Tag Archive | "North Sea"

Immigration Reform Rally in Southampton on Sunday

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The East End Immigrant Advocates (EEIA), a local outreach and advocacy organization celebrating its first anniversary, is hosting a rally for Comprehensive Immigration Reform on Sunday, December 8. Speakers at the rally will include Anita Halasz, Executive Director of L.I. Jobs with Justice, and Ana Martinez, an attorney, member of the Brentwood School board and community organizer. The rally will be held next Sunday, December 8 at 1:30 pm at Lola Prentiss Park, 151 Windmill Lane (opposite Waldbaum’s grocery), in Southampton Village. EEIA invites immigrants, neighbors, and friends to show support for this national cause and send a message to Speaker John Boehner to allow H.R. Bill 15 on Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) to come up for a vote.

The Senate passed its CIR bill by a large majority in June. The bi-partisan bill was introduced by New York Senator Charles Schumer, along with Arizona Senator John McCain, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham and other senators from both parties. The Senate and House CIR bills both include a path to citizenship for adults that would likely take as long as 13 years. Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, would be able to earn green cards in five years, as would some agricultural workers. The bills also call for increases in border security and an E-Verify system to prevent businesses from hiring unauthorized workers. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that CIR would reduce the deficit by as much as $900 million.

Speaker Boehner has declined to let the bill come to the floor for a vote.

“We are all immigrants,” says Sister Mary Beth Moore, of Sisters of Charity, and a founder of EEIA, one of the sponsors of the December 8 Southampton rally. “Seventy-one percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, an expanded visa program and legal status for immigrants. We want immigrants to know this and draw hope and faith from our rally.”

From Clara to the Snow Queen, a Ballerina Grows Up

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Rose Kelly as the Snow Queen in the 2012 performance of the Nutcracker.

Rose Kelly as the Snow Queen in the 2012 performance of the Nutcracker.

By Tessa Raebeck

The beautiful swan dances across the stage, slowly succumbing to a graceful death as the ballerina’s performance brings the audience to tears. When the curtain is called, the room whispers its wonder over where the Hampton Ballet Theatre School (HBTS) found such a talented professional. As she bows, the ballerina smiles; it appears this professional has braces.

Just 14 years old and in her freshman year of high school, Rose Kelly has been dancing with Sara Jo Strickland, affectionately called Miss Sara by her dancers at HBTS, since she was a toddler.

“I feel very special,” said Miss Sara, surrounded by young dancers in her Bridgehampton studio, “because I’ve developed her for years and to see it pay off…it’s happening.”

Before she could read or write, Rose could dance. As she grew, so did her dedication.

Throughout the years, Rose’s mother, Rachel Kelly, would ask her time and again, “Do you want to do ballet?”

“Of course I want to do ballet,” her daughter would respond. “Are you kidding me?”

When Miss Sara decided to open her own school, HBTS, in 2007, the Kelly’s followed her there.

“I’ve done it with her my whole life,” Rose says of Miss Sara. “So she is very special to me. A very special person and teacher and I feel like I have a connection with her.”

That connection was forged over the years through countless hours of studio time. Rose is in Miss Sara’s studio almost every day. She takes four ballet classes and one point class each week, in addition to rehearsal time for a spring show, “Peter and the Wolf” in the summer and “The Nutcracker” each holiday season.

When HBTS did its inaugural Nutcracker performance in 2009, Rose, about 10 at the time, was the school’s first Clara.

“That was fun for me to give her that role,” says Miss Sara, smiling at her pupil. “It’s a great memory,” adds Rose.

Next weekend, HBTS will present its fifth annual production of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic. It is the company’s biggest performance yet, with a cast of over 100 dancers. This year, Rose has advanced to play the Snow Queen, Marzipan and the Dew Drop Princess.

A younger Rose Kelly as Clara.

A younger Rose Kelly as Clara.

“I’m very excited,” said Miss Sara, “because I see all those years from two and a half up are now coming to fruition.”

Rose will dance the Dew Drop number with her longtime dance partner Vincenzo James Harty, who has also been dancing with Miss Sara since he was a toddler. Along with Rose and Harty, three other girls, Maggie Swan and twins Caitlin and Abigail Hubbell, form a group of veteran HBTS dancers Miss Sara considers the leaders of her school.

“When you watch them in class dancing together,” said Miss Sara. “It’s like they are the same people…they have the same style.”

