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Shoreham-Wading River

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By Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River’s girls basketball team had their work cut out for them in an out-bracket playoff game against Sayville Feb. 11. The Wildcats had faced Sayville twice during the regular season and lost by 19 and 22 points, respectively. However, this was a different Wildcat team with a swarming defense that held Sayville at bay, leading by five at the half and then by three to open the 4th quarter. Sayville was able to tie the game with 4 minutes left as both teams struggled to find the rim. Tied at 41 all with six seconds left, the officials called a foul on the Wildcats, sending Sayville to the line shooting two. Sayville made the first but missed the second as the Wildcats rebounded the ball with less than four seconds remaining. SWR managed to get a shot off, but it missed its mark as time expired in a heartbreaking 42-41 loss.

Co-captain and senior Michele Corona led the way for the Wildcats with 22 points, fellow co-captain Abby Korzekwinski, a junior, netted 8 while eighth-grader GraceAnn Leonard banked six. The loss concludes the Wildcats season with a 9-10 record in League V with a 9-12 record overall. 

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By Bill Landon

After a disastrous first half for Shoreham-Wading River’s boys basketball team netting only 7 points before the break, the Wildcats came out shooting in the third quarter out scoring Sayville 20-14 over the final 16 minutes of play; but it was too little too late. The Wildcats fell to visiting Sayville 32-27 in a League V contest Jan. 5. Tristan Costello banked 4 field goals and a free throw to lead his team in scoring with 9, followed by Tom Bell’s 4 swishes from the free throw line and a pair of field goals for 8 points. The loss drops the Wildcats to 1-4 in the league, 4-5 overall. The team was back in action Jan. 8 where they traveled to Westhampton, but the Wildcats lost 58-60.  

 

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More than 400 people crowded onto the Shoreham-Wading River High School soccer field Dec. 15 to race in the first annual Andrew’s Run, but one family especially that crossed the finish line did so to cheers and applause that resounded all across the North Shore community.

John McMorris, the father of 12-year-old Boy Scout Andrew McMorris who died in October, walked and ran with his son’s framed photograph clenched in his hand. As he and Andrew’s mother, Alisa, strolled over the finish line that morning, John stuck up his hands in triumph, knowing it would go to support his son’s memory.

“This is how the community comes together,” he said. “The community is the only way we’ve been able to heal — to continue to heal.”

Andrew, who was a seventh-grader at Albert G. Prodell Middle School in Shoreham, died Oct. 1 after an alleged drunk driver struck him and four of his fellow Scouts in Boy Scout Troop 161 while they were walking along the shoulder of David Terry Road in Manorville during a hike. The McMorris family said
Andrew was going to do his first practice for the middle school cross country team that same day, but his life was ended before he could fulfill that ambition. 

The run was brought together through the efforts of 16-year-old Miller Place High School student Danelle Rose, who helped prepare everything from the race’s route across the fields at SWR High School to coordinating with the school and the Strong Island Running Club professional time takers, who donated their services for free to the run.

All the funds are going to support Boy Scout Troop 161 in their effort to build a new 3,200 square foot Adirondack cabin at Baiting Hollow Scout Camp in Wading River, which will be named McMorris Lodge in honor of Andrew. The run raised over $8,000 for the lodge.

Several members of local Boy Scouts, including those from Troop 161 and Troop 204 from Miller Place, ran in the race, some in their full Boy Scout uniforms. While weather forecasts called for rain that Saturday morning, Troop 161 Scoutmaster Matthew Yakaboski said it was a sign that good things may still come from tragedy.

“I think Andrew was shining down on us today,” Yakaboski said.

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By Bill Landon

The Miller Place Panthers girls volleyball team defeated the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats Oct. 11 at home three sets to two, though everyone involved was a winner that day. The game was part of the annual Dig Pink initiative held during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October in which the teams partner with the Sideout Foundation to to raise money to benefit the North Shore Neighbors Breast Cancer Coalition, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping families with someone battling the disease.

Shoreham-Wading River school district is considering converting the closed fitness center into a wrestling center. Photo by Kyle Barr Photo by Kyle Barr

Shoreham-Wading River High School students looking to make gains have been impeded with the loss of the school’s fitness center, and now the district is looking at its options for a new one.

The high school’s fitness center, which has been around since the late 1980s and is detached from the main building, was closed down in July this year because an assessment of the building by the school district’s internal engineer showed the flooring was not up to code for constant physical activity.

“The flooring in the fitness area needed structural support in order to meet that code requirements, and the amount came back for that being $200,000 to conduct those repairs,” Superintendent Gerard Poole said. “Over the summer the board asked that we look with our architect to take a look at decision making process alternatives within the school district to make a fitness center or a fitness room.”

