Tags Posts tagged with "Homecoming"

Homecoming

Defense was the story of the game Oct. 19 when Centereach senior Matt Robbert broke the ice when he punched in on short yardage for the touchdown midway through the second quarter. Robbert then kicked an extra point to make it 7-0.

Smithtown East struggled offensively, and it wasn’t until junior running back Tyler Pohlman punched in on a short run for the Bulls with under two minutes left. Needing the extra point to retie the game, the kick was partially blocked and the Cougars held on for a 7-6 win, dampening the Bulls’ homecoming celebration.

Eric Harrington got the call time and time again grinding out 107 yards on 20 carries for the Cougars, while Robbert gained 55 yards in 10 attempts.

The win lifts Centereach to 3-3 who hit the road against Connetquot Oct. 25 before returning home to face Half Hollow Hills East Nov. 1.

Smithtown East slips to 2-4 and must win out against Half Hollow Hills East Oct. 26 and Northport Nov. 2 for any hopes of postseason play.

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PJ Royals Win in Homecoming Blowout

Port Jefferson homecoming football game against Greenport/Southold/Mattituck Oct. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

The weekend of Oct. 4-6 was one of purple and Royals pride. Hundreds swarmed through Port Jefferson during the annual parade, and more gathered in the Joe Erland Field for fun and games, as the Village of Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson School District, Port Jefferson Free Library and local residents combined their efforts to put on a huge blowout celebration.

When it came to the game at 2 p.m. Oct. 5, it was a Royal’s rout when Greenport/Southold/Mattituck came calling and was blown out by Port Jefferson 62-0. From the opening kickoff it was all Port Jeff as wide receiver Aidan Kaminska proved unstoppable as the senior found the end zone three times, along with teammates Luke Verruto and Luke Filippi who each had a pair of touchdowns. Junior Alex Ledesma split the uprights eight times for the extra point.Senior quarterback Sam Florio, who was healthy after missing last week’s game against Mount Sinai, threw for over 250 yards with four TD passes in the Div. IV matchup.

The win lifts the Royals to 2-3 with three games remaining before the post season and are back in action with a road game against Elwood John Glenn Oct. 12. Kickoff is at 1:30pm.

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Village, school district, businesses and community come together for new homecoming celebration. Photo by Kyle Barr

“Always a Royal.”

That is how school district and village officials alike are calling present and past residents to attend this year’s homecoming celebration, shifting away from school-centered pride to exulting the whole of Port Jefferson.

The village and district are working hand in hand to create a celebration at Joe Erland Field near Caroline Avenue just west of Barnum Avenue. The celebration will include food, games and music from a DJ, and will take place in between the annual parade that flows down Main Street and the homecoming game set to take place Saturday, Oct. 5.

Port Jefferson homecoming floats make their way through the parade Oct. 21, 2017. File photo by Bill Landon

The change has come in response to district officials last year canceling the annual bonfire. As classic as it was, school district officials said the bonfire was unsafe and a redundant way of gathering school pride. They said it meant children wandering into nearby woods without supervision, adding their own internal pep rally did enough to promote school spirit.

Port Jeff Superintendent Paul Casciano said the bonfire could not continue as it had before, especially considering security and safety.

“We cannot guarantee that when children are dropped off at the high school for this particular night event, that they are in an environment that is safe and secure,” he said. “We are grateful for the conversations that have developed among community members, our board of education members and staff to come up with a carefully considered plan as we move forward.”

Not letting themselves get discouraged, community members looked to celebrate Port Jeff pride, and more than that, bridge the gap between school district, village, shops and community.

Jae Hartzell, a Port Jefferson resident and a local photographer, said many residents were upset the bonfire was canceled, calling it an old tradition. She started looking toward creating something new, perhaps even establishing a new tradition in itself. She and fellow resident Paul Braille have worked alongside school and village officials in crafting the new event.

“[This event] is a really enriching tradition and there’s a huge collaboration to increase school pride and school spirit that will continue for generations,” Hartzell said. “It’s all about creating traditions in the community — a way to stay rooted with your community.”

Along with several food trucks, the field will also be littered with games of Can Jam, Cornhole and giant Jenga, all provided through the Port Jefferson Free Library. There will also be face painting on behalf of the school art department.

