Shoreham-Wading River High School students Andrea Castillo-Manas and Katelyn Roberts were each honored with a Quill Award in the Adelphi University Press Day competition.
Andrea, a senior, won third place for Best Opinion Piece for her article, “The Concern for Long Island’s Future.” Katelyn, a freshman, won first place for Best Opinion Piece for her article, “Uniformed Injustice: Sexism Rooted in Athletic Uniforms.”
Both articles are published in the high school’s digital newspaper, “The Pause.”
“The journalism students are so proud of their peers,” said English teacher and journalism club adviser Sara Trenn.
Earl L. Vandermeulen High School senior Andrew Patterson has advanced to the Finalist standing in the 2022 annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Andrew took the qualifying test as a junior and is now among approximately 16,000 high school students nationwide who were awarded the distinction. In the next several months approximately half of those students will be selected to receive a Merit Scholarship award, which is based on their abilities, skills and achievements.
An accomplished and well-rounded student, Andrew excels in academics, athletics and community service. He is a three-season athlete — captain of the soccer team and member of the winter and spring track team. Andrew is also a member of the school’s Latin Club, National Honor Society and Science Olympiad team. Outside of school, he is a member of the Port Jefferson Fire Department.
Andrew’s Finalist designation exemplifies the Port Jefferson School District’s high level of student achievement and academically rigorous program for all students. National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in the spring.
More than 400 people crowded onto the Shoreham-Wading River High School soccer field Dec. 15 to race in the first annual Andrew’s Run, but one family especially that crossed the finish line did so to cheers and applause that resounded all across the North Shore community.
John McMorris, the father of 12-year-old Boy Scout Andrew McMorris who died in October, walked and ran with his son’s framed photograph clenched in his hand. As he and Andrew’s mother, Alisa, strolled over the finish line that morning, John stuck up his hands in triumph, knowing it would go to support his son’s memory.
“This is how the community comes together,” he said. “The community is the only way we’ve been able to heal — to continue to heal.”
Andrew, who was a seventh-grader at Albert G. Prodell Middle School in Shoreham, died Oct. 1 after an alleged drunk driver struck him and four of his fellow Scouts in Boy Scout Troop 161 while they were walking along the shoulder of David Terry Road in Manorville during a hike. The McMorris family said
Andrew was going to do his first practice for the middle school cross country team that same day, but his life was ended before he could fulfill that ambition.
The run was brought together through the efforts of 16-year-old Miller Place High School student Danelle Rose, who helped prepare everything from the race’s route across the fields at SWR High School to coordinating with the school and the Strong Island Running Club professional time takers, who donated their services for free to the run.
All the funds are going to support Boy Scout Troop 161 in their effort to build a new 3,200 square foot Adirondack cabin at Baiting Hollow Scout Camp in Wading River, which will be named McMorris Lodge in honor of Andrew. The run raised over $8,000 for the lodge.
Several members of local Boy Scouts, including those from Troop 161 and Troop 204 from Miller Place, ran in the race, some in their full Boy Scout uniforms. While weather forecasts called for rain that Saturday morning, Troop 161 Scoutmaster Matthew Yakaboski said it was a sign that good things may still come from tragedy.
“I think Andrew was shining down on us today,” Yakaboski said.
In the Port Jefferson School District Board of Education’s efforts to hire a new superintendent of schools, an online survey is collecting information on community input on the qualifications, instructional leadership and community engagement it expects from the next leader of the district.
The online survey is available in both English and Spanish and is open until Dec. 21. Those interested can use the links below:
The district is allowing residents to fill out a paper copy as well if they visit the District Office located at 550 Scraggy Hill Road, Port Jefferson.
On Jan. 3, 2019, Dr. Julie Davis Lutz, Chief Operating Officer of Eastern Suffolk BOCES, will meet with interested community members to further provide residents an opportunity to discuss skills and characteristics that the new superintendent of schools should possess, and the short-term and long-term issues that he or she will need to address. This meeting will be held at the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School at 7 p.m.
