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Comsewogue

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Comsewogue senior Josh Carroll punts the ball away in a home game against Sayville Sept 17. Credit: Bill Landon

After a scoreless first half visiting Sayville kicked a field goal at the 7:22 mark of the 3rd quarter to break the ice against Comsewogue in a D III matchup Sept 17.

Comsewogue senior Josh Carroll’s foot made it a new game with 4:45 left in the 3rd splitting the uprights on a 29 yarder to even the score.

Sayville quarterback Jack Smalley connected with Mack Murtha on a 68-yard pass play in the closing seconds of the quarter to take a 6-point lead followed by a 2-point conversion attempt that failed, for your 9-3 final.

The loss drops the Warriors 1-2 in their division while the win lifts Sayville to 2-0. The Warriors retake the field with a road game against East Islip Oct 1 at 6 p.m.

 

Schools in the Comsewogue district are getting a facelift before school starts up. Photo from Comsewogue School District

By Deniz Yildirim

New school year, new(er) schools! 

The Comsewogue School District is working hard to get ready for the 2021 school year with some major updates. 

A state-mandated five-year building conditions (and recommended improvements) report was unanimously accepted by the Comsewogue School District Board of Education on March 5, 2018. 

In an effort to improve district facilities, construction is underway to improve health, safety and infrastructure.

Photo from Comsewogue School District

According to the school’s website the proposed bond will secure “facility improvements [which will] preserve the integrity of the school buildings, address repairs, improve instructional resources for all and upgrade athletic facilities.”

Come September, students will find new art rooms, smoother curbsides and new classroom cabinets. 

“I’m pleased with the progress” said Jennifer Quinn, superintendent of schools. “But we still have a lot of work to do.” 

The art room at Terryville Road Elementary School has been completely gutted and supplies have been weeded, organized and await new storage shelves. 

“After the challenges of last year, a new art room for students to be creative is just what we need,” said Terryville principal Annemarie Sciove. 

Parking lot renovations at the high school, a new lobby at JFK Middle School and additional receptacles at Clinton Avenue Elementary School are among some of the specific projects underway this summer. 

Comsewogue regularly posts updates on Instagram and the school website so community members can see what’s happening. 

“It’s important to share our work and let the community know what’s happening with our schools,” said Don Heberer, administrator for instructional technologies and overseer of the school’s website. 

More pictures, videos and detailed information including comprehensive facts and figures can be found on comsewogue.k12.ny.us.

Deniz Yildirim is a librarian at the Terryville Road Elementary School.

Photos from Comsewogue School District

This year, Comsewogue High School held their commencement at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium on Wednesday, June 23.

Speakers at the ceremony included High School Principal Michael Mosca, Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Quinn, Valedictorian Sydney Carter, Salutatorian Anthony Lin, Board of Education President John Swenning, Vice President Alexandra Gordon and Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini.

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Students like Mei Li Johnson spent their mornings volunteering at the local nursing home. Photo from Andrew Harris

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. 

Photo from Andrew Harris

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.

Comsewogue senior Jake Deacy looks for a cutter in the Long Island class B Championship game against Garden City Jun. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

It would take three minutes into the 3rd quarter for the Comsewogue Warriors to get on the scoreboard when Jake Deacy’s shot on goal found it mark in the Long Island class B Championship June 19. Trailing Garden City by two Deacy’s goal would be the only one the Warriors could muster as Comsewogue fell 5-1 at the Boomer Esiason Field at East Islip High School.

Comsewogue the Suffolk class B champion concluded their 2021 Covid-19 abbreviated season with a 13-2 record. 

 Photos by Bill Landon 

Comsewogue’s Brendan Topper makes the play at first in a road game against Newfield June 5. Bill Landon photo

Trailing Newfield 2-1 to open the 4th inning, Comsewogue loaded the bases when Christopher Valazquez laid off a pitch for the walk to plate Aaron Freidman to tie the score, but it was Dominic Schuch’s bat that spoke next for a base clearing inside the park grand slam homerun to jump out front for a 6-2 lead.