Beyond the celebration at surrounding Caroline Avenue, the school district has connected with multiple businesses to emphasize school spirit and the community as a whole, including alumni. PJ Brewery is promoting live music by the band Damaged Goods, while throughout the weekend businesses will be promoting happy hour and brunch specials specifically for alumni. Prohibition Kitchen will also include Mayor Margot Garant as guest bartender Oct. 5. Participating restaurants include Nantuckets, Joey-Z, Prohibition Kitchen, Junior’s Spycoast, Billie’s 1890 Saloon and Old Fields Restaurant, just to name a few.

The Joe Erland Field will play host to an upcomming homecoming celebration. Photo by Kyle Barr

In the first meetings looking to create the new homecoming event, village trustee Kathianne Snaden was brought on board to give the village’s point of view. She said she immediately took to the idea. The village has put up the funds to pay for the food trucks, the DJ, physical and online promotions and has allowed the use of the field. Meanwhile, Port Jeff students will be creating a banner to go up along the football field at the high school, each letter being done by a different grade from Kindergarten through fifth grade, spelling “Royals.” The event, she said, has the possibility of doing much to bridge a gap between village and school district, one that has existed from each entity “doing their own thing.”

“When this came up, I said I wanted to take this up and make this work, because for the village this bridge has been broken for so long for whatever reason,” the trustee said.

“This is the best way to bring that back.”

School board Vice President Tracy Zamek said once the district established there would no longer be a bonfire at homecoming, the idea of bringing the community together in celebration, off school property and hosted by the village, immediately appealed to them. 

“We’re really excited about waking up the village and bringing the school and village together as one entity — as a tight-knit community,” Zamek said.

Those involved said they hope the new event will bring in more people for the annual homecoming game, which all said has had relatively little attendance for the past few years.

In regard to the food trucks, Snaden said the businesses were contacted first to see if they would be available to set up stalls, but according to the trustee none had the correct permits. Having them host specials throughout the weekend was a way in which they could contribute, she said, with Hartzell adding she hoped they may be able to get the permits to participate in the future. 

Festivities start Oct. 4 at the PJ Brewery with Damaged Goods playing at 7 p.m. The following day will include an 11 a.m. parade that rolls down Main Street and crosses over West Broadway onto Barnum Avenue, letting people move onto Joe Erland Field for the days’ activities. The football game is set to kickoff at 2 p.m. Alumni will receive complimentary mimosas at village restaurants for brunch that Sunday, Oct. 6.

Quest to remember the Royals fight song

In preparation for the upcoming homecoming, Port Jeff music staff wanted to bring back the classic “fight song” played at homecoming in the decades past.

However, there was a problem, said Christine Creighton, the middle and high school band teacher. The music sheets were nowhere to be found. 

Mike Caravello, the director of music and fine arts at PJSD, gathered together music teachers from across the district, including Creighton, middle and high school chorus teacher Jeffrey Trelewicz and middle school band teacher Edward Pisano, to find a way to bring back the fight music. 

It came from an unexpected place. One of the security staff at the district, Amy Goldstein, is an alumnus and told the staff she was part of the marching band when she was in school in the ’80s and knew the fight song by heart. It is a jaunty tune, a classic marching theme that’s short and to the point. 

“We’re really excited about waking up the village and bringing the school and village together as one entity — as a tight-knit community.”

— Tracy Zamek

Creighton said Goldstein recorded the song for her. Taking that, she transcribed  it on piano while the music staff helped her with the harmony. They then put it into music writing software. 

They played it back for Goldstein, and she reacted with glee. 

“She said, ‘It’s just like the real thing,’” Creighton said.

Alumni, the music staff said, are “coming out of the woodwork,” to help bring the song back for the upcoming homecoming game. 

“They can all sing the fight song, they know it by heart,” said Caravello.

The middle school marching band will be leading this year’s parade, while the pep band will play the fight song at the end of the midday celebration at Joe Erland Field and during the homecoming game itself. Residents can expect to hear the song Oct. 5.

