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Port Jefferson

Family, friends will remember Dr. William T. Konczynin as community staple who proudly served residents

William T. Konczynin. Photo from the Konczynin family

William T. Konczynin, a physician who served Long Island residents for 29 years at both St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson and other major community facilities, died unexpectedly on June 3. He was 63.

Konczynin is survived by his wife Barbara, his children William Jr. and Allyson, and his daughter-in-law Meghan. He was also an uncle to seven.

“He was totally, totally devoted to the children and to me. He was the best of the best,” said his wife. “He always loved to host parties at our house, and was happiest with company around.”

Born in 1952 in New York City, Konczynin graduated from Chaminade High School on Long Island in 1970 and then obtained a bachelor of science degree in biology from Georgetown University in 1976. Following his undergraduate degree, Konczynin went to medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico. After graduating in 1980, Konczynin returned to the United States and completed his residency in general surgery at The Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.

In 1985, after finishing his residency, he worked at a family practice in Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in Patchogue. Eventually he accepted a position at St. Charles, where he was appointed director of the emergency department and, later, director of the alcohol substance and abuse program there.

“It was a natural progression for him to remain involved with the patients in the hospital after they were brought into the O.R. for overdoses,” Barbara Konczynin explained, of how her husband got involved with the substance abuse program.

At St. Charles, Konczynin was also the director of the department of family medicine and the president of the medical staff.

Outside the hospital, Konczynin was the chief physician at the Three Village school district and a hockey coach for his son, William Jr. He enjoyed boating, golfing, tennis and gardening.

Konczynin’s memorial mass was held at St. James Church, where he had served as an usher along with his two children, and his wake, at O.B. Davis Funeral Home in Port Jefferson Station, was attended by more than 2,000 people, his family said.

James O’Connor, chief administrative officer and vice president of St. Charles Hospital, said in a statement that Konczynin will be remembered as an extremely talented and thoughtful physician, but also as a warm and caring friend, and a wonderful colleague who gave freely of his time, advice and expertise.

Election turnout reaches highest in years

Port Jefferson Treasurer Don Pearce and Village Clerk Bob Juliano as they tallied the 2015 election results. File photo by Elana Glowatz

The “unity” slate cleaned up in the Port Jefferson Village election Tuesday night, with Mayor Margot Garant and Trustee Larry LaPointe securing additional terms on the board of trustees and newcomer Stan Loucks winning his first.

Garant, who will start her fourth term this summer, beat out challenger Dave Forgione, a 15-year resident and the owner of a billing and accounting business in upper Port, with 1,162 votes to his 753.

“I’m just really elated that the people are entrusting and allowing me to continue to do the work that we do for the village,” Garant said about her win in a phone interview Wednesday. “Super psyched.”

When reached by phone Wednesday, Forgione said he was “humbled” by the support he received from the community.

“I’d like to congratulate Margot on her victory and wish her all the success in her upcoming term,” he said.

Forgione would not say whether he would run for village board again in the future, after experiencing a busy campaign season this time around.

“At this point I’m just trying to get my life back in order,” he said with a laugh.

There were two trustee seats up for election — LaPointe’s and that of Trustee Adrienne Kessel, who did not run for another term. The three candidates ran at-large for those spots.

Loucks, a longtime volunteer at the Port Jefferson Country Club and a retired athletics teacher and administrator in Plainview-Old Bethpage schools, garnered the most support of any candidate vying any seat, with 1,205 votes. LaPointe came in second out of the trustee candidates, with 1,160 votes, and secured a third term on the board. In third place was challenger Matthew Franco, a 10-year village resident and a pediatric occupational therapist for Nassau BOCES, who fell short with 822 votes.

LaPointe emphasized in a phone interview Wednesday morning “just how gratified and grateful I am to my friends and neighbors for coming out to support the unity team.”

Loucks is looking forward to getting to work.

“I’m just flabbergasted at the outpouring of support,” Loucks said Wednesday, speaking in a phone interview of his gratitude to his supporters. “I was blown away by the results last night.”

When reached by phone Wednesday, Franco congratulated LaPointe and Loucks and said he hopes they take it to heart that 40 percent of voters cast ballots for him.

