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Mount Sinai

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Mount Sinai School District's board of education during its March 8 meeting. File Photo Photo by Kyle Barr

By David Luces

The Mount Sinai School District is looking at a budget that could see a decrease in debt services and changes to school textbooks and special education.

The district continued its presentation of its proposed 2019-20 school budget at a district board meeting Feb.13. Between the January and February presentation, the district has shown approximately 23 percent of the budget, which is just about $13 million out of the $62.5 million proposed total budget for the next school year. 

At the February meeting, after hearing the needs from parents, the board said it is supporting the recommendation to make the Consultant Teacher Direct Instructor program full day for children in grades 1 through 4 in the elementary school. CTD instructors provide services and support students with disabilities in his or her general education classes. This would increase the special education budget to $4.3 million, $98,780 more than the previous school year.

“It will align with the full-day program at the middle school,” Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said. “To create that [at the elementary school] it would take the hiring of two special education teachers.”

District officials said they will examine class size and registration to figure out how many teachers they would need overall. In addition to the planned full-day program, the teachers will be supplied with additional textbooks. 

“This is a pretty big add,” the superintendent said. “But we believe this is the best for our kids and what their needs are.”

“We believe this is the best for our kids and what their needs are.”

— Gordon Brosdal

Officials also stressed the need to replace older textbooks in the middle and high school. The district would be replacing sixth-grade algebra II textbooks, replacing middle school science textbooks, seventh- and eighth-grade English books along with social studies textbooks. 

The superintendent said that some of the textbooks in the middle and high school are over 20 years old. The total for the new textbooks will cost the district $75,550.

“[With the newer textbooks] everything is accessible online,” he said. “You could have the lesson in class and then see it again
at home.”

In conjunction with newer textbooks, the board will also renew IXL site licenses, which is a platform that offers students K-12 educational practice outside the classroom.

“We have seen many students use this —we are reacting to the popularity and use it,” Robert Sweeney, president of the Mount Sinai board of education said. “When students go home they can go through lesson plans, online help — it is helping them do better in
their classes.”

A highlight of the Jan. 16 meeting was the announcement of a 25-year-old bond loan that is expected to be paid off in full at the end of the year. 

“This is good news for us,” Brosdal said. “Finally, that bond on the high school that we got years ago to borrow money will be paid off this year.”

With the bond being paid off, the school district is projected to see a decrease of close to $1 million in debt services. 

The next budget presentation will take place on March 20 at 8 p.m. in Mount Sinai Middle School. Topics of discussion will be operations, maintenance, grounds/security, athletics,
salaries and benefits.

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The Mount Sinai cheerleading team screams in exultation as they learn they won nationals. Photo from Megan McWain

Even when a Mount Sinai cheerleader falls, whether it’s in a competition or on the mat, they have the will to dust themselves off and work even harder.

That has been the theme for this cheerleading season, Mustangs coach Megan McWain said, who along with fellow coach Christina Lotito has seen the team through a season full of ups and downs, culminating with a Division II large-school victory at the 2019 UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 10. 

The Mount Sinai cheerleading team perform a routine in Orlando, Florida. Photo from Megan McWain

When the team members learned they had won, McWain said the girls could not contain their excitement.

“They were so ecstatic — some of them were jumping up and down, some were sitting on the floor crying,” she said. “It’s just a big ball of emotions. We worked since May in open gyms getting ready for this moment, and this was the pinnacle of what they wanted to achieve. To learn that you did it is just so amazing.” 

The team arrived in Orlando Feb. 7 and went down to the local football fields for one final run of routines surrounded by thousands of other cheerleaders from all 50 states. The jaw-dropping sight of seeing so many teams compete didn’t do anything to dampen their spirits. 

The squad had suffered a number of setbacks early in the season, including a few illnesses and injuries that led to a number of missed chances and defeats. Eighth-grader Emily Kandell suffered an injury in January and was only cleared to get back on the mat a week before the team went down to Florida.

