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Shoreham-Wading River running-back David Tedesco cuts to the outside in the Wildcats 34-20 D-IV championship win April 24. Bill Landon photo

It was Shoreham-Wading River’s Jake Wilson who put the exclamation point on the Wildcats undefeated season, when the running-back powered his way into the endzone four times to lead his team to a 34-20 victory in the D-IV Suffolk Championship against Mount Sinai April 24.

Wilson a senior went out on top compiling 106 yards rushing on 13 carries to conclude his high school varsity football career. Senior quarterback Chris Visintin shined putting the crown on his varsity football career with a 30-yard touchdown run while amassing 114 yards on 9 carries.

Mount Sinai seniors Matthew Graffeo and Derek Takacs both found the endzone as did teammate Gavin Takacs for the Mustangs. The team concludes their 2021 campaign at 3-2 as the Wildcats finished at 6-0.

With this COVID-shortened season, Saturday completed the “fall” season for all Suffolk County varsity sports where competition for spring sports begins May 3.

 Photos by Bill Landon 

File photo

Suffolk County Police arrested a high school teacher for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a student this week.

Following an investigation by Special Victims Section detectives, Veronica Pezdan was pulled over and arrested on southbound William Floyd Parkway after she left Shoreham-Wading River High School at approximately 11 a.m. 

Police said Pezdan teaches mathematics at the school and engaged in a sexual relationship with a male student during the past two months.

Pezdan, 28, of Holbrook, was charged with two counts of Rape 3rd Degree and two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. 

She was held overnight at the 4th Precinct for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip on April 20.

Sophomore Morgan Truesdell attacks at net for Shoreham-Wading River in a home game against Islip April 12. Photo by Bill Landon

The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats had their hands full at home in a League V contest with Islip and despite leading the Buccaneers briefly in the second set, fell 25-21, 25-20 and 25-6 April 12. The loss drops Shoreham-Wading River to 5-9 on the season eliminating any possibility of post season play.

The Wildcats retake the court in a home game April 15 before traveling to Hampton Bays the following day to conclude their season. First service is 4p.m. and 6p.m. respectively. 

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Photo and caption from SWRCSD

The Shoreham-Wading River High School senior boys soccer players were applauded during their final home game on April 5.

The school district congratulates senior players Ryan Burnham-Clasen, Danny Canellys, Zach Dapolito, Kevin Doolan, Connor Guercia, Michael Guzzone, Tyler Hawks, Aul Loscalzo, Austin Manghan, John Martirano, Josef Ochsenfeld, John Pion and Matteo Sweet for a successful season of sportsmanship.

Shoreham-Wading River junior Max Barone breaks free and goes the distance in a road game against Mt. Sinai Mar. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

Last season, which was a year-and-a-half ago, Mount Sinai dealt Shoreham-Wading River their only loss of the regular season and the Wildcats weren’t about to let that happen again, blanking the Mustangs 28-0 on the road March 19.

Senior Johnny Schwarz found the endzone on a 36-yard pass from senior quarterback Chris Visintin and punched in again from 8 yards out for a 14-0 lead. Visintin connected with Jake Wilson on a 10-yard pass play in the 3rd quarter and found Max Barone on a 22 yarder late in the game. Jake Ekert’s foot was perfect on the night splitting the uprights all four times.

The win lifts the Wildcats to 2-0 with 3 games remaining while Mount Sinai opens their season 0-1 after they were forced to postpone their season opener due to one or more players testing positive for COVID-19.

Shoreham-Wading River is back in action in another road game against Miller Place March 26 with a 6:30 start and the Mustangs hit the road the following day against Islip. Game time is 2:00 p.m.                 Photos by Bill Landon 

 

 

 

From left, Frank Franzese, Dr. Don Heberer and David Rebori are Comsewogue’s tech team responsible for transitioning the school into online/hybrid learning. Photo from Heberer

Sometimes it takes a village – sometimes it takes a whole district.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, workers in North Shore school districts had to buckle down and create a new game plan from early on. March saw the closure of schools and the introduction of distance learning. September brought a return to in-person, but a host of new issues.

With constantly changing guidelines, they had to reconstruct their plans. Superintendents had to lead their districts to continue learning and to keep their students safe, while teachers, librarians, custodians, librarians and so many more worked and sacrificed to do the best they could, often exceeding what was expected. 

Gerard Poole, superintendent of Shoreham-Wading River school district, said it was a collaborative effort. 

Superintendent Gerard Poole. Photo from SWR school district

“So much had to happen for all of this had to be in place for the start of the school year,” he said. “Administrators who didn’t take any time off this summer, to teachers who had to move around classrooms. There were a lot of things that had to be done.”

One of those things that were applauded by community members was the reopening of the vacant Briarcliff Elementary School in Shoreham, which helped increase social distancing and lower the class sizes.  Poole said that in June, after they learned the 6-foot requirement between students and their desks was going to be in place, by opening up the formerly closed school they could have every student in five days a week.

But the superintendent stressed they couldn’t have done it alone. The school board was instrumental in making this happen, maintenance workers helped move supplies and nurses were there early on ready to work. 