“Don’t dismiss the minority,” he said. “There’s 40 percent of this population of the village that wants change.”

Franco said he would run again for the village board in the future.

“I am preparing for next year,” he said.

Village Justice Peter Graham ran unopposed for re-election and was also returned to his role, receiving 1,031 votes.

Resident turnout for the election was high, especially compared to recent years.

As the Village Center buzzed with activity 10 minutes before the polls closed, Village Clerk Bob Juliano said the building had been busy all day. He noted that in previous years, the crowd usually died down in the last hour of voting, but that did not happen this year.

Counting absentee ballots, almost 2,000 Port Jefferson residents voted in the election — about double the number who turned out to the polls last year. And the voter turnout was dismal in the two years prior to that: In 2013 there were 84 voters total, and in 2012 there were close to 150 who cast ballots.

Port Jefferson Village code enforcement officer Lt. John Borrero said, as the 69 absentee votes were being tallied at the end of the night, “I’ve never seen an election so crowded.”

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No. 3 overall pick Brendan Rogers, who was selected by the Colorodo Rockies, talks with members of the media. Photo by Clayton Collier

By Desirée Keegan & Clayton Collier

One Port Jefferson local was awarded another trip to the MLB Draft, held in Secaucus, N.J., from June 8 through June 10, where he experienced the sights and sounds that surround the excitement that comes about when young new talent is recognized and called upon to compete at the majors level.

Long second fiddle to the NFL and NBA drafts, mostly due to the length of time before baseball draftees make a major league impact, MLB has catapulted its draft into a unique experience in which prospects as young as 17 years old are welcomed live on television by some of the greatest to ever wear the uniform.

This was Clayton Collier’s third time covering the draft. He said every year the event continues to live up to the hype.

Baseball legends converge on MLB Network’s northern New Jersey location to ceremoniously answer the phones from their respective front office’s to hand in their draft picks for the first and second round. The remainder of the selections are made over the following two days and are announced online.

Clayton Collier was in attendance at the 2013 MLB draft, his first experience with the event. Photo from Collier
Clayton Collier was in attendance at the 2013 MLB draft, his first experience with the event. Photo from Collier

Collier was covering the event for WSOU, Seton Hall University’s radio station, which is a school that has a strong baseball program that typically has a handful of players go in the higher rounds, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is a local station that broadcasts into New York City.

At the 2015 draft, Collier witnessed crowds of families, former players and media members pack the glass double doors. Inside, was a large, rustic Dodger-blue door affixed with a plaque marked “42,” an ode to the civil rights trailblazer and Brooklyn-great Jackie Robinson.

Through the doorway and down a maze of hallways, is the iconic Studio 42, a set designed as a baseball stadium. In front of Collier was a mock turf field, including a pitcher’s mound, which was wedged between the Brewers’ and Tigers’ draft tables.

The overhead lights replicate the scene of a major league ballpark. The green stadium seating in the outfield, similar to those at Citi Field, is packed with families of draft hopefuls. All is arranged to face a podium, which is located at home plate in front of a large screen projecting various clips of current MLB All-Stars.

Commissioner Rob Manfred made his first appearance with his opening remarks and subsequently made 75 young men’s dream come true live on national television.

An array of 30 tables dressed to the nines in team apparel don the field.

With them, legends of each of those aforementioned clubs take their rightful seat at each of the corresponding club’s station. Philadelphia Phillies’ Mike Schmidt and Brooklyn Dodgers’ Tommy Lasorda shoot the breeze in front of the podium. Seattle Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr. shares a laugh with Andre Dawson, originally a Montreal Expos outfielder, and company at the buffet in back. Art Stewart, a front-office executive and former director of scouting for the Kansas City Royals, asks former outfielder Johnny Damon, most notably from the Royals, Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, for the Wi-Fi password. Originally a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves and currently an active sportscaster, John Smoltz; Detroit Tigers’ shortstop Alan Trammel; Luis Gonzalez, most known for his time spent as an outfielder with the Arizona Diamondbacks; and David Cone, a former pitcher and now commentator for the New York Yankees on the YES Network, who pitched the 16th perfect game in baseball history, struck out 19 batters to tie for the second-most ever in a game, and 1994 Cy Young Award winner are some of the legends that continue to flood in. Manfred then comes out to mingle with them all.

