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Stony Brook University

Ethan Agro has always been able to turn tears of sorrow into tears of joy.

Even though he was born with a congenital heart defect, the 12-year-old was always a trooper, and especially so when he needed to lay on an operating table last year and undergo eight hours of open heart surgery to repair his aortic valve.

12-year-old Ethan Agro celebrates after making the Gold Coast Bank three-point shot during halftime of the Stony Brook University men's basketball game on Jan. 9. Photo from SBU
12-year-old Ethan Agro celebrates after making the Gold Coast Bank three-point shot during halftime of the Stony Brook University men’s basketball game on Jan. 9. Photo from SBU

“My husband and I and my family were crying tears of joy,” Ethan’s mother Susan Agro said after the operation went smoothly. “Words cannot describe what a difficult time last year was. It was a really, really hard decision to make and we were really surprised. It was a rough recovery for the first few weeks, but Ethan did great, he had an amazing recovery and we are so grateful.”

Again, on Saturday evening at the men’s home basketball game, Ethan turned the triumph of a successful surgery and recovery into happy tears as he won $500 by banking the Gold Coast Bank three-point halftime shot.

“I was just so grateful that he was able to stand out in front of that crowd and make that shot,” she said. “I was crying tears of joy.”

His mother went to the refreshment stand and while away, a student intern group randomly picked Ethan to attempt the shot. He asked his mother for permission and she said yes without hesitation, although warning her son that no one had made the basket yet this season.

But he did.

Ethan Agro lines up to take his three-point shot during halftime of the Stony Brook University men's basketball game on Jan. 9. Photo from SBU
Ethan Agro lines up to take his three-point shot during halftime of the Stony Brook University men’s basketball game on Jan. 9. Photo from SBU

“I was surprised to see it go in,” Ethan said. “When I was taking the shot I wasn’t focusing on what the crowd was thinking. I was focusing on making the shot. I was so excited, and shooting in front of the crowd was an honor. I always admired those people — wanting to get picked.”

Stony Brook Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing Chris Murray said Ethan was randomly picked, not knowing that the family, which has lived in Mount Sinai for the last 16 years, had been to all of Stony Brook University’s men’s home games for the last five years. The Agros are season ticket holders and especially enjoyed using the games as an escape while Ethan waited six weeks after scheduling his surgery.

“I myself was on the court with Ethan when he hit the shot and his eyes lit up and he began to run in circles, unsure how to contain his excitement,” Murray said. “I couldn’t have been more happy for him, giving him a big hug as soon as we got off the court. Ethan is the most humble and appreciative middle-schooler I have ever met.”

Ethan has been on the court before, taking part in summer camps at the school but said being on the court at that moment was extra special.

Susan Agro said the whole moment was exciting as the boy was cleared to return to all normal activity just three months ago, and being that they are such big fans of the team.

Ethan Agro poses for a photo with Wolfie after banking his three-point shot during the Stony Brook University men's basketball game, winning $500 from Gold Coast Bank. Photo from SBU
Ethan Agro poses for a photo with Wolfie after banking his three-point shot during the Stony Brook University men’s basketball game, winning $500 from Gold Coast Bank. Photo from SBU

“I told Ethan he could’ve danced a little bit with Wolfie,” his mother said, laughing. “But I was completely shocked for the rest of the day. Everyone was high-fiving Ethan after the game and telling him it was a good shot and what a great story, they were all really excited for Ethan. It was an awesome experience.”

Ethan’s father Nick Agro said he was more excited to see his son be able to go back to playing basketball, as the boy competes in an intermural league.

“This was just a sort of culminating moment — to see him stand up there and make that shot was awesome,” he said. “It just solidified that he’s doing so well.”

Butchers Blind will be one of the last bands performing at the Sunday Street Concert series' old venue. Photo from Charlie Backfish

By Ellen Barcel

The University Cafe at Stony Brook University will be closing early in 2016 due to renovations of the Student Union, but that doesn’t mean that the wonderful series of Sunday Street Concerts, which have been held there for more than a decade, will be ending.

First, going out with a really special performance, the Sunday Street Concert series will present its final show at the University Cafe on Saturday, Dec. 12, which will include Butchers Blind, Chris Connolly and Bryan Gallo, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

“For our last hurrah at the cafe, we’re presenting some of Long Island’s finest young musicians in a very special evening to benefit WUSB-FM and the Sunday Street Series as it moves to its new venue,” said Sunday Street Concert series producer Charlie Backfish.

