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High school

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By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Not every student graduating from high school wants to go to college. In the middle of the last century, many traditional high schools in New York offered three tracks to a diploma: academic, vocational and general. Somewhere along the way, those last two seem to have disappeared or at least become less visible. But for those students not wishing to continue with their academic education, that’s a loss, and some educators and business people are realizing that.

In Boston, there is a new initiative to bring together high schoolers wishing career training with hospitals greatly understaffed and needing more workers. There is also at least one such effort locally to place interested students on a track to a well-paying job on Long Island’s north shore.

First the Boston story. The Mass General system, the city’s largest employer, needs people to fill the 2000 job vacancies in its hospitals. Bloomberg Philanthropies has stepped forward with a $38 million investment, to connect a small high school with the hospitals in a program that will involve some 800 students, leading them to jobs in medical services. “Students will earn college credits as they train for careers in nursing, emergency medicine, lab science, medical imaging and surgery,” according to an article in The New York Times this past Thursday.

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Bloomberg, by the way, has pledged to invest $250 million over five years in ten cities and regions, pairing high schoolers with hospitals in an effort to help both. Howard Wolfson, education program lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies, was quoted by the NYT as saying, “There is a growing sense that the value of college has diminished, relative to cost. This [program] should not be construed as anti-college—every kid who wants to go should have the opportunity. But at the same time, we have to acknowledge the reality that, for a lot of kids, college is not an option, or they want to get on with their careers.”

The foundation was started by Michael Bloomberg, New York’s former mayor, who grew up in Boston. Funding will also go to New York, Philadelphia, Nashville, Houston, Dallas, Charlotte and Durham, as well as rural regions in Tennessee and Alabama. The idea is for students to choose a specialty by the end of tenth grade, and then train for the remaining two years in those areas of interest. Attention has been increasing on vocational education in the last few years, according to a state report in Massachusetts. Similar interest would probably be echoed here in New York.

Such an addition to the workforce in hospitals would also serve to better meet the needs of patients. And more well-paying jobs would ideally increase a city’s middle class, allowing students from some low-income households to graduate and move right into a good position. Some of the Bloomberg money is pegged for school social workers and mental health clinicians to further enable the students to succeed in this program.

And since a number of these students will probably come from minority families, they will help diversify the current staffs and better reflect the patient load in the hospitals. There are, according to NYT and Bloomberg’s Wolfson, some two million job openings that exist in health care across the nation. That number will probably double by 2031.

While this program targets hospital needs, other such feeder schools could aim to fill shortages of teachers and in other careers offering opportunity.

Our local program, similar in aiming to fill positions with guaranteed jobs for trained workers, is organized by the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Ferry Company. Additional personnel will enable the ferry company, which employs a crew of 11 per boat, to continue carrying at least 450,000 cars and trucks, and some 300,000 walk-on passengers between the two states each year. That’s been their average, and perhaps it will increase as their newest boat, The Long Islander, is added in August to the fleet.

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. 

Andrew Patterson. Photo from PJSD

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.

Photo from East End Arts

East End Arts & Humanities Council, Inc. has announced the winners of the 2021 Teeny Awards. An award ceremony was broadcast live from the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on July 11.

And the winners are:

LEAD MALE IN A PLAY, Kiernan Urso in the role of George Spelvin in “The Actor’s Nightmare” at Longwood

LEAD FEMALE IN A PLAY, Jessica Soledad in the role of Juror #8 in “12 Angry Jurors” at Hampton Bays

SUPPORTING MALE IN A PLAY, Isaiah Mraz in the role of Corey in “Our Place” at Southold

Photo from East End Arts

SUPPORTING FEMALE IN A PLAY, Emma Martinez in the role of Betty-Sue in “It’s Always the Butler” at Shelter Island

LEAD MALE IN A MUSICAL/MINI-MUSICAL, Kiernan Urso in the role of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in “Jekyll & Hyde” at Longwood


Angelina Milici in the role of Lucy Harris in “Jekyll & Hyde” at Longwood
Juliet Rand in the role of Lady of the Lake in “Spamalot: The Socially Distant Concert-ish Version” at Southold

SUPPORTING MALE IN A MUSICAL/MINI-MUSICAL, Quinn Bruer in the role of Taunter, Herbert, & Monk in “Spamalot: The Socially Distant Concert-ish Version” at Southold

SUPPORTING FEMALE IN A MUSICAL/MINI-MUSICAL, Zoe Richardson in the role of One-Eyed Pete in “Take Ten!” at Pierson


Silas Jones in the role of Dance Captain in “Anything Goes” in the Musical Revue: “Pandemic Pandemonium of 2021” at East Hampton
Brenna Kiernan in the Musical Revue: “A Broadway Revue” at Rocky Point


Elizabeth and Jacqueline Gluck for “I Feel Pretty” in the Musical Revue: “The Southampton Broadway Revue”


Vanessa Aurigue for “Jekyll & Hyde” at Longwood Belle Penny for “Our Place” at Southold


“Jekyll & Hyde” at Longwood “Les Misérables” at Miller Place

BEST SOLO PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL REVUE, Zoe Richardson for “Dream a Little of Me” in “Take Ten!” at Pierson

BEST DUET/TRIO PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL REVUE, Tessa Cunningham, Brenna Kiernan & Samantha Leversen for “Webber Love Trio” in the Musical Revue: “A Broadway Revue” at Rocky Point

BEST GROUP PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL REVUE, “Seize the Day” in the Musical Revue: “Hope Rising” at Riverhead

BEST MASTER OF CEREMONIES/HOST/NARRATOR IN A MUSICAL REVUE, Johan Arias as Master of Ceremonies in “The Southampton Broadway Revue” at Southampton

BEST MUSICAL PERFORMANCE IN A VIDEO, Camryn Trant for “Stupid with Love” at Mattituck

BEST MONOLOGUE PERFORMANCE IN A VIDEO, Michael Marziliano for “Trinculo (The Tempest)” at Bellport

For the full list of the nominees & winners, visit www.eastendarts.org

For more information or details about the ceremony please contact Teeny Awards Coordinator Kasia Klimiuk at 516-297- 4123 or email [email protected]

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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.

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Port Jefferson Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

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.

By Andrea Paldy

Family and friends cheered on the more than 600 seniors who graduated in front of the Ward Melville High School clocktower on Sunday.

During the June 24 ceremony, salutatorian Michael Lu reminded his classmates to continue to open themselves to new possibilities.

“As graduates of Ward Melville High School, we can do anything we put our minds to as long as we have an appetite to learn and a willingness to take risks,” he said.

Ethan Li, the class valedictorian, encouraged his classmates to be socially aware and to enact change.

“Talent without humanity is like a violin bow which lacks resin,” he said. “It may produce practically perfect music, but the sound will never inspire.”

Ward Melville principal Alan Baum built on those words in his last commencement speech as principal.

“Change is okay,” he said. “You don’t have to be afraid.”

Baum, who will take on the role of executive director of secondary curriculum and human resources in the district office, had parting words for the class of 2018.

“Don’t let others or naysayers tell you what you can’t do,” he said. “Go out and show them what you can do.”

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

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.