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Mount Sinai

Mustangs earn No. 1 seed in Class C postseason bracket, which begins May 23 for Mount Sinai. Comsewogue claims No. 2 seed and begins B qualifier play in semis May 23.

Mount Sinai boys lacrosse team members pile up on Tyler Gatz after he scored a buzzer-beating game-winning goal for sole possession of the Division II title. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Tyler Gatz took home the Division II title for Mount Sinai.

With the Mustangs down 3-2 in the final minutes, the freshman midfielder assisted on classmate Brendon Ventarola’s game-tying shot before scoring the go-ahead goal as the buzzer sounded for a 4-3 home win over Comsewogue May 11.

Mount Sinai’s Tyler Gatz looks to get around Comsewogue’s Karl Lacalandra. Photo by Bill Landon

The game-winning play called for the ball to end up in the stick of senior JoJo Pirreca, but Gatz said he saw an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“The play was sideways,” the freshman said. “I saw that they over-pursued me, so I put the stick in my left hand, got top side and just let it go.”

Mount Sinai was tied with Islip at 12-1 atop the league leaderboard heading into Friday’s game. Harborfields and Comsewogue were tied for second (10-2), but the Tornadoes took down Islip earlier in the evening (13-7) to leave the Mustangs to battle it out with the Warriors for sole possession.

“Comsewogue played great defense tonight — they did a great job, so I feel fortunate that we were able to get this win,” Mount Sinai head coach Harold Drumm said. “It’s easy when you win 10-1, but [we were] playing a tough team and things [were] not going our way. Our team showed it had a lot of heart, and that’s what tells you if you have a team or not.”

Comsewogue attack Richie Lacalandra gets checked by Mount Sinai’s Matt Ventarola. Photo by Bill Landon

After a scoreless first quarter, Comsewogue senior Anthony Passarella broke the ice, and juniors Chris Wolfe and Sean Kennedy scored next to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead with 4:11 remaining until the halftime break. Known for its stout defense, Comsewogue remained solid until eighth-grader Joseph Spallina’s solo shot rocked the back of the cage to end of the quarter.

Not wanting his age to be paired with inexperience, the team’s scoring leader proved his prowess when he struck again four minutes into the third on an assist from junior Dominic Boscarino to pull his team within one, 3-2.

“When we were down 3-1 we really weren’t moving the ball,” said Spallina, who ranks seventh among all Suffolk scorers with 76 points on 34 goals and 42 assists.

The freshman said his team wanted to take it slow, thinking back to the lone loss of the season, a 10-9 defeat at the hands of Islip April 11, and wanted to redeem that loss by taking sole possession of the division crown. Comsewogue went a man-down on three separate occasions and Mount Sinai was unable to capitalize.

Mount Sinai’s Joseph Spallina drives past Comsewogue defenseman Zach Gagnon. Photo by Bill Landon

The tables turned when Spallina was flagged for an infraction and served a one-minute penalty to close out the third, and his team again went a man-down with under three minutes left in the fourth, but Comsewogue couldn’t find the net.

“We had one devastating loss against a really good team,” Spallina said of the loss to Islip. “So we were thinking, ‘Just make one stop at a time.’”

Mount Sinai gained possession with less than 40 seconds left and moved the ball around the cage to let time tick off, allowing for just one last shot before a looming overtime period, which is when Gatz made his move.

“They play hard, they’re very well-coached,” Drumm said of Comsewogue. “We know they have great athletes on the field and we knew we had to tighten up a little in the crease, and even down 3-1 we [knew we’d have] opportunities on offense. We needed to keep believing, so I just tried to stay the course.”

The Mustangs earn the No. 1 seed with the win. Mount Sinai will host the winner of Thursday’s matchup between No. 4 Shoreham-Wading River and No. 5 Sayville in the Class C semifinals May 23 at 4 p.m. Comsewogue, the No. 2 seed, will compete in the Class B semifinals , hosting the winner of the No. 3 East Islip and No. 6 Half Hollow Hills West game May 23 at 4 p.m.

TD Bank is located at 620 Route 25A in Mount Sinai. Image from Google Maps

The first official meeting for the Mount Sinai-Miller Place Chamber Alliance, the new chamber of commerce that was formed following the reorganization of the North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce, will take place at TD Bank in Mount Sinai Wednesday, May 16, from 6 to 8 p.m.  