“It was an easy academic decision to make, but equally as important socially and emotionally,” he said. “This year seems now like a major win.” 

And while SWR had to implement a plan to reopen a closed school, Cheryl Pedisich, superintendent of Three Village school district, said early in the spring the district formed a committee that would look at the narrative, and implement a school opening plan with the ultimate goal to go back to school, as normal, five days a week.  

“The issue of health and safety was most important,” she said. 

Pedisich said they initially developed a hybrid model, but the more she and her colleagues discussed it, they became concerned of the lack of continuity, also the mental, emotional and social impacts being on a screen would have on students. 

Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich. Photo from Three Village Central School District

“We wanted to bring our students back to school,” she said. “What we experienced during the spring were a lot of students’ mental health [issues]. The children felt very isolated — it was hard to connect. There was a lot of frustration in terms in the remote learning.”

By creating an education plan early on that opened the school up to five days a week head on, the district was able to hire more staff, and prepare for socially distanced learning. 

“Even though they’re wearing masks, they’re happy to be there,” Pedisich said. “We’ve had cases like anyone else, but no more cases than districts that went hybrid.”

And schools that run independently also had to figure out how to cope with these unprecedented times, including Sunshine Prevention Center in Port Jefferson Station, a nonprofit that offers an alternative education program. The CEO, Carol Carter, said they had to work with staff to handle the change. 

“We provided support to the staff and a strong leadership to the staff, so the teachers felt comfortable,” she said. “Then we did training on it. They had to learn along with us as we’re learning — they’re learning how to run classes online, how to put homework online and how to communicate with the students.”

While their school has a very small staff, they continued to help kids who were struggling at home. 

 “We would try and reach out to students and their families almost daily,” Holly Colomba, an English and science teacher at Sunshine said. “We were trying to check in, whether it’s with their mental health or educationally, just trying to keep in contact with them and let them know we’re still here — and that we were there to help them.”

And technology was huge in every district as the COVID pandemic was navigated. Joe Coniglione, assistant superintendent at Comsewogue School District, said the district wouldn’t be running smoothly without the help and initiative from the technology department.

 “These guys made it possible with going remote and doing hybrid instruction,” he said. “They orchestrated training every teacher in the district and worked around the clock to make sure kids were learning. They went way above and beyond to help us operate in time.”

From left, Frank Franzese, Dr. Don Heberer and David Rebori are Comsewogue’s tech team responsible for transitioning the school into online/hybrid learning. Photo from Heberer

Don Heberer, Comsewogue district administrator for instructional technology, said he remembered the day well. It was March 13 and he was at John F. Kennedy Middle School, scrambling and making sure every student had a device to use at home. They delivered about 300 Chromebooks to families who didn’t have devices. 

“I relied on my staff,” he said.  “And our number one focus was how can we make learning possible.”

Heberer and his colleagues — Jan Condon, David Rebori and Frank Franzese — made sure that communication was getting out to members of the community, students and their families. Teachers were constantly being trained and students were able to access their work online.

“We were in the middle of a crisis,” he said. “We have to remember people are losing their jobs, their lives, their entire livelihood. It’s important to be empathetic to that and doing everything we can to make it a little easier — students, teachers, parents and the community.”

He said they kept people in the loop using the districts app, which has roughly 7,000 people logged in. 

School librarians, too, had to change shape to keep kids reading. 

Monica DiGiovanni, a librarian at Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School in Rocky Point, said she and her colleagues focused this year on teaching students Sora, a reading app by OverDrive. 

She said that Sora is an electronic version of their library, so kids would still be able to access books and read them on their Chromebooks. 

Along with DiGiovanni, Rocky Point librarians Jessica Sciarrone, Catherine O’Connell and Bettina Tripp have been responsible teaching students how to use the system since the school library cannot be used due to the pandemic. 

Monica DiGiovanni, the school librarian in the Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School, was instrumental in getting kids e-books during COVID.
Photo from DiGiovanni

“As librarians, we were like, ‘Oh gosh we can’t give them books?’ That was a huge issue,” DiGiovanni said. 

After researching platforms to get them e-books, all four librarians decided to devote most of their library budget to the electronic reads.

“There’s so much that books provide that children get out of it,” DiGiovanni said. “They enjoy going to other places — fantasy worlds — so they can get that now with e-books.”

She said they’re definitely utilizing the service. 

“Some kids prefer them,” she added. “They like to be able to finish a book and go onto something new right away.”

At Port Jefferson high school, the Varsity Club is traditionally a group that inspires a sense of community involvement in student-athletes. Teachers and advisers to the club — Jesse Rosen and Deirdre Filippi — said that what their students usually do to get involved with the community was altered or canceled because of the pandemic. 

“As a result, some new events were created by our students and we found alternate ways of giving back to the community,” Filippi said. “We were especially impressed by the fact that our students saw this phase of their life as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle.”

Along with reading programs paired with the elementary school, Edna Louise Spear,  and hanging of flags on 9/11 and Veterans Day, the club hosted a Halloween trick-or-treat drive-thru event at the elementary school. 

