Superintendent's Blog

On Monday, January 18, 2021, the South Orangetown Central School District will be closed in observance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and the pivotal role he played in the Civil Rights Movement.  We call this day, MLK Day and this day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service.  On MLK Day, all Americans are encouraged to volunteer to improve their communities.

We at SOCSD have made a strong commitment to serving our community and understand the critical role that we play towards developing a sense of service in our students.  When young men and women are encouraged to “step outside of themselves” and consider how their actions may impact upon the lives of others in a positive way, each can strengthen his or her own sense of “collective self.”  This is important since most children are developmentally predisposed towards a strong sense of their “individual selves” …that’s a good thing – we want students who will have a strong sense of their own identity who can be uniquely vital to the world.   Beyond this, however, community service can improve how our students connect to the world around them, and put into action what it truly means to be an American and a global citizen.

While there are many ways that we promote a sense of service in our community, I can think of no better example of community service in action than the collaborative effort shown at our SOCSD Food Pantry, located at the former Tappan Zee Elementary School.  The SOCSD Food Pantry was originally designed to assist families struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but has grown into a permanent resource to help our community members dealing with food insecurity.  The SOCSD Food Pantry is under the direction of Dr. Karen Tesik, Executive Director of Pupil Personnel Services and Ms. AJ Walker, Director of the SOCSD Family Engagement Center.

If anyone in our community is looking for an opportunity to volunteer and to get involved, the SOCSD Food Pantry is a great opportunity to serve right here in our local community.  If you would like to volunteer, please contact us by emailing or calling (845) 721-6083.  Beyond this, if you would like to know more about how to include service to others as part of a healthy lifestyle for you and your family, please visit The Corporation for National and Community Service’s website at:

Lastly, I would like to thank the following individuals who have given their time, talents, and resources towards the success of the SOCSD Food Pantry:

Community volunteers who have gone “above and beyond” by distributing food and stocking shelves: Evan Karzhevsky, AnneMarie Uhl, Dan Lamadrid, Lonnie Jacobs, Mitchell Jacobs and Russell Jacobs.

Student ambassadors: Isabella Lamadrid, Matt Tobin and Olivia Steger (Olivia developed a web application to manage inventory)

SOCSD staff: Karen Tesik, Pat Kelly, Lillian Croyle, Jackie Garrecht, Kleo Girandola, Joe Lloyd, AJ Walker, Bobbie-Angela Wong, Jessenia Cursio, Jessica Inglis, Ponnu Varghese-John, Lisa Jacobs and Karen McNee.

A special thanks to Jamie Fodor, Heidi Hill, Bill Hughes, Marisa Premus and all of the EASO members for organizing a wonderful display of support for our families and food pantry team. The holiday music and parade of donations allowed us to restock our shelves for the new year and remind us that “Together We Can” and do what we need to help each other.

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