Entrenched in the third-base dugout, a quartet of MLB Draft hopefuls were in attendance for the ceremony. Ashe Russell, Brendan Rodgers, Mike Nikorak and Garrett Whitley sit quietly with their parents, watching the scene and occasionally interacting with a former player or two who come over to introduce themselves.

Friends and family cheer for No. 3 overall pick Brandon Rogers during the 2015 MLB Draft. Photo by Clayton Collier
Friends and family cheer for No. 3 overall pick Brandon Rogers during the 2015 MLB Draft. Photo by Clayton Collier

As the names get called, polite applause ensues. When one of the four prospects in-studio gets picked, pandemonium ensues. The outfield stands erupt as if the home team hit a walk-off home run. Rodgers was the first, being picked third overall to the Colorado Rockies. He puts on his jersey, shakes Manfred’s hand and is soon after interviewed by Port Jefferson native Sam Ryan. He then takes a phone call from Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich, who playfully asks, “Are you still breathing?”

Russell, Whitley and Nikorak follow the same routine once their names are called, going to the Royals, Rays and Rockies, respectively. Nikorak, Rodgers and their parents celebrate the fact that they’ll be teammates again, having been on the field together for the Under Armour All-America Game.

As the final names were called and the cameras went dark, the draftees and their representatives clear out, and all that was left was a mess of papers and water bottles scattered throughout the stadium and stands.

It’s a unique phenomenon to observe the beginnings of the young athlete’s careers. In 2011, we witnessed a young man by the name of Mike Trout get called up on stage to receive his Los Angeles Angels jersey. Four years later, he’s the face of the game. How long until we see Rodgers, Russell, Nikorak or Whitley in the big leagues? Only time will tell.

Russell best explained the experience before the night began, when he was pacing along the third baseline of Studio 42 in nervousness. Around 10 minutes after being selected by the Royals, Clayton followed up to see how the no longer prospect, but draftee, now felt.

“I’m so excited,” he said. “I can’t believe this is happening right now. This is a dream come true.”

For Collier, the experience has had similar effects.

“As a young sports journalist, it is certainly rewarding to have the opportunity to cover these type of events,” he said. “WSOU at Seton Hall, as a professionally run radio station, offers a number of tremendous opportunities for students such as the MLB Draft. It’s events like these that help you gain the experience necessary to be successful in the media industry. I’ve worked hard at it for several years now, so to be able to cover an event like the MLB Draft for WSOU is very much satisfying.”

Damaged doors and windows
A Village Green Drive resident in Port Jefferson Station reported the door of their 2014 Hyundai had been dented at some point between 3 p.m. on June 3 and 11 a.m. on June 4.
Two cars and an apartment on Linden Place in Port Jefferson were damaged between 5 p.m. on June 6 and 7 p.m. on June 7. According to police, the apartment’s resident reported that the vehicles’ windows were smashed and the inside of the apartment was damaged.
A BB gun pellet damaged a window at a Granada Circle home in Mount Sinai on June 7 between 5:15 and 6:15 p.m.

Taken times two
A William Street resident in Port Jefferson Station reported that cash was stolen from their unlocked 2014 Cadillac sometime around 2:35 a.m. on June 3.
A Corvette Road residence in Selden was burglarized on June 4 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Police said the suspect entered through an unlocked rear door and took jewelry, cash and electronics.

Going through withdrawals
After stealing a pocketbook from a shopper at Stop & Shop on Pond Path in Centereach on June 3, a suspect then used the credit cards to make purchases.
A Wolfhollow Road resident in Centereach reported on June 3 that their debit card had been used to make unauthorized withdrawals.

Welts on West Broadway
A female was injured after a verbal dispute at Schafer’s in Port Jefferson became physical in the early morning of June 7. According to police, the woman had welts on her forehead after being punched and was transported to a local hospital.

Tempestuous relationship
A mother and her son’s friend got into a verbal argument on June 6 on Tempest Road in Selden.

