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Rocky Point has two candidates, an incumbent and a newcomer, vying for two open board of education seats.

With trustee Melissa Brown choosing not to run again, trustee Sean Callahan seeks re-election while Joseph Coniglione, Comsewogue High School principal, is putting his name in the hat.

Sean Callahan

Callahan, a 41-year resident and graduate of the Rocky Point school district, was first elected to the board three years ago. He has worked as an external auditor specializing in auditing school districts, is a certified New York State School Business Official and currently serves as an employment and labor attorney, well versed in bond and civil service issues and other aspects of education and school law.

If elected, he said he wants to continue the communication among all stakeholders that has started to come back to the district.

“When I first ran, there was a breakdown between the administration, the existing board and teachers,” Callahan said. “I believe the board has since made an earnest effort to really talk to the community and teachers to hear their concerns. I’m trying to continue the dialogue — I talk to the custodians, teachers, everybody in the district. That’s what I hope to continue.”

As a member of the board, Callahan has seen a tightening of academic eligibility policies, where students are required to perform well in the classroom before they can take part in any extracurricular activity.

Outside of the board, Callahan has been involved in the North Shore Little League for more than nine years and coaches CYO basketball and soccer for St. Anthony’s Church in Rocky Point. He and his wife have three sons — aged 18, 17 and 15 — enrolled in the high school.

Joseph Coniglione

Coniglione, an educator for 22 years and  principal of Comsewogue High School, has decided to make a run for a seat on Rocky Point’s board of education.

“I want to make sure there’s an open line of communication among parents, teachers and students,” Coniglione said. “The goal should always be to make sound decisions in the best interest of the student’s academic, social and emotional needs. I’m always looking to do a better job [in Comsewogue] and have had great success in this area. It’s really all about the kids. I want what’s best for them.”

Looking to be part of the team, the 15-year Rocky Point resident, and father of two students in the district, grew up in Holbrook and graduated from Sachem High School before earning his master’s degree in reading and elementary education from Dowling College. He taught special education in the Brentwood school district for 10 years, before becoming assistant principal and ultimately principal at Comsewogue. He’s served the Comsewogue district now for the past 12 years.

At Comsewogue, Coniglione said he’s implemented parent and student committees, as well as surveys throughout the school, to gauge a wide variety of perspectives on how to improve the district. He wants to bring more transparency to Rocky Point and encourages the board to open up its books and ask the public what they think needs to change.

In the past, Coniglione said he had been concerned about balancing his role as principal and board member, which is why he never ran previously. But in speaking with administration in both the Comsewogue and Rocky Point districts, he realized there would be no issue.

“There seems to be no conflicts at all — everything is spread out and the meetings I need to be at, I can book around,” he said. “The Comsewogue administration is very supportive of my run and the board told me it wouldn’t be an issue.”

The school budget and board of education vote is on May 16 at the Rocky Point High School gym from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sixth-grader Julia Greek holds up a championship certificate. Photo from Paul Greek

A sixth-grader from Stony Brook is making a name for herself on the basketball court.

Julia Greek, the W.S. Mount Elementary 11-year-old can be seen shooting hoops whenever she gets a chance. She dribbles around the house, on the way home from the bus stop, outside of her Stony Brook home and on her Catholic Youth Organization and Amateur Athletic Union teams. All of that practice is certainly paying off.

“I saw her play for the first time in the fourth grade and I was immediately impressed with her skill level, passion for the game and knowledge,” AAU Director Rob Pavinelli said. “She loves the game beyond the prize. It’s not just about winning and scoring. She was well beyond her years in all aspects of the game.”

“Right off the bat it was clear to see what different level she was playing at compared to virtually every other kid we come across.”

—Alex Gayer

As a member of the CYO team, she helped the girls win the championship last year after going undefeated. She scored the most points in the AAU circuit for her age group as a fifth-grader, and was named one of the top point guards in all of Long Island, voted on by the AAU coaches and referees. She earned a scholarship two years in a row for free entrance to a Stony Brook basketball camp when she was 9 years old, after winning knockout, dribbling and free-throw shooting contests. She finished her last AAU season as the leading scorer with 179 points — the next closest to her had 60. She also was a finalist in the Mother Teresa New York State Council Knights of Columbus free-throw shooting contest out of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She’s competing this weekend to try to make a third straight appearance.

