Annual Gala held on April 27, 2012

Our Seventh Annual Gala was held on April 27, 2012 at the Southward Ho Country Club in Bay Shore. The Gala stood up to its promise to be an exciting evening where we will honor two members of the West Islip Community: Sue Huscilowitc, Director of Instructional Technology and Student Information, and Maria McNamee, founder of the Elizabeth T. McNamee Memorial Run which is held annually in West Islip on Mother’s Day. The events of the night included dinner, dancing, and a number of raffles with something of interest for all 275 of our guests.

With your support, PAWS  follows the precedent of other Education Foundations around the country in providing assistance to the district through money and services that it may not otherwise be eligible to receive, such as corporate grants and fundraising dollars. PAWS is a not-for-profit organization completely run by your West Islip neighbors. Through our volunteer efforts, we will be able to use private funding to assist the district in providing a positive learning atmosphere for our students.

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PAWS Presents its First Annual Business Award

During the opening ceremonies of the West Islip Summit on October 28th, PAWS President Barbara McAteer (right) and Vice President Jamie Winkler presented the education foundation's First Annual Business Award. Recipient Anthony Musumeci, owner of Anthony's Pizza on Udall Road, was honored for unselfishly providing his time and products for the benefit of the school district, its students, faculty and staff. "We are very pleased to be awarding Mr. Musumeci with our first PAWS business recognition plaque," said Ms. Winkler. "He is a wonderful member of the West Islip community."




Pictured manning the PAWS display table during the 2010 West Islip Summit is organization Secretary Lisa Portantino (left). She was joined by PAWS Vice President for Special Events Jamie Winkler. The display board on the left features photos from past Dinner-Dance Galas held annually in the spring at the Venetian Yacht Club. It is during this event that PAWS honors its Outstanding Community Member of the Year and an Outstanding Educator of the Year. The Gala is the organization's biggest fundraising event. The display board on the right contains photos from the annual Holiday Shopping Fundraiser, held on the first Sunday of December at the Barnes & Noble Book Store in Bay Shore. Monies raised at both events allow the 501 (c) (3) organization to purchase items that the school district needs but could not otherwise afford.

PAWS Announces Grant Awards During the 2009-10 School Year

West Islip's very active education foundation, PAWS, has released its donations/grants to the school district for the 2009-2010 school year, totaling $65,504.57.

The 2009-10 School Year Grants

* $1,572.00 for Learning Center Tables

* $6,200.00 for Rock Climbing Wall for indoor physical education

* $5,422.29 for a Book Nook Reading Center

* $1,200.00 for five iPODS

* $3,377.28 for Reading Tables and Chairs

* $1,099.00 for Character Education Plus

* $46,634.00 for a Recording Studio at the high school.

Since its inception five years ago, PAWS has donated over $224,000. for students and programs.

The PAWS Board of Directors examines all grant applications and makes its decisions based on the need for the program and/or supplies being requested. Each year the financial distribution plan is reevaluated, as is the criteria. Thus, requests rejected one year may be accepted the next. Please note that due to the overwhelming number of grant applications and the limited funds to be shared among the school buildings, PAWS encourages applicants to seek partial funding, thereby increasing the chances of at least obtaining a portion of the amount needed.

PAWS Awards Grants Following Dedicated Fundraising

PAWS (Partners Advancing West Islip Students), the education foundation, has held several well-attended fundraisers this school year, including its annual dinner-dance gala, and raised over $70,000, enough to award grants to several of the district's schools. Included are the Bayview, Bellew, Oquenock and Westbrook Elementary Schools, Beach Street Middle School and the High School, where the largest amount of money - over $46,000 - is being used to establish a new recording studio, requested by Director of Fine Arts & Music Education Bernie Jones. PAWS President Barbara McAteer explained that the studio will interface with the music computer lab and will also be used for the new International Baccalaureate Program that begins in September.