Do not enter
A 22-year-old Bellport man was arrested in Mount Sinai on June 6 and charged with third-degree criminal trespass after he entered the backyard of a Savanna Circle home without permission on June 5.

Working for tips
A 26-year-old Centereach woman was arrested in Mount Sinai on June 5 and charged with petit larceny after she took a tip jar from Tropical Smoothie Café on May 29.

Locked and loaded
Police arrested a 43-year-old Rocky Point man on June 3 shortly after 8 p.m. after they discovered the suspect in possession of cocaine and a loaded Glock, among other weapons. He was charged with multiple related counts, including second-degree criminal possession of a loaded firearm.

Crash-and-dasher sought
Suffolk County police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a woman who may have left the scene of an accident last month. Police said on May 31, at about 9:30 a.m., a woman driving a tan or beige-colored four-door sedan sideswiped a white Toyota at the Shop Rite located at 71 College Road in Selden. The suspect’s vehicle may have damage to the right front-end fender. Suffolk County Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Speedy DWI
A 29-year-old man from Dix Hills was arrested in Stony Brook on May 5, at 1:30 a.m., and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said the man was driving a 2007 gray Lexus and was observed speeding on County Road 97 at Shirley Kenny Drive in Stony Brook.

Clothing grab
A 30 year-old female from Sayville was arrested on June 1 in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with petit larceny. Police said she stole clothing from Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway at 8:12 p.m. She was arrested at the scene.

Wrong side of the tracks
Someone drove onto the lawn of Crossroads Church on Pembrook Drive in Stony Brook and left tire tracks between June 5 at 5 p.m. and June 6 at 10 a.m.

Basement burglary
Someone broke into the basement window of a home on Bennett Lane in Stony Brook and took a phone, cash and credit cards sometime between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on June 5.

Cheat sheet
Someone took two sheet sets and returned them for credit at Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between May 20 and June 6.

Lost and found
A man lost his wallet at Kohl’s in Setauket-East Setauket and someone stole it and used his credit card sometime between May 18 and May 19.

Bag grabber sought
Suffolk County police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a man who broke a car window and stole a bag in Hauppauge last month.
Police said a man broke the passenger front window of a blue Toyota Rav-4 and stole a Coach handbag from within the vehicle on May 5, between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The suspect appears to be a light-skinned Hispanic male, five feet and seven inches tall, in his 20s, with a medium build. The suspect was wearing a baseball hat and had his right arm in a sling.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Credit compromised
Suffolk County police arrested a 37-year-old man from Holbrook on June 6 and charged him with fourth-degree grand larceny of credit cards. Police said he stole credit cards from a Holbrook woman on June 4 at 8:30 p.m. He was arrested at the 4th precinct at 9:45 a.m.

Rude awakening
Suffolk County police arrested a 28-year-old undomiciled man in Smithtown and charged him with third-degree criminal trespass of enclosed property. Police said he entered a building on Maple Avenue in Smithtown on June 5 and found the man sleeping in a storage room. Police also said there was a sign on the door that cautioned no trespassing. He was arrested that day at 12:20 a.m.

Cu later
Police arrested a 24-year-old man from Ronkonkoma on June 3 and charged him with third-degree burglary. Police said the man broke into a residence on Pleasure Avenue in Lake Ronkonkoma, between April 28 and May 2, and stole copper piping. He was arrested at the 4th Precinct at 2:35 p.m.

Bike-jacked
Someone stole a BMX bicycle from a parking lot on West Main Street in Smithtown on June 7, between noon and 2 p.m. There are no arrests.

Laser gazer
A driver complained to police that someone in another car was pointing a green laser at him, causing him visual distress. The incident happened in Smithtown, eastbound on Route 25A, on June 5. The driver was traveling in a 2007 Infiniti and the suspect was a male with a female passenger.

Two heads are better than one
A man told police he was head-butted by someone at Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub on East Main Street in Smithtown on June 3. The victim said he required medical attention and stitches. The incident happened at around 11 p.m.

Donation box looted
Someone took money from the poor box at St. Patrick’s Church on East Main Street on June 2, sometime between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. There are no arrests.