Last year was the first time the group danced timed on point (on the very tips of their toes) and this year their technique has “jumped two levels,” their teacher said.

“Their training has brought them to a new level, so I’m just excited to see them step on stage with renewed confidence,” said Miss Sara, beaming with pride. “So not only do I have this great older group, all the younger kids are following them…they really set a great example.”

In preparation for “The Nutcracker,” Miss Sara’s group of leaders have attended rehearsals, which can last up to three hours, every Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday – in addition to the five classes they take each week.

One would think Rose, who is in the studio every day, would revel in her rare time off, but she misses ballet on the days she doesn’t dance.

“When we have a break and we don’t have ballet,” Rose said, “I feel kind of like there’s nothing to do.”

When asked what her favorite part of ballet is, she cannot pin down one answer.

Rose Kelly as the Swan in the Carnival of Animals last spring.

Rose Kelly as the Swan in the Carnival of Animals last spring.

“I love the music and I love the dances and just how you move to it,” she said, adding, “I just love everything about dance.”

That love has been evident since the beginning.

“There are certain kids that have personalities that kind of relate to ballet,” explained Miss Sara. “She just had that calmness and the regimen didn’t bother her. She could pay attention at a young age…She just took to it – the music, the training – it just came really naturally to her…She just loves it, as you can tell.”

The love of dance is fundamental to HBTS and Miss Sara’s teaching philosophy. Her signature style, which focuses on freely dancing from the heart rather than being bound by strict technique, is well represented in her pupils.

The HBTS style was epitomized by Rose’s performance as the swan in last year’s spring show, “Carnival of Animals.”

“Talk about…using her technique to create something beautiful,” said Miss Sara.

“Watching her grow up has been amazing.”

The Hampton Ballet Theatre School will present Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” on Friday, December 13 at 7 p.m., Saturday, December 14 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 15 at 2 p.m. at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton. Tickets can be reserved by calling 1-888-933-4287 or visiting hamptonballettheatreschool.com.

Split East Hampton Town Board Adopts Airport Capital Improvement Plan

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The East Hampton Town Board adopted a capital improvement plan for the East Hampton Airport during a work session Tuesday — a roadmap for $5.26 million in repairs and improvements consultants suggest be made to airport facilities over the course of the next five years.

Originally, the capital improvement plan (CIP) — unveiled just before a November 21 public hearing on the proposals — called for $10.45 million in airport repairs and projects over a five-year period. The adopted CIP was cut to $5.26 million with 15 proposed projects removed from the plan as they were not a part of the town board approved Airport Master Plan or Airport Layout Plan, both of which were vetted through environmental review.

The CIP was approved by the outgoing Republican majority of the town board. Airport liaison Dominick Stanzione, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley voted in support of the plan, with Democrats Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc voting against adopting the CIP.

East Hampton Airport manager Jim Brundige said the CIP is meant to highlight what projects are necessary at the airport. Quigley also noted that approving the CIP does not mean the board is approving any of the projects laid out in plan, or how has made a decision about how they will be funded. Rather she called the approval a “first step” in moving towards improvements at the airport first identified in the town’s airport master plan.

However, both Overby and Van Scoyoc expressed concerns about a footnote in the document that references Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding. The CIP, according to testimony given by town aviation consultant Dennis Yap at the November 21 public hearing on the plan, will be submitted to the FAA. Van Scoyoc said he was concerned submitting the plan to the FAA was the first step towards securing additional grants from that agency for airport projects.

“It’s not a necessary step for us to send it to the FAA unless we are pursuing funding from the FAA,” he said.

For several years now, a number of residents and members of the Quiet Skies Coalition have encouraged the town board not to accept FAA funding as they believe when grant assurances expire in December of 2014 the town has the ability to gain greater control of the airport, including the potential to impose curfews or restrict certain aircraft.

Sag Harbor Planning Board Reviews Proposal for Aquaponic Farm at Page at 63 Main

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The farm-to-table movement has flourished on the East End for decades, many restaurants boasting kitchen gardens to supply fresh, seasonal produce to diner’s plates. For Gerard Wawryk, an owner of Page at 63 Main, while a traditional kitchen garden is out of reach for the Main Street, Sag Harbor space, he has proposed a greenhouse that would employ aquaponic farming on the second and third floor of the restaurant building.