Guest speakers will include Suffolk Coutnty Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) and mentoring and networking coach Michael Capaldo.

The meeting is free and open to all who wish to attend. Light appetizers and soft drinks will be served.

For more information, call 631-223-8558.

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Boys track and field team guarantees piece of second straight outdoor league title with win over Southampton. Junior Kenneth Wei breaks two school records.

By Bill Landon

These type of Mustangs like to be pushed.

The Mount Sinai track and field team feeds off the pressure in practice — touting it as one of the main reasons the boys have been able to stay undefeated.

“We just have guys that work hard every day,” Sean Higgins said. “The coaches push us, and push us hard. They push us until we’re great.”

The junior was off to the races in a 102-34 win over visiting Southampton May 2, coming first in the 800-meter run and 1,600, and placing second in the 3,200. He also competed in the 4×400 relay.

His top finish was 5 minutes, 20 seconds in the mile.

“It’s not my best,” he said. “So we’ve got to get back to work and train that much harder.”

Junior Kenneth Wei on the other hand had two bests. He broke the school record in the long jump with 21-10.75 jump and triple jump with a 43-10.5 leap. He also finished first in the 110 high hurdles.

Head coach Lee Markowitz said Wei, who is at the top of his class, is the most coachable athlete he’s ever worked with, and defines what a scholar athlete is.

“Like my coaches say, it’s who wants it more,” Wei said. “It’s the desire to compete — to go up against the best of the best. It’s what drives us to keep going.”

Markowitz said Ryan Wilson is another junior who helps round out a strong, dedicated All-County class. Wilson is noted by his coach for his versatility.

“Ryan is a gifted distance runner who is always willing to help the team,” the coach said. “He excels in both the 400 and 800 events and is always ready to jump into the 1,600 or relay event if it means securing a victory for the team.”

Jack Pilon, one of seven seniors on a roster of nearly 60, said his 5-0 Mustangs benefit greatly from having so many tools in the toolbox.

“We have the depth,” he said. “Our sixth, seventh and eighth milers, they’re the ones out here with us every day doing the same amount of work, so I think that when other teams compete with us it’s difficult to keep up. We’ve got 10 guys that can go under five minutes in the mile — it’s hard to [compete] with that.”

Wilson also flaunted his team’s dedication while backing up his coach’s claim of his thirst for competition.

“Everyone comes to work and they train hard every day — they’re coming for their own reasons, whether it’s to get ready for another sport or to improve their best times,” he said. “We’re all trying to build the best program we’ve ever had. We have a strong program, but we’re also building for the future.”

Mount Sinai, now 5-0, remains atop the League VII leaderboard with one meet remaining. With the win over Southampton, the Mustangs have repeated nabbing indoor and outdoor league titles for the second straight school year. Mount Sinai is currently one win ahead of Elwood-John Glenn (4-1) and faces its rival May 8 at 4 p.m. for sole possession of the crown.

Markowitz said the practice atmosphere is contagious, as old and young push one another to build the future Wilson was talking about.

“It’s the work ethic — there’s zero complaining,” he said. “When they’re successful, it confirms for them that when we work hard, we win. We have a group, particularly of juniors, who if we tell them ‘You’ve got to run through a brick wall,’ they’ll say, ‘Ok.’”

Superintendent Marianne Higuera discusses the proposed budget at a school board meeting. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Another end to the school year brings another round of budget votes. Local school districts adopted 2018-19 budgets saw increases with attempts to expand programs, repair infrastructure and increase security measures around campus.

All budget and board elections votes will take place May 15.

Shoreham-Wading River High School. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Shoreham-Wading River

The Shoreham-Wading River board of education adopted a $74,776,072 budget, an increase of $701,500 from the 2017-18 school year.

“The district’s exceptional programs, and the performance of its students academically, artistically and athletically are a great source of pride to our community,” Superintendent Gerard Poole said in an email. “The 2018-19 proposed budget fully maintains all current student programs and includes additional new student offerings.”