Knocked out
Police arrested an 18-year-old man from Huntington Station in Huntington on June 6 and charged him with assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon. Police said he smashed a bottle over somebody’s head at about 12:30 a.m. The victim had to receive stitches at Huntington Hospital. The man was arrested at 5 a.m. that day.

Teen punched
A 44-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington on June 6 and charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child below the age of 17. Police said the man punched a 14-year-old boy in the face multiple times. The incident happened on the street on Wall Street in Huntington on May 23 at 9:05 p.m. The man was arrested on West Neck Road at Gerard Street at about 11:19 a.m.

No ‘scrips, no problem
Police arrested a 39-year-old Huntington man in Huntington on June 5 and charged him with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Police said the man possessed prescription medication without a prescription, and he was arrested in front of West Shore Road in Huntington at 5:09 p.m.

In your face
A 23-year-old man from Huntington Station was arrested in Huntington on June 3 and charged with third-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury. Police said the man punched another man in the face, and the other individual required medical treatment. The incident took place at Ohara Place in Halesite on May 9 at 1:40 a.m., and the man was arrested at the 2nd precinct at 4:45 p.m.

Missing computer
A Knollwood Road resident in Halesite reported to police his computer disappeared from his home. He used an app to locate it and tracked the device to Brentwood. The man said he doesn’t know how it got there. The incident occurred sometime between 8 p.m. on June 4 and 11 p.m. on June 5.

Gone in a click
Someone stole a woman’s bag containing a camera, lenses, a tripod, batteries and charger sometime between 9 p.m. and midnight on June 5 on New York Avenue in Huntington. The woman left the equipment on a party bus, and when she returned to the bus, the bag was gone.

Power punch
Someone punched a man in the face on New York Avenue on June 6 at 2:35 a.m., causing him to fall back and hit his head. The man had to go to Huntington Hospital for medial treatment.

Rings taken
Someone stole two diamond rings from a home on Woodbury Road in Cold Spring Harbor sometime between June 1 and June 4. There are no arrests.

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Port Jefferson High School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Officials are working toward updating Port Jefferson school district policies for the coming school year, largely in relation to student behavior.

The board of education accepted first readings of 14 new policies or policy changes, regarding the dress code, student conduct and discipline, and substance abuse, among other topics.

If adopted, the policy on student dress code would change to specifically list types of inappropriate clothing, whereas the current policy leaves it more open to interpretation, saying only that clothing cannot be obscene, too revealing or a health hazard.

“Extremely brief garments such as tube tops, net tops, halter tops, spaghetti straps, plunging necklines … and see-through garments are not appropriate,” the proposed policy reads. “Underwear [must be] completely covered with outer clothing.”

It would also rule out, like the current policy, vulgar or obscene items on clothing, as well as items that denigrate others or promote drug use or illegal activities.

More changes would be made to the district’s policy on visitors to the school buildings. Under the current policy, visitors must report to the school office and receive a visitor’s permit, and “whenever possible, entrance to the school buildings shall be restricted to entryways most effectively supervised by building staff.”

But if the new policy is adopted, all visitors to the schools during classes would enter only “through the designated single point of entry, have a clear purpose and destination, and report to the designated visitor sign-in area.”

The visitors would have to surrender a photo ID for the duration of the visit and receive a badge to be worn at all times.

In the policy regarding substance use and abuse, the school board might add language to the list of prohibited substances — which currently includes alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, LSD, cocaine, PCP, heroin, steroids and other drugs — to also ban synthetic versions of them, whether or not they are illegal.

Trustee Bob Ramus, the head of the board’s policy committee, said the 14 policies could be adopted upon a second reading later this month or next month. Five old policies — the outdated versions of some of the new policies — would be deleted at the same time.

Discovering the science of wind at the Maritime Explorium. Photo by Jacqueline Grennon-Brooks

By Erin Dueñas

Calling all artisans, DIYers, amateur scientists, inventors, innovators and everyone in between: The first large-scale Makers Festival is set to debut on Long Island this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Port Jefferson Village Center and Harborfront Park.