But Newfield chipped away at the deficit loading the bases in the bottom of the 4th inning plating a runner when the batter was hit by a pitch then Mike Madina drove in Stephen Lumme and Dylan Johnson. Newfield’s Joe Hackel scored on a passed ball in the bottom 6th inning to make it a one run game when Medina struck again with a 2 run rbi double to take a 10-9 lead to open the 7th inning.

Newfield’s defense prevailed to close out the one run victory.

With the win Newfield improves to 13-2 for the top spot in league III with 3 games left on their schedule while the loss drops Comsewogue to 7-8.

Post season play begins Tuesday June 15. 

It was Corey Watson’s stick that led the way for the Comsewogue Warriors with five goals in the Division II matchup at home against Hauppauge May 14.

Comsewogue’s offense struggled early in the game having to overcome three unanswered goals by the Eagles. Overcame they did when senior attackman Corey Watson scored two goals back-to-back, Vincent Herbstman answered the call with a goal then Watson followed scoring two more. Michael Katz got on the scoreboard for a 7-4 lead late in the third quarter. The Warriors controlled the game the rest of the way, allowing Hauppauge only one last score, to win it 12-5

Watson topped the scoring chart for the Warriors with five. Katz finished with three goals, and teammates Jake Deacy, James Mantione and Justin Bonacci each scored. Senior goalkeeper Mason Oak saved six.

The win lifts Comsewogue to 4-1 for a share of third place in the division behind Mount Sinai and Shoreham Wading River.

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Stock photo

By Melissa Levine

I’d like to start this article with a moment of silence for the Class of 2021… 

Proms, senior spirit days and even the very foundation of their senior years were all stripped away from them and replaced with some warped placeholder that did its job only because it had to. 

Though it’s true that missing out on these rites of passages is immensely difficult for seniors, no experience, in my opinion, was more challenging than the college application process for students planning to attend their fall semesters. 

Combining the aspects that we were all enduring virtual school work, the emotional plights of the pandemic (among other feats), and our inability to visit our potential schools, the college admission process proved itself to be a battlefield, and us inexperienced soldiers, untrained in the art of practicing “business as usual” in a time of chaos.

During the admission process, not all students are created equal. 

In a normal year, young artists, or students who are applying to go to art school, (music, acting, art, etc.) are oftentimes overlooked. 

Guidance counselors are typically never equipped with the proper knowledge to guide these creative students through their applications smoothly, as there is an abundance of supplemental, or additional information, needed to apply or audition for these kinds of programs (on top of regular application information). 

So, it’s safe to imagine that these seniors in particular had a myriad of extra strain placed on their rounded, poorly postured shoulders this year.

In my personal experience as an acting major, I had to audition for about 10 schools. I was not allowed to visit any of my potential campuses, and all of my auditions happened online, in 15-minute increments, accompanied by interestingly assembled Zoom waiting rooms. 

I found myself musing “To load, or not to load — that is the question” before each of my virtual auditions, hoping that in some way the benevolent spirit of Shakespeare would get me through my audition without my internet dropping. 

Melissa Levine

Zoom became the new go-to way to explore all of my campuses and meet the faculty — as much as anyone can ever meet anyone in the “Zoomsphere”.

In a particular instance, I was waiting to be let into the virtual audition room for one of my top choice programs. My wrinkled, homemade backdrop hung rather unimpressively behind me, providing my auditors with a, “non-distracting, unbusy background to maximize their ability to focus.” 

I nervously fiddled with my new ring light, unsure if I looked too washed out by the bright circular ray against my fair complexion. I heard my cats scratching outside my door, crying to disrupt my audition, because they love meeting new people as much as I do. 

I was let into the audition room early, as even over Zoom, any young actor will learn that to be early, is to be on time, and to be late is inexcusable.

Thankfully, my audition ran without a hiccup. I performed a piece I had prepared, answered one or two questions they had and was sent on my way. The moment after I had finished my audition, I tried to contact a good friend of mine via Zoom to tell her how it went. 

I never had the chance to call her.

Faster than a young child promises their parents they did in fact brush their teeth, my wifi dropped in its entirety. My computer was unusable; it was at the mercy of whatever wifi deity had decided to unleash its wrath upon it. 

To this day, I still don’t know how I was so lucky — but I’ve learned that sometimes, things are left better in the dark.