PAWS, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit foundation that encourages thinking outside-the-box for ways to acquire addition funds the school district needs, was initiated by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Beth Virginia Blau. Community volunteers serve on the foundation seeking ways to obtain money that the district might not otherwise qualify for. Although there is no central registry of public school foundations in the United States, they are located in every state, with best estimates putting the number at over 3,000.

2010 Annual Gala Honors Dr. Beth Virginia Blau and Gary Koffsky

PAWS, the education foundation, held its fifth annual Dinner-Dance Gala on March 12, 2010, honoring Superintendent of Schools Dr. Beth Virginia Blau as Outstanding Educator and Gary Koffsky as Outstanding Community Member. Community activist, former Board of Education President, and current New York State PTA President Susan Lipman introduced Dr. Blau to the crowd of 225 guests. Suffolk County Treasurer and West Islip PTA and school district supporter Angie Carpenter introduced Gary Koffsky.

Attending the Gala and presenting proclamations were Senator Owen Johnson and Office Manager Gordon Canary, Assemblyman Andrew Raia, Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter, Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan and his wife, and Town Councilmen Steve Flotteron and John H. Edwards. The event was held at the Venetian Yacht Club in Babylon Village.

The PAWS Gala is the organization's biggest fundraiser of the year, with monies raised through ticket sales and raffle prizes used to purchase essential items for students that the school district is unable to provide. In the past, PAWS has donated a Yamaha Baby Grand Piano to the High School Performing Arts Theatre, a Laser Engraver/Cutter System and Mobile Biotechnology Station to the high school, equipment for the elementary school MST (Math, Science, Technology) Labs, SMART Boards, a Multi Video Camera, and more, totaling over $158,000.

The current PAWS President is Barbara McAteer. Special Events Chairperson and Vice President is Jamie Winkler, Vice President for Membership is Katherine Fix, Vice President for Marketing is Jay Lipman, and Treasurer is Mary Beth Jacaruso. A DVD featuring significant moments in the lives of Dr. Blau and Mr. Koffsky ran on a loop during the evening, produced by teacher John Simeone.

"Our fifth annual PAWS Gala was an extremely successful event. Our very worthy honorees, Dr. Blau and Mr. Koffsky, were celebrated by many guests and local dignitaries. The night raised over $20,000 for the organization, which will be distributed to those chosen through our grant process. On behalf of everyone working to keep PAWS strong, I want to thank the West Islip community for its support. Together, we are all Partners Advancing West Islip Students (PAWS)," said President Barbara McAteer.

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PAWS Fundraiser at Barnes & Noble is Successful Event

PAWS held its annual fundraiser and lets-go-shopping-together holiday event at Barnes & Noble in Bay Shore, during which West Islip music students performed classical and familiar tunes for browsers, principals read to children, and West Islip administrators, staff, and Board of Education members joined the community in buying gifts for the season. A percentage of sales made by shoppers on Sunday, December 6, 2009, who showed West Islip vouchers was donated to PAWS, the 501 (c) 3 non-profit education foundation.
The six-hour event was filled with holiday greetings, laughter, and community joy.  Sales totaled close to $10,000, with the percentage being donated to the education foundation’s grant-giving program in the school district.  Pictured at right are Superintendent of Schools Dr. Beth Virginia Blau and Board of Education Vice President Annmarie LaRosa.  Additionally, Santa visited, to the delight of youngsters, and free raffles (of donated baskets of goodies) were available to adults.
Also pictured, as they were reading to young children, are Principals Jack Maniscalco (shown with his daughter), Andrew O’Farrell, and Daniel Marquardt, respectively.  Not pictured is Principal Mary Anderson.  Holiday tunes were performed by the High School Chamber Orchestra with string instructor and Conductor Judith Hayes.  Bernie Jones is Director of Dance, Music & Art for grades kindergarten through 12.
PAWS board members serve as volunteers who think outside-the-box for ways to assist the school district with needed money that it might not otherwise receive.  In recent years, the organization has given the district a $25,000 Yamaha Baby Grand Piano for the High School Performing Arts Theatre, Smart Boards for the classrooms, numerous technology equipment, and more.  Among the PAWS membership is Senator Owen Johnson.
PAWS will hold its fifth annual, and very successful, dinner-dance gala on March 16, 2010.  This event is always sold out, reports Event Chairperson Jamie Winkler.  This year's event will honor retiring Superintendent of Schools Dr. Beth Virginia Blau, who founded PAWS, with the Outstanding Educator of the Year Award, and Gary Koffsky with the Outstanding Community Member Award.