Presented and co-sponsored by the Maritime Explorium in Port Jefferson, the Long Island Makers Festival 2015 will feature a broad range of interactive exhibits including 3D printing, robotics, green screen technology, performance art, African drummers, roller skating, organic gardening and even geologists setting off volcanoes. The Explorium will also be open; there will be a “meet the scientist” booth and a horseshoe crab walk is scheduled. According to festival event coordinator Cindy Morris, the aim of the festival is to encourage the people who are already actively “making” as well as to show the community that innovation can happen anywhere.

“The common thread of the Maker Movement is accessible innovation,” Morris said. “The reality is that people have great ideas. We want to empower the ones who are creating. We found some amazing people.”

Morris said that financial backers and high-tech equipment is no longer necessary for anyone looking to invent and create. “This is something anyone can do. You don’t need a $5,000 piece of equipment. People are doing these things in their living rooms and garages.”

Mixing technology, coding and moving with kidOYO. Photo by Melora Loffreto
Mixing technology, coding and moving with kidOYO. Photo by Melora Loffreto

The Maker Movement is a mash up of lovers of art, science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and innovation who quite literally make things based on that love. “These are people who are inventors, artists and scientists who are doing incredible things. We believe it was time to showcase what is going on here on Long Island.” Morris said the festival will include a group of men who make holograms and students who created their own 3D printer. “We are taking concepts that feel big and powerful and making them accessible.”

Morris said that the festival motto is “Try it.” “The event is going to be very hands-on. No one could run an exhibit without it being interactive,” Morris said. “We are not just showing what was made, but we are focusing on what you can be doing.”

According to Lauren Hubbard, executive director of the Explorium, the festival will be an extension of what the Explorium does every day. A hands-on museum that features what Hubbard calls “open-ended exhibits,” the Explorium encourages visitors to build and create whatever they want. “You can do the same activity and get a different outcome every time,” Hubbard said. “There are just a million things that can be built.”

She said that the Makers Festival will offer visitors the same experience. “It’s all going to be hands-on and open ended,” Hubbard said. “We wanted to provide a venue for all Maker people to come together for a family friendly day. There’s going to be something for everyone.”

Melora Loffreto is the founder of the festival co-sponsor KidOYO, a program geared toward children ages 7 to 17 that teaches computer programming and coding. She said that Makers festivals and fairs have been popping up in small-scale locations such as schools and libraries across Long Island, but the Port Jefferson festival is the largest so far. “They take place in larger cities and there is a big one in Queens, but this is really the first to come out this way,” Loffreto said.

She described the Makers Movement as particularly important to Long Island. “Our youth is funneling off the Island. The festival is going to say that we have lots of Makers here, we have the skill set and we want to inspire people to keep the talent local.” She said the Makers Movement and the upcoming festival will help to keep skills in the United States. “We want to spur on inventors and to inspire local youth to go down a path of inventing and engineering.”

Hannah Lawrence leads the Comsewogue high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district
Hannah Lawrence leads the Comsewogue high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district
Hannah Lawrence leads the Comsewogue high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district

By Rachel Siford

Two Warriors and two Royals are leading the pack as they look forward to throwing their caps on graduation day.

Hannah Lawrence and Renuka Diwan were named Comsewogue High School’s Class of 2015 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

Lawrence is finishing her high school career with a 102.61 GPA. She is attending Yale University in the fall, majoring in applied mathematics. Lawrence comes from a long line of valedictorians: her mother Cindy, brother David and sister Rachel all graduated at the top of their classes at Comsewogue High School.

Renuka Diwan leads the Comsewogue high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district
Renuka Diwan leads the Comsewogue high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district

Lawrence kept herself busy throughout high school playing varsity tennis, helping to integrate new tech in her school as a Comsewogue Student Technology Specialist, and participating in the Women in Science & Engineering Program (WISE), Math League, the National Honor Society and the Academic Club. She is also a National Merit scholar.

Diwan wrapped up her high school career with a 101.39 GPA. In the fall she will start college at Brown University but is undecided about her area of study. She was a National Merit Scholarship Program finalist and was involved in the National Honor Society, varsity tennis, the Academic Club, the French Honor Society and the WISE program. She also practices Indian classical dance outside of school.