Then, changes will take place. One is that the venue itself will change, effective 2016. Future concerts will be held down the road in the Gillespie Room of the Carriage Museum at the Long Island Museum, in Stony Brook. Wine, beer and cider will be available there.

A second change is that the concerts will be open to all ages. “That’s particularly good news because we have had parents wanting to bring their children to shows but had to say ‘no’ due to the university policy for the cafe,” said Backfish.

The Sunday Street Concert series will welcome Sloan Wainwright on Jan. 17 to its new venue at the Long Island Museum. Photo from Charlie Backfish
The Sunday Street Concert series will welcome Sloan Wainwright on Jan. 17 to its new venue at the Long Island Museum. Photo from Charlie Backfish

A third change is sponsorship. “This new direction for us is an interesting partnership between the Sunday Street Series, WUSB Radio (90.1 FM, the university’s own radio station), the Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and the Long Island Museum,” said Backfish. “LIM has been expanding their programming to include music (the North Shore Pro Musica is already holding their concerts there), the GPJAC supports live performances in our area, and the Sunday Street Series of WUSB was seeking a new venue in order to continue. This all was a perfect match.”

Backfish, who is the director of field experience and student teaching in the Department of History at SBU, also hosts the radio station’s Sunday Street morning program, from 9 a.m. to noon. featuring acoustic, folk and singer-songwriter music.

“I’ve had a lot of performers joining me on air during my radio program, Sunday Street, on Sunday mornings on WUSB. Norm Prusslin, the former general manager of WUSB, suggested thinking about having some of these artists follow up a radio appearance with a show at the University Cafe, at that time a new venue,” he said. “It seemed like a very good idea and the result has been this series, which has now had 175 shows during its existence.”

What will not change is the great lineup of musicians who will be performing. The first concert of the new year is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 17, at 3 p.m. when Sloan Wainwright, known for a variety of American music styles including pop, folk, jazz and blues, will be performing. Tickets are $22 in advance, $27 at the door (cash only), if available. “Sloan Wainwright is a great singer whose amazing alto voice powers songs of others as well as her own songs. No surprise since she is part of a well-known musical family, with her brother Loudon Wainwright, and her nephew Rufus and nieces Martha and Lucy,” added Backfish.

The second scheduled 2016 performance will be on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 3 p.m. when Willie Nile will be performing. Advance sales are $25, $30 at the door (cash only), if available. “Willie Nile is a legendary figure on the rock music scene who came to prominence with a debut album hailed by critics. He writes powerfully and always delivers high-energy performances … Since his most recent album is a collection of his songs played on a grand piano, we’re looking forward to Willie making use of the grand piano in the Gillespie room at LIM,” said Backfish.

Another thing that won’t change includes the annual Dylan show. “Our annual celebration of Bob Dylan’s birthday in May has always been special since we assemble a group of musicians who are devotees of Dylan’s work … We’ll continue this tradition at the LIM on Saturday, May 21, at 7 p.m.,” said Backfish. “Coincidentally, the museum at the time will be presenting a traveling exhibition from the Rock and Roll Museum and Hall of Fame,” he added.

The future schedule includes the Scottish band, The Paul McKenna Band in March, Ian Matthews and Plainsong in a tribute to Richard Farina in April and John Gorka, also in April. For details and tickets for the 2016 performances go to www.sundaystreet.org or www.gpjac.org.

The museum, which curates a large number of Setauket artist William Sidney Mount’s paintings, is a very appropriate venue for concerts. Mount not only had many musical themes in his paintings but also played the violin himself as well as designing a violin. “You can almost hear echoes of” him at the museum, noted Backfish.

The Sunday Street Concerts received a warm “reception from the folks at the Long Island Museum,” he added. “I’m really happy we were able to do this. The people at the LIM … want to expand their music — it’s very timely.” Backfish noted that the movement to the Long Island Museum really “expands what the museum does since they already are the venue for North Shore Pro Musica’s concerts.”

The move to the LIM “parallels some of the things they will be doing. For example, an exhibit on traveling music festivals … It couldn’t be better timing,” noted Backfish, adding, “We’re delighted that the LIM has been so supportive in enabling us to continue this series in a great new venue.”