“Oftentimes, when we feel somewhat helpless about our own situations, the best thing we can do is help those around us,” Filippi said. “This event was a perfect representation of our club´s mentality.”

A good part of the community came to the school to experience a unique and safe trick-or-treating experience. 

Students from the Port Jefferson Varsity Club during their drive-thru trick or treat event. Photo from PJ School District

“The idea was simple, the communal impact was overwhelming,” she said. “This speaks to what we try to achieve as educators. Our students recognized an opportunity within our community and they developed and executed a plan perfectly.”

The impact the club and its students made was overwhelming for Rosen and Filippi. 

“As educators, the actions of our students often inspire us,” Filippi said. “It is rewarding to see our students take the initiative and do whatever they can to put a smile on the face of their fellow students and community members.”

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Leading the way for the Wildcats’ golf team was senior co-captain Gavin Melandro, a six-year varsity veteran and four-year All-League player, who lived up to his No. 1 position on the team winning his match by shooting a 43 against Longwood at Spring Lake Golf Club, Middle Island, Oct. 8. Kevin Beagan, a senior and co-captain of the team, shined from the No. 6 position defeating his opponent by three strokes. Andrew Vignola, who according to coach Rich Muller is the most consistent player, shot a 48 and is vying for a spot on the final six-man roster for postseason tournament play. Freshman Timmy Manzello, the No. 1 player for the JV squad, made his varsity debut in exhibition play. Muller said he deserved to be brought up, adding that Manzello shot a respectable 56. 

Longwood beat Shoreham-Wading River 7-2.

The Wildcats are back on the links Oct. 11 at Great Rock Golf Club in Wading River where they’ll take on Mount Sinai at 4 p.m. to conclude their regular season.

“I hope to have as many individuals qualify for the county tournament by playing well at leagues and having the team qualify would be special,” Muller said. “I have high expectations for my top three: Gavin Melandro, Tristan Costello, who didn’t play today, and Andrew Vignola to make the county’s. Depending on conditions, and what player shows up, we should do well.”

Photos clockwise from top left: Melandro sinks a putt on the ninth green; senior co-captain Matt Baylous with his tee shot on the 10th hole; senior co-captain Will Cutinella with his approach shot to the ninth hole; Liam Daly, a senior co-captain, chips onto the green; and Manzello chips onto the ninth green. 

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Junior wide receiver Tyler Schwarz breaks to the outside in downing Bayport-Blue Point in the Wildcats opener Sept 6. Photo by Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River School District announced it is putting its top coach back on the field.

Varsity football coach Aden Smith, far right, was removed from the team by district officials just before a game against Bayport-Bluepoint Sept. 6. Photo from SWR

In an email release, Superintendent Gerard Poole said they would be reinstating Aden Smith as the head coach of the varsity football team starting back next Monday.

“The district has decided to reinstate the varsity football team’s head coach, effective September 23,” Poole said in a statement. “We are proud of our team which is off to a great start this year.  We thank the assistant coaches who stepped up to lead the team until now, and we look forward to a continued great season.”

Smith was removed from his position after an alleged incident during a pre-season multi-team scrimmage at Islip high school. Players had got involved in what was described as a “scuffle,” and coach Smith had allegedly become involved. At a school board meeting Sept. 13 nearly the entire football team showed up in their jerseys to support the coach, saying his only intent was to defend his players.

“That day of the scuffle, he did nothing but stand up for his players,” team captain and quarterback Xavier Arline said during the board meeting. “If a scuffle is going to happen, we rely on our coach — we expect our coach to come to the rescue. If we can’t count on him, who can we count on?”

Smith, a teacher at the Longwood School District, did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.

While Smith was removed, the two assistant coaches took up the task of running the team, leading them to two convincing wins against Bayport-Blue Point and Port Jefferson.

With the reinstatement date set for Sept. 23, Smith will miss the third game of the season against Southampton set to take place Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. 

Smith will then retake the field Sept. 27 at home in a game against Elwood/John Glenn. Game time is set for 6 p.m.

 

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By Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River’s girls basketball team had their work cut out for them in an out-bracket playoff game against Sayville Feb. 11. The Wildcats had faced Sayville twice during the regular season and lost by 19 and 22 points, respectively. However, this was a different Wildcat team with a swarming defense that held Sayville at bay, leading by five at the half and then by three to open the 4th quarter. Sayville was able to tie the game with 4 minutes left as both teams struggled to find the rim. Tied at 41 all with six seconds left, the officials called a foul on the Wildcats, sending Sayville to the line shooting two. Sayville made the first but missed the second as the Wildcats rebounded the ball with less than four seconds remaining. SWR managed to get a shot off, but it missed its mark as time expired in a heartbreaking 42-41 loss.

Co-captain and senior Michele Corona led the way for the Wildcats with 22 points, fellow co-captain Abby Korzekwinski, a junior, netted 8 while eighth-grader GraceAnn Leonard banked six. The loss concludes the Wildcats season with a 9-10 record in League V with a 9-12 record overall. 

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.