Noah Davis leads the Port Jefferson high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district
Noah Davis leads the Port Jefferson high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district

The Earl L. Vandermeulen High School announced Noah Davis as its Class of 2015 valedictorian and Natalia Zaliznyak as salutatorian.

Davis, the younger brother of 2013 valedictorian Gabriel Davis, is continuing his studies at Duke University this fall, majoring in biomedical engineering. He is an AP Scholar with Distinction, participated in the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Partners for the Future research program and is on the Science Olympiad team.

Davis has already made strides in his career by submitting a patent for an environmentally friendly flame retardant and was a semifinalist in the Siemens Foundation Competition in Math, Science and Technology.

Natalia Zaliznyak leads the Port Jefferson high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district
Natalia Zaliznyak leads the Port Jefferson high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district

Zaliznyak is also an AP Scholar with Distinction and a member of the Science Olympiad team. She is a National Merit semifinalist and a member of the Latin Club. She participated in the Simons Summer Research Program at Stony Brook University and in a local Russian theater group. She is attending Yale University in the fall to study molecular biophysics.

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Justin Julich competes for Port Jefferson in the steeplechase in the St. Anthony’s Invitational. Photo from the athlete

The Royals have always risen to the occasion, and the boys’ track and field team hopes their efforts this year on the state stage will be no exception.

Despite missing the entire spring season with an Achilles tendon injury, Port Jefferson standout James Burke — and two of his fellow Royals — placed in the Section XI individual championships and state qualifier on their home track last Friday and Saturday, to advance to the state championship this weekend at the University at Albany.

“It was devastating to lose James this spring season,” Port Jefferson head coach Rod Cawley said. “He’s the captain of the team and one of the best athletes in the state. But it’s quite an accomplishment to have three athletes competing this weekend.”

Although this season’s squad did not win any of the championships the Royals usually nab, like the league, division and county titles, the boys still finished the dual-meet season with a 5-1 record — dropping only their final matchup against Wyandanch, 79-59 — despite missing Burke, as well as junior Billy Witrock for a portion of the schedule.

Although he did not compete during the regular season, Burke placed second in the 1,600-meter, his signature event, at the qualifying meet with a time of 4 minutes, 18.39 seconds — only five-hundredths of a second behind Ward Melville’s John Ripa.

The Royal has finished that event as fast as 4:08.48, during the New Balance Nationals Indoor at the Armory in Manhattan earlier this year. The time made him the second-fastest miler in the country and earned him a silver medal.

“I give him credit for coming back and coming in second,” Cawley said about the qualifier. “The plan was to go out and try to take it easy to rest his tendon, but being the competitor that he is, there’s no taking it easy. He went from the back of the race all the way to the front in second place there, and then he moved to first for a little while, but he also got stepped on during the race — since [his Achilles] was injured anyway, that didn’t help.”

Burke spent a lot of time trying to heal following his injury, and slowly worked himself up to being able to run again.

“He goes around the neighborhood to people who have pools, and asks if he could swim,” Cawley said, laughing. “He’s been to four or five different pools in Port Jeff. … He likes to run in the water in the deep end to simulate running — not touching the bottom — and then he’ll swim laps to get some cardiovascular aspects of it.”

Port Jefferson's Alden Mohacsi pole vaults in a previous meet. Photo from the athlete
Port Jefferson’s Alden Mohacsi pole vaults in a previous meet. Photo from the athlete

Also heading to states is senior pole-vaulter Alden Mohacsi, whose fourth-place finish at the qualifier was a new personal record, making the state bid that much sweeter.

“I’m definitely looking forward to states,” said Mohacsi, who has been on the team since he was a freshman. “I’m practicing every day and there’s been a lot of personal development. I’m going to do the best that I can this week to improve my form and I’m hoping to hit 13 feet this Friday.”

Junior Justin Julich had several successes of his own, competing in the 3,200 and 3,000 steeplechase.

On Friday, Julich hit a new personal record of his own in the two-mile run with a 9:48 — nine seconds better than his standard 9:57 — to finish eighth. Just hours after competing in the 3,200 the evening before, Julich ran a 10:16 in the steeplechase on Saturday to place seventh and qualify for states.