To Julia, her accomplishments are an added bonus, because she enjoys playing the game so much.

“I love the way that my teammates play with me, and how I can get them open and pass them the ball,” she said. “I’ve always loved to play. I love dribbling and shooting.”

Both are strong parts of her game out on the court.

“I was immediately struck by her,” Julia’s AAU Lightning coach Alex Gayer, said. “Right off the bat it was clear to see what different level she was playing at compared to virtually every other kid we come across. She does it all for us. She brings the ball up, breaks the press, she’s our best 3-point shooter and we have a talented group of girls.”

He said she was a major contributor to the team’s 20-0 record two seasons ago.

“I consider her and one other as the two best players I’ve seen on Long Island,” Gayer said. “What I take away most is she has such a passion for the game. She lives it. She’s there with a ball in her hand every day. She’s been very coachable. She never gives me a hard time on the court. She has continued to develop. She’s a leader on the team and on the court. Everyone looks up to her and when we need a big basket oftentimes she’s the one that provides it for us. She’s really just a pleasure to work with.”

Gayer called Julia the quintessential gym rat, despite the fact that she’s already better than most girls her age.

Julia Greek with her AAU Lightning team after it went undefeated and won the championship. Photo from Alex Gayer

“You can see she had this natural ability,” Julia’s father Paul Greek said. “As she got older we joined the Boys & Girls club and everyone was surprised by how good she was, even at 7 years old. She had such a knack for dribbling and shooting the basketball. Parents would come up to me after games asking me how old she was and telling me she’s unbelievable. She hasn’t even peaked. It just seems like she keeps getting better.”

Julia said she enjoys playing every chance she gets, and said she’s done a lot of work with her father, sneaking onto whatever court they can find to get in some practice time.

“My dad is very encouraging,” she said. “Sometimes he needs to work me hard, but I like that because I want to get better.”

She said she’s also taken a lot out of playing for two teams with different styles.

“Both teams are different, but I love the way they both operate,” she said. “I feel that my CYO team is more passing and trying to get open, and my AAU team is more driving to the basket and shooting. Every time I practice, I practice every side and angle of the hoop, and I love 3-pointers and that’s what I mostly practice. It’s my best shot.”

Julia has had the chance to practice with the Ward Melville girls’ varsity team. She looks up to the players.

“They teach me things that I don’t do,” she said, adding she looks up to sophomore Lauren Hansen and senior Taylor Tripptree. “[Hansen] practices extremely hard. I’ve seen her play and practice and I want to be like that. She’s amazing, she can hit from anywhere and drive by people. I know she’s working hard to do that so I’m trying to do that, too.”

Hansen said she sees a lot of talent in Julia despite her young age.

“She loves the game beyond the prize. It’s not just about winning and scoring. She was well beyond her years in all aspects of the game.”

—Rob Pavinelli

“She plays fearlessly,” she said. “In Julia I see a special talent that comes around every once in a while, and I truly believe if she works hard and buys into the process she can be great.”

Tripptree echoed her teammate.

“She already has developed serious skills,” Tripptree said. “During camps she always had to be put in the older groups because she’s so advanced for her age.”

The two said being looked up to by Julia reassures them that they’re doing the right things in working hard and setting an example for the younger talents as proof of what determination can lead to.

“Being looked at as a role model is truly an amazing honor and a blessing, because growing up I looked to older players to model my game off of, so to have younger players like Julia look up to me is incredibly humbling,” Hansen said. “With that said, I try to make sure I’m always pushing myself beyond my limits so players coming up know it takes a lot of work and sacrifice, and it’s definitely not easy to get where you want to be, but you can never be satisfied. Always be hungry.”

Gayer said he sees Julia’s talents taking her far.

“I think she would be one of the best shooters on a varsity team right now,” he said. “And she’s only in sixth grade.”

Julia said her goal once she gets some team practice in after seventh grade at R.C. Murphy Jr. High School next year is to make the varsity team in eighth grade.

“I feel like by the time I’m in eighth grade I’ll be better than I am now, and I want to focus on playing with different people and learning,” she said. “I’m working really hard now and trying to work as hard as I can to get there.”