Rocky Point

Rocky Point Middle School students present the school musical, ‘The Wizard of Oz: Youth Edition.’ Photo courtesy RPSD

Rocky Point Middle School followed the yellow brick road and presented its successful school musical, “The Wizard of Oz: Youth Edition,” on Nov. 17 and 18.

The annual production brought together 112 students, 13 teachers and countless family and community members for a successful and joyful collaboration of theater and joyful music making.

“The students and staff involved in this production worked incredibly hard this year,” said Amy Schecher, Rocky Point’s secondary music department chairperson. “We are fortunate to have such talented students and dedicated faculty here in Rocky Point. A production of this magnitude also could not be possible without the continual encouragement of the parents of the cast and crew.”

VFW Post 6249 in Rocky Point hosts its annual Veterans Day service on Saturday, Nov. 11. Photo courtesy Joe Cognitore

By Aidan Johnson

As Veterans Day once again arrived on Nov. 11, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6249 in Rocky Point took the time to pay their respects to all those who have served in the military.

“As a veteran, I stand before you with a profound sense of pride, humility and gratitude,” said Joe Cognitore, commander of Post 6249, in a speech to those in attendance. “I’ve been where many of you and our fellow service members have been, serving our great country with unwavering dedication, yet facing the many challenges that come with it.”

Cognitore made it a point to focus on the importance of Veterans Day not only from the perspective of being a veteran and VFW post member but also from “the collective duty we as U.S. citizens share in honoring our veterans and ensuring the truth and essence of this day is not forgotten.”

“Veterans Day isn’t really about acknowledging our service or expressing gratitude,” he continued. “It is about making Veterans Day a touchstone for understanding, education and appreciation for our Americans.”

“And I believe it’s our job as veterans to help ensure the true significance of this day isn’t lost in the noise of the [store] sales or everyday life,” he added.

Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden) spoke at the event and expressed appreciation for the national holiday and the local veterans community.

“If you think about it, what these guys do, especially at this post, they are out in our communities every single day making a difference, as are many other posts,” he said in an interview. “All veterans continue to serve our communities and our country, so it’s only fitting that we recognize them and appreciate them and realize that they are out there on a daily basis.”

Cognitore mentioned upcoming events at the post, including the opening of the Suffolk County World War II and Military History Museum on Dec. 7 located at the former Rocky Point train station across the street from the VFW post, and a Christmas party on Dec. 9.

Second graders at Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School. Photo courtesy RPUFSD

Students at Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in numerous ways.

Erin DeMarco and Julianne Warren’s second-grade class worked on a special project by researching well-known Hispanic people and each completed a flag on interesting things they learned about their person.

Students then presented their flags to the class and then students went on a museum walk of each flag. They discovered and recorded facts about different people and made connections.

Rocky Point High School seniors Sofia Haviland, left, and Renee Ortiz. Photo courtesy RPUFSD

Two Rocky Point High School seniors are among dozens of students from school districts throughout the Town of Brookhaven who were lauded for achieving a grade point average of 95 or higher.

Sofia Haviland and Renee Ortiz have earned academic excellence awards as part of the town’s 10th annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration. They were recognized at a ceremony Oct. 6 at Town Hall by Brookhaven’s Hispanic Advisory Board members, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and members of the Town Council.

Organizers gather at the festival’s entrance. From left, Eleanor Moore, Linda Owens and Sharon Jones. Photo by Aramis Khosronejad
By Aramis Khosronejad

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rocky Point celebrated the fall season Saturday, Oct. 7, with its annual October Fall Festival. This family-oriented event consisted of baked goods, a few local vendors, a variety of children’s activities and other fun crafts and activities. The festival also had live music playing for the attendees.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker, center, outside the Noah Hallock Homestead in Rocky Point, with historical society Members. From left, treasurer Ken Krapf, recording secretary Susan Bevington, president Suzanne Johnson, vice president Charles Bevington, corresponding secretary Rory Rubino, trustee Edith Mahler, trustee Janice Bambara and Masey the dog. Photo courtesy Anker’s office

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) recently presented the Rocky Point Historical Society with a $7,583 grant, which is awarded to organizations that benefit tourism and/or cultural programming in Suffolk County.

