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Comsewogue High School

Students from Comsewogue High School’s Triple C Club during the sale. Photo courtesy Andrew Harris
By Camila Perez Solis

For the past two weeks, students from Comsewogue High School’s Triple C Club brainstormed ways they could raise awareness of healthy alternatives to typical snacks and baked goods. 

Healthy foods on display during the Strong Bake Sale at CHS. Photo courtesy Andrew Harris

They decided to hold the Strong Bake Sale, with healthier options like a banana power bar. All sales were conducted from the high school’s rotunda, with profits supporting student scholarships and positive activities around the school and Greater Comsewogue community. 

“It is important to educate students at our school on how they can eat healthier and offer them alternatives,” said Andrew Harris, club adviser.

The organizers of the sale sought to raise awareness that what we eat as foods can be both nourishing and delicious. Oftentimes, people avoid eating healthy because they worry these options won’t taste as good. 

Sofia Castro, one of the star bakers in this sale, offered a different perspective. “The double chocolate protein muffins were truly a big hit,” she said. “They provide a good source of protein, but are still so tasty.” 

Along with Alexa Kallmeyer, Castro also made pumpkin and banana muffins. “It is relaxing for us to bake, so we didn’t mind spending the weekend doing it,” she said.

‘Life is all about choices, and it’s important for people to have options that are better for our health.’ 

­— Michael Mosca

Michael Mosca, CHS principal, gave us his opinion on this initiative. “I love the idea of the bake sale,” he said. “There is definitely a common misconception that healthy foods do not taste good, but there are so many delicious foods that can make for great snacks.” The principal added, “Life is all about choices, and it’s important for people to have options that are better for our health.” 

These baked goods were all homemade, using healthier ingredients such as sweet potatoes, almond flour, unsweetened applesauce and dates. Of course each treat also included lots of love from the bottom of the Triple C volunteer bakers hearts. 

Comsewogue is proud to report that the sale satisfied two objectives by raising over $200, and building awareness and momentum for healthier eating choices in the district. Next month, the club will continue its work, offering fresh organic fruits to students, with plans for another bake sale sometime soon.

Camila Perez Solis is a foreign-exchange student from Ecuador and a junior at Comsewogue High School.

By Elaine Holmes

Comsewogue High School congratulates sophomore Elliot Jaklitsch on being named a Macy’s Great American Marching Band member.  

Honoring America’s finest high school musicians, color guard members and dancers, this marching band comprises select students from across the country.

Above, Elliot Jaklitsch, sophomore at Comsewogue High School. Photo courtesy Elaine Holmes

Jaklitsch will be one of 185 musicians chosen to perform for this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan. This prestigious band will be positioned among the gigantic helium balloons, impressive floats and the nation’s top marching bands.  

“I am so excited to have this amazing opportunity,” Jaklitsch said. “I am looking forward to meeting musicians from all over the United States and marching in one of the best parades.”  

Stepping off from Central Park, the band will be cheered on by an estimated 3 million spectators lining the parade route. Arriving at Macy’s Herald Square, the band will perform for celebrity hosts, a grandstand audience and the usual millions of TV viewers watching the  broadcast live from home. 

“Elliot is an incredible young lady, and we are very proud of her accomplishment,” said Michael Mosca, Comsewogue High School principal.

To watch the Macy’s audition video with Jaklitsch playing the mellophone, see above video.

Elaine Holmes is the orchestra director at Comsewogue High School.

By Deniz Yildirim

Last weekend, Comsewogue celebrated Homecoming, and students participated in Spirit Week all week to show their school spirit. 

Spirit week kicked off Tuesday after schools were closed Monday for Columbus Day. Tuesday was “Character Day,” Wednesday was “Decades Day,” followed by “America Day” on Thursday, and “Class Color Day” on Friday. In addition, students competed in a hallway decorating contest and a trivia contest. 

On Friday, students followed a shortened bell schedule so the entire school could participate in this year’s pep rally. At noon, students made their way from the classrooms to the bleachers, then players of all sports teams were announced and cheered. Between the name announcements, students and teachers participated in fun games such as a relay race, a mummy wrap, and a timeless favorite, musical chairs. 