Poole said new offerings include high school electives and clubs in elementary and secondary school. The expanded budget also allocates for hiring a new middle school psychologist. The district plans to contract with an outside agency for any problems that go beyond the work of in-house psychologists.

The tax levy, or the money a district raises through property taxes to fund its budget, has dropped half a percent, a $269,775 total decrease from last school year.

In an April 18 presentation on the proposed budget, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Glen Arcuri said that the tax levy decrease is due to an increase of state aid, specifically building aid for renovations.

“The district spent money, successfully completing them as aggressively as the district was able to,” Aruci said. “This allowed the money to be returned back to the taxpayers because the formula requires the district reduce the tax levy by the return of the building aid.”

The budget also expands elementary enrichment clubs, the middle school’s chromebook program, security measures — including an anonymous reporting app — and includes money for maintenance projects and one-time equipment purchases like two new maintenance-work vans.

A budget hearing will take place May 1 at 7 p.m. at Shoreham-Wading River High School. The budget vote will take place May 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Shoreham-Wading River High School auxiliary gym, located at 250A Route 25A in Shoreham.

Rocky Point High School. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Rocky Point

The Rocky Point board of education adopted a $86,128,785 budget, an increase of $2,842,439 from the 2017-18 school year.

The largest increases came from teacher benefits and new general education initiatives, like STEM initiatives, new Advanced Placement courses and special education services.

“The proposed budget is one that was developed with an eye toward our district’s mission – to develop each child’s full potential in a nurturing and supportive, student-centered environment in order to provide a foundation for lifelong learning,” Rocky Point Superintendent Michael Ring said in an email. “Our budget planning process also placed a strong focus on the fiscal health of our district and the commitment we have to taxpayers to operate in the most financially-efficient manner possible.”

The budget includes a 3.1 percent tax levy increase at $1,536,959 from last year. Board officials said that the increase stays within the tax levy increase cap.

“We kept things current,” board Vice President Scott Reh said. “We didn’t cut anything. We kept the programs in place and I think we were very responsible.”

A budget hearing will take place May 1 at 7 p.m. in the High School auditorium. The budget vote will be May 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Rocky Point High School gym, located at 82 Rocky Point Yaphank Rd. in Rocky Point.

Miller Place High School. File photo by Kevin Redding

Miller Place

The Miller Place board of education adopted a $72,685,864 budget, an increase of $1,495,189 from the 2017-18 school year.

“The budget increase at 2 percent maintains all current academic programs, clubs and athletics, as well as maintaining our capital project planning, and we’re pleased we’re presenting that within the tax cap,” Superintendent Marianne Cartisano said.

Under the proposed budget the tax levy will see a 2.8 percent increase of $1,261,274 from the previous year. The increase stays within the tax levy increase cap, meaning a cap-piercing vote won’t be necessary.

The proposed budget plan include a $530,000 transfer to capital funds, boasts the inclusion of new initiatives, including new high school courses Chemistry Honors, Virtual Enterprise — a course on learning about global business and enterprise — and Engineering Design using VEX Robotics, which design kits used to design automated devices and robots.

“They’re there to address interest in different programs,” board President Johanna Testa said of the new classes. “Science Technology Engineering and Math is a big interest in our community — robotics falls right into that area. It’s trying to be timely and up-to-date with what’s going on in our world.”

A budget hearing will take place May 8 at 8 p.m. at Miller Place High School. The budget vote will be May 15 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the North Country Road Middle School gym, at 191 North Country Rd. in Miller Place.

Mount Sinai High School. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Mount Sinai

The Mount Sinai board of education adopted a $60,203,745 budget, an increase of $931,220 from the 2017-18 school year.

Earlier projections put the total budget at $60,469,490, but an increase in state aid, as well as a number of retiring Mount Sinai teachers. have brought the total down.

The largest increases in this year’s budget came from security improvements, including finalizing a bid to hire armed guards. One of the top bids is from the Hauppauge-based security firm Pro Protection Security Inc.

“We just feel that it’s important to have anything that’s a deterrent,” Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said. “When they’re not just in the building, but they’re actually checking ID’s at the gate, it gives people a second thought.”