Check back next week for more details in Port Jefferson School district’s search for a new superintendent.
Shoreham-Wading River High School seniors were met with applause and cheers as they accepted their diplomas during the class of 2018 commencement ceremony June 23.
After the processional and National Anthem, sung by senior Jack Flatley with ASL interpretation by Victoria Ann Holden, high school Principal Frank Pugliese addressed the crowd. Opening remarks were presented by salutatorian Calvin Schmalzle and senior Alexandra Melt followed him by singing “Go the Distance” from Disney’s Hercules, before valedictorian Christian Wesselborg bid the class farewell.
Rocky Point High School seniors tossed their caps off in celebration of achieving an education milestone during their graduation ceremony June 22.
The Eagles are officially soaring over the district, displaying decorated caps, some of which showed off where they will be taking their next educational steps and others that displayed words of encouragement like “Let’s fly with your beautiful wings” and “Don’t dream it, be it.”
Rocky Point class of 2018 valedictorian Connor Middleton and salutatorian Kyle Markland addressed the crowd, as did Superintendent Michael Ring and high school Principal Susann Crossan.
#NationalHighSchoolWalkout movement comes on 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting
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By Rita J. Egan
A student-led movement at Ward Melville is determined to ensure the voices of high schoolers continue to be heard when it comes to preventing gun violence.
On April 20 — 19 years after the Columbine High School shooting — about four dozen members of WM Students Take Action participated in the second wave of the #NationalWalkout movement. While the number of participants was about 200 less than the March 14 walkout, held a month after the Parkland, Florida, shooting, participating students nonetheless braved a chilly, windy day to stand in solidarity to call for stricter gun control legislation.
“You can say that we are young. You can say that we don’t know our fate. We don’t know how to stand up for ourselves. But if we don’t, who will?”
— Ward Melville student
With a megaphone in hand, senior Bennett Owens led the crowd outside of school. Students read poems and gave speeches for 45 minutes. The rally included a moment of silence to remember Columbine victims, and in-between speeches, participants would shout out chants including “Listen to us” or “Show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like.”
During the rally, Owens said the protesters were asking for common-sense gun legislation, including a ban on “assault-style rifles” and universal background checks. He said when our forefathers wrote the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, they had no idea the type of weapons that could be made. He added his generation is the most qualified to speak about the issue because of the number of shootings that have occurred during their lifetimes.
One speaker encouraged the group not to listen to those who call them irrational. She said their detractors believe they want to ban all guns, instead of just assault weapons, because the opposition doesn’t engage them in conversation.
“We actually have ideas, we have plans, and we will vote,” she said.
Many of the students talked about how they are part of the generation of change. One girl who delivered a speech told her fellow students not to be afraid of punishment when it comes to protests and to disregard criticism that young people don’t know what they are talking about.
“What can a bunch of high schoolers know about change?” she said. “The high schoolers are the ones who are dying. Their opinions are the only opinions that really matter. You can say that we are young. You can say that we don’t know our fate. We don’t know how to stand up for ourselves. But if we don’t, who will?”
“Not as many people as last time but everyone who was here is really passionate. I’m very excited about what’s to come from this movement.”
— Bennett Owens
During the 45-minute protest, drivers passing by honked sporadically to show their support, and for 15 minutes, nearly a dozen Ward Melville students stood outside with signs that read “Join the NRA,” opposite the protesters.
After the walkout, Owens said he was feeling optimistic.
“Not as many people as last time but everyone who was here is really passionate,” he said. “I’m very excited about what’s to come from this movement.
No more protests are planned for the rest of the school year, Owens explained, but on Gun Violence Awareness Day, June 1, the group hopes to sell ribbons at school and donate the funds to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control and against gun violence.
Owens, who wants to be a criminal defense attorney, said he plans to continue his activism in college and has faith WM Students Take Action will continue.
“I have to pass down this organization soon, and I’m really hopeful based on the turnout we’ve seen today by underclassmen that this organization will continue to protest for the injustices that we’ve seen,” he said.