Then Saturday was the highly anticipated Homecoming Game. Easily conveyed by unique grade-level floats, the theme for this year was movies. Freshmen crafted a special “Lego Movie” themed float. Sophomores were inspired by the movie “Up.” Juniors chose the film “Toy Story.” Seniors created an “Alice in Wonderland” float. 

The festivities started with a Costume Fun Run at 10 a.m. Participants dressed up as their favorite characters and ran around the high school track for as long as they chose. By noon, the Homecoming Parade was in full swing.

Launched from JFK Middle School, parade marchers included the PJSTA Teachers Union; the Comsewogue School District Board of Education;  Jennifer Quinn, superintendent of schools; and Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook). 

The Terryville Fire Department also joined the procession, making its way down Jayne Blvd, heading for the high school, and throwing candy to spectators along the way. 

Once the procession reached the high school, all enjoyed a homecoming carnival. Children had their faces painted by teachers, spent some time in a bouncy house, or tried to ‘sink’ an educator in the dunk tank. This was the second “normal” Homecoming since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted in-person social gatherings. And it was even bigger than last year’s event. 

Teachers, administrators, and parents volunteered much of their time to make this event possible. “We believe Homecoming is really enjoyed by everyone,” said principal Mike Mosca, “It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.” 

Part of the Comsewogue district’s mission is to promote inclusivity. For this reason, the Special Education Parent Teacher Association had organized a designated “Quiet Area” for students with sensory sensitivities. 

At 4 p.m., just before kickoff, Hall of Fame inductees were recognized on the field. Earlier that day, these stars enjoyed a luncheon inside the school, where plaques were unveiled.

Quinn was pleased with the celebration: “It’s always fun whenever families and teachers get together like this,” she said.

— Photos courtesy CSD

The Comsewogue Warriors battled for four quarters on Friday, Oct. 8, during a Div. III matchup against the visiting Deer Park Falcons.

Comsewogue quarterback Kaeden West put his team on the scoreboard, punching in a 2-yard run for the touchdown with four minutes left in the first half. Gavin Dandrea’s successful point-after attempt put the Warriors out front 7-6. Running back Daimler Valerio then stretched the lead late in the third quarter with a 9-yard TD run. 

The Warriors were up 14-6 when the Falcons began generating offense of their own. Deer Park answered back with a 30-yard touchdown pass. After an impressive goalline stand during the two-point conversion attempt, Comsewogue held a 14-12 lead. 

With nine minutes left in regulation, Deer Park’s Hunter Lovinsky broke two tackles and went the distance, clearing 75 yards for the score. Though the Falcons retook the lead 18-14, their two-point conversion attempt failed again. 

Comsewogue moved the chains in its final drive, but a Deer Park sack in the last minute derailed the late-game Warrior surge. The loss drops Comsewogue to 0-5.

The team will search for that elusive first win in its homecoming game against Eastport South Manor on Saturday, Oct. 15. Kickoff is at 4 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

In a League IV showdown between the Comsewogue Warriors and the Rocky Point Eagles on Saturday, Sept. 24, Eagles’ striker Emely Velazquez would be the difference maker.

The senior scored off a rebound, putting Rocky Point on the scoreboard with 11 minutes left in the opening half. Comsewogue had several scoring opportunities midway through the second half but failed to convert these into points.

Rocky Point goalie Marykate Abernethy had a busy day in net, notching eight saves on the day. The win lifts the Eagles to 3-4 while the loss drops Comsewogue 4-2-1.

Both teams retake the field Thursday, Sept. 29. Comsewogue will travel to Shoreham-Wading River, and the Eagles have a road game against East Hampton. Start times are 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively.

— Photos by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

At 0-3 to start the season, the Comsewogue boys volleyball team searched for that elusive first win during a road game against the Center Moriches Red Devils on Monday, Sept. 12.

But victory just wasn’t in the cards. Comsewogue forced the Red Devils to win by two, but dropped the close first set. Comsewogue rallied back to win the second set with a five-point cushion.