“We are very fortunate to be involved in this,” said Neil Watson, executive director of the LIM. “This is our second season of North Shore Pro Musica. The museum is a cultural hub. We are trying to engage as many people as we can, create as many experiences as possible. I was interested in creating a singer/songwriter series after Pro Musica. When Charlie came to us about losing their space, the collaboration with him grew — a great marriage. We have a wonderful space and sound system and Charlie has the experience booking the talent. I’d like to do a jazz series in the future. We are beyond thrilled, so happy about it. People can experience the museum not only through their eyes but their ears.”

Regarding the future LIM music exhibit beginning in May, Watson noted, “It’s an opportunity to look at culture … All festivals were a lightning rod for more than just music.” He added that during the exhibit there will be talks, panel discussions and additional music.

Backfish will welcome Watson and Joshua Ruff, director of collections and interpretation of the museum, as his guests on Sunday morning, Dec. 13, on his show on WUSB (90.1 FM and wusb.fm) to discuss the partnership of the Sunday Street Series with the Long Island Museum.

The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages is located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook. It is a Smithsonian affiliate. For further information on the museum, visit www.longislandmuseum.org or call 631-751-0066.

Dick Solo photo from Naomi Solo

Richard Solo, known as Dick or Doc to those he loved, died on Nov. 27 at age 79, after a four-year struggle with cancer.

Solo was the beloved husband of Nomi for 56 years; father of David, Julie and Michael (Susan); and brother of Marge Seltzer.

Friends remember Solo walking around in nature, Stony Brook University, his beloved Port Jefferson or other parts of the world, camera in hand, ready to photograph, in his special way, the world around him. He loved his family, students, nature, the Red Sox and a good bowl of  chili.

Solo had a joyous and productive and giving life. From his early days in Brookline High in Massachusetts to his years earning a bachelor’s at MIT and his Ph.D in chemistry from Berkeley, he was involved with student life, sports, and music.

When he moved to Port Jefferson in 1970, he became involved in the village and was an integral part in the development and building of the Village Center.

Solo came to the SBU on its opening day in August 1962, after a research stint at Aerospace in Los Angeles. Since that time, he had dedicated his heart and soul to it, beginning as an assistant chemistry professor. He set up a first-rate lab, but his main love was the student body. For 10 years, he taught chemistry classes of 110 to 150 students, including an introductory seminar on science and ethics before it was fashionable. The blend of teaching and research was a source of excitement, fun and satisfaction, and he was a first-rate teacher and communicator.

He became an integral part of student affairs, getting involved in counseling and helping to create an orientation course for incoming freshmen, ultimately developing an orientation program that was lauded throughout the state. He affected the lives of thousands of students, leading to his role as director of new student orientation, one of the first contacts an incoming student had with the university after admission. To the end, students who went through the program visited and corresponded with Solo and have used it as an example of how it made them grow as individuals.

Any student or faculty member who worked with Solo’s orientation program would agree that the spirit of genuine empathy is what made all the difference in the effectiveness of the program. Solo, along with his carefully chosen administrative assistants, molded freshmen and transfer orientations each year to the changing needs of incoming students. The process went beyond just registering for classes — there were social activities and workshops that included food, films, sports and a family-like spirit. His goal was to reach the attendees, to make a difference in their lives by caring about and understanding them.

His service to the SBU community spans half a century, during which Solo served on and chaired numerous committees and boards, including the University Senate, the first Student Affairs Affirmative Action Committee, the presidential search that chose Jack Marburger, the president’s advisory board on the disabled, and the Faculty Student Association. He was the unofficial photographer of Stony Brook history in the making.

Solo cared about every facet of the campus and students, attending many athletic events each season. After he semi-retired, he went back to teaching chemistry and did student advising at both summer and winter orientation programs.

Rabbi Joseph Topek from the university described Solo as a pioneer. He introduced many new ideas that have become university tradition — it was Solo who first thought of the Roth Pond Regatta.

A memorial visitation will be held on Wednesday at Bryant Funeral Home in East Setauket, from 4 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Good Shepherd Hospice or to the Staller Center for the Arts via the Stony Brook Foundation.

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By Bill Landon

It wasn’t like the Newfield football team to trail in a game, but like the first and only other time they found themselves behind this season, it didn’t last.

