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Stony Brook

Many participants from last year’s concert will be returning this year. Photo from Dan Kerr
Stony Brook University musician Lindsay Ross will take part in this year’s concert. Photo from Dan Kerr

Historic All Souls Church, 61 Main Street in Stony Brook Village presents monthly Saturdays at Six concerts, Second Saturdays poetry readings, and Native American Drumming to the community.  Each of these programs brings its own unique mix of visitors to the Stanford White-designed national landmark chapel on the hill across from the Duck Pond. Their latest event, Conversations on the Sacred on Saturday, Aug. 5, will combine, music, poetry and drumming in one unique performance for the community.

The special program is the brainchild of Stony Brook University adjunct professor, poet, and literary scholar Carmen Bugan.  She selected the sacred readings for the evening and collaborated with Stony Brook University musicians and composers Ford Fourqurean and Lindsay Ross, All Souls organist Dan Kinney, and Native American Elder and Drummer Ric Statler on the musical interludes between readings.

The selection of poems includes works that are widely regarded for their technical virtuosity and lyrical beauty. Each reading includes a specific conversation with the sacred but offers at the same time a way into the life and sensibility of the poet. Christian and Judaic religions are in conversation with mystical Judaism, Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and Native American tradition. The literary selections will be placed in descending chronological order, beginning with a Native American chant (Where I Stand is Holy), all the way to several hundred years before Christ with a reading from Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching).

Long Island poets Adam Fisher, Linda Dickman, Mindy Kronenberg, Vivian Viloria-Fisher, Greg Alexander, Bruce Johnson, Jack Zaffos, and Kathy Donnelly will serve as readers. The musical pieces interspersed with the poetry will include Native American Drumming; a mix of baroque, modern, improvisation; and classical hymns performed by Dan Kinney on All Souls’ almost 200-year-old Henry Erben-designed tracker organ.

The concert will begin promptly at 6 p.m., will include a 15-minute intermission and conclude by 8 p.m. The event is free. All Souls collects food to feed the hungry at every event.  “Lend a Hand; Bring a Can.” For further information, call 631-655-7798. just

Academy students may have fallen through the cracks on larger campuses

Three Village Academy, above, is tucked behind a quiet Stony Brook neighborhood. Photos by Mallie Jane Kim

Tucked behind a quiet Stony Brook neighborhood sits the least known school in Three Village Central School District: Three Village Academy, home base for about 55 ninth through 12th graders each year who have had a tough time socially or emotionally, and who may otherwise have fallen through the cracks at larger secondary schools in the district.

Principal Gus Hueber checks on a student working independently. Photo by Mallie Jane Kim

At a time children and teens nationwide are struggling with increased anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, the academy, which shares a building with district administration offices, offers a distinctly lower-key environment than the massive, stately Ward Melville High School, population 1,520. 

It is a general education program — not special education, though about half of the students have accommodation plans, and not a behavioral intervention program. The academy is primarily for in-district students, but a small portion are sent and paid for by other districts: Smithtown, Commack, Port Jefferson and Sachem, among others, and there are typically about 15 out-of-district students on a waiting list, according to academy principal Gus Hueber.

The academy provides a way for all of its students to receive the same quality of education as any other Three Village student, but with more one-to-one attention and support, and less social pressure.

“Some kids, at whatever moment in their life they are struggling, there’s a window we work with them, we support them,” said Hueber, who has served as principal since the academy’s inception 10 years ago. “It’s not magic; it really is just providing them with a safe and trusting place and trusting relationships,” he added.

But for some families, it may feel like magic when a child with chronic absenteeism suddenly has a safe place they willingly attend.

Like Tabitha DeMuria’s daughter Jenny [not her real name], who was in ninth grade at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School during the 2020-2021 school year when she started missing school. Since it was the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jenny could simply do course work online. Before long, even that stopped, DeMuria said. “She just shut down.”