PAWS 2009 Gala Honored Ken Hartill and Cindy Galasso

PAWS (Partners Advancing West Islip Students) recently celebrated its Fourth Annual Dinner Gala on March 13, 2009 at the Venetian Yacht Club located in Babylon Village. The honorees for the evening included West Islip Principal Ken Hartill, honored for his forty years of commitment and service to education, and Cindy Galasso, honored posthumously, for her outstanding contributions to the West Islip community.

In addition to the Gala dinner and dance, business-donated offerings were raffled to raise additional funds.  Raffle donations were graciously received from POSH, Plesser’s, The Fitness Incentive, Drew Patrick Spa, IE Personal Training, and Suffolk Transportation Services.  

PAWS is an independent, not-for profit organization dedicated to enriching the educational experience of West Islip students. The organization generates resources through community support to promote, sponsor and enhance learning opportunities for the children of West Islip.

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PAWS Brick Campaign

In conjunction with the West Islip School District’s plans for the installation of the new high school turf field, PAWS is running a brick purchasing campaign to help landscape a portion of the surrounding area. Bricks will be inscribed with the names of the purchaser. Bricks can be purchased by individuals, families, sports teams and businesses. All profits from this project will be used by PAWS to fund items/ideas/initiatives of the students and teachers. Click here for a Brick Order Form.

PAWS Partners with GoodSearch and GoodShop

Supporters of PAWS are using GoodSearch and GoodShop, raising money with every search of the Internet and every purchase on-line!

GoodSearch,  a new search engine powered by Yahoo!,  donates 50% of its revenue, approximately a penny per search, to the charities designated by its users.  You use it exactly as you would any other search engine and the pennies add up quickly – just 500 people searching four times a day will earn around $7,300 in a year.  It doesn’t cost the users a thing!

Similarly with, consumers can help PAWS by shopping at hundreds of well known retailers including Amazon, Target, Apple, Macy’s, Best Buy, Orbitz, Staples and others.  The shopping experience and the prices are exactly the same as going to the retailer directly, but by going through GoodShop, up to 37% of the purchase price is donated the user’s favorite cause!

PAWS has recently registered with the sites, giving its supporters a chance to raise money for our students every time they search the Internet or shop online.  The goal is to raise funds for programs through the site to benefit the students of West Islip.

Using GoodSearch and GoodShop is simple. Because these sites are powered by Yahoo, users are assured of high quality results - but each time you search, money is generated by the advertisers. Just click on the GoodSearch logo located on each page of this website to search or shop!


PAWS 2008 Gala Honored Barbara McAteer and Norm Wingert

The third annual PAWS Education Foundation Dinner-Dance was held  at the Venetian Yacht Club with 275 guests in attendance. Community member, school activist and former Board of Education Vice President, Barbara McAteer, was honored with the 2008 PAWS Outstanding Community Member Award and West Islip High School teacher and Student Senate Advisor Norm Wingert was presented with the PAWS 2008 Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award.

During the cocktail hour, student-donated artwork, a plasma, flat screen TV, and a variety of business-donated offerings were raffled as a major fundraiser for PAWS, which in the last several years has purchased approximately $200,000 of equipment to enhance students’ learning experiences. PAWS’ gifts include a Baby Grand Yamaha piano for the high school Performing Arts Theatre, SMART Boards for classrooms, a Mobile Bio Technology Station, a Laser Engraver/Cutter, and new equipment for the MST (Math, Science and Technology) Labs.