The budget vote will also include two propositions to be voted on. One is a $750,000 increase to the capital reserve, and the other is a $5,000,000 capital project, coming from the unassigned fund balance, to pay for partial renovations to the high school roof, as well as improvements to the turf, track, bleachers, press box, sidewalks, nets and concrete plaza, while also enhancing security features like perimeter fencing and gates around the school property.

There is a tax levy increase of 1.95 percent, an increase of $766,589 from the previous year.

“I am hopeful and optimistic that it will pass,” board President Lynn Capobianco said. “I think it’s a fiscally sound budget.”

Capobianco was concerned that residents voting on the two other propositions would misunderstand what they are voting for.

“The capital project funds do not come out of the budget,” she said. “It will not raise the tax levy.”

A budget hearing is scheduled for May 8 at 8 p.m. at the middle school auditorium. The budget vote will be May 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Mount Sinai Elementary School, located at 118 North Country Rd. in Mount Sinai.

This version corrects the time and place of the Mount Sinai School District budget vote.

Mount Sinai's Morgan Mitchell races downfield with Comewogue's Mia Fernandes pushing her toward the right sideline. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

The Mustangs chanted in the huddle: “unleash the madness.”

Fueled with fire following its first loss in 21 games, the Mount Sinai girls lacrosse team amped up the intensity to clobber visiting Comsewogue 15-2 April 23.

After being down 6-0 in the first half of a loss to Bayport-Blue Point last Friday, the girls knew they had to come out firing.

Mount Sinai’s Emma Tyrrell passes the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We realized we can’t take any team lightly,” said junior attack Morgan Mitchell. “We have to play each game like it’s our last one; stay focused and keep our eye on the prize.”

She kept that concentration in the draw circle, flicking the ball toward the sideline instead of up or down the field, so that sophomore midfielder Jenny Markey could scoop it up. Markey boxed out Comsewogue’s Hannah Dorney for crucial minutes of possession that led to two of her three goals in the first five minutes of the game.

“I know I was going against a strong opponent in Hannah Dorney — I had to box her out first so she doesn’t get it, because she’s strong in the circle,” Markey said. “When I boxed her our I knew I have the ball. If we match other team’s intensity we can play with anyone.”

Mount Sinai began double-teaming the Warriors ball carrier once they finally got possession and forced 17 turnovers in the first half. After Comsewogue’s Julia Fernandes scored off a Dorney assist to cut Mount Sinai’s lead to 4-1, senior Camryn Harloff began to attack, scoring two straight of her game-best four goals to up the advantage. Mitchell assisted on two of them as the Mustangs scored five times in a 15 minute span.

Mount Sinai’s Meaghan Scutaro shoots while Comsewogue’s Ava Fernandes (on left) and Hannah Dorney reach to block her. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I like being in the middle, and Morgan and I work really well together,” said Harloff, who’s heading to the NCAA’s No. 1-ranked team, Stony Brook University, in the fall. “When her older sister [Kasey Mitchell] was on the team I worked well with her, too. We just click.”

Kasey Mitchell, an Stony Brook lacrosse player currently, and Harloff will be teammates again soon.

Mount Sinai spread out the assault with senior attack Meaghan Tyrrell also scoring a hat trick, and her younger sister Emma adding two goals and an assist. Twin defenders Meaghan and Kirsten Scutaro picked up the pace to get to slides that blocked Comsewogue from getting close to the cage the rest of the way.

“I think we bounced back from our loss, which we really needed,” Harloff said. “I think we met their intensity, and I think we played as a team.”

Behind head coach Al Bertolone who eclipsed 100 career wins with a 14-7 triumph over Christian Brothers Academy April 16, Mount Sinai moves to 8-1 overall and 6-1 in Division II. The Mustangs travel to Sayville April 26 for a 4:30 p.m. game.

“We have to take it play by play and realize how we got ourselves here,” Mitchell said. “It’s focusing on those little things. We set the bar so high, and we need to continue to reach it.”

Hundreds headed to Heritage Park in Mount Sinai April 20-22 for the annual Fling Into Spring carnival.

As the sunshine and warmer temperatures washed over the park, kids smiled, rode rides, ate ice cream and played games with excitement throughout the weekend.

The money raised from the event helps nonprofit Heritage Trust fund other events throughout the year. The park is currently raising money for a splash pad. A country line dancing fundraising event is scheduled for April 26 at the Heritage Center from 7:30-10:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.