“It’s awesome to do really good at that high of a level,” Julich said. “Competing against the best guys in the county, it always helps to do your best in those kinds of situations.”

Julich is also looking to reach a new personal best in that event this Saturday, and his head coach said the runner has grown a lot over the years, aiding in his success.

“He’s come a long way,” Cawley said. “He was a little guy back in freshman year and now he’s going to be a team leader next year. He was exhausted Saturday morning. It’s a very difficult [double event] to do in 16 hours, but he didn’t complain; he went out there and did it. He knows he has to step up.”

Julich, Mohacsi, Parker Schoch and Alex Rebic also competed in the 4×800 relay in the state qualifier, finishing 12th in 8:50.

Looking ahead to this weekend, Cawley and his athletes are confident that they can be successful on the big stage.

“I think we have a pretty good chance to do very well,” the head coach said. “James is James; I know he will do well just because of his past. Alden is a tough competitor, and I think Justin has an opportunity to do well, too.”

Mohacsi said the program’s winning tradition has facilitated the athletes’ improvements.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of this team and this program,” he said. “It’s built me up physically and mentally, and I’m really grateful for the super-talented and supportive teammates and coaches I’ve had. It’s inspired me to keep pushing myself beyond the best of my abilities; to work hard and give it 110 percent.”

Port Jefferson held its annual Boater’s Maritime Festival on June 6 and June 7, bringing pirates, art, animals and water sports to the village’s downtown area on a warm weekend. Residents and visitors learned how to row, stepped onto paddleboards, wiggled into kayaks, went on treasure hunts, stuffed their faces with clams, petted slippery snakes and more.

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Port Jefferson Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Port Jefferson school district officials announced on Thursday that middle school Principal Antonio Santana would not return for 2015-16, making him the second building leader in the last few months to step down.

In a letter to parents and staff, Superintendent Ken Bossert said Santana would leave Port Jefferson Middle School for a role at a Nassau County high school beginning in July.

“While this news is disappointing, we are happy for Tony that he has chosen to continue to shape his career in the manner that he believes is best for him and his family,” Bossert wrote.

Antonio Santana, above, is leaving his role as Port Jefferson Middle School principal after three years. File photo
Antonio Santana, above, is leaving his role as Port Jefferson Middle School principal after three years. File photo

The same day, Santana sent out an email to parents about his departure.

“I cannot emphasize enough what a pleasure it’s been working with my students, staff, and parents,” he said. “As I have mentioned at many school functions, it has been a true privilege working in such a great community and all of your efforts in raising such wonderful children have been much appreciated. Having said this, I can’t help feeling a great deal of sadness when I think about all of the people I will miss, especially my students.”

Santana’s news comes about three months after high school Principal Matthew Murphy said he would resign at the end of the current school year, “to pursue other educational opportunities.” Murphy and Santana were both hired three years ago to jointly replace the combined middle school-high school principal, Roseann Cirnigliaro.

The district has filled Murphy’s slot — it announced recently that Christine Austen, the assistant principal for all grade levels and a Port Jefferson graduate, would succeed him at the helm of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School.

“It is wonderful to be given this opportunity to come home and give back to the community this way,” Austen said in a statement.

Austen said she wants to introduce more technology into classroom learning and implement new technology-related courses.

“Our goal is to prepare our students with skills that will last a lifetime,” the incoming principal said.

Bossert said in his Thursday letter that the search is already underway for a new middle school principal, but “due to the timing of this vacancy, it is likely that there will be a gap between Mr. Santana’s departure and the appointment of a new principal.”

Parents may reach out to Bossert, Assistant Superintendent for Business Sean Leister or Executive Director of Curriculum Maureen Hull with any questions.

“Further information about the progress of our search for Mr. Santana’s successor will be shared with our community as it develops.”

At the time of Murphy’s resignation announcement, the superintendent said the district did not plan to return to its previous system of having one principal for both the high school and the middle school. The district was able to operate in that manner for the two schools, which share a building, because it had a waiver from the state education department but that waiver has expired. Bossert has previously said the two schools are different learning environments that require “separate and distinct” principals.