Aquaponics is farming that combines hydroponics — cultivating plants in water — with aquaculture — raising aquatic animals, in this case fish — in a symbiotic environment where the water from the aquaculture system is fed into the hydroponic system. Nitrates and nitrites created by fish by-products serve as a nutrient for the growing plants.

According to attorney Dennis Downes, representing Wawryk at a Sag Harbor Planning Board work session on Tuesday, November 26, this concept is something Wawryk has been exploring since 2006. It is only now, said Downes, that Wawryk finds himself in the financial position to move forward with the plan, which he has been developing with the help of the Town of Southampton’s Sustainability Committee.

As a result of the project, the footprint of the building will not change, but will remain at 3,860 square feet. The proposal aims to add 835 square feet of space to the existing second floor (which does not meet the full footprint of the building) for a seeding area and construct a 481 square foot greenhouse on the rear portion of the third floor. The second story of the building will also serve as a roof garden for the restaurant.

The number of seats in the restaurant is not increasing, nor is the existing apartment, noted Downes, meaning the project does not need additional parking or wastewater treatment to move forward.

“The vegetables that will be grown will be used on the site,” added Downes. “This is not where he is going to be growing vegetables and selling them on the open market.”

Because the project will push the building size over 4,000 square-feet it will have to be reviewed under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) as a type one action, meaning the planning board will have to assess whether or not the project carries the potential to cause a significant adverse environmental impact.

The Southampton Town Sustainability Committee, added Downes, is in favor of the project and has hopes other restaurants will be able to look at sustainable food systems like aquaponics to cultivate produce.

According to Terry Chappel, a consultant working on the project, the aquaponic system is closed loop, and is considered a low-density system or one that uses a minimal amount of fish to produce the nitrites and nitrates needed for the vegetables.

“We are essentially using the fish to start a biological cycle, a nitrification cycle, and it’s a very sustainable way of doing this because we are not having to import salt based chemicals from Morocco, which is normally the case,” he said.

“It’s very easy, low labor, simple and clean,” added Chappel.

The restaurant, he added, will be limited in what it can grow in the aquaponic system and will focus primarily on leafy greens. Seasonal beds are planned for the second floor and more conventional vegetables like tomatoes will also be grown in season.

“From a use perspective, nothing jumps out at me other than what if any are the implications of providing additional space of this size,” said planning board chairman Neil Slevin. “That is what we should probably think about.”

Board member Larry Perrine, the CEO and a partner at Channing Daughters Winery, asked how often the system would need to be flushed and what kind of additional wastewater would that produce.

Chappel said once the biology in the system working properly, it would maintain itself, but if something did occur the system would need to be flushed which would create wastewater.

Sag Harbor Village Environmental Planning Consultant Richard Warren suggested the board be furnished with pictures of an existing system to better understand how it works.

John Jermain Memorial Library Accepts Vast Collection of Native American Research Books

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Mac Griswold, Richard Buckley and Catherine Creedon pose with books from Buckley's collection at the library's storage unit.

Sag Harbor Historian Mac Griswold, Collector Richard Buckley and JJML Director Catherine Creedon pose with books from Buckley’s collection at the library’s storage unit November 12.

By Tessa Raebeck

As a child growing up in Little Falls, New York, Richard Buckley was eager to learn about the Native American tribes that lived nearby, but the materials he could find were minimal, ill advised and uninformed.

“It didn’t seem right to me the way they were describing it,” explained Buckley, who, rather than settling for subpar information, spent the next 40 years compiling an extensive collection of books, journals and other research on — and by — Native Americans.

On November 13, Buckley and his wife, former United States Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, packed his entire collection of 23 boxes into the back of their pick-up truck and drove from their home in Northern Virginia to Despatch Self Storage in Bridgehampton, where Catherine Creedon excitedly awaited their arrival.Richard Buckley

After a deliberate screening process of potential libraries in New York State, Buckley decided to donate his collection to the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) in Sag Harbor, where Creedon is director, because he knew they would be appreciated, complemented and, most importantly, used.

Buckley, who worked as a lawyer before concentrating primarily on his research and academic lecturing, estimates his collection includes some 350 materials. The most historically significant part of the collection is the inclusion of four journals on Native American history, to which Buckley has subscribed since their respective inceptions.

He began subscribing to the American Indian Culture and Research Journal when it was first published in 1979, and the journals now fill four boxes.

The journals “give an incredible amount of new history,” said Buckley. “History that had never been written from the viewpoint of American Indians.”