The Rocky Point Historical Society strives to gather, preserve, display and make available for study artifacts, relics, books, manuscripts, papers, photographs and other records and materials relating to the history of the State of New York and particularly of Rocky Point.

“I want to thank the Rocky Point Historical Society for their hard work that enables our community to celebrate and learn about our local history,” Anker said. “It is thanks to the organization’s passion to preserve Long Island’s history that the Noah Hallock Homestead is maintained and accessible.”

For more information, please visit their website at rockypointhistoricalsociety.org.

Senior captains of the 2023 Rocky Point High School football team. From left, Ryan Meyers, Jeremy Graham and A.J. Aschettino. Photo courtesy Rich Acritelli

The 2023 Rocky Point High School football team hopes for a promising season behind their main senior players, even after an indifferent 0-3 start.

A.J. Aschettino, a team captain, is also one of the finest baseball prospects on Long Island, who will be playing for Northeastern University after graduating from Rocky Point in June 2024.

He will be leading the football team as a safety, running back and possibly even quarterback. Always a quiet team leader, Aschettino leads by example on and off the field.

Last year, Aschettino played well against Islip, scoring a touchdown and rushing for 120 yards on the ground. Against East Hampton, he had four tackles and an interception to help his team to victory.

As the league’s most valuable player for baseball last season, batting an impressive .522, Aschettino will also establish a solid example of hard work and discipline for the younger players on the roster. Longtime head coach Anthony DiLorenzo indicated that Aschettino has “great football knowledge, with speed and agility.”

Jeremy Graham is a senior captain who has played varsity football for the last three seasons. He will be active on the field, leading the team as quarterback while playing cornerback on defense.

Graham had shown flashes of brilliance last season. Against East Hampton, he scored three touchdowns, passed for 60 yards and ran for another 130 yards on the ground. On the defensive side, he had four tackles in last year’s matchup against Eastport-South Manor.

DiLorenzo believes Graham is a “gritty and gutsy” player who fights for every yard. Like Aschettino, he is an exceptional baseball player, having hit .400 in the playoffs last season. He will be on the Hudson Valley Vikings squad after he graduates.

Another excellent football player is senior captain Ryan Meyers. One of the hardest hitting linebackers in the county, Meyers will make his presence felt on the defensive end of the field as well. He will show his versatility in running the ball, where he wants to help the offense gain points against the opposition.

DiLorenzo marvels at Meyers’ physicality, describing the senior linebacker as having the ability “to run through a wall” to help his team win. Last year against Eastport-South Manor, he had five tackles and two sacks to showcase his defensive prowess. After he graduates from Rocky Point, Meyers will play lacrosse at Binghamton University.

DiLorenzo believes that these three senior athletes will help the team attain its goal of establishing “an uncommon effort, with positive energy and a unit that always has support and love for each other.”

Sarina Latorre-Sicurella is Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School’s new library media specialist. Photo courtesy RPUFSD

Great libraries build communities. This is just one of the approaches that Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School’s new library media specialist Sarina Latorre-Sicurella looks forward to promoting as she works with the K-2 students in Rocky Point.

“I seek to create a dynamic environment that stimulates wonder and curiosity, and allows learners the freedom to explore and grow,” Latorre-Sicurella said. She will aid students in developing skills that incorporate literacy appreciation, research, technology, library use and finding some new favorite stories and authors.

Latorre-Sicurella received her undergraduate degree in comparative literature, cinema and cultural studies from Stony Brook University and a master’s of library science from Queens College. She is certified as a public librarian professional and a school media specialist, holding school librarianship certification from SUNY Buffalo.

The new library media specialist is a member of the Children’s Librarian Association of Suffolk County and the New York Library Association, Youth Services Section. She joins Rocky Point with student teaching experience from Longwood Public Library and Miller Place High School, and 14 years of professional experience as a youth services librarian at the Port Jefferson Free Library.

Rocky Point’s Ryan Meyers goes the distance. Photo by Bill Landon

It was a high scoring game when the Hauppauge Eagles swooped in for a road game against the Rocky Point Eagles in the season opener, but Hauppauge exploded in the second quarter and never looked back, securing a 61-22 victory in the League III matchup Friday, Sept. 1. 