Annual game against Mount Sinai memorializes the late alumna for her kindness, giving nature

By Desirée Keegan

Hundreds came out to show support for a local girl who gave to others.

In 2011, Rocky Point High School graduate Susie Facini died of a sudden heart attack. She was 19 years old. Since then, the Eagles and Mount Sinai’s baseball team have faced off each year to raise money for a scholarship in the name of a girl who was known for her immediate impact on everyone she met.

“All of them universally buy into what we’re trying to get across, and that is kindness,” said Facini’s father Peter, who tossed a ceremonial first pitch. “It takes courage to be kind sometimes — to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to somebody. And conversely, if you’re in trouble and you need help, you need to be able to ask somebody for help. It’s a difficult world and these kids give us great [hope].”

Without warning, Facini had felt her heart race, and passed out just seconds later. Despite efforts by her mother, Bernadette, a registered nurse, Facini was unable to be revived. The mother said she’s moved each and every year by how the community and the teams react to the game, especially now that most of the current student-athletes had never met her daughter.

“It comes down through the teachers, the parents; ‘Who is this girl, what does she mean to people and why?’ and they all do it proudly,” she said. “We are humbled by it every year and we’re shocked that it gets bigger and bigger. These are absolutely remarkable, nice boys. This event is really wonderful, and we’re lucky.”

Rocky Point senior pitcher and outfielder Ryan Callahan dedicated his time and efforts, taking part in the fundraiser that gathered $500 for the scholarship through food sales and raffles.

“I didn’t know her, but anyone you talk to says she was such a great person,” Callahan said. “I heard from everyone who’d known her that she was such an amazing human being, always so kind to everyone and left such a big and lasting impact on people. This is just our way to memorialize that.”

Jessica LaCascia, Facini’s longtime friend and classmate, said it’s the type of event her friend would’ve been first in line for.

“She would be dancing in the dugout like they are,” she said, pointing to the teammates that shook their hips to the music that played between each inning. “Susie was friends with everybody — there was not a stranger in her life. She was just such a bright light. Anytime she entered a room you couldn’t help but laugh; she commanded all of the attention. [I look around] and I don’t know anyone here, so I’m so thankful for all the people here coming out to celebrate what her life meant.”

Donations to the Live Like Susie Memorial Scholarship can be made in person or by mail to the high school at 90 Rocky Point-Yaphank Road, Rocky Point, NY, 11778.

Bill Landon contributed reporting

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Mustangs remain perfect in League VII with 15-6 victory

Mount Sinai's Jared Donnelly crushes the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Jared Donnelly just keeps swinging away.

Mount Sinai starting pitcher George Rainer threw seven strikeouts in his win over Miller Place April 16. Photo by Bill Landon

The Mount Sinai senior designated hitter went 2-for-2 with a double, three RBIs and three runs scored to lead the Mustangs to a 15-6 win over neighboring Miller Place April 16. Senior first baseman Ryan Picarello was 2-for-3 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored to keep Mount Sinai perfect (6-0) atop the League VII leaderboard. Senior starting pitcher George Rainer walked three and allowed three earned runs while striking out seven over six innings.

“Our lineup has gotten much better — our one through nine can hit the ball really well,” Picarello said. “We looked the other way, we hit a few holes and we had some good swings.”

Miller Place’s Nolan White and Rob Morales had hits that led to scores in the first for an early lead, but starting pitcher Tom Nealis struggled against a fierce lineup.

Picarello, Donnelly, sophomore catcher Nick Cergol, senior outfielder Ethan Angress and sophomore infielder R.J. Kehoe’s recorded hits to get on base in the second to help Mount Sinai to a 7-3 lead.

The Panthers rallied once again in the top of the third, with Morales driving in Kevin Bowrosen, but Mount Sinai sophomore outfielder Paul Gomes extinguished any chance of a comeback when he rushed to shallow center field to make a diving catch on a rapidly dropping ball.

“I got a bad jump on it — my first step was back — so I had to make it up with that dive,” Gomes said. “It stayed in my glove and I made the throw. I got lucky.”