COVID-19 stress was an exacerbating factor, but struggle had already been brewing. Jenny was coming to terms with the aftermath of a tragedy in her family, and she faced bullying by some girls at school.

When Jenny toured the academy, teachers she met were warm and friendly, as were her peers. “The students came up to her — not knowing who she was — and told her, ‘You’re going to do great here,’” DeMuria said. 

Because the school is in-district, the transition was swift and smooth. Academy teachers split their time with the other Three Village secondary schools, and the curriculum is the same. By the time school broke for summer in 2021, Jenny had vastly improved all the grades that had dropped due to repeated absences, according to DeMuria. 

Support staff like guidance counselors and school psychologists play an important role, but the teachers themselves become a huge part of these students’ lives. They eat lunch in the same room as the students, they join together for kickball or volleyball and they attend the academy’s prom.

Superintendent of Schools Kevin Scanlon, who helped launch the academy when he was assistant superintendent, set the tone for the school’s culture by hand picking teachers. Scanlon said he told incoming staff that flexibility is vital. “If you are rigid as a teacher and rigid as a person, this is not the right program for you,” he told them.

The closeness of the relationship among staff and students brings a sense of ownership and pride to the community. Academy students get together at the beginning of the school year to create rules for public spaces, like the hallway, and they post signs detailing those expectations. “Don’t be on your phones — keep your eyes up,” one sign reads. “We will not scream, push or make inappropriate sounds,” reads another.

They create murals in school hallways; a version of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” for one. DeMuria said mural painting helps ease Jenny’s anxiety. “All of her stress is gone when she’s able to do something like that,” she said.

Some academy students ride a bus to the high school for the afternoon if they’d like to take AP classes or participate in sports, and others go to BOCES vocational programs to earn certificates in things like cosmetology or auto mechanics. Many of the graduates, according to Scanlon, would most likely not have graduated if they’d stayed at Ward Melville. Others, including Jenny, choose to return to the big school after a few years and wind up graduating there.

Stories of success and growth like Jenny’s are common at Three Village Academy. According to Hueber, every year at graduation when seniors share how far they’ve come from dark places thanks to academy staff, there’s not a dry eye in the room.

“You have no idea the impact you’ve made on certain kids,” he said.

Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich joined local officials at Stony Brook train station to express his concerns with the governor’s housing proposal. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Town of Brookhaven elected officials made it clear at a March 30 press conference how they feel about a plan proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D).

Brookhaven officials gather at Stony Brook train station to express their concerns with the governor’s housing proposal. Photo by Rita J. Egan

The governor has included a housing program titled The New York Housing Compact in the 2024 state budget. Opponents say the proposal should be a stand-alone item and not incorporated in the budget which was due Saturday, April 1. However, on April 3, state lawmakers voted to extend the deadline to April 10.

Town deputy supervisor Dan Panico (R-Manorville) and councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) joined town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) at the March 30 press conference to express their concerns regarding the housing proposal. Members of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, The Ward Melville Heritage Organization and Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners were also on hand to show their opposition to the governor’s plan.

In her State of the State message earlier this year, Hochul proposed the housing strategy calling for 800,000 new homes to be built in the state over the course of a decade to address the lack of housing. Among the plan’s requirements would be municipalities with Metropolitan Transportation Authority railroad stations to rezone to make way for higher-density residential development. All downstate cities, towns and villages served by the MTA would have a new home creation target over three years of 3%, compared to upstate counties that would need to build 1% more new homes over the same period.

Romaine criticized the plan setting goals that would eliminate current local procedures

“You are exempt from environmental concerns,” he said. “You don’t have to have sewers. There are no height restrictions. There is no community feedback and local zoning is ignored.”

Romaine said if the plan goes through it would cause quality of life issues, including more traffic and congestion on the roads.

“We need incentives because we need sewers,” the supervisor added. “We need infrastructure, and we are willing to work with the state. But if you seek to override zoning and impose against the will of the community housing that is not compatible, you are undermining the very fabric of the quality of life in Brookhaven Town.”