Pictured are scenes from the gala, including honorees Ms. McAteer and Mr. Wingert, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Beth Virginia Blau, PAWS President Tom McAteer, and the Dinner-Dance Committee of Chairperson Jamie Winkler, Annmarie LaRosa, Mary Beth Jacaruso, and Katherine Fix, who oversaw the PAWS Gala Journal.

Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation created to honor the award recipients.


2007 Shopping Fundraiser at Barnes & Noble

A shopping-for-holiday-gifts fundraiser for PAWS was held at the Barnes & Noble Book Store in Bay Shore that helped community residents prepare for the holiday season while benefiting the education foundation.  Shoppers using a PAWS voucher at the cashier helped to divert a percentage of their sales to PAWS, while also receiving raffle tickets to win a variety of baskets full of surprises.  Teachers, administrators, Board of Education Trustees, and students' families gathered to support the foundation that has purchased numerous large and expensive items for the school district, including a Yamaha baby grand piano for the high school auditorium and Smart Boards for classrooms at the secondary level.

Organized by PAWS member Annmarie Mahony, the event featured holiday music by student musicians led by Director of Music Bernie Jones and music teacher Dave Kaufman.  Students volunteered to handle raffle tickets and to wrap purchases.  Board of Education member Wayne Smith donned his Santa outfit to the delight of little ones, later reading to them "It was the Night Before Christmas.  Also reading to the children were several principals, including Westbrook's Jack Maniscalco and Bellew's Dan Hunter.



PAWS Announces Honorees for Planned 2008 Gala Dinner-Dance
PAWS, the education foundation, will hold its third annual Dinner-Dance Gala at the Venetian Yacht Club on March 14, 2008.  The Event Committee, chaired by Jamie Winkler, has announced that the recipient of the 2008 Outstanding Community Member Award is Barbara McAteer.  The Outstanding Educator of the Year Award will be presented to Norm Wingert. As plans progress, updated information will be posted on this site.
PAWS Participates in 2007 West Islip Chamber of Commerce Expo held at LaGrange on October 23rd. 

Pictured at the PAWS display and membership table are (left to right) 2006-07 Vice President Annmarie LaRosa and member Maryann Mahany.

Pictured with new Corporate Sponsors Robert and Diane Fontana of A Perfect View Custom Window Fashions, Inc. is 2008 PAWS Vice President Jamie Winkler (center).

Shown with PAWS recruitment committee member Ronnie Stoll is Jeff Guida of the New York Islanders Hockey Team, who generously offered four tickets to an upcoming game for the education foundation to use as a fundraiser. 

PAWS Donates Technology's Latest Learning Tool to the West Islip School District

Students in Beth Fiorini's grade 9 Global Studies class are shown working with one of the Smart Boards that were donated to the school district by PAWS, the education foundation.  Smart Boards are the latest technological advance in helping students to learn better and understand more quickly. Electronic white boards - as they are also known - allow for dynamic lessons in whole-class teaching with interaction by the students. Just as a computer is controlled by a "mouse," a Smart Board, which displays computer images, is controlled by the touch of the teacher’s finger. Images can be saved to the students’ computers and printed later. Prices for one Smart Board begin at $1,500, depending on the type of technology utilized and the quality of the projection surface.  

Pictured with Ms. Fiorini are
Sarah H. and Christopher F.

PAWS Co-Sponsors W.I.H.S.'s First 50th Birthday Celebration

On May 19th, PAWS co-sponsored one of the community biggest events of this school year: the West Islip High School 50th Birthday Party and All-Years Reunion.

Held in the high school, the turnout was large with many returning to school from out-of-state residences. The biggest attendance was from the Class of the 1970s. New class photos were taken, tours of the building were provided to show off the new library-media center, computer labs, dance studio and more (which also provided opportunities for stories about how things used to be), and a variety of food was available at the Food Court. Entertainment was plentiful, provided by the Music Department in the Performing Arts Center, departmental displays were set up in the hallways, and alumni souvenirs and clothing were sold by DECA in the School Store and several of the athletic teams. To the delight of many, former board members, administrators, union leaders and staff members, as well as previous superintendents joined Superintendent of Schools Dr. Beth Virginia Blau, Assistant Superintendent Joe Stern, Principal Ken Hartill, Associate Principal Ellen Quaglio and Dean Joann Hilbert in the celebration.