During the competition, McWain said their performance wasn’t at peak the first day of the tournament. The team was in third going into the last day of the competition. During their final performance the team had a misstep, and one girl took a fall. The only way they could win despite the fumble was if they pushed themselves to their limits, and McWain said, they accomplished that.

“It’s hard to win with a fall — a lot of teams when they fall, they kind of deflate after that,” she said. “But we didn’t. We performed a thousand times harder just to fill out the rest of that score from that fall.”

The Mount Sinai cheerleading team perform a routine in Orlando, Florida. Photo from Megan McWain

While this is not the first time the team has taken home the first place trophy at nationals, having won in 2014 and 2016, McWain said it is the ultimate goal that the cheerleaders work all year round for. She hopes the team can continue the streak as nine members of the squad are expected to graduate this year.

There are three large-school cheerleading teams that compete in Suffolk County, but Mount Sinai is the only Division II squad. The Lady Mustangs will represent the county in the state’s 2019 

Cheerleading Championships will be hosted in Rochester March 2. 

“We’re trying to hit a clean routine and were actually able to put all our kids on the mat including our alternates, so it will be really good to have all of them on the mat and working together as a team to get another championship,” McWain said. 

By Bill Landon

Hauppauge’s girls basketball team led by seven after the first eight minutes of play but the visiting Mustangs of Mount Sinai, the No. 5 seed, slammed the door, outscoring the Eagles 14-5 before exploding in the 3rd quarter. Mount Sinai senior guard Gabby Sartori caught fire, swishing 3-pointers from seemingly anywhere to lead her team to a 56-43 win, upsetting top-seeded Hauppauge in a class A semifinal game Feb. 16.

Sartori’s hot hand led the way for the Mustangs, hitting four triples, four field goals and a free throw for 21 points. Sartori tallied three assists and eight rebounds to boot. Senior Brooke Cergol hit four field goals, a trey and a pair of free throws for 13 while senior teammate Holly McNair banked 12.

Hauppauge sophomore guard Kayla Bullard topped the scoring chart for the Eagles, tallying 13 followed by junior forward Lauren Romito who chipped in 10.

The win pit the Mustangs against Westhampton Feb. 20 at Centereach High School which they won, and now they will face Pierson High School for small school champion title Feb. 27 at 4:30 in Walt Whitman High School.

Wei during a long jump at a recent meet. Photo from Eric Giorlando

By Karina Gerry

For the second time this season, Mount Sinai senior Kenneth Wei knows what it’s like to be No. 1 in the country for the long jump.

The Mount Sinai senior jumped 25 feet, the current record in the nation for this year, Feb. 3, at the Section XI Small School County Championship at the Suffolk County Community College campus in Brentwood. Earlier in the season, Wei held the long jump record with 24 feet when he competed at the Molloy Stanner Games at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York City.

“It was really adrenaline pumping,” Wei said about the experience of competing at such a
level. “Your heart’s racing, it’s really exciting.”

Wei leaps the hurdles at a recent meet. Photo from Eric Giorlando

Eric Giorlando, the Mustangs head track & field coach, proudly pointed out Wei’s other accomplishments at the recent meet, including beating the No. 2 athlete in the country during the 55-meter hurdles head to head and was named Male Athlete of the Meet. 

“It’s an experience that you hope to obtain sometime in your career,” Giorlando said. “It was a pretty big day overall, not just achieving the No. 1 spot in the long jump but to have that meet, in general, it was a pretty powerful moment.”

Giorlando, who has been coaching at Mount Sinai since 2002, has been working side by side with Wei since the beginning.

“Kenny has always done everything that we’ve asked him to do,” Giorlando said. “He probably runs more than the traditional long jumper or triple jumper — he’s kind of been easy to coach and understanding of my philosophy of how to get him to that point.”