Panico echoed the supervisor’s sentiments and added there are areas in the town where multi-housing developments make sense due to town codes being amended.

Brookhaven’s Deputy Town Supervisor Dan Panico joined local officials at Stony Brook train station to express his concerns with the governor’s housing proposal. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“I can give you a couple of examples, right in Port Jeff Station, in Mastic Beach, in East Patchogue, in North Bellport,” Panico said. “Places that lend themselves to this type of development that are not overly constricted by traffic already.”

Kornreich also said the plan is misguided and that local control is important because elected officials possess the granular information to make decisions that are the best for the community.

“The point that my colleagues have made is that different areas have different challenges and require different solutions,” he said. “But we’re not here to engage in scare tactics, and this isn’t NIMBYism, we’re just trying to say a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t going to work community by community in the same way.”

Kornreich added plans are already in the works to “revitalize and redevelop a true downtown area around the train station in Port Jefferson Station, just one stop down the line from here, and create a walkable neighborhood with diverse housing stock that people can actually afford.”

The councilmember said near the Stony Brook station, where the press conference took place, “is not a downtown that can bear any real intensity.”

He added there are no privately held plots around the Three Village train station  large enough for major development.

Jane Taylor, executive director of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, said housing plans need to take into consideration local zoning, location and consider community support. 

“Being told by the state that we have to do it creates landmines for those of us who live here,” Taylor said. “We’ve got concerns about sewers, our water supply. Those are all things that are very important and need to be addressed.”

Gloria Rocchio, WMHO president, thanked Romaine for “shining a spotlight” on the issue.

“While Long Islanders, traveling back and forth to work trying to make a living, not really knowing what’s happening, this negative zoning proposal is looming,” she said. “It will change our beautiful Island forever. The reason that Long Island is the way it is now is because of local elected officials working together with residents.”

The Stony Brook-based nonprofit Cooking for Long Island Veterans held its first 5K race at Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown on Sunday, Oct. 9.

A few dozen runners, including volunteers with Cooking for Long Island Veterans, took to the park’s paths to help raise money for the organization. The goal is to raise funds for expenses and a possible future expansion.

On hand to cheer on the runners were nonprofit founder Rena Sylvester, Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy and county Comptroller John Kennedy.

Keith Masso, upper center photo, was the overall winner of the race, and Alison Briggs, upper right photo, was the first woman over the finishing line.

For more information about Cooking for Long Island Veterans and upcoming events, visit   cooking4livets.com.

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Suffolk County police car. File photo

Suffolk County police arrested a teenager after he allegedly made a school threat on social media the night of Sept. 15.

A 14-year-old male allegedly made threats on social media stating that he was going to bring weapons to R.C. Murphy Junior High School, located at 351 Oxhead Road, Stony Brook, and harm students and faculty.

Following an investigation, Sixth Squad detectives arrested the juvenile last night at his residence. He
was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for evaluation. He was charged with making a
terrorist threat and arraigned at Family Court in Central Islip today.

No weapons were found in the teen’s home.

In an email to district parents on Sept. 16, Superintendent Kevin Scanlon said the district was notified of the threatening post the night before and notified the Suffolk County Police Department.

“Our district will continue to cooperate with the members of law enforcement,” Scanlon said. “We will take appropriate disciplinary and legal action against the party responsible in accordance with our Code of Conduct and New York State Law, respectively. ”

SCPD was at the junior high school throughout the day Sept. 16, according to Scanlon.

The Three Village area and downtown Port Jefferson were filled with local history buffs Saturday, Sept. 10.

Culper Spy Day, presented by the Three Village Historical Society and Tri-Spy Tours in collaboration with more than 30 local historical and cultural organizations, returned in full force for its eighth annual event. Due to COVID-19, organizers hosted a downsized version last year and a virtual presentation in 2020.

The spy day celebrates Gen. George Washington’s spies who operated in Three Village and the surrounding area during the Revolutionary War.