With the loss of the old fitness room, the district has moved exercise equipment to room 102, located in close proximity to the high school’s lower floor cafeteria, on the other side of the school from the locker rooms and gymnasium. Current amenities for the temporary facility include a TRX cable-based exercise machine, medicine balls, dumbbells, bench presses and some cardio equipment, according to Poole.

At the SWR Sept. 25 school board meeting members said the district was considering three options. One is to fix the flooring in the old fitness center, which might be the most expensive. Another is to combine rooms 102 and 101 next to the high school cafeteria to create a new 1,400 square foot fitness space. Lastly the district could section off a portion of the auxiliary gym and combine it with an existing storage space to create another 1,400 square foot fitness center.

Shoreham-Wading River’s fitness center is closed while the board of education decides what to do next. Photo by Kyle Barr

Poole said the district did not have an exact date when they will come to a decision.

“I do not have a deadline, but as always we want to come to a decision as soon as we can,” Poole said. “It’s good to take out time for a decision as long as we’re spending money.”

While replacing the floor would cost $200,000, other options currently seem to cost much less.

Ken Schupner, an architect for Patchogue-based Burton Behrendt Smith Architects, whose services are retained by the school, said it would cost approximately $75,000 to $100,000 to break through the high school’s auxiliary gym to make room for a 14,000 square foot fitness center. Because of the work already done to room 102, extending that space into room 101 should also cost less than patching the old facility’s floor, the architect said.

Board President Michael Lewis questioned whether students will be able to utilize the space if the fitness center is located on the other side of the building from the locker rooms.

“Getting it close to physical education [facilities] is maximizing utilization for the sports teams, and with having it on the lower floor next to the cafeteria are the students really going to travel all the way there to work out?” Lewis said.

Schupner said while the room is located far from the gym, it also has an exit to the outside of the building, making it easier for students to access after practice on the sports fields.

If the school were to opt to use the auxiliary gym, it could disrupt current physical education classes. Poole said five classes are currently scheduled in that room, which is also used extensively by the wrestling and cheerleading teams.

Schupner said renovations to the detached current fitness center are less applicable for state aid compared to facilities located inside the building.

Shoreham resident Robert Badalian regularly used the old fitness center in the hours when it was open to the public, and he and others didn’t want to be left out of the conversation.

“We don’t want to be excluded,” Badalian said. “It was a place for people to exercise and feel comfortable — not be intimidated like you could if you go to another gym.”

Badalian also said he hoped the district would focus more on modernizing the fitness center, saying that compared to high schools like Ward Melville, which have a more modern fitness center, SWR is lagging behind.

Carolyn Baier, another Shoreham resident who was a regular at the fitness center, said having it open to the rest of the community helped get people more involved and in tune with their local school. Baier was on the SWR school board in the 1980s, back when the decision came down to create the fitness center.

“The young people who used it were so nice, they would pick up my weights for me when I hurt my hand,” Baier said. “This was a community thing.”

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

Shoreham-Wading River seniors Christian Wesselborg, left, and Calvin Schmalzle, right, were named this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively. Photos from Shoreham-Wading River school district

Shoreham-Wading River’s valedictorian Christian Wesselborg and salutatorian Calvin Schmalzle both managed to achieve high marks while squeezing in a helping of extracurricular activities.

Wesselborg earned a 101.42 GPA. He is a gold medalist at the Al Kalfus Long Island Math Fair, a winner of department awards for both AP Biology and AP Statistics, was named an AP Scholar with Distinction and
was honored with a Rensselaer Medal for excellence in math and science. 

Wesselborg participated in several sports, including wrestling and winter and spring track. He was also recognized as a member of the academic All-County team as a member of the Wildcats varsity soccer team. The senior also spent his time as the robotics team captain and a member of the jazz band.

Other than school, Wesselborg participated in Relay Iowa, an adventure over 330 miles long.

After four years of high school, Wesselborg plans to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
in Troy, where he will study biosciences.

Schmalzle finished with a 100.09 GPA. He is a National Merit Scholarship Commended Student, a Brookhaven National Laboratory High School Research Program summer intern and placed first at the Suffolk County Math Teachers Association precalculus contest.

Outside of the classroom Schmalzle was also a member of the school robotics team. After school he played volleyball and ran track and field, earning an All-American nod during winter track and to the All-County academic team during volleyball season.

In the fall Schmalzle will attend Clarkson University where he plans to study mechanical engineering and explore his passion for math and physics. He said he’s hoping to land a job in the engineering field.