Needless to say, the admissions process was an exhausting experience. Nevertheless, I’m grateful that I can consider this weird period of time a moment of communion between other class of 2021 actors and myself. 

We will always be known as the virtual generation — a group of confused teens who were forced to become more tech savvy than they ever needed to be. But we will also be known for our resilience, and our passion for what we do. 

We endured dropped wifi, the “hey friend, your muted”-es, and the gargantuan amount of butterflies in our stomachs when we saw that white screen that said, “The meeting host will let you in soon,” because of our love for our art, and our determination to not let anything stop us from creating — because doing that would be like telling us to stop breathing.  

And I think we all know — we must breathe to survive.

Melissa Levine is a senior at Comsewogue High School. She committed to Ohio University for her BFA in Acting, with a minor in screenwriting.

Comsewogue High School

On May 18, the Comsewogue Board of Education will elect three members to the board for a three-year term — commencing July 1 of this year.

Margaret Mitchell 

Margaret Mitchell worked in the Comsewogue School District for 47 years as a secretary before retiring. 

“I just feel that I can give back to the district now, and I’m hoping to make a difference,” she said. 

Mitchell retired last August, and she said she would still be working if it weren’t for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The 73-year-old said she was concerned about the virus impacting her or her family so she decided it would be in her best interest to retire. 

“I didn’t want to retire,” she said. “I enjoyed working in this district. I know so many people, teachers, administrators, students. I developed a bond with a lot of people in the district and I just feel I want to give back.”

Mitchell’s late husband was on the board for 27 years, and all three of her children attended district schools from kindergarten through senior year. 

“Our whole life was centered around the district,” she said. “I miss it, I really miss it.” 

As a first-time candidate, she said that between raising a family and working at Comsewogue, she has been in the district for 50 years.  

“I’ve seen a lot of changes,” she said. “I’ve seen the good, I’ve seen the bad, and I think on the upswing, we’re at a good place right now. And I want to help to continue it.”

Mitchell said her main concern right now is the COVID-19 situation. 

“Our seniors missed out on so much last year,” she said. “I felt so sorry for those kids. And I think our administration has handled it beautifully. I think if we spoke to many of the parents in the community, they would agree. They’ve gone above and beyond to make sure that our students get what they need.”

She said she also wants to make sure all Comsewogue graduates have the best support possible to make sure they’re prepared for the real world upon graduation.

“I really think that our district is one of the best around and I want to continue that,” she said.

Margaret Mitchell did not provide a photo.

Corey Prinz

Although Corey Prinz grew up in Wantagh, he has been a resident of the Comsewogue community for over 15 years now. 

“I am still a new person around here,” he said. “Which is a great sign of the community, overall.”

Up for reelection, Prinz said most of his term has been emergency based.

“My whole focus has been, ‘Let’s protect the kids, let’s find a way to get them learning and move forward,’” he said. “This district has done a lot in the last 10 or 15 years, and I think we’ve gotten a little complacent.”

Prinz feels the district can continue to strive for greatness. 

“I’d like to see us continue to remember that we can do better, not because we’re doing badly, but because we can do better,” he said. “My caveat has always been we’re trying to create good humans here. Right? So, let’s make more of them.”

A commercial banker by day and father of two, Prinz has a wife who is a teacher in the district. His main goal is to get kids back to school safely and full time again, as well as providing more social and emotional support for students and staff. 

“COVID has affected a lot of people in different ways,” he said. “We have to help the kids through this, the kids who have lost their college opportunities because of this.”

But that all stems from his No. 1 goal of teaching students at Comsewogue to be of good character. 

“I think the most important thing is I want people to be good people,” he said. “And it starts with our kids. We need to be reminded to focus on our children to be better-rounded people. There’s opportunity here, we just have to decide to use it.”

Richard Rennard

Rick Rennard is seeking reelection for the Comsewogue Board of Education, after finishing his second full term as a trustee.

After being on the board for seven years, he said he wants to continue all the projects he and the board have worked on. 

“I think it’s important to continue the work that we’ve started, that I’ve been involved in over the last seven years,” he said. “From the commitment to our Middle States accreditation, to the creation of our project-based learning programs that are really starting to take off now,  I think that everything we’ve been doing has been really great.”