Both times were against the Colts of Half Hollow Hills West. The first time was when the two teams faced off in September, when the Wolverines went on to outscore their opponent, 41-13. But this time, the teams were on a bigger stage — the Suffolk County Division II championship. Continuing its quest for a perfect season, Newfield propelled past a 20-18 deficit late in the second quarter to help the team claim its second county title since 2011, with a 58-34 victory at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium Friday night.

“From the beginning of the season you work as hard as you can to get here,” Newfield senior Austin Gubelman said. “It’s a surreal feeling, it really is.”

Gubelman, a tight end, scored first on a short run, and after a failed two-point conversion attempt, Hills West cut the Wolverines’ lead in half with a field goal. Newfield senior Elijah Riley, a wide receiver who has been a one-man wrecking machine this postseason with eight touchdowns in the last three games, scored his first of four touchdowns off a handoff he took more than 50 yards for the 12-3 advantage, after another failed two-point conversion attempt, to end the scoring in the first.

The two teams totaled 952 yards, with 516 coming from Newfield. Riley alone finished the game with 146 yards on 11 carries.

With junior Justin Ottenwalder catching a pass up the middle and carrying it 71 yards for a touchdown run, the halfback, who caught three passes for 154 yards and gained 62 yards on eight carries, helped the Wolverines remain in front. But the Colts responded with another field goal and an interception on a screen pass that was returned for a touchdown. With the extra-point attempt successful, Newfield’s opponent took a 20-18 lead with 1:51 left in the half.

Just like in that September matchup, the Wolverines wouldn’t stay behind for long.

With 20 seconds on the clock, Riley took matters into his own hands. He took a handoff up the middle and found nothing. Bouncing off the wall of defenders, the senior looked for an open hole on his first, second and third attempts before cutting to the outside and finding the corner of the end zone from four yards out to put his team out in front, 24-10. From there, the Wolverines never looked back.

Hills West was on the move to start the second half, but a deep throw to a wide receiver was snatched by Newfield senior safety Denzel Williams. From the 18-yard line, Williams returned the interception up field to the 31-yard line. He finished with 108 yards on nine carries.

Newfield senior Ryan Klemm, the team’s quarterback, dumped a screen pass off to Ottenwalder, who jetted down the left sideline, covering 69 yards for the score. With the extra-point attempt by senior kicker Jacob VanEssendelft successful, the Wolverines extended their lead to 31-20 with 7:22 left in the third.

Klemm said he knew his team had the ability to bounce back, and the Wolverines refocused their efforts after a losing record at the end of last year.

“We knew we had a really talented team and we worked very hard in the offseason,” the quarterback said. “It’s surreal right now. It’s an awesome feeling, and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”

The Colts fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, and Newfield junior Jesse McKeever scooped it up and took off for the end zone. The cornerback was stopped just shy of the goal line, and the Wolverines offensive unit went back to work. Gubelman got the call and plowed his way up the middle for his second touchdown in the game. With a missed point-after attempt, the tight end put his team out front, 37-20.

With just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Half Hollow Hills West quarterback Anthony Lucarelli found the end zone on a keeper and, with the point after, the Colts closed the gap a bit.

On the ensuing play from scrimmage, Newfield called on Williams, the Middle Country sprinter, who dashed 64 yards across the field, leading blockers all the way to the end zone. With the kick from VanEssendelft good, Newfield jumped out to a 44-27 advantage.

And after a Hills West three-and-out, Newfield struck again.

With just over a minute left in the third quarter, Riley eluded three tacklers and covered 46 yards for six points. VanEssendelft’s kick split the uprights to blow the game open, 51-27.

Hills West went to the air the rest of the way, and tried to force long passes to make up for lost time. Lucarelli went deep to his wide receiver, who appeared to make the catch but bobbled the ball. Just as deadly defensively at cornerback as he is on offense as a wide receiver, Riley snatched the ball out of the Colts player’s hands for the interception with just over three minutes left in the contest.

The dominant and forceful senior finished the turnover he created with a short plunge into the end zone for his final touchdown of the game. Along with VanEssendelft’s kick, Riley’s score increased his team’s lead to 58-27.

Newfield head coach Joe Piccininni rested his starters on both sides of the ball the rest of the way, and Hills West made the most of the change by scoring one final touchdown.