“Christian and Calvin are both exceptional students who represent the well-rounded education at Shoreham-Wading River High School,” Principal Frank Pugliese said. “Their commitment to school, community and
extracurricular activities will certainly drive their future successes.”

Schmalzle said the things he would miss the most from his time in high school are his friends and family. He said other students that look to do well should do their due diligence.

“Work hard and believe in yourself,” he said.

Shoreham-Wading River High School seniors were met with applause and cheers as they accepted their diplomas during the class of 2018 commencement ceremony June 23.

After the processional and National Anthem, sung by senior Jack Flatley with ASL interpretation by Victoria Ann Holden, high school Principal Frank Pugliese addressed the crowd. Opening remarks were presented by salutatorian Calvin Schmalzle and senior Alexandra Melt followed him by singing “Go the Distance” from Disney’s Hercules, before valedictorian Christian Wesselborg bid the class farewell.

Katherine Lee races in the 1,000-meter run during the indoor track and field season. File photo by Bill Landon

Katherine Lee was off to the races at the Suffolk County track and field individual championship/state qualifier June 2 and 3 at Comsewogue High School and crossed her senior season finish lines in typical
Wildcats fashion — by winning the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs. She finished first in the 1,500 in 4 minutes, 34.25 seconds and the 3,000 in 9:58.42.

Mount Sinai’s Kenneth Wei leaps over a hurdle during an earlier meet this season. File photo by Bill Landon

Lee said her result was not what she’d hoped, saying she’s been under the weather, but hopes to finish stronger when she competes with the other winners in the state championship at Cicero North Syracuse
High School June 8 and 9.

Mount Sinai sophomore Sarah Connelly came in third in the 1,500, crossing the finish line in 4:38.07. Connelly also came in second in the 3,000 in 9:59.99.

Mount Sinai freshman Kaitlyn Chandrika used a quick start to roll to a 6:57.97 victory in the 2,000 steeplechase. Teammate Noreen Guilfoyle, a senior, placed fourth in 7:13.59. Chandrika also raced to a third-place finish in the 800 with a 2:16.31 behind Ward Melville seniors Allyson Gaedje (2:14.82) and Sam Rutt (2:14.93). Mount Sinai junior Kayleigh Robinson ended up second in a photo finish in the 400 hurdles behind Sachem East’s Kaitlyn Famiglietti. The Flaming Arrows runner clocked in at 1:03.33 while Robinson finished in 1:03.34.

The Mustangs’ 4×800 relay team earned second place with a time of 9:27.52. Miller Place senior Jillian Patterson grabbed second in the pentathlon with a score of 3,059.

Mount Sinai’s Kenneth Wei (14.49 seconds) was just edged by Longwood’s Jaheim Dotson (14.35) in the 110 hurdles. Sophomore Justin Wei, his younger brother, finished fourth (15.67). Kenneth Wei also came in third in the long jump (21-11) and third in the triple jump (44-1).

Miller Place sophomore Tom Cirrito placed fourth in the 800, clocking in at 1:56.20. Mount Sinai senior Jack Pilon came in sixth (1:59.11).

Annual enrollment numbers of 2012-13 school year compared to 2016-17. Graphic by TBR News Media

By Kyle Barr

A shadow hangs above the heads of Long Island’s school districts: The specter of declining enrollment.

“From last year, not a whole lot has changed, enrollment is still declining,” Barbara Graziano, the manager of the Office of School Planning and Research for Western Suffolk BOCES said. “What a lot of districts are seeing is there is a significant displacement between their graduating classes being larger than the following year’s kindergarten classes.”

School enrollment across Suffolk County has been in decline for nearly a decade. In last year’s annual report on enrollment, Western Suffolk BOCES, a regional educational service agency, said there was a 9.1 percent overall decline in enrollment in townships from Huntington to Smithtown from 2010 to 2016.

Students at Bicycle Path Pre-K/Kindergarten Center hop off the school bus. Photo from Middle Country school district

Between the 2006-07 and 2016-17 school years, Long Island saw a 6.2 percent decline in enrollment, according to Robert Lowry, the deputy director for advocacy, research and communications at the New York State Council of School Superintendents.

Statewide enrollment declined 4.2 percent in the same period. Nearly every school district on Suffolk County’s North Shore has seen at least some decline, and the trend can have tangible effects on a district’s long- and short-term planning.

“Declining enrollment may push a district toward reconsidering staffing and whether it’s necessary to close a school,” Lowry said.

