By Deniz Yildirim
On Monday, June 21, the Comsewogue community celebrated its fourth annual Joe’s Day of Service — a day for students and educators alike to give back and complete service projects for the community.
This year the day started with a special ceremony at the Comsewogue High School where a tree was planted and dedicated to the late superintendent of the district, Dr. Joe Rella, who died in February 2020.
As per the class of 2023, a Japanese red maple (Joe’s favorite) was planted in front of Comsewogue High School. Speakers during the planting included the current superintendent, Dr. Jennifer Quinn and Richie Rella, Dr. Rella’s son.
They moved the crowd, including Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), with their words about the late superintendent and spoke about his love for the school and kind nature.
“If anyone knew my dad, they knew it’s all he ever talked about,” said Richie.
“And though Joe is no longer with us, it is his sincerest question that has guided Dr. Quinn during this incredibly challenging school year; How are the kids?”
After these heartfelt testaments, a small student choir, directed by Charlotte Johnson, performed “Blowing in the Wind” by Bob Dylan.
Afterward’s, two buses, donated by Suffolk Transportation, took volunteers to Woodhaven Nursing Home in Port Jefferson Station. Once there, students gifted residents with painted rocks and artwork. They also planted flowers and read handwritten letters from students from the elementary schools and JFK Middle School which were collected and paired with a blanket by school social worker, Ginger Guidone.
“All in all, it was a day well spent and one we hope Dr. Rella would have been proud of,” said special education teacher and student character liaison Andrew Harris, who coordinated the event.
Deniz Yildirim is a librarian at the Terryville Road Elementary School.