“Our mistakes were hurting us and we faced a lot of adversity, but we were able to come back tonight,” Piccininni said. “We faced a great football team tonight — they didn’t fall back and they didn’t falter.”

With that, the team was crowned Suffolk County champions, and Newfield will take its undefeated season to the gridiron of Hofstra University on Friday, for a 4:30 p.m. kick off against MacArthur in the Long Island championship game. Although this year looked uncertain after the Wolverines’ 3-6 season last year, Gubelman said he thought his team could do it all along.

“I’ve known my teammates my whole life — we’ve been playing together since we were 5 years old,” he said. “We practice hard the same way we always do, come out with one vision: [to win the] Long Island Championship.”

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Setauket firefighters get set with a ladder to approach the second floor dormitory fire area as soon as interior firefighters put water on the fire to extinguish flames. Photo from SFD/R. O'Rourk

A ferocious fire inside a dormitory building at Stony Brook University has left multiple floors and rooms damaged, the university said Monday.

The blaze broke out Saturday night in a student’s room on the second floor of O’Neill College, one of four residential buildings in Mendelsohn Quad, officials said. It took teams from various fire departments in the community to extinguish the flames and forced about 115 student residents to relocate to temporary housing, the university said in a statement.

The cause was still under investigation and there were no reported injuries.

“The fire was contained to one bedroom on E-wing [of the dormitory] with some damage to several room doors on multiple floors of the wing as well as some water and smoke damage,” the university said in a statement. “Professional and student staff within campus residences immediately began to work diligently to provide resident students with the resources and support needed, and continue to do so.”

The fire is extinguished but a clean-up of debris from the room continues to ensure no hidden flames exist. Photo from SFD/R. O'Rourk
The fire is extinguished but a clean-up of debris from the room continues to ensure no hidden flames exist. Photo from SFD/R. O’Rourk

University police initially reported the fire before crews arrived. The Setauket Fire Department responded to the call and received mutual aid from the Stony Brook, St. James and Port Jefferson departments. There, officials found that the dorm room where the flames originated was completely destroyed, officials said.

Setauket firefighters had to carry hoses up to the second floor because there were no standpipes there to connect to, due to the building’s decades-old architecture, the Setauket Fire Department said in a statement.

“Once water was brought to bear, most flames were extinguished and the remainder of the alarm resulted in cleaning out debris to ensure there was no extension to the fire,” the department said in a statement.

The university said the displaced residents would return to the building when it is properly restored.

“Currently there are professional fire restoration personnel on-site working to repair the facility in conjunction with our campus residence operations and risk management staff,” the university said in a statement.

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The indoor facility is expected to play host to various Stony Brook University sports teams. Rendering from Stony Brook Athletics

It’s a perfect match.

A graduate of Stony Brook University has committed to a matching challenge grant to help raise money for the Stony Brook Foundation and Stony Brook Athletics as they work to collect $10 million to fund an indoor training center on campus.

Glenn Dubin, a 1978 grad, teamed up with his wife Eva to announce the $5 million pledge in the form of a 1:1 matching grant he said would hopefully give a boost to the fundraising campaign. Once completed, Stony Brook Athletics said it planned on breaking ground on a new state-of-the-art indoor practice facility and complex near LaValle Stadium.

“With this challenge pledge, I hope to inspire Seawolves friends, fans and family to support current and future Stony Brook student-athletes,” Glenn Dubin said in a statement. “We wanted to kick-start this campaign and rally the Stony brook community around the athletic department. Stony Brook Athletics has substantial and significant aspirations for the near future, and excellent facilities are a necessary component to realize these aspirations and achieve success.”

In a statement, Stony Brook Athletics said the new facility would include a 100-yard indoor multi-purpose synthetic turf practice field, as well as innovative lighting, film equipment, sound and video systems and a 90-foot ceiling clearance height. The building was also designed for multiple uses, with the intention of hosting all Stony Brook intercollegiate athletic teams’ practices throughout the year.

Samuel L. Stanley Jr., president of Stony Brook University, applauded the Dubins for their generosity and said their matching challenge opened the door for more donors to play their part in making the new facility a reality.

“Over the past decade, Glenn and Eva Dubin have shown incredible vision and had a tremendous impact on Stony Brook Athletics,” Stanley said. “This new challenge match gives others the opportunity to play an active role in the success of our student athletes and our athletic program.”