Miller Place’s  Rob Morales reaches for the ball to hold Mount Sinai’s Ethan Angress at first. Photo by Bill Landon

It was all the Panthers offense could muster, as the Mustangs got back to work with Kehoe, Gomes, Donnelly and sophomore second baseman T.J. Werner crossing the plate in the bottom of the third for a 6-run lead, 11-5. Rainer said he felt confident on the mound with his comfortable lead.

“Once we got ahead I just wanted to stay ahead in the count,” he said. “We just kept tacking on runs and that helped me a lot out there. Because it was so windy, I had to make sure I commanded my fastball.”

Head coach Eric Reichenbach said although his Mustangs (7-1 overall) have five shutouts so far this year and boast multiple sluggers, he thinks his team will need to work on playing a more complete game to be able to make a deep run. Donnelly is now boasting a .462 batting average and .576 on base percentage. He’s has 12 hits, 13 RBIs and 13 runs over Mount Sinai’s eight games. Picarello has 11 hits over eight games, driving in eight runs and scoring 12. He has a .478 average and .586 on base percentage.

“We got a good lead, especially through the first few innings, but then we took our foot off the gas,” Reichenbach said. “I like what I see out of my offense — I’ve got a lot of big bats in the lineup, they’re squaring up a lot of baseballs — and we’ve got some team defense.”

Mount Sinai teacher Glynis Nau-Ritter conducts an experiment during class in the 1980s. Photo from Glynis Nau-Ritter

By Desirée Keegan

Glynis Nau-Ritter is not your conventional teacher.

“I know I’m different,” the Mount Sinai educator said. “I’ve been told that a lot, and I think part of it is I’ve had a lot of experience [which] I try to bring into the classroom.”

In life and in teaching, different can be memorable.

Glynis Nau-Ritter, a science teacher, has been at Mount Sinai for 27 years. Photo from Glynis Nau-Ritter

Judith Esterquest, Harvard Club of Long Island chair of the Distinguished Teacher Selection Committee, said she sees how Nau-Ritter has changed student’s lives. After a nomination by former student Seth Brand, now a junior at Harvard College, the 27-year Mount Sinai teacher was awarded the Harvard Club of Long Island’s Distinguished Teacher award.

Nau-Ritter’s experience includes a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in marine sciences from Stony Brook University. As a teacher’s assistant at Stony Brook, she was stranded on an island while conducting research. The group was soaked, with no food or water while waiting to be rescued. Nau-Ritter said once she told her classes the story, news spread that she’d “lived on Gilligan’s Island.” When she received a teaching position at St. Anthony’s more than 30 years ago, she had no background in education, but Nau-Ritter said it never held her back.

“I was trained in pure science, so I might see things a little differently, but the kids know it and respect it,” she said. “I didn’t need classroom training. You do what you think is right, and it works. Kids constantly say ‘listen to her stories,’ because they’re real world.”

Brand said he thought his former teacher was deserving of the recognition.

“With life experience worth listening to, Mrs. Nau-Ritter is interesting both to learn about and to learn from,” Brand said. “She stands out because she didn’t just connect to elite students, she has taught nearly every type of student our town produces. She’s the zany teacher who painted life into the study of life. She’s the heart of our district.”

Nau-Ritter has run the gamut as far as subjects and levels, teaching Advanced Placement biology classes, A.P. environmental science, marine coastal science, chemistry and earth science, even special education students. She is also an adjunct professor at Stony Brook and Syracuse universities. Her work as a graduate research assistant performing studies in marine environments led to six articles being accepted by research journals. She was an avid diver and now a snorkeler.

“She’s the zany teacher who painted life into the study of life. She’s the heart of our district.”

— Seth Brand

The Port Jefferson Station resident also helped Mount Sinai’s Ocean Bowl team repeat its first-place win in the Bay Scallop Bowl this year, an academic competition testing students’ knowledge of marine sciences, and represented New York in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. Active in advising many extracurricular activities, Nau-Ritter is also involved in the school’s environmental club, among others, and  rolls up her sleeves for an annual Cedar Beach cleanup each fall, coordinating school efforts with the Ocean Conservancy.