The majority of activities, such as reenactments, readings, docent- and self-guided tours and more, took place on the grounds of the Three Village Historical Society headquarters. Other sites included Setauket Neighborhood House, Patriots Rock, Caroline Church and cemetery, Setauket Presbyterian Church and cemetery, Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, Setauket Elementary School auditorium, Sherwood-Jayne House, The Long Island Museum and Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum in Port Jefferson.

Mari Irizarry, TVHS director, said she estimated around 1,300 people visited the historical society grounds on Sept. 10.

Margo Arceri, of Tri-Spy Tours, said Irizarry was a huge help spearheading the planning of many of the activities. Arceri said she was grateful for all the volunteers, sponsor Heritage Spy Ring Golf Club and participating organizations, who were not just locally based but from all over Long Island, who made it a success. 

“We’re all telling our part of the Revolutionary story,” she said.

Arceri added she was impressed by the people from all different age groups she met at the event and showed interest in the Culper spies.

“This is not just one age group that enjoys and is attracted to this story,” she said. “It’s really for all ages.”

TVHS historian Beverly Tyler said he also noticed the age range of attendees.

“They were absorbing everything, asking questions and even proudly telling us their connections with ancestors in the Revolutionary War or things they have from the colonial period,” he said.

Tyler said he also saw children fascinated by demonstrations that included writing and mailing a letter in colonial times and hearing stories about youngsters during the era as well as recent local history.

In Port Jeff village, local historians greeted visitors with a tour of the Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum, a structure that dates back to the 18th century. 

The museum has been relocated twice before finding its way to its current resting place at the intersection of West Broadway and Barnum Avenue. During the Revolution, it was the former home of Phillips Roe, a known member in the Culper Spy Ring.

Mark Sternberg, the spy ring historian at Drowned Meadow Cottage, said he was elated by the day’s success and the public’s degree of interest.

“It has been awesome to have so much new information to share with people, specifically about [Phillips, Nathaniel and John] Roe and their involvement in the Culper Spy Ring,” he said. “A lot of Port Jeff residents don’t know that Drowned Meadow had such an important role during the Revolution, so the response has been great — and we have had so many people.”

Irizarry said she enjoyed all the organizations taking part in the day to tell their Revolutionary War stories. She added organizations such as Four Harbors Audubon Society discussed making ink from natural products, and Sweetbriar Nature Center representatives talked about birds of prey that existed during the 18th century.

“It wasn’t just talking about the spies and the war, but it was really just talking about life during the 18th century, which is the bigger picture also, which was nice to see,” Irizarry said.

Additional reporting by Raymond Janis.

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Photo from The Stony Brook School

By D. Bruce Lockerbie

On Sept. 13, The Stony Brook School marks the 100th anniversary of inaugural ceremonies that, in 1922, made the front pages of national newspapers. Here’s the backstory.

The Stony Brook School’s Frank E. Gaebelein, center, board and faculty members, and students in 1922. Below right, Frank E. Gaebelein in 1963 the year of his retirement after 41 years as headmaster. Photo from The Stony Brook School

Early in the 20th century, Presbyterian pastors decided to follow the example of Methodists, establishing summer conferences to instruct Sunday school teachers for the next year’s Bible lessons. The most prominent voice belonged to the Rev. John Fleming Carson, whose Brooklyn congregation was the second largest in the country. Carson had a summer home on Christian Avenue in Stony Brook — now the Stony Brook Community Church’s administration building — and so recommended locating the proposed Presbyterian enterprise here.

His colleagues agreed and, in 1907, acting as the Stony Brook Assembly, began buying property: What we know as the Three Village Inn, along with “riparian rights” to Sand Street Beach and a large tract of land opposite the railroad station. By 1909, the Assembly was ready for its first season, held in a tent where the North Shore Montessori School stands today, at 218 Christian Ave.