Despite concerns posted on the group’s Instagram page before the walkout, the students faced no disciplinary action, according to an April 23 statement from school district spokeswoman Jessica Novins.
The Northport-East Northport Tigers’ challenges this football season have given them a whole new perspective on why there’s no place like home.
On Saturday, Oct. 14, Northport-East Northport’s varsity football team will celebrate homecoming by stepping onto their own field for the first time this season after a recent announcement that the district has completed its thorough and long-proposed bleacher repairs.
The process of replacing the football field’s deteriorated wooden bleachers with new metal bleachers officially began in late August and ended Monday, Oct. 9. This was a period of frustration and uncertainty for many parents and players within the district as it forced the Northport Tigers to go to other fields for the first two home games of the 2017 season.
The team’s first home game in September was moved to Elwood-John H. Glenn High School. Their Oct. 1 game was relocated to Half Hollow Hills High School East’s field.
The new structures passed inspection with Texas-based LandTech Inc. at the helm of construction. Total cost for the project was more than $1 million, which came from the district’s general fund as well as state aid, according to school officials.
“We’re going to be back on course for homecoming Saturday,” Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer said.
A former football player himself, Banzer claimed the stadium had the same wooden bleachers when he was there in the early 1980s. The upgraded bleachers are far less dangerous and were built in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“I’m excited to have everybody see the work but, most importantly, to be at home,” he said. “It’s always a very fun time.”
Banzer and the school board initially approved the bleacher repairs in the 2015-16 budget, along with a variety of infrastructure projects throughout the district. But the construction couldn’t move forward on it right away as it faced a lengthy state approvals process.
The first opportunity the school district could seize to begin repairs was in late spring of this year prior to
graduation ceremonies. Banzer said he didn’t want to risk the job not being done in time for a large event. By the time the district hired LandTech to build the bleachers, the construction company was booked for most of the summer and couldn’t begin the project until a couple weeks into August.
School officials projected the bleachers would be finished by the team’s second home game, but as that proved to be overambitious, the community grew increasingly anxious that the job wouldn’t be done in time for homecoming. Some residents made sure their voices were heard.
“It’s a disgraceful, embarrassing, hurtful situation that in my opinion could’ve been avoided,” Mike Gozelski, president of the Northport Football Booster Club, said during the Sept. 28 board of education meeting. “We’re halfway through the season and the athletes, marching band, cheerleaders and the community have yet to set foot on our home field. It’s heartbreaking for most of us. Part of our anger comes from the fact that work on the bleachers didn’t start until August with football season starting in September. It’s negligent.”
Gozelski, a former Tiger, said for many seniors on the team, including his son, this season is the last chance they had to show their school pride in the stadium.
“These kids practice for two hours a day and work hard 12 months a year to be able to play on this field,” he said. “You have to understand how disappointing this is for them.”
Banzer responded, explaining the school’s side of the situation to Gozelski, as well as about a dozen parents and football players in uniform in the room.
“I know it’s disappointing,” the superintendent said. “But we also wanted to make sure we provided the best product going forward. We just want the job to be done right.”
At the end of the exchange, the board said it was hopeful the bleachers would be ready to go for the district’s pep rally Oct. 13 and Oct. 14 homecoming.
Gozelski said he received the good news from the school’s athletic department on Monday morning.
“Now we’re going to be out there and opening up a brand new, refurbished Tigers stadium,” Gozelski said. “The players get to play, the band gets to play, the cheerleaders get to cheer and the community gets to see a good football game … and hopefully a victory.”
Gina Macchia-Gerdvil, a mother of two students on the team and a member of the Booster Club, was equally upset over the situation, believing the district should have replaced the bleachers after the football
season was over. She said up until Monday’s announcement, nobody was certain if homecoming would take place at home.
“I’m excited for all the kids,” Macchia-Gerdvil said. “My boys are in their second year on varsity and they haven’t had a chance yet to step into their stadium and see the big crowd and all the festivities.”