Rennard has been a resident in Comsewogue for 16 years, and is a married father of three children who all attend schools within the district. He is a social studies teacher in the Middle Country school district by day.

He said that facing the continuous challenges of the coronavirus and the shutdown last year, he wants to make sure the district’s buildings continue to stay safe. 

“I want to continue to serve our community and get us back to a hopefully full reopening this fall,” he said. “I plan on continuing my policy of making decisions that seem rooted in what’s best for the kids in our district, and just to continue to use that as my guideline for when we have to make decisions — what’s best for them and go forward with it.”

Rennard said his favorite thing about being a board member is seeing how much students within the district progress.

“That’s really the most rewarding part about it,” he said. “It’s to see that our kids turn around and give back to the community.”

Sixth grader Katelyn Murray with Ramsey. Photo by Julianne Mosher

By Melissa Levine 

Suffolk County lawmakers last week unanimously approved a proposal by Presiding Officer Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) to designate April 30 as “Pet Therapy Day” in Suffolk County. 

Nationally recognized as a day to celebrate therapy animals through the efforts of Pet Partners — the nation’s leading organization registering therapy animals for animal-assisted interventions — Calarco felt it was important to mark the day on the county level to recognize the local groups working to improve the health and well-being of Suffolk residents through animal-assisted therapy and activities.

Legislators approved his resolution to designate Pet Therapy Day in Suffolk County at their April 20 general meeting.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

“Therapy animals and their human companions bring joy and healing to people of all ages in many different settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, schools and funeral parlors,” he said. “Designating April 30 as Pet Therapy Day is our way of saying thank you and recognizing all the good these animals and their handlers do to bring moments of joy to people in need in our community, especially given the difficulties of the last year.”

A furry friend joins a middle school class 

Since the onset of the pandemic, Comsewogue School District’s staff and students have endured the same challenge that thousands of schools across the globe are facing recreating normalcy in a time of chaos. 

Comsewogue special education teacher and student character liaison Andrew Harris is no stranger to the many benefits that come with therapy dogs.   

“Normally we visit Stony Brook Hospital’s adolescent psychiatric unit on a weekly basis,” he said. “The kids get a great deal from our visits.”

Harris has been training dogs for over 20 years, so he has grown incredibly familiar with the contagious charm and health benefits that dogs like his dog, Ramsey — a licensed therapy pooch — can bring to people of all ages. 

“It’s funny because the nurses and doctors are always the ones who rush in and cuddle the dog before the kids. After all, they too might be having an especially stressful day,” said Harris.  

Once invited into a particular institution, the dog is able to comfort people in hospitals, nursing homes and schools. 

After a few months of careful planning, Harris devised a therapy-dog-based proposition for the visits at the district’s schools. It didn’t take long to convince the administration to let Ramsey in. 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Ramsey proudly wears his Comsewogue picture ID and therapy dog bandana upon entering John F. Kennedy Middle School.

Harris said he has taken much time to develop this program for school visits. 

“We have several progressive and successive lessons each time we come into a class,” Harris sad. “On the first visit, it is more of a meet and greet and demonstration of what the dog is capable of.”  

When Harris was tasked with getting his therapy dog certification, he had no idea how elaborate it would be. He went on to describe how certain tasks tested the dog’s ability to remain calm in stressful situations — something Ramsey is great at when demonstrating for students of different abilities.

Harris takes ample time to show the students the difference between a therapy dog (they are for you) and a service dog (they are for the owner). He also demonstrates some typical things a service dog might do by performing tasks like dropping crutches and asking the dog to pick them up and bring them to him. 

The dogs are capable of accomplishing many other feats too, like assisting people up staircases when requested, or alerting someone to wake up who has sleep apnea. 

“When we visit a class for the second time, I have the students do more of the work, instead of the dog and I doing it all,” Harris said. “The students can start by introducing themselves or reading aloud to the dog. Then on our final visit, we sit the dog in the back of the room and have the students do full speeches or presentations.” 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

The most important thing for Harris is that the students enjoy and learn during the time they spend with Ramsey. 

Melissa Levine is a senior at Comsewogue High School

Additional reporting by Julianne Mosher