The next year a “tabernacle,” modeled after popular evangelist Billy Sunday’s contemporary venues, was constructed — then the largest meeting space on Long Island. Summer-long attendance soared into the thousands as world-renowned preachers and other public figures came to speak. Guests from across the continent swarmed to the site, building summer cottages and even impressively large homes in the surrounding area. By 1918, two hotels had been added on the grounds. The Assembly’s influx of “summer people” had replaced shipbuilding as Stony Brook’s economic cornerstone.

From its outset, however, the Assembly had also weighed founding a school to occupy its facilities year-round. World War I delayed that decision, but by 1920 the Assembly board was ready to act. Their priority was to appoint a founding headmaster to execute faithfully the Assembly’s “Platform of Principles,” a creed-like document still in effect for every member of the board, administration and faculty, affirming its theological beliefs.

Among other nominees, the board chose Frank E. Gaebelein, a 22-year-old Harvard University graduate student. At a glance, he seemed stunningly unqualified for the job. Brilliant but painfully shy and handicapped by stammering speech, he had never set foot on the campus of an independent boarding school, and had never taken a course in education or administration. His only apparent assets were as a classical pianist — taught by a pupil of German composer Johannes Brahms — and his early avocation as an Alpine mountaineer.

Nonetheless the Assembly founders saw in this young man a deep spirituality and evidences of promise to be fulfilled over the next 60 years as a pioneering Christian educator and internationally respected spokesman for such schools.

The Rev. John Fleming Carson (1911) founder of Stony Brook Assembly and The Stony Brook School

Gaebelein spent a year developing his philosophy of schooling, hiring a faculty and recruiting students from families willing to risk their sons’ education by a novice. Expecting 100 boys, he enrolled only 27, scattered in grades 4 through 12, for whom he had already hired nine teachers. They would all reside and study in Hopkins Hall, one of the summer hotels but without central heating.

On Sept. 13, 1922, the auditorium swelled with supportive constituents and the merely curious for the inaugural ceremonies. Francis L. Patton, president of both Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, described “The Fourth R,” meaning religion, but the founding headmaster gave a more interesting address, stating his vision for “a grand experiment” in straightforward language.

Gaebelein’s remarks were historic and unique because his message ran counter to what leaders of every other college-preparatory school of that era would proclaim. To be sure, many of them were church-related, some with ordained clergy as headmasters, most with religious-sounding mottoes and even daily chapel services. But none would have dared to declare — as did Gaebelein on that inaugural day — that The Stony Brook School would strive to be both an academically demanding college-preparatory school and a place where its motto “Character Before Career” is set in a context of biblical teaching and example.

Over its history, the Assembly ceased its conferences in 1958, the school added female students in 1971, Frank E. Gaebelein Hall was built in 1982 and the number of day students has increased substantially. This year, some 440 students come from across the U.S. and 20 other nations.

Regarding this notable year, Joshua Crane, today’s head of school, said, “Our centennial year has been a remarkable time of reflection and celebration for The Stony Brook School as we consider the wisdom of our founders, the hard work and selfless dedication of our faculty and staff, and the students who have been the beneficiaries of an outstanding, rigorous education steeped in the Christian faith.”

The school will celebrate Founders’ Day on Friday, Sept. 16, at The Waterview at Port Jefferson Country Club.

Bruce Lockerbie served on the administration and faculty of The Stony Brook School for 34 years. He is author of 40 books, including “The Way They Should Go” (Oxford University Press, 1972), a history of the school’s first 50 years, and editor of Frank E. Gaebelein’s posthumous collection of essays, “The Christian, the Arts, and Truth” (Multnomah Press, 1984).

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Students in the Three Village Central School District returned to their buildings on Sept. 6 for the first day of school. Administrators, teachers and staff members welcomed students and led them to their classrooms for a day full of introductions and activities.

From the youngest students in the district to the Class of 2023, everyone was excited to start the new school year.

This academic year will resemble scholarly life before COVID-19 a bit more as the New York State Department of Health has lifted restrictions such as masks, social distancing and mandatory quarantines if exposed to someone with the virus.