“These journals,” he continued, “have covered everything from the history to the current preservation of Native American tribes throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, 2000s. If someone were to read those journals, they could write a thesis.”

The collection also includes 15 boxes of books on Native Americans, separated by topics such as women, Iroquois and “Excellent/General Overviews.”

In compiling his collection, Buckley first tackled the Native American history of New York State, moving on to the entire continental United States and eventually to Alaska and Latin America. The collection also includes extensive documentation of the present condition of Native Americans.

“That is probably the underlying value of the collection,” explained Buckley, “to have that approach of — both historically and currently — the ongoing evolution of American Indian history…. The collection’s value is to show that American Indians are not only here, but they’re living out their history, they’re living out their story.”

Once his collection was complete with an extensive variety of viewpoints from both men and women across different regions, tribes and cultures, Buckley faced the daunting task of deciding where his work belonged.

“What I did was,” he explained, “because I didn’t want these to go anywhere, I wanted them to be in a certain library — when I contacted [the libraries], I’d then know whether it was the right fit.”

Former Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, JJML Director Catherine Creedon and Richard Buckley in the midst of delivering the collection November 12.

Former Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, JJML Director Catherine Creedon and Richard Buckley in the midst of delivering the collection November 12.

At first, Buckley put a notice in the regional library system of central New York, where he grew up. Without any quick responses, he sent the notice to the statewide system.

Within a few days, he was on the phone with Cathy Creedon.

“By the initial interest,” he said, “I could see that she was really interested and they were looking for something to complement the new renovation and the newly restored old beautiful building.”

Since JJML opened in 1910, the History Room has been an integral part of the library. It started with rare materials from the personal library of William Wallace Tooker, a Sag Harbor pharmacist who was also an ethnographer with an interest in Algonquin history. Tooker’s collection in JJML includes the Eliot Indian Bible, a bible in the Algonquin language that was the first bible printed in the colonies.

After unloading the 23 boxes into a storage unit, Creedon gave Buckley a tour of the new building, including the history room, which once completed will be climate-controlled, humidity-controlled and temperature-controlled.

“The tour of the library was the final proof that my donation will ‘fit’ with the future use of the library — particularly the special research room,” said Buckley. “The primary reason for donating the collection to [JJML] is Cathy. She will ensure that the collection is used in the most effective manner.”

In a message to Creedon, Buckley envisioned his collection in Sag Harbor.

“I imagined,” he wrote, “that you would have at the opening of your beautiful library — a researcher would be reserving the special room and using the American Indian collection. She will complete a new powerful book about the contributions of Indian women.”

“I thought that was a real tribute to the role of a public library,” said Creedon.

Costs Rise for Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum Restoration Projects

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By Tessa Raebeck

With the first phase of a three-part plan to renovate and restore the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum nearly complete, necessary additional repairs — and fundraising efforts — are on the rise.

Following complaints about the museum’s exterior appearance voiced to building inspector Tim Platt last May, restoration of the historic 1845 building, also the home of the Waponamon Lodge No. 437 Free Masons, began September 15.

“We can certainly say the scope of the project has grown,” Barbara Lobosco, president of the museum board, said Tuesday. “Like most planned undertakings, things crop up during the course of the project.”

The first phase of the plan covers the repairs and painting of the building exterior, including removal of 10 layers of paint — the last being lead.

The contractor, Ince Painting Professional of Westhampton Beach, which has worked on historic buildings like the Hannibal French House in Sag Harbor and the Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, originally estimated the first phase of the project would cost $180,000.

More product removal was required than was originally allotted for and, at this point, the estimated cost for the first phase is closer to $260,000.

“With any project,” Lobosco said Tuesday, “what happens is you underestimate budgets and so on and so forth, other things open up that need to be fixed as well. When you work with an historic building of this age, new doors open up to new repairs.”

The actual application of the new paint is almost entirely completed. The museum is now in the midst of repairs to the porches and gutters, as well as partial repairs to the capital tops of the building columns.

The finials on the roof, which resemble blubber spades and whale teeth, are also undergoing restoration.

The building’s interior is covered by the second phase of the restoration project, which is not expected to begin for a year or so. Several issues have already materialized that necessitate projects the museum had planned to address in the future to be confronted within the next few months.

“We’d rather replace the pipes before they burst,” said Lobosco, referring to deteriorating, galvanized pipes in the basement that need to be restored.

Additionally, the entire basement must be cleaned.