Center Moriches returned the favor, winning in the third. The Warriors rallied to stay alive, winning the fourth set and forcing a fifth and final game. Despite a late-game Warrior surge, the Red Devils held on for the 3-2 victory.

The Warriors will retake the court on Thursday, Sept. 15, at home against Smithtown East. The first service is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.

It took the Comsewogue Warriors four minutes into the fourth quarter to take the first lead of the game only to have the Bulls of Smithtown West retie the game at 6-6 on the ensuing possession.

With 4 minutes, 5 seconds left on the clock, James Krieg stretched the net to edge ahead by one when Michael Katz on a defensive take away scored the insurance goal a minute later to win the Suffolk Class B boy’s lacrosse final, 8-6, at East Islip High School June 1. 

Katz scored three goals in the victory, Dylan Rocchio had two goals and an assist and teammates Brayden Arias, Thomas Kennedy and James Krieg each scored. Adam Wachholder had back-to-back saves in the closing minute for seven stops on the day. 

The win propels the Warriors to the Long Island Championship round where they’ll face Garden City at Hofstra University June 4 with a 3 p.m. start.  

It’s “mamba mentality,” Cole Keating, an 11th grader at Comsewogue High School said.

Cole, who just turned 17, is on the autism spectrum. High functioning, his mom Lea Keating said that Cole might be different, but that doesn’t mean he’s not less.

The high school junior, who idolizes stars like the late Kobe Bryant and is a fan of the Knicks, always wanted to be on a team. He simply wanted to play. It was Bryant who once said mamba mentality means to be able to constantly try to be the best version of yourself.

Ever since he was little, Cole said, he loved sports — especially basketball because of his height. “I’d play with my Little Tikes basketball hoop,” he said. “I wasn’t very good — not like what I am now.”

People who are on the autism spectrum often have special interests that they become passionate about. Cole has always been into sports. Lea said that ever since he was little, he would memorize players scores and rankings. He’d watch any game he could find on TV. Funny enough, she said neither she or her husband are big sports fans. But they do have one that they cheered on every week this past season: Cole — No. 40 on the court.

Since middle school — seventh grade to be exact — all Cole wanted to do was get onto the junior varsity team. However, he never made the cut. He eventually joined an off-campus travel league two years ago created by Glen Santoro and that’s where he began to excel, learn the ropes and get out of his comfort zone. 

“Cole unfortunately didn’t make the team a couple of times in the school district and his mom said to me that he was looking for a place to play,” Santoro said.

Since it was a travel team, he told Lea and Cole, “It was going to be very intense, a lot of running and yelling,” and added, “But I was so blown away by how prepared and how serious he was … and how much he wanted to improve.”

Cole’s mom explained that, “Sports always calmed Cole down. His social skills come into play on the basketball court.” He would practice after each game, taking critiques and working hard to get it just right. “Even the little things that I yelled out during the game, he took seriously and wanted to work on,” Santoro said.

Fast forward to now.

The athlete towers at 6 feet, 3 inches tall over his teammates as he shoots and every so often scores. “He knows how to use his body well,” Santoro said. 

“He’s smart, he knows what to do and he knows his role. By using all that, he was finally able to make the school team.”

It wasn’t easy, said Comsewogue JV basketball coach Noah Buffins. “The first few rounds of tryouts, I cut him,” he said. “But what makes this story great is that he won’t stop.”

After growing and learning from Santoro and that travel team, Cole finally gained the confidence to try out one more time for the Warriors.

“I think Cole is able to show coach what he’s learned over the last couple years — what he’s learned, how he’s grown and what a great player he has become and he helped us win games over the years,” Santoro said. “He really listened.”

And in the fall of 2021, Cole tried out. Lea received a text that read just three little words, “I did it.” He followed it with, “It’s about time.” Lea screenshot the message and sent it to everyone.

“Our second game of the year was a very big game, Longwood,” Buffins said. “We put him in the game and we win the game … I was blown away. You can tell he’s got so much passion and so much love for it that nobody’s going to stop him.”