A monarch butterfly rests on Theresa Germaine’s finger before taking flight. Photo by Rita J. Egan

A Stony Brook resident is doing her part to help the ecosystem, one monarch butterfly at a time.

The monarch before leaving its enclosure. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Theresa Germaine knew she had to keep busy when the pandemic shut down practically everything in 2020. Pre-COVID-19, the now 83-year-old traveled frequently, and when she wasn’t making trips, Germaine split her time between New York City and Stony Brook, where she shares a house with her sister.

When everything shut down, the retired educator decided Long Island was the best place to be. Shortly after, she decided to grow milkweed, a flowering perennial plant, in her garden and encourage the growth of the monarch butterfly population. Not only did she attract the butterflies with the milkweed — the only place they will lay their eggs on — she also took their eggs and nurtured them.

“There are so many negative things going on in the world that you have to find some way to make yourself feel good about something,” Germaine said.

The butterflies, distinguished by their orange and black coloring with white spots, have recently been added to The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. The environmental network considers the monarchs an endangered species, even though the U.S. itself has not yet added the pollinators to its endangered-species list.

a caterpillar feeding. Photo from Theresa Germaine

When the pandemic shutdowns struck, Germaine read about the monarch butterflies and how to attract and raise them. This year marked the third year of her garden and, once again, she has been busy looking for the tiny eggs, about the size of a pin, under the milkweed leaves where the butterflies lay them. She then brings them inside her home where she puts the eggs and leaves in a container.

After the eggs hatch, they emerge as caterpillars and are very small. Germaine puts them in mesh butterfly tents bought online along with pieces of milkweed from her garden in tubes to feed them. She has a few of the enclosures to handle each stage, from the caterpillar — larva stage — to pupa, where they form a chrysalis around themselves, and then the emergence of the butterfly. 

Germaine said once the monarch butterfly appears, it climbs up the side of the cage and needs time for its wings to dry. Once the monarch begins fluttering around the enclosure, she knows it’s time to release them outside. She brings the enclosure outside and allows the creatures to leave at their will.

“I’ve always kind of been a Girl Scout type of person,” Germaine said. “I was a Girl Scout when I was young, and I always had an interest in nature.”

A butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. Photo from Theresa Germaine

While she nurtured a dozen of the pollinators in 2020, last year she released 41 and this year so far, 45. She said she estimates that approximately 10 more butterflies will emerge before the summer ends.

Over the last couple of years, Germaine has purchased more milkweed plants, and the perennials have become more robust over time.

A native of the Bronx, she taught in Manhattan for nearly 30 years, and was an assistant principal for two years in the borough. She retired in 1995, and she said she never chose to get married or have children. Germaine said while many her age may be busy with grandchildren; she was keeping herself busy with her travels and entertainment. The raising of the monarchs has been a welcomed activity.

“As you get older, it’s very important that you have a purpose in life,” she said.

Her hope is that everyone will grow a little milkweed in their garden to help the monarchs. She said while it’s not the most attractive plant, even a small garden with the flower in a corner of one’s property can make a difference. While the eggs have a better chance of surviving inside — more than 80% — just having milkweed can increase the monarch butterfly anywhere between 3% to 10%, Germaine said based on her research.

“If everybody did their part, we would see more butterflies,” she said. “And who does not love to see a butterfly?”

Alleged suspects were seen driving what appears to be a light-colored sedan. Photos from SCPD

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are seeking the public’s help to identify and locate the people responsible for stealing wallets and cash from unlocked cars in the Sixth Precinct in June.

Two individuals allegedly have been involved in multiple grand larcenies in the Setauket, Terryville, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson areas. The unknown persons allegedly entered the cars and stole wallets containing cash, credit and debit cards, and licenses. They were seen driving what appears to be a light-colored sedan.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, utilizing a mobile app which can be downloaded through the App Store or Google Play by searching P3 Tips, or online at www.P3Tips.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.