“As we get inside the building,” said Lobosco. “We’ll need more [repairs] as well.”

The third phase of the capital campaign addresses repairs to the building grounds and will likely be implemented prior to the second phase of interior renovations.

“We want to finish the outside first so that it’s cohesive,” said Lobosco.

The museum plans to landscape the property before the summer, fix the front and back porches and repair the exterior fencing.

“The fence is going to be another big issue,” said Lobosco. “We’ve cleaned it up now, but it’s going to cost at least $60,000 just to repair.”

With continuous costs and essential repairs yet to be determined, the museum’s fundraising for the capital campaign is ongoing. Close to $180,000 in funding has been raised so far. The total cost is at present around $260,000, which will only cover the cost of painting. More funding is essential for the museum to move forward with the rest of the restoration process.

Last March, the museum’s fundraising efforts for the capital campaign kicked off with a $50,000 matching grant from the Century Arts Foundation earmarked towards the repair work. The Whaling Museum plans to host three fundraising events this holiday season, exhibit several beneficiary shows this spring and continually solicit private donations throughout the course of the project, according to Lobosco.

This Friday, the museum is hosting an auction at the Peter Marcelle Gallery in Bridgehampton. Available items include a 200-year-old woven basket, gift certificates to a variety of restaurants in Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor, donations from In Home and other local stores, and framed film posters from the 1960s and 1970s donated by the notable filmmaking couple Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker, who live down the street from the Whaling Museum. Value of auction items range from $50 to $1,000.

“We’ve been getting local donations which have been great,” said Lobosco. “The community’s been terrific, especially with the auction items. The merchants in town have been very supportive of the museum and our efforts to move forward.”

On December 23, the museum will raffle off a brand new 2013 Fiat 500 Cabrio Pop from Brown’s Fiat in Patchogue. The sleek, black convertible has red and ivory seats and an ivory and black interior. Just 350 tickets are for sale at $100 a piece.

To further aid with fundraising, BookHampton is sponsoring a holiday book sale on the museum’s front lawn on weekends throughout the holiday season. The store will match money raised “dollar for dollar,” said Lobosco.

With its interior closed for the winter, the museum plans to reopen for the season on Earth Day with a show by local artist and Pierson Middle/High School art teacher Peter Solow, with sales from his work also earmarked for the capital campaign.

At the official opening on Memorial Day, “a whale show” is going to be on display. Proceeds from the paintings will be split 50/50 between the artists and the restoration project. Funds raised via three additional shows during Summer 2014 will also go towards the restoration efforts. The exact content of the shows is unannounced at this point, but Lobosco said one show will consist of only Sag Harbor artists.

In addition to special events, the museum continues to raise funds through its mail drive and individual donations. Lobosco is also hopeful for another matching grant.

“It will be ongoing for years,” she said of the restoration projects, “so the fundraising efforts will continue.”

Celebrating a Long History at Sag Harbor Pharmacy

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Owners Barry and Susan Marcus in front of Sag Harbor Pharmacy

Owners Barry and Sue Marcus in front of Sag Harbor Pharmacy

By Tessa Raebeck

When you walk into CVS, Rite-Aid or Walgreens, no one knows your name. A store in New York looks the same as a store in Wisconsin or Georgia, just another link in the corporate chain.

Here in Sag Harbor, however, the local pharmacy is just that – local. At Sag Harbor Pharmacy, not only does the staff know their customers, they know their friends, family and favorite brand of hairspray, too.

“People like their local independent pharmacy,” says owner Barry Marcus, who runs the store with his wife Sue. “Where we know everybody by first name and we pride ourselves on being a friendly, independent pharmacy.”

The oldest pharmacy on Long Island – and likely in the state – Sag Harbor Pharmacy has been a staple in the village since 1859. Throughout its lifespan, it has operated out of its original building and in its same location, 120 Main Street.

Because it was put up before modern historic district regulations were enacted, Sag Harbor Pharmacy is allowed to keep the store’s neon sign, historic in its own right. Thanks to Marcus, it was recently illuminated for the first time in some 40 years.

“I’m probably the 20th owner of the store,” Marcus, who has owned the pharmacy for nearly thirteen years, said in between greeting regulars and filling prescriptions Thursday.

Although the previous 19 owners were good at serving Sag Harbor, they were not as good at cleaning up after themselves. Under direction from the fire marshal, Marcus committed to removing the clutter in his basement, “a monumental job” considering it had compiled over the course of 150 years.