Smithtown Central School District in the 2012-13 school year had 10,317 students enrolled in the district, and four years later the number dropped more than a thousand to 9,241 in 2016-17. The declining enrollment was cited in 2012, with guidance from the district’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Instruction and Housing, as the rationale behind the closing of Nesconset Elementary School, and again in 2017 when the district closed Brook Branch Elementary School.

“Over the last few years, the board of education and administration have been proactive regarding the district’s declining enrollment,” Smithtown Superintendent James Grossane said in an email. “The district
will continue to monitor its enrollment trends to plan for the future.”

“Over the last few years, the board of education and administration have been proactive regarding the district’s declining enrollment.”

— James Grossane

Experts cite factors like declining birthrate, aging population and changes in local immigration patterns as potentially having an impact on local enrollment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report in May indicating the national birthrate in 2017 hit a 30-year low with 60.2 births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. The national birthrate has been in general decline since the 1960s, but this most recent report is low even compared to 10 years ago when the birthrate was closer to 70 births per 1,000 women. Suffolk County’s population is also skewing older. Census data from the American Community Survey showed from 2010 to 2016 there was an estimated 28,288 less school-aged children between the ages of 5 and 19 living in the county. School closings are probably the most severe action districts tend to take to mitigate the effect of declining enrollment, but it is not the only option.

The Three Village Central School District has seen enrollment drop by about 900 students during the last decade. In its recently passed budget the district said it was making several staffing changes, including consolidating the roles of certain staff members. The district cited declining enrollment along with staff retirements and attrition for the changes, but also promised to add a new high school guidance counselor and an additional district psychologist to give attention to individual student’s mental health.

“While our district, like so many others in our area, have recently been experiencing a decline in enrollment, particularly at the elementary level, we have taken this opportunity to create efficiencies using current staff in order to lower class size and support a number of new initiatives, programmatic enhancements and student support services,” Cheryl Pedisich, the superintendent for Three Village schools said in an email.

“Declining enrollment affects school districts in several ways — perhaps most importantly through the impact on state aid.”

— Al Marlin

Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen said lower enrollment allows for smaller class sizes and for more attention to the mental health of individual students.

“Our students today need a little bit more mental health support than students yesterday,” Eagen said. “Obviously we don’t need as many elementary sections, but we haven’t necessarily decreased our total staffing amount because we’ve been increasing our mental health supports.”

Even with those potential benefits, many districts are still trying to work out the long-term implications of lower enrollment. Al Marlin, a spokesperson for the New York State School Boards Association said enrollment has a large effect on how much state aid a school can procure.

“Declining enrollment affects school districts in several ways — perhaps most importantly through the impact on state aid because New York’s school-aid distribution formula is based, in part, on enrollment numbers,” Marlin said in an email. “Declining enrollment also can make it more difficult for districts to sustain academic courses, including Advanced Placement courses and programs such as sports teams.”

Shoreham-Wading River school district conducted an enrollment study in 2015 that was updated for the 2017-18 school year. The study predicted the district will recede to 1,650 enrolled students by 2025, compared to 2,170 as of May. Along with a declining birthrate and an aging population, the district pointed to low housing turnover from 2008 to 2016 for part of the declining enrollment.

As part of an ongoing Shoreham-Wading River bond referendum voted on in 2015, school classrooms, like those at Principal Christine Carlson’s Miller Avenue School, were expanded to include bathrooms. File photo by Kyle Barr

“It is difficult to predict the exact number, but it is fair to say that the enrollment decline in the district will be continuing in the near future,” SWR superintendent Gerard Poole said in an email.

Superintendents from SWR and Rocky Point school district both said they do not have any plans to close schools, but there is a possibility lower enrollment could affect the districts’ ability to apply for grants.

A few districts are breaking the trend. Huntington Union Free School District has actually seen an increase in school enrollment from 2012 to 2017, but Superintendent James Polansky said in the most recent years that increase has started to level off. Polansky did not want to speculate as to why enrollment in Huntington was not decreasing like other districts, but Graziano said it might be because the district is more diverse and attracts more immigration than nearby districts.

“Every district is different, they have to look at their own schools and communities to see how they deal with enrollment,” Polansky said.

Every year Western Suffolk BOCES releases a report that looks at schools’ current enrollment and compares it to previous years. Graziano, who is working on this year’s report, most likely to be released sometime this month, said the agency expects a continuing decline in school enrollment at least for the next several years. Though eventually, she said, the declining enrollment should level off as entering kindergarten class sizes stabilize. However, there is no telling when that might be. 

“Birthrates do not seem to be increasing, it doesn’t look like, as of right now, that’s going to turn around any time soon,” Graziano said. “But of course, we don’t have a crystal ball.”