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Rocky Point senior Dakota Strong leads his team onto the field in a homecoming football game against Amityville Sept. 21. Photo by Bill Landon

Despite three Rocky Point touchdowns being called back on offensive penalties, the Eagles hammered visiting Amityville in a 35-0 shutout victory at their annual homecoming game Sept. 12. Rocky Point running back Devin Cline led his team when he powered his way to the endzone on three superate occasions as the junior carried the ball 15 times covering 170 yards. Quarterback Gavin Davanzo threw for 34 yards on six attempts and found the endzone on a 1-yard run. Matt Sweeney, a junior, punched into the endzone from short yardage while junior Sean Bernhard was perfect on the day splitting the uprights five times.

The win lifts Rocky Point to 2-0 where they blanked Miller Place last week. The Eagle defensive lineup has yet to allow any points against them.

Rocky Point is back in action when they travel to Eastport/South Manor Sept. 28. Game time is at 2:00pm.

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By Bill Landon

The Mount Sinai Mustangs football team scored a homecoming game victory Oct. 13, defeating Center Moriches 42-21. Mount Sinai improved its record to 6-0 with the victory, and will look to make it seven straight to start the season Oct. 19 at home against Elwood John Glenn.

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The Comsewogue Warriors varsity football team steamrolled its way to a homecoming victory Oct. 6, dismantling Rocky Point 55-0. The win moves the Warriors to 4-1 this season. Comsewogue will be back in action Oct. 13 at Miller Place for a 2:30 p.m. game.

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Capping off a week of school-spirited events and a parade complete with floats from each grade level, the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School Royals football team took the homecoming win against Bayport-Blue Point, 34-16, Oct. 6.

Many spectators were in town to celebrate their 40 year high school reunion and joined in the festivities by riding in the parade and cheering on the Royals. Others lined the streets of Port Jefferson Village as the students and Disney-themed floats, student-musicians led by music teacher Mark Abbonizio, families, board of education members, teachers and administrators shared their royal pride.

Port Jeff schools' 2018 Wall of Fame honorees Heather West-Serignese, third from left; Elizabeth Schwartz accepting on behalf of her mother Honor Gracey Kopcienski, fourth from right; and David Okst, second from right, pose with high school principal Christine Austen, left, and the students who introduced them after the Oct. 5 ceremony. Photo by Alex Petroski

Some of Port Jeff’s best and brightest had their day in the sun as part of the school district’s homecoming weekend.

Port Jefferson School District welcomed three new honorees to its Wall of Fame during an Oct. 5 ceremony in the high school library. The 2018 inductees are Heather West-Serignese, a 1999 graduate who became a chef and was the winning contestant on the cooking show “Hell’s Kitchen,” in addition to her work establishing a support group for mothers suffering from postpartum depression; David Okst, a 1985 graduate who excelled in high school and at Penn State University as a student and track & field athlete and has since volunteered his time to coach several high school athletic teams; and Honor Gracey Kopcienski, a Port Jefferson High School graduate who died in September 2016 at 84 years old, and was the organist at Infant Jesus R.C. Church in the village for more than 50 years, known for her compassion, kindness and dedication to serving the community.

The Wall of Fame was created in 1996 with the goal of honoring former students and faculty members for achievements in their chosen field who were part of the school community for at least two years and have been out of the district for at least five. Honorees must be nominated by another member of the school community.

“They all possess a passion for community service and they have all dedicated their lives to helping others, and I think that is a very important point for our graduates and our students that are sitting here,” high school principal Christine Austen said during the ceremony.

Heather West-Serignese

West-Serignese described herself as someone who overcame many challenges growing up, including learning disabilities and battles with depression. She studied at The Culinary Institute of America after graduation and earned an associate’s degree from Suffolk County Community College. She excelled professionally in the kitchen, winning Season 2 of Gordon Ramsey’s “Hell’s Kitchen” in 2007 and later becoming the head chef at a casino in Las Vegas.

Heather West-Serignese. Photo by Alex Petroski

In 2016, she and her husband John had their first child, Jackson, which led to a period suffering from postpartum depression. In June 2017, the couple lost their second child when she was 22 weeks pregnant.

West-Serignese and her friend Emily Ciancarelli, who also suffered from postpartum depression, started East End Play Dates in 2017, a group meant to help moms deal with the condition by getting out of the house and arranging play dates with others sharing the same experience. The organization achieved 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and has helped more than 8,000 moms since its inception.