Stony Brook University Athletic Director Shawn Heilbron said the new building was an integral part of the college’s five-year plan through an initiative known as Together We Transform, which was launched in 2015 as an aggressive strategic plan to have Stony Brook recognized as a premier NCAA Division I athletic department.

“Our objective is to positively transform the life of each student-athlete,” he said. “And this project will benefit the more than 435 student-athletes that comprise our teams. I am extremely grateful to the Dubin family for their belief in our program and for their sincere generosity.”

The G. & E. Dubin Family Foundation previously donated $4.3 million to Stony Brook Athletics back in 2010 for the creation of an 8,000-square-foot strength and conditioning facility named the Dubin Family Athletic Performance Center, which already opened in 2012. Glenn Dubin, who played both football and lacrosse at Stony Brook University, has remained a staunch supporter of the Seawolves athletic club as a regular attendee at men’s lacrosse and football games. He also donated $1 million to Stony Brook in 2005 to create the Glenn Dubin Endowed Scholarship Fund, which offers scholarships to students from Washington Heights, particularly students from P.S. 132, where he attended elementary school.

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Will Tye celebrates as he competes for Stony Brook University. File photo from SBU
Will Tye competes for Stony Brook University. File photo from SBU
Will Tye competes for Stony Brook University. File photo from SBU

Former Stony Brook University tight end Will Tye made history on Sunday when he became the first former Seawolves player to appear in a game in the National Football League. Tye was signed to the New York Giants’ active roster off the franchise’s practice squad on Saturday.

The tight end made his debut in the first quarter and was in on multiple plays, including being the target of Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning on a passing play in the second quarter. In the game, he caught the ball three times for 40 yards.

The Middletown, Conn., native played for Florida State University before transferring to Stony Brook. He played in 23 games for the Seawolves and pulled down 79 catches for 1,015 yards and nine touchdowns in his two seasons. He also returned 30 punts for 166 yards.

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Professors Gil Hanson and Malcolm Bowman are awarded the Guardian of the Glade certificate by Paul Siegel, center, for their many years of work to ensure that the Ashley Schiff Park Preserve remains forever wild. Photo from Joe Ryder

By Carolann Ryan

The Fourth Annual “Fire and Water” Party and Membership Reception was held on Thursday, Sept. 24, at Stony Brook University, in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Ashley Schiff Park Preserve.

This special event was presented by The Friends of Ashley Schiff Park Preserve — a membership organization dedicated to the managing and promoting of the Ashley Schiff Park Preserve — for its educational and research value with students, faculty, staff, and the community.

The reception recognized students and several members of the community for their efforts to continue the legacy of Dr. Ashley Schiff.

Schiff was a dedicated professor of political science and avowed naturalist in the early days of Stony Brook University. In the early fall of 1969, at the age of 37, he died suddenly and unexpectedly. To honor him, in 1970, a 26-acre woodland often walked by Professor Schiff and his students, was set aside and dedicated in his memory to be “forever wild.”

The reception, held at the Simons Center Café on Stony Brook’s campus, began at 5:30 p.m. This year’s awardees included Drs. Susan and Daniel O’Leary, Malcolm Bowman, and Gil Hanson, as well as the presentation of undergraduate scholarships to Stony Brook students involved with promoting the preserve.

Following the welcome and introductions, the awards ceremony commenced.

To begin, two Stony Brook undergraduate students were awarded the 2015 Ashley Schiff Scholarship Awards. Alexandrea Van Loo and Andrew Fiorenza participated in a yearlong project where they installed cameras throughout the nature preserve to detect foot traffic patterns from both humans and animals to determine how much the preserve is used.

This year’s Appreciation Award was presented to Drs. Susan and Daniel O’Leary for their contributed time and resources in efforts to beautify the area surrounding Stony Brook’s psychology building. Both psychology professors at Stony Brook, the O’Learys planted azaleas and spruce trees, the same plants Schiff had planted with his students in 1969 around the then-new Roth Pond. Presenting the award was Schiff’s wife.