Wei has been competing at the varsity level since eighth grade when an assistant coach saw him jump for a basketball in gym class. The long jumper got serious about winning titles last year where he started hitting the weight room. Last season Wei began to see the effects of his hard work with his multiple titles, but despite all the success this year, Giorlando doesn’t think the soon-to-graduate senior has come close to reaching his potential.

“I think he has a lot of room to go,” Giorlando said. “It’s about being patient and understanding that it’s a long road ahead of us — we’re not looking for county titles or state titles at this point, we’re looking for a national title.”

Wei’s goal is to place at Nationals in March where he hopes to compete in two events: the 55-meter hurdles and long jump. Despite the pressure of being a nationally recognized athlete, the nerves don’t really get to him anymore.

“Your heart’s racing, it’s really exciting.”

— Kenneth Wei

“Especially since last year I feel like the nerves have kind of calmed down a little bit, and I just really try to enjoy the run, enjoy the meet and enjoy the atmosphere,” Wei said. 

His coach can’t think of a time that he has ever seen Wei frazzled, even under the most immense pressure.

“Always laser focused,” Giorlando said. “Always knows what needs to be done, and I’d say about 99 percent of the time he is able to achieve those things.”

Wei, who is headed to MIT in the fall, plans on competing for their track & field team because of his passion for the sport.

“My big thing is to encourage people to pursue their passions,” the star athlete said. “And this is one of mine. It’s a big part of my life now, and running with the team competing is a lot of fun, and I hope to keep doing it.”

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Mount Sinai junior Adham Shata in the final match of the championship. Photo from video by Mount Sinai School District

Several days after Mount Sinai’s wrestling team won the state championship, coach Matt Armstrong was still basking in the glow of the victory.

“It was really something coming back to school,” Armstrong said. “It was one of those things being a state champ really means
something.”

More than 800 spectators came out to watch their schools compete at the New York State Wrestling Dual Meet Championship at the SRC Arena and Events Center at Onondaga Community College Jan. 26 where 12 of the best Division 2 teams squared off. 

Mount Sinai’s wrestling team crowds onto the mat. Photo from video by Mount Sinai School District

Mount Sinai, victors in the 2018 state championship, was No. 5 seed and received a bye for the first match. Mount Sinai started off seemingly unstoppable, first competing against Cold Spring Harbor, beating them, 47-27, then against Pleasantville which the Mustangs took to the mat, 57-27, to advance to the semi-finals. 

“I knew we could beat the first two, but the semi-finals were pretty interesting,” the wrestling coach said. “We had seen them last year and we knew how competitive they were.

That’s where they met the No. 1 seed Tioga. Mount Sinai had a balanced line-up and were able to deliver a 34-27 win, advancing then to the finals against Central Valley Academy from Ilion, the No. 2 seed. 

Out the gate things took a turn for the worse for Mount Sinai and after falling behind ,31-12, it appeared they were headed for defeat. Suddenly it all came around, and Mount Sinai went on a scoring run. Junior Brendan “Goody” Goodrich started it off with a win and was then followed by wins by brothers Mike and Joe O’Brien. Then it was victory after victory with fellow teammates Ryan Shanian and Matt Campo. 

Campo, wrestling at 152 pounds, won a  crucial match with Hunter Shaut, the former New York State Champion from Central Valley Academy in overtime 4-2. This was followed by a win by Joe Goodrich, at 160 pounds, who brought Mount Sinai even with Central Valley, 31-31. Central Valley won the next match taking the score to 34-31 with one match remaining. 

The final match fell on the shoulders of junior Adham Shata at 182 pounds. With the whole team cheering him on, Shata pinned his opponent and the entire arena erupted in wails and shouts of victory, as Shata brought his team up to 37-34 and won a 2nd consecutive championship. The entire team rushed onto the mat and piled onto Shata, cheering their victory.

You could say something great about every single kid.”

— Matt Armstrong

Armstrong couldn’t pick one person out amongst the team. He was adamant that every student played their part in the win.

“I think I could go up and down the entire lineup,” the coach said. “You could say something great about every single kid. Some were just outmatched, and even though they were they wouldn’t get pinned.”