Through the process, he found far more than clutter.

“These prescriptions are from the 1890s,” Marcus said, pointing to a large, weathered book with handwritten notes pasted into it.

Also forgotten in the basement were a dial telephone, a typewriter and a scale from 1933 that outlines, “How the average person gains and loses weight throughout twenty four hours.”

With help from his employees, Marcus sorted through the hidden artifacts in the pharmacy’s basement and arranged his favorite items in an historical display in the front window.

The store’s long, narrow layout, with the large display window in front and the pharmacy counter in back, has rarely changed. The only major alterations Marcus knows of are the removals of a large working fountain that was once in the middle of the store and a wet bar that stood near the front entrance. Customers came into the pharmacy, sat on a stool and enjoyed a soda pop while waiting to have their prescriptions filled.

In the front window is a photo of Mr. Reimann, who ran the store – at the time called Reimann’s Pharmacy and Soda Fountain – with his family during the 1920s. At the wet bar, Mr. Reimann ran a community-wide game called the “popularity contest.” After purchasing an ice cream soda, customers could place a vote for anyone in the village. The person with the most votes after a period of time, i.e. the most popular, won the contest.

Another black and white photo Marcus found shows the storefronts of Main Street long before Reimann’s time, during the 1860s.

“Sag Harbor Pharmacy is one of those stores,” said Marcus, smiling at the photo with pride.IMG_2422

Also displayed in the window are several sets of mortar and pestle, although they’re not as antiquated as one would think.

“We even do compounding prescriptions,” Marcus said of his pharmacy. “That means that we use mortar and pestles, the old art and all that. So we mix things – and a lot of pharmacies don’t do that.”

Compounded prescriptions require a pharmacist to combine, mix or alter ingredients in order to create a unique medication tailored to an individual patient’s needs. When Marcus started in the business 53 years ago, half of all prescriptions were compounds. Today, most pharmacies refuse to fill them.

“Most pharmacies are big chains,” said Marcus, “but there’s still a handful [of independent pharmacies] on the East End.”

In addition to medicine, the Sag Harbor Pharmacy carries a wide variety of items in the front of the store, from “fancy pillboxes” to shampoo to dollhouses.

“Of course,” the lifelong pharmacist continued, “we do a larger summer business than we do in the wintertime – it drops off considerably. But this is a wonderful town, very supportive, and we love it. We love it out here.”

Concerned Sag Harbor Parents Crowd Pierson Library for Math Curriculum Workshop

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Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols presents a workshop on the Math Curriculum in front of concerned parents at Monday evening.

Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols presents a workshop on the Math Curriculum in front of district administrators, the Board of Education and concerned parents Monday evening.

By Tessa Raebeck

Parents told stories of children bursting into tears, berating themselves for being “idiots” and spending hours agonizing over homework at the Sag Harbor School District’s math curriculum workshop Monday night, voicing concern over the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).

“The first thing we say to her is get out your math homework,” said Christa Schleicher of her daughter, who is in seventh grade at Pierson Middle/High School.

Concerned parents, mostly of seventh graders, filled the Pierson Library to hear a presentation led by Sag Harbor Elementary School Principal Matt Malone and Pierson Principal Jeff Nichols, with assistance from their math teachers.

Developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Common Core is a set of educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that states voluntarily adopt. CCLS has been adopted by 45 states. New York State (NYS) adopted CCLS in July 2010, but it is being phased in over several years.

Every seat in the library was filled as parents showed up to express their discontent with the Common Core program, which many believe was rolled out haphazardly without clear direction from the state and to the detriment of students.

“It’s not specific or indigenous to Sag Harbor,” said Nichols, who has three children in the Southampton Intermediate School. “Everybody is struggling with these same issues.”

“We really want to commend the effort of all the instructors in our district who are working through this new initiative,” said Malone. “There’s a lot of challenges and in a way we’ve all kind of been thrown into it.”

At the end of the 2012/2013 school year, NYS math assessments for students in third through eighth grade measured CCLS. Nichols said state assessments assume kids going into the seventh grade curriculum had Common Core instruction since kindergarten, when in reality, mathematics instruction was not fully aligned with CCLS until the 2012/2013 school year for students in grades three through eight and the 2013/2014 school year for high school students.