Proclamations were presented to Principal Hartill by State Senator Owen Johnson and his assistant Gordon Canary, State Assemblyman Andrew Raia, and Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter.

A good time was had by all as old friendships were renewed, children and grandchildren were introduced, and new memories were created.

Proclamations were presented for the high school's 50th birthday. Pictured are (left to right) Board of Education Trustee Sharon Bieselin, Assemblyman Andrew Raia, Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter, Principal Ken Hartill, State Senator Owen Johnson, Asst. Supt. Joe Stern, former Board member and president Susan Lipman, and Board Trustee Steve Gellar.

Shown at the party are (left to right)PAWS Vice President Annmarie Larosa, the West Islip mascot, Board of Education President George Smith, Board Trustee Steve Gellar and Superintendent Dr. Beth Blau.


Former Superintendent of Schools
Dr. and Mrs. Bill Bernhard with the West Islip mascot.

One of many class photos taken at
the celebration.

Membership table

The PAWS table
Second Annual Dinner-Dance Held March 16th 

PAWS, the West Islip Education Foundation, held its second annual Dinner-Dance on March 16th at the Venetian Yacht Club.  This year's event honored two extraordinary community members, Susan Lipman and Bernie Jones, who were presented with the 2007 Outstanding Community Member Award and 2007 Outstanding Educator Award, respectively. 

The gala was a complete success, with guests still going strong on the dance floor at 11 p.m.  Despite the snow, wind, sleet and rain outside the catering hall, over 260 guests inside enjoyed the cocktail hour and dinner.  Pictured are scenes from the party, which includes presentations by NYS Assemblyman Andrew Raia, Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan, Islip Town Councilman Steve Flotteron, and Eastern Suffolk BOCES Asst. Superintendent Michael Locantore.

Click here to view the PowerPoint Slideshow created to honor these extraordinary people.

PAWS Board with Islip Town Supervisor, Phil Nolan

2006 Fundraiser at Barnes & Noble is Huge Success

An event that joined Barnes & Noble in Bay Shore with PAWS, the West Islip education foundation, was an overwhelming success in every way, reports PAWS (Partners Advancing West Islip Students) Vice President Annmarie LaRosa. The Sunday event - which featured Board of Education Trustee Wayne Smith greeting youngsters as Santa, Elementary School Principal Jack Maniscalco reading stories to children, World Languages Director Carmen Campos and puppets telling stories in French and Spanish, the High School Chamber Group performing numerous pieces, and students and Board of Education Vice President Barbara McAteer wrapping purchases - turned into a true community-wide happening. Also on hand were administrators, teachers, and community members offering assistance.

Additionally, the Chamber Group was thrilled when an out-of-town shopper, who was enjoying the music, gave his credit card to an employee at the coffee and dessert counter and said he wanted to treat the performers for a job very well done.

Throughout the fun-filled day, West Islip residents used PAWS' vouchers obtained on the website to make their holiday purchases. A percentage of those sales is being donated to PAWS by the bookstore. According to Ms. LaRosa, "PAWS' supporters generated nearly $10,000 that day, a percentage of which will go to the education foundation for its grant-giving program."

PAWS President Tom McAteer commented the next day that Sunday was "the essence of a community-focused event. It was a wonderful time for all." He also added his appreciation, on behalf of the PAWS Board of Directors, to the staff at Barnes & Noble.

"I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him." 
 Abraham Lincoln






PAWS Participates in 2006 Chamber Expo

PAWS participated in the West Islip Chamber of Commerce Expo on October 26th, held at LaGrange. Display boards, brochures and flyers were available to the visitors in addition to DVDs titled "The History of West Islip."