“Mrs. Nau-Ritter understands that academia is not confined to the four walls of the classroom,” Mount Sinai High School principal Rob Grable said of the Mount Sinai fixture. “[She is] the consummate educator and professional. She is well aware of the academic expectations that await students at the college and university level, and she prepares our high school students accordingly.”

Nau-Ritter is the second consecutive Mount Sinai teacher to be honored with the recognition. Gary Kulik, a calculus teacher, received the distinction last year. The science teacher said knowing Kulik for many years, she knows they both focus on getting their students to a higher level of thinking.

Mount Sinai teacher Glynis Nau-Ritter with her Ocean Bowl quiz team. Photo from Glynis Nau-Ritter

“The kids know you’re dedicated,” she said. “I’m there well past the afternoon bell, and I think that’s what truly makes a good teacher. It’s about being there for kids when they have questions that need to be answered. They want help in their careers or want to understand science topics.”

The Queens native also likes to bring news into the classroom, driving home her philosophy of applying the real world to her classroom.

“I’m very much into observing and noticing everything on the outside,” she said. “I like to infiltrate science in any way I can, and I love when I see the lightbulb go off when they get it. I never thought I was going to be a teacher. I was always very much into research, but seeing these kids so excited about learning, I guess I got bit by the bug to be a teacher. Looking back, I know I’ve made a difference in many lives, and for that I’m grateful.”

Nau-Ritter and the 11 other honorees will be recognized at a ceremony at Heritage Club at Bethpage April 15, and Harvard Club of Long Island will announce the distinguished teacher who will also receive a scholarship for a “Harvard experience” at Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“Devoted teachers like Mrs. Nau-Ritter offer Long Island students deep expertise, extraordinary talents and countless hours of attention,” Esterquest said. “By capturing the minds and imaginations of our children and preparing them for challenges that were unknown even a few decades ago, these teachers shape the future of our country.”

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We were among those excited to hear the long-discussed 10-mile bike trail from Mount Sinai to Wading River Rails to Trails project finally seems to be getting off the ground.

With work expected to begin in spring 2019, the LIPA-owned property will be put to great community use with countless benefits for both locals and visitors to the area. We have heard complaints from residents whose properties abut the trail, and we’ve also heard of issues at other comparable trails on Long Island. It is
incumbent on the organizers of this project — Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), engineering firm NV5 and the county’s Department of Public Works — to not only hear but also act on resident concerns all along the way.

While we understand having a trail suddenly run through your backyard can be a disruptive new addition to a home with the potential to attract strangers, we would argue unused woods can also attract undesirable behaviors. This is not to say that steps shouldn’t be taken to buffer the trail from property lines. We are confident that an amicable compromise can be reached as long as residents’ concerns are truly taken into account.

The popular Long Island Greenbelt Trail, which is overseen by the nonprofit Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference, is regularly in need of volunteers to help maintain and clean up the massive trail. To its credit, the group has a tab on its website where hikers can submit reports about issues or problems along the trail. Something like this would be great when the Mount Sinai-to-Wading River project is complete. Building a bike trail for residents and tourists alike to enjoy and utilize is great in theory, but maintaining it and keeping it vibrant is another project entirely. We would even propose the newly created chambers of commerce in each of the hamlets through which the trail runs divide the 10 miles and host quarterly cleanups.

We were also glad to hear mile markers will be included on the trail to make it easier for people in need of emergency assistance to let authorities know where on the trail they are located. We’d like to see something similar to what Cold Spring Harbor State Park implemented a few years ago to ensure safety for users of the trail. Suffolk County police officer James Garside helped develop and implement innovative GPS-enabled trail markers there, and since installation in 2017, a man who suffered a heart attack on the trail was saved thanks to the availability of his precise location.

We also hope this new trail is like the Setauket-Port Jefferson Greenway Trail in one specific way.

“From the 6th Precinct’s standpoint there haven’t been any spikes in burglaries or home invasions on the [Setauket-Port Jefferson Greenway Trail],” Community Oriented Police Enforcement unit Sgt. Walter Langdon said during a discussion about safety on the new trail. “With the right-of-ways, people can already access the rear of these houses. With more people on the trail, there’s more people to call 911. In a way, it’s safer.”

Projects for public good are always great by us, but keeping a neighbor-friendly status will require attention and work.

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