“That assumption is a big assumption to me,” Nichols said Monday evening, adding that the pacing of the modules is also inaccurate. “They say a lesson will take 40 minutes…reality is it’s not 40 minutes, it’s 60 or 70 minutes.”

“As a school,” he continued, “what we struggle with and what I’m struggling with is to what extent do we let mathematics dominate the landscape?”

Nichols said about an hour and a half of math homework each night is on pace with the modules, a time requirement many parents said is overwhelming for their kids.

“It’s a lot more rigorous,” said Diana Kolhoff, a Sag Harbor resident and math consultant. “So some of the historical traditions that these schools have had are running into trouble with the Common Core. Things that had worked in the past are no longer working.”

“This is probably the most exciting part but also the most challenging part,” said Malone. “This is the part where you wrestle with, ‘are we presenting things in the best way to kids?’ Because it’s really challenging and it’s causing kids to have to work a lot harder than they had to before.”

“I get it all and I get that they’re reprogramming,” said Schleicher. “My struggle and our struggle at home is the amount of it. My daughter, she’s beginning to despise math because it’s so much…she’s getting it, she’s getting better at it, but it’s just taking too long.”

“I’m dealing with the same thing with my children,” Nichols said, calling it a “juggling act” because by diminishing homework, the students fall behind the state’s expected pace in the classroom. He said they are trying to gauge how fast teachers can go without turning kids off math.

“If we have to tweak our workload and at the end of the day where our students are at, we’ll do so,” said Nichols, who has already implemented a few modifications.

To increase instructional time and hopefully minimize time spent on math at home, Pierson added a lab period designed to reinforce the CCLS lesson for students in seventh grade and algebra classes.

Middle School Assistant Principal Brittany Miaritis said lab time provides the students with far more one-on-one learning instruction than available in the classroom setting. Teacher Richard Terry said it has been “very helpful” for his seventh grade students. Additionally, several senior math teachers were moved from the high school to the middle school two years ago, due to their comprehension of what would be required of those students later on.

Although they recognized its challenges, the teachers in attendance appeared to be proponents of the CCLS methodology. Fifth grade teachers George Kneeland and JoAnn Kelly shared a CCLS fluency activity, a fast-paced drill that is supposed to be a fun way to measure a student’s personal best. Kelly said her students love sprints, asking for them almost every day.

Kneeland then introduced an application problem, or “problem of the day,” which is designed to be strategically linked to previous lessons and concepts.

“We were just taught a methodology for doing it and we did it,” he said of his grade school experience. “The Common Core philosophy is taking a step deeper and looking at things so we get a pictorial understanding and more concrete understanding and then transition to what’s called the standard algorithm.”

Janice Arbia, who has four children in the school district, asked, “When they’re actually grading these tests, does it matter how they do it?”

The intent, Malone said, is for students to grasp what they were asked to do, so they can choose the way of solving the problem that works best for them. Energy is devoted to the concepts instead of the calculations.

“One of the big shifts now,” added Terry, “is rather than have a teacher standing in front of the students doing all of this work, the students are becoming an active participant in the lesson.”

“My students coming up this year in geometry are significantly stronger than they’ve been in the past and I expect that trend to continue,” said high school teacher Chase Malia. “I really think my students are much better prepared than they’ve been in the past.”

The administrators said their model of approach relies on feedback from teachers, parents and students. Nichols said that while some parents say their children are overwhelmed, others say they like the rigor and their kids are thriving. He plans to administer a survey to hear students’ opinions on how much they can handle.

“We do have an obligation to make sure that we safeguard kids’ emotional well being,” said Nichols. “And if in fact we’re asking too much of them in terms of the amount of homework, this survey will be able to generate some data related to that.”

Southampton Town Council: It’s Bender & Glinka, Unofficially

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Southampton Town Council candidates Brad Bender, Frank Zappone, Stan Glinka and Jeff Mansfield

Southampton Town Council candidates Brad Bender, Frank Zappone, Stan Glinka and Jeff Mansfield

By Kathryn G. Menu

While the results have yet to be made official by the Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE), according to Southampton Town Democratic Party chairman Gordon Herr, it appears that Independence Party member Brad Bender and Republican Stan Glinka have held on to their Election Day leads and will join the Southampton Town Board in January.

On Wednesday morning, an official with Suffolk County BOE chairman Anita Katz’s office declined comment on the race stating official results would not be available until later this week.

However, Herr said the counting of 879 absentee ballots was completed last Wednesday and that Bender and Glinka have secured