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Northport High School

Darryl St. George at a RAP Week press conference earlier this month. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Since returning home from serving overseas, a homegrown Northport High School teacher has devoted his free time to inspiring students, zeroing in on two specific issues.

Darryl St. George, a Centerport resident and United States Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan, is the co-advisor of the Northport High School branch of Students Against Destructive Decisions and the advisor of Project Vets, a club that works to improve the lives of veterans once they return home.

“I love working with young people,” St. George said. “I find what I do in these clubs an extension of what I do in the classroom.”

St. George graduated from Northport High School in 2000 and earned his teaching degree from Marymount Manhattan College. He was in Manhattan when the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred, and said the day instilled a passion in him to help his country.

“I had this sense that I really wanted to serve,” St. George said. Personal reasons held him back until 2009, when he enlisted in the United States Navy.

His first deployment to Afghanistan was in 2011. When he came home nine months later, he said he discovered that one of his former students from Northport High School had died of a heroin overdose, and his own brother Corey had started abusing opioid drugs.

A few months later, he lost his brother to an overdose from prescription medication, which “changed everything.”

St. George was honorably discharged from the navy after three years and returned to his job at Northport High School, where he became a co-advisor of SADD with Tammy Walsh, another Northport High School teacher.

“One of my colleagues asked me to run the club with her, and together, the club really expanded from three kids at a meeting to more than 50.”

St. George said he was able to get the club to take a more active role in Recovery, Awareness and Prevention Week.

“We felt that the drug epidemic was such a crisis that this club would be the perfect vehicle to help combat the issue,” St. George said. “Tammy and I are open and candid with the kids about our own history with this problem, and I think the kids are receptive to that kind of honesty.”

St. George said he finds working with SADD very fulfilling, and sees it as necessary. “Ultimately, my drive for getting involved is to do everything I can so that no family has to go through what my family did,” St. George said.

St. George and Walsh have been working on a SADD Summit, which they hope will help bring RAP Week-like programs to other schools on Long Island. He wants to change the culture in every school.

Aside from working with SADD, St. George is involved in another club in Northport High School called Project Vets.

He said this club has a two-pronged mission statement — to work with veterans and help them with the transition period once they come home.

“I am a vet, and I personally know many of my friends that have had difficulty transitioning back home,” St. George said. “But they are not looking for any handouts. This club explores how we can improve their transition period.”

Project Vets is only in its second year, and St. George said at the first meeting there was more than 60 students wanting to join.

School committee to pitch 5-year plan for facilites

The Northport High School football team plays at home. File photo by Kevin Freiheit

Northport-East Northport school district’s Athletic Citizens Advisory Committee is exploring turf fields and other upgrades to school facilities.

The group plans to present formal recommendations to the school board in coming weeks, according to Trustee Regina Pisacani, who spearheaded the creation of the group.

Pisacani delivered an update at the Sept. 24 school board meeting, and said that the committee had made much progress over the summer. She said members of the group had toured nearly every building in the district, and had been able to create a list of all the improvements they deemed necessary.

“We were joined by Anthony Resca, superintendent of [buildings] and grounds, and Bernard Krueger, [supervisor] of buildings and grounds, who were able to add their insight and answer all the questions we had,” Pisacani said in a phone interview.

The committee also looked different options to add to the district, likes synthetic turf and natural turf, sod repairs and more. The group also reached out the coaches within the district to get their input.

“No one knows the athletes and what they need better than the coaches,” Pisacani said. “Many coaches in the district feel that Northport athletes are not offered a level playing field compared to other schools right now because of the state of the facilities at Northport.”

The committee has also met with Ed Parrish, a civil engineer for Huntington Town. “We wanted to hear the community feedback that he’s received for the jobs he’s done,” Pisacani said.

SPRINTURF and LANDTECH also spoke with the committee to give their insight on how their businesses would work with the district, according to Piscani.

And finally, the committee also toured other school districts, to see their athletic facilities and the upgrades they’ve made that worked out well for their schools.

Pisacani said they viewed fields at Bethpage school district and Manhasset school district. At Manhasset they were able to tour with Jim Amen, Manhasset’s director of physical education and athletics, who also answered many questions they had.

The committee is currently discussing recommendations to present to the board. Each school has its own list of needs. Pisacani said committee members still need to tally up the monetary value of their recommendations.

“After we put costs to everything, we will present the board with our recommended five-year plan,” Pisacani said. “Then it is up to the will of the board to decide if they want to go forward.”

Although the committee expects to deliver recommendations to the board in December, Pisacani is hopeful they will be able to present much sooner than then.

The Northport-East Northport school district’s Athletic Citizens Advisory Committee was born out of a number of parents who urged school board members to consider funding upgrades to the district facilities in the school’s budget back in January. Twenty-seven parents emailed the school board saying that the current state of the schools facilities were “embarrassing” and could be a “safety hazard.”

The school board approved the formation of the committee in March, made up of 15 district residents and spearheaded by Pisacani. Aside from inspections and evaluations of the athletic facilities in the district, the committee was also charged with determining the costs of their recommended repairs and analyzing outside funding opportunities to pay for the upgrades.

Irene McLaughlin to take the reins of new post in November

Northport High School Principal Irene McLaughlin is stepping into a new role as the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources.

At the Northport-East Northport school board meeting on Sept. 10, board President Andrew Rapiejko announced McLaughlin’s new role. He said both he and the board were “very excited,” and to that, the audience offered a long round of applause.

McLaughlin is just as excited.

Northport High School Principal Irene McLaughlin. File photo by Rohma Abbas
Northport High School Principal Irene McLaughlin. File photo by Rohma Abbas

“I’ve had chances to pursue administration roles in other districts, but I didn’t want to,” the principal said in a phone interview this week. “Northport is such a great place for teachers, students, and parents, and I wanted to stay here.”

McLaughlin has been at the district for 31 years. She kicked off her career with the district straight out of college as a part-time health education teacher at Northport Middle School in 1984. From there, she worked at Norwood Avenue Elementary, Fifth Avenue Elementary and Pulaski Road Elementary schools until she became a teacher at the high school in 1992. She was promoted to principal of Northport High School in 2003 from assistant principal. This year marks the start of her 13th year as principal of the school.

“I will miss the high school,” she said. “Even when I worked at other schools, I was coaching here. My roots are deep here at the high school.”

McLaughlin is following Rosemarie Coletti, who stepped down from the position in June of this year. Lou Curra is currently the interim assistant superintendent of human resources.

“I am looking forward to getting more involved in district wide decisions,” she said. “I want to expand my scope, and learn more about how the entire district works and not just the high school.”

The responsibilities for assistant superintendent of human resources include recruiting, hiring and maintaining the nearly 1,000-person staff of the Northport-East Northport school district.

McLaughlin’s official start date is November 2, however she said that if the process of finding a new principal for the high school takes a bit longer, she may stay at her post past the beginning of November.

“I want it to be a smooth transition for the students and staff,” she said.

McLaughlin moved her family to the district when they were young because she said she knew Northport was a special place for kids to grow up. She currently resides there with her daughter, Kelly. Her son Michael graduated from Northport High School this May.

“My love for the district is really evident,” she said. “I am committed to the success of the district, and making an impact on more than just the high school.”

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