John Margolies led the way for Hauppauge with three touchdowns along with a pick six for another score. Teammate Christian Russo had 185 yards rushing on 12 carries for three touchdowns of his own.

Rocky Point quarterback Jeremy Graham scored on a short yardage run and threw a pair of touchdown passes.

Hauppauge retakes the field Friday night, Sept. 8, when they’ll host Amityville at 6 p.m. Rocky Point travels to East Hampton the following day with a 2 p.m. start.

– Photos by Bill Landon

Museum organizers, standing outside the former Rocky Point train station, will soon put the stories of Long Island’s veterans on full display. From left, museum curator Rich Acritelli, VFW Post 6249 Cmdr. Joe Cognitore and museum committee member Frank Lombardi. Photos by Raymond Janis

The Rocky Point Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6249 is embarking on an ambitious quest to showcase the stories of Long Island’s veterans.

Organizers will launch a veterans museum on Dec. 7 at the site of the former Rocky Point train station, situated just across the street from the post’s headquarters at the intersection of Broadway and King Road.

‘It’s about giving back to the community and making positive impacts within the community.’

— Frank Lombardi

Joe Cognitore, commander of Post 6249, said the planned museum represents an extension of the VFW’s programs and outreach initiatives.

The idea of erecting a veterans museum in Rocky Point has been decades in the making. Cognitore said the post unsuccessfully attempted to purchase a nearby drugstore before acquiring the former train station property through a community giveback from a neighboring developer.

The museum will serve to “educate the community, with an emphasis on young adults,” Cognitore said.

Rich Acritelli, a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College, has been performing the historical research and archival work for this project and will serve as museum curator upon its opening.

The post seeks to cast a wide net, Acritelli said, featuring the stories of veterans throughout the Island rather than narrowly tailoring the exhibits to the immediate locale.

“This is more of a broader” undertaking, he said. “It’s not just Rocky Point or Sound Beach. It can be East Hampton, Huntington, Wyandanch,” adding, “There aren’t too many places like this [museum]” on Long Island.

Inside the planned veterans museum in Rocky Point. From left, Frank Lombardi, Rich Acritelli and Joe Cognitore.

Acritelli said he plans to cover “every inch of this museum” with military equipment, historical relics, uniforms, collectibles, books and other memorabilia. Plans for rotating exhibits are also in the works.

Cognitore suggested that, within the broader national context, younger generations are gradually losing touch with American history. He said the post aims to regain that historical connection through this museum.

“We need to know that history,” he said.

Frank Lombardi, a member of the museum committee at Post 6249, envisions local veterans offering firsthand accounts of actual historical events, comparing and contrasting their recollections to popular fiction.

“If we showed a movie like ‘Platoon,’ you can show the movie, and then you can have some of the Vietnam veterans talk and say, ‘This is what it was really like, and these are the inaccuracies in the movie,’” he said.

For the museum’s organizers, each of whom has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, this endeavor represents the next iteration in their service.

Cognitore said the project is a necessary means for processing his wartime experiences and providing greater historical understanding to those who have not witnessed the brutality of war.

This bazooka will soon be on display along with military equipment, historical relics, uniforms, collectibles, books and other memorabilia.

“Working on this helps me free myself of all the things I did see or did do and kind of makes me happy to know that positive things are happening because of where I was and what I did,” the post commander said.

Acritelli said he regretted leaving the service because of the camaraderie shared among his compatriots. He said the museum and its collaboration has inspired similar feelings from his days in the military.

He maintains that Long Island’s vets are valuable primary sources in telling the local and national history.

“There are a lot of stories,” he said. “We want to make this into a large primary source.”

Lombardi remarked that he hoped the museum could inspire greater historical awareness and understanding of the realities of war while bringing community members together.

“It’s about giving back to the community and making positive impacts within the community,” Lombardi said. “We all grew up here locally on Long Island, and it’s important to recognize those who have come before you.”

Acritelli notes the active role that community members can play in preparing the museum for its launch date at the end of the year.

“We need people to donate things,” he said. “If they have basements and garages and old boxes full of stuff, they can give that to us or put it on loan,” adding, “We’ve got to build up some inventory.” 

Potential donors should contact Acritelli by email at [email protected].