Several students gained standout wins during the tournament, with the O’Brien brothers, Shanian, Campo and Goodrich each going up to 30 season wins. Senior Mike Sabella at 195 pounds, won all his matches by pinning his opponents.

“There might have been some people who though the first time was a fluke,” Armstrong said. “To do it back to back is pretty incredible.”

The season is not yet over for the Mount Sinai wrestling team with the team gearing up to compete in the individual county and state tournaments. The individual county tournament takes place Feb. 2, and those who win in that or get a wild card will have the opportunity to head back upstate and compete in the State Wrestling Championship at Times Union Center in Albany Feb. 22 and 23. 

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Mount Sinai Mustangs after their victory against John Glenn Jan. 19. Photo from Mel Jacoby

Mount Sinai’s wrestling team is looking to make it to the top once again.

Mount Sinai High School wrestlers defeated John Glenn for a second time this season at Bay Shore High School Jan. 19. In a battle for the County D-2 Championship, Mount Sinai’s Mustangs turned around a 19-point deficit to start a winning run. After losing earlier in the season to John Glenn, sophomores Jack Tyrell and Brenden Goodrich along with freshman Joseph Sabella won their individual matches.   

“Everybody has a job — some people’s job is to make up those bonus points others are to not give up those bonus points.”

— Matt Armstrong

“We’ve had a great season so far,” said Matt Armstrong, Mount Sinai wrestling coach. “While some are young kids, when you get to some of the post season stuff, you have to be at a different level. Our kids really stepped up.”

Juniors Michael O’Brien and Joseph Goodrich along with seniors Joseph O’Brien, Vincent Valente and Michael Sabella all won their individual matches. John Glenn forfeited their match against junior Matt Campo, giving Mount Sinai the Suffolk County D-2 Championship title and sending them to Syracuse to defend their 2018 New York State title which they won for the first time in 2018.

During the 2019 season, both O’Brien wrestlers each had their 100th career win while Campo scored his 151st career win, breaking the school record set in 1995.

“100 wins is a big deal for Suffolk County,” the wrestling coach said. “To break 150 is really impressive, and he’s only a junior.”

“When you get to some of the post season stuff, you have to be at a different level.”

— Matt Armstrong

The Mustangs pocketed their first state title in 2019 in what the wrestling coach described as a perfect storm of ability and drive for the members of the wrestling team. Campo, among three other wrestlers, went undefeated during the state championships.

Armstrong said he is staying cautiously optimistic about Mount Sinai’s chances Jan. 26 when the team travels to Syracuse for the state’s Dual Meet Wrestling Championship. He added it will take the same sort of heart that last year’s team showed to pull off the same stunt this year.

“Everybody has a job — some people’s job is to make up those bonus points others are to not give up those bonus points, so we’ll see,” Armstrong said. “We really wrestled as flawlessly as we could last year, so we need some of that to go our way this year. Kids work hard, and they believe — that’s the biggest part of the battle.”

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Gabby Sartori drives the lane in a Feb. 6, 2018 game against Miller Place. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The players on Mount Sinai’s girls basketball team like to rib senior Gabby Sartori about her scoring record. Of course, it’s all in good humor, and if she’s anxious about her record, she doesn’t show it. After all, having sunk over 1,500 points in her 6-year varsity basketball career, and with college looming on the horizon, the final score isn’t something she wants to stress about.

“I’m not a braggart, but they definitely mention it a lot — they kind of say it to get me uncomfortable about it,” Sartori said. “That’s the kind of thing you expect from your friends.”

Gabby Sartori maintains possession along the sideline in a 2018 lacrosse game. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Mount Sinai senior scored her 1,000th point Dec. 27, 2017, but it only took her a short time to reach that next milestone in a Dec. 28 game against Smithtown West, with Mount Sinai finishing, 56-44. It’s an achievement that has her coach, Jeff Koutsantanou, close to reeling.