Buffins said that he is happy he was able to share these memories with Cole over the season: “That’s what it’s about … making memories.”

And the memories are great ones. 

Lea said that Cole had his first actual birthday party with his teammates, who have become his friends, just last month. The guys took him to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and hung out together to celebrate the big 17.

“A lot of times when you’re on the autism spectrum, you think about yourself a lot and it’s hard to get outside of yourself,” she said. “So, for him to have the opportunity to have genuine real friends and to support his team, basketball has taught him all these life lessons that we’ve always tried to teach him.”

So, what’s next for this superstar? He’s gearing up to try out for the varsity team next year. The ultimate goal is when he gets to college to play for a D1 team, too.

Mamba mentality — he’s making Kobe proud.

 

The Section XI Boys Swimming Championships took place at Stony Brook University Feb. 12.

Team Huntington/Harborfields/Whitman won the Suffolk Championship 200-yard medley relay in 1 minute and 37.23 seconds.

Miller Place junior Liam Preston won both the 200 yard-freestyle in 1:41.79 and the 500 freestyle in 4:37.58.

Middle Country’s Hunter Emerson place second in the 200-individual medley with a 1:55.94 to qualify for the state championships at Ithaca College March 4 through 5.

Ward Melville wins the 200-freestyle relay event with Muhtar Konar, Thomas Miele, Richie Richard Hall and Vincent Vinciguerra in 1:29.47. Vinciguerra placed third in the 50-freestyle event in 21.66 and the 100-yard free in 47.22.

Comsewogue’s Noah Giunta placed first in the 100-yard butterfly event with a 50.67 and second in the 100-yard backstroke with 51.59.

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Katy Dornick and her student. Photo from Andrew Harris

Comsewogue Special Education teacher Katy Dornick has been working in the district for 12 years, and is a proud graduate of the district, too.

Since her first day working with children with special needs she felt at home. 

“Growing up with a sister with special needs I felt that I can relate to the families and be passionate to help their child succeed,” Dornick said. “I take pride in what I do, and I can relate to each family on a personal level.” 

After many years of waiting to teach the students most in need within the district, she finally got a chance to move up to the high school and teach that special class. 

“This is by far the most difficult class to teach,” said fellow teacher Andrew Harris. “It involves a lot of time, energy, and people management to run the class-and that is before you ever set foot inside the classroom and start teaching.”

He added that in this role, there is a lot of paperwork and medical knowledge required by the teacher. 

“It takes someone with a very strong background and work ethic to make it all work,” he said. 

“Not only that, but the students are the happiest I’ve ever seen them with Katy at the helm.”

During the summer, Dornick could be seen rearranging the areas the children would be working in. 

Katy Dornick and her student. Photo from Andrew Harris

“Classroom management is perhaps one of the most important things to have in place so that everything runs smoothly and is safe,” she said. “Some of my students have critical medical needs,  this is a priority, and I wanted the educational set-up to be perfect.”

When school was back in session, a new “sensory room” was created. A perfect place to bring a child — especially children with autism — it’s a place to help calm an anxious student. 

One student said it was his favorite place in the school.

Recently Dornicik, along with her class took over the responsibility of food collection for our high school. They donate all the food to the district pantry.

She has also guided her students to plan and create personal letters to be included when the district sent out care packages to veterans who have graduated from Comsewogue High School. One Marine in California was so excited to receive his gift from her class because he also had her as a teacher several years ago.

She has always been active in the local community including the fire department and a coach for sports teams. 

“Katy. Dornick is truly one of a kind,” said Principal Mike Mosca. “What she has done for the students in her class and the Comsewogue Life Skills program is nothing short of exceptional. Visiting her class and her students is certainly one of the highlights of my day.”

Dornick said it’s an honor to teach her classes.

“All I can say is I feel honored to be given this opportunity to teach this class,” she said. “I truly feel like the luckiest person in the room. There is a line in a song by Jordan Davis that stands true for me in this class: ‘Do what you love and call it work.’ There is not a day that goes by when I do not leave this class without a smile on my face. These kids are simply amazing, and they continue to make me proud on a daily basis.”