“It’s kind of awesome because I had severe problems in high school with learning, and a lot of teachers were very supportive, but at the same time there were kids that you knew weren’t going to succeed and I was probably below that line,” she said. “I was told even in college that I wouldn’t amount to much and I got bullied a lot in high school, and I got bullied a lot in college, and then to kind of come back as one of the successful people, it’s kind of like a ‘told you so.’”

She said she struggled through her school years and embraces that she can be held up as an example for people achieving success even when it seems unattainable early in life.

“When I was in high school I was put at risk for almost committing suicide because things were difficult — things were really hard,” she said. “I’ve been there, I’ve been at that low point where I thought that I wasn’t going to accomplish anything, and I thought that anybody would care, but now looking back, I’m looking back at all the things I would’ve missed out on. Nothing was perfect. It was really, really hard — but if you want something it’s completely possible.”

David Okst

David Okst. Photo by Alex Petroski

During high school, Okst was a member of the National Honor Society and a stand out performer on the track. He continued both of those trends while at Penn State University, and upon graduating, returned to the community where he joined the Port Jefferson Fire Department, a role he has filled for more than 20 years. He currently volunteers his time as a coach for boys varsity cross country, winter track and spring track.

Five years ago, Okst made a substantial contribution to Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, which went toward expanding the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

The runner turned firefighter and coach called the induction an incredible honor.

“I think sometimes when we come to school to work or teach or coach we don’t realize sort of the impact we have on kids,” he said. “Every day the things we say and do, even the mood we’re in, you know the kids see all that. I just love being around the kids, seeing them every day, seeing the crazy things they say, the ridiculous things they do, it’s really a lot of fun for me, and I would never trade that for anything.”

Honor Gracey Kopcienski

Kopcienski was awarded with the recognition posthumously, as her daughter Elizabeth Schwartz, pictured below, attended to accept the honor on her behalf. She and her husband Johnny, who also went by Alfred and was also a graduate from the high school, were community members through and through, having married in 1952 and producing eight children and 24 grandchildren.

Her more than five decades at Infant Jesus made her a pillar in the community, contributing her musical talents to hundreds of weddings, funerals and Masses. She was also generous with her gifts, teaching music and accompanying countless children and local performers. She played for the Manhasset Glee Club, Port Jefferson Choral Society, Southold Town Choral Society, Choral Society of Moriches, SUNY Stony Brook, and master classes given by the opera singer Eleanor Steber in her Belle Terre home, according to Schwartz.

Elizabeth Schwartz. Photo by Alex Petroski

Kopcienski was also generous beyond her musical talents, actively supporting the Port Jefferson Rotary Club in charitable efforts, as well as donating a piano to Infant Jesus Parish Center and contributing funds for another at her old high school. She was also a regular contributor and supporter of Hope House Ministries.

“My mother Honor and her husband Al were the kind of people that never said ‘No’ to a need in the community,” Schwartz told the students attending the ceremony. “And when you walk by someone who’s homeless and think, ‘somebody should take care of that;’ or you see somebody who is struggling with mental illness and you say, ‘somebody should take care of that;’ or when you hear about famine in other countries and you say, ‘somebody should take care of that;’ those somebodies were my mother and my father, and I hope today, that being on the Wall of Fame, you’ll walk by that every day and think, ‘I want to be that somebody.’”

She summed up what the day honoring her mother was like.

“Being here is a validation of the importance of people every day giving back to community, and that’s how I feel coming back here,” she said. “This is the way we want to be — this is who we want to be as a society, and I’m hoping that a little bit of that will be left with Honor’s picture behind.”

Residents of the Three Village Central School District rooted the Patriots on to a homecoming win against Walt Whitman High School Oct. 6.

The Patriots varsity football team beat the Walt Whitman High School Wildcats 32-10. Ward Melville now ranks 5-0 in the league, which is the first time since 1974.

Before the big game, students and families enjoyed a parade and carnival where attendees participated in games, crafts and listened to live music.

The Patriots will travel to William Floyd Oct. 13 and Longwood High School Oct. 20. Their next home game is Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m.

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The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats destroyed Hampton Bays in its homecoming game Oct. 6, defeating the Baymen 50-0. The win moved the Wildcats to 4-1 this season. They’ll be back in action Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. at Babylon.