“I’ve been coaching for about 20 years, both boys and girls, and I’ve never had a player who has an ability to score like her,” Koutsantanou said. “One thousand is great, but for her to get 1,500 is tremendous.”

It’s a constant edge of improvement, and while 1,500 is a nice round number, Sartori already scored 35 points in a Jan. 2 game against Bayport-Blue Point in which the Mustangs won, 57-47. 

Yet Sartori, who plays guard in most games, said she is not letting the numbers go to her head. She’s cool under pressure, and she becomes laser focused on achieving what she wants, whether it’s sinking a basket or in her academics with a 94 unweighted GPA.

Sartori will be attending Brown University after she graduates Mount Sinai, but she won’t be playing basketball once she gets to the Ivy League school. Instead, she’ll be there for lacrosse, which along with soccer, is another sport she has excelled in.

“I’ve gotten so used to balancing them, but there was one point where I had to balance all three sports at the same time with travel, but it helps with college next year because I’ll have that all year round,” she said.

While Ivy League schools don’t give out much in the way of scholarships, the young basketball player said it’s all about what she can use, either in sports or in the name of a school, to help her realize her professional dreams.

“If you can use a sport to that high ground, I would do it 100 percent,” Sartori said. “I don’t care if they haven’t won any tournaments.”

When it comes to her college expectations, the young basketball player said she expects to enroll in the college’s communications programs, eventually hoping to work in sports broadcasting as either a commentator or analyst.

‘If you can use a sport to that high ground, I would do it 100 percent.’

— Gabby Sartori

In her visits to Brown, Sartori said the Ivy League’s lacrosse team has already been friendly, but are amazed at her skill having come from a little known public school on Long Island.

“They’re all shocked that I go to a public school, because they all come from private schools,” she said. “Their shocked and say, ‘you go to school with boys?’ and I say, ‘yeah, I do.’”

Even with college lacrosse on the horizon, basketball has been one of those lifetime sports for Sartori, as she’s been playing the sport since she was 4 years old, egged on by her father Jim Sartori.

Despite her impressive record, Sartori is just one exceptional player amongst a standout team. Last season the girls went 20-0 in a near perfect run before finally being defeated Feb. 26 in a county finals loss to Hauppauge. 

The Mustangs are currently sitting at a solid 6-2, but there is still much of the season left. Of course, Sartori said the team’s goal is to make it to county champions, but the young basketball player said she wants to see the team go as far as they can in the playoffs.

“I want us to try to get as far as we can in the postseason — I’d take a loss now over that,” she said.

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Port Jefferson hosted its annual celebration of Epiphany at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai Jan. 6 by once again sending eager young adults through chilling waters to reach a cross thrown into the waters celebrating the Orthodox religious holiday.

While three young men lunged for the cross, 14-year-old George Franks came up in the shallow waters holding the cross aloft. An ambulance awaited the chilled participants to warm them up directly afterward.

Father Demetrios Calogredes, who performed the day’s ceremonies, said the ceremony which celebrates the story of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River, has been held since the church’s founding in 1959. The blessing is done for all forms of travel, whether by car, plane or boat, to ensure safe
journeys.

Photos clockwise from top: the three young men dash after the cross; Calogredes throws the cross into Mount Sinai Harbor; Mount Sinai resident George Franks holds up hand in triumph, and he stands holding the cross.

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Port Jefferson’s Royals fought hard at the at the Bob Armstrong Memorial Cup multi-school wrestling tournament held at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School Dec. 15.

Port Jeff’s Rick D’Elia, at 120 pounds, took top spot on the podium in for the Royals wrestling team

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By Bill Landon

Mount Sinai Mustangs showed off their wrestling chops Dec. 15 during the annual Bob Armstrong Memorial Cup multischool wrestling tournament at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School in Port Jefferson.

In five different weight classes Mount Sinai’s Jack Tyrell, Joe O’Brien, Joe Goodrich, Mike Sabella and Matt Campo each took the top spot on the podium.

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