The final award of the evening, the Guardians of the Glade, was presented to both Bowman and Hanson. They were recognized for their heroic efforts in raising awareness for the Ashley Schiff Park Preserve. Professor Bowman, who teaches at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook, has worked for more than 15 years writing articles and forming committees in order to raise public awareness about the preserve. Professor Hanson, from the Department of Geosciences at Stony Brook, used the preserve as a place to mentor graduate students in their studies of environmental and geological systems on Long Island for many years. These men were honored for keeping Schiff’s legacy alive.

Following the awards, invited guest speaker Carl Safina to speak and sign copies of his book. The ceremony was preceded by a wine and cheese reception. The event was free, but donations were gratefully accepted.

The preserve is located in the southern campus between Roth Quad and the Marine Science Research Center. It can be easily accessed through pathways located across South Loop road from Roth Quad and just north of Nassau Hall, near the Marine Sciences Research Center.

Join the Port Jefferson Free Library on Sunday, Sept. 20, for a discussion of Harper Lee, the author of one of the most popular books that deal with race relations in the United States, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The southerner recently released her second book, “Go Set a Watchman,” 55 years after her first was published. The story, like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is seen through the eyes of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and returns the protagonist and hero Atticus Finch, Scout’s father. The books are set in the fictional Maycomb, Ala., the first in the 1930s and the second in the 1950s.

Both books are loosely based on the hometown and life experiences of Lee.

In the library program “Harper Lee: A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma,” Stony Brook University professor emeritus Michael Edelson will present an illustrated talk of Lee’s life and work, including unpublished writings. Edelson will use interviews, film clips and photos analyzing both books and the Oscar-winning 1962 film “To Kill a Mockingbird” starring Gregory Peck as Atticus.

Copies of each book will be available for those who attend the program, which starts at 2 p.m.

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A scene from ‘The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor.’ Photo from PJDC

The arrival of cooler weather signals the start of a perennial favorite, the Port Jefferson Documentary Series.

Supported by the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council and grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Suffolk County Film Commission, the PJDS begins its 22nd season on Monday, Sept. 21, at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. The fall series, which will run through Oct. 27, marks the program’s 11th anniversary and the 22nd season of documentaries.

“We are very, very excited,” Lyn Boland, co-director of the film committee that has arranged the documentary series since 2005, said in a recent phone interview. Along with Boland, the committee — nicknamed the Film Ladies — includes co-director Barbara Sverd, Wendy Feinberg, Honey Katz, Phyllis Ross and Lorie Rothstein.

Seven award-winning documentaries will be featured this season, each complemented by a guest speaker who will answer questions at the end of the screening. This year’s selections will explore topics such as genocide, drug cartels, the online black market, art, tradition, cartoons and government cover-ups.

The process of choosing the documentaries is labor-intensive.“[The volunteer committee] gathers the movies from several different sources,” Boland explained. The members go to film festivals like the Hamptons International Film Festival and “try to personally grab one of the directors from one of those films. … We did that with ‘Meet the Patels,’ which was at the Hamptons last fall, and we showed it in the spring and it’s opening in theaters in September. So that’s like the dream sequence.”

‘Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict,’ Photo from PJDC
‘Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict,’ Photo from PJDC

Other festivals they regularly attend include the Tribeca Film Festival, the Stony Brook Film Festival and the American Film Institute’s festival in Washington, D.C. “So we try to go to festivals, we keep an eye on what’s going on in the news and we keep an eye long distance on the big festivals like Toronto, Sundance,” Boland added. “We also get a lot of emails from documentary organizations.”

The committee aims to screen films that people could not easily find elsewhere, so they avoid films that are streaming on services like Amazon or on television, for example.

When selecting the films, “We look for a great story that needs to be told,” Boland said. “We look for a film that’s well made because we really want to keep the standards up. We look for a subject that we haven’t shown too much of; something that’s new. We look for balance in the season. We also have to worry about our budget, being sure that we can afford the speaker and afford the distribution fee.”

Boland is most excited about the screening of the action-drama “Cartel Land.” She called the film — whose credits include executive producer Kathryn Bigelow, who directed “The Hurt Locker” and “Point Break”  — “an amazing story.”

“For a documentary to come out and be picked up by somebody who is as famous as she is and who is a feature director, it’s just an additional testament to how amazing this film is.”