Created by the school district, "The History of West Islip" begins with the Indians selling the land that was to become West Islip and takes viewers through the farming days, the arrival of the railroad, the first school opened in 1807, to the present day. 


Pictured at the Expo are PAWS President Tom McAteer (left) and Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Joe Stern.

PAWS Co-Sponsors W.I.H.S.'s First 50th Birthday Celebration

West Islip PAWS, the education foundation, hosted the high school's first celebratory event of the new school year, marking its 50th birthday. Tying in to the Homecoming celebrations of September 30th, PAWS (Partners Advancing West Islip Students) held a reception following the football game that included a tour of the building's new facilities and refreshments. Pictured are some of the special activities that guests enjoyed.


Student A.J. Leiman preformed "Rhapsody in Blue" on the new Yamaha Grand Piano recently presented to
the high school by PAWS.
  The award-winning Robotics Team provided demonstrations
and a Q&A session
Chamber of Commerce Vice President and
West Islip alumni Joe DiPalma presented a plaque to Principal Ken Hartill in honor of the school's 50th birthday.
A demonstration by math teachers Tom Longobardi and Craig Michael drew a crowd wanting to know more about the new SMART Boards, recently donated by PAWS.

Education Foundation Donates Yamaha Piano to W.I.H.S.

PAWS (Partners Advancing West Islip Students), the education foundation that formed a year ago, has made its first purchase and donation to enhance education in West Islip Schools. Using monies raised from private community resources, special activities, and during its first big event, a Dinner-Dance honoring Angie Carpenter Tony Mellino, the non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization approved a grant application from the Music Department and Director Bernie Jones for a grand piano in the high school. The Yamaha C6 piano, which cost over $23,000, was delivered to the school in time for the Spring Concert on May 17th.

Pictured at this extraordinary instrument is 10th grade soloist A.J. Leiman, described as a "phenomenal musician," who performed "Rhapsody in Blue."

According to PAWS Secretary Annmarie LaRosa, "This piano will provide a lasting gift of music for the students and community for many years to come." At a Board of Education meeting, Ms. LaRosa, representing PAWS President Tom McAteer who was out-of-town, formally donated the piano as a gift from the foundation to the school district. She later encouraged everyone in attendance to "visit the website to learn how to be part of a positive solution to some of the needs of this school district."

Contacted later, Mr. McAteer said, "I saw and heard the piano and am confident that this community will be very proud of our efforts in PAWS and the lasting gift of music that this outstanding instrument will provide for many, many years."

PAWS Education Foundation's First Major Event a Success

Partners Advancing West Islip Students (PAWS), the recently-formed education foundation, has held its first major fund-raiser: a Dinner-Dance at the Venetian Yacht Club in Babylon with almost 250 guests in attendance. The event honored Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter for her work as Suffolk County Legislator, and teacher and coach Tony Mellino, with the PAWS Education Award.

PAWS, a volunteer community group whose mission is to assist the school district in ways permitted via its 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status under the Internal Revenue Code, raised $25,000 at the event through the sale of tickets, journal ads, and raffles of prizes donated by local businesses.

According to PAWS President Tom McAteer and Event Chairperson Jamie Winkler, a number of grants were submitted to the PAWS Committee and the first recipients will be announced sometime this month.

PAWS Secretary Annmarie LaRosa says that education foundations for public schools have been around for years, and explains that monies raised have no connection or impact on the district's tax base or annual school budget, and can be used for resources such as VCRs, literary materials, and classroom smartboards. All contributions made to PAWS are tax deductible to the extent provided by law. PAWS' mailing address is P.O. Box 107, West Islip, NY 11795.


Angie Carpenter was presented with the PAWS Community Award.  Pictured are (left to right) PAWS President Tom McAteer, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Beth Virginia Blau, Ms. Carpenter, and Event Coordinator Jamie Winkler.

Tony and Edie Mellino
Superintendent, Dr. Beth Virginia Blau

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PAWS     P.O. Box  67     West Islip, NY 11795
Partners Advancing West Islip Students