The first five documentaries will be screened on Mondays at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, at 7 p.m. The last two will be screened at the Charles B. Wang Center on the Stony Brook University campus at 6 p.m., also on Mondays. Doors open one half-hour before showtime. Tickets for all films are $7 and will be sold at the door. Admission is free for undergraduate students at the Stony Brook screenings.

The group is always looking for volunteers of all ages to help out at the event.

“We want this to go on beyond us and it would be great to have enough volunteers to have a continuing staff that keeps renewing itself,” Boland said.

For more information or to volunteer, call 631-473-5220 or visit www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com.

Film schedule
• The fall season will kick off at Theatre Three with “Deep Web” on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. The documentary reveals the inside story of Ross William Ulbricht, the convicted 30-year-old entrepreneur accused of being the “Dread Pirate Roberts,” creator and operator of the online black market Silk Road. Winner of Best International Feature at the Global Visions Festival, the film explores “how the brightest minds and thought leaders behind the deep web are now caught in the crosshairs of the battle for control of a future inextricably linked to technology, with our digital rights hanging in the balance.” Narrated by Keanu Reeves, the guest speaker will be director Alex Winter, who played Bill S. Preston, Esq. alongside Reeves in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”

An image from ‘Love Marriage in Kabul.’ Photo from PJDC
An image from ‘Love Marriage in Kabul.’ Photo from PJDC

• The second film in the series, “Very Semi-Serious” by Leah Wolchock, to be screened on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at Theatre Three, delves into the history of The New Yorker magazine’s cartoons and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the cartoon department. Cartoon editor Bob Mankoff provides “revealing access to his weekly pitch meetings where aspiring and established cartoonists present their work, and where pride is left behind, as hundreds of submitted cartoons get rejected.” It is the winner of the best Bay Area documentary feature at the Golden Gate Awards following the San Francisco International Film Festival. Guest speaker will be New Yorker cartoonist and former Stony Brook resident George Booth, who is featured in the film.

“Cartel Land,” to be screened on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. at Theatre Three, focues on the Mexican drug war, especially vigilante groups fighting Mexican drug cartels. The film focuses on Tim “Nailer” Foley, the leader of volunteer border patrol group Arizona Border Recon, and Dr. José Mireles, a Michoacán-based physician who leads the Autodefensas, one of the vigilante groups. Matthew Heineman won the Best Director Award and Special Jury Award for Cinematography for the film in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The guest speaker will be producer Tom Yellin.

The fourth film, titled “The Russian Woodpecker,” will be screened at Theatre Three on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. The documentary follows Ukranian artist Fedor Alexandrovich, who believes the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 was an elaborate government cover-up designed to mask a failed 8-billion-ruble antenna, known as the “Russian Woodpecker,” intended to interfere with Western radio frequencies and located near the radioactive site. Rich with Soviet history and the stories of the area’s former residents, this documentary chronicles the history of one of the most chilling events of our time as well as Alexandrovich’s attempts to spread the word of his theory. Winner of the World Documentary Grand Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Director Chad Gracia will be the guest speaker of the evening.

• The series continues on Oct. 19 with a screening of “Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict” at Theatre Three at 7 p.m. Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland uses recently unearthed audio recordings from 1978-79 of the art collector’s last interviews and archival photos to create a portrait of one of the most powerful women in the history of the art world. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this spring. Guest speakers will be producers Dan Braun and David Koh. Gallery North in Setauket is co-sponsoring the event.

“The Killing Fields of  Dr. Haing S. Ngor,” to be screened at the Charles B. Wang Center at Stony Brook University on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m., is seen through the eyes of one of the most well-known survivors of the Cambodian genocide, Dr. Haing S. Ngor. The film recently won the Best Documentary Audience Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. The guest speaker will be Dr. Ngor’s niece, Sophia Ngor Demetri, who escaped from Cambodia with Dr. Ngor and appears in the film, and his nephew, Wayne Ngor, who narrates the film.

• The final film in the series, “Love Marriage in Kabul,” will be screened at the Charles B. Wang Center at Stony Brook University on Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. The film follows the quest of an Afghan-Australian woman, Mahboba Rawi, as she “passionately negotiates and challenges old traditions” to make a love marriage happen in Kabul. The film provides a rare glimpse into the courtship and marriage customs of Afghanistan. In English and Persian with English subtitles, this film was the winner of the Audience Choice Award at the Sydney Film Festival. The guest speaker, via Skype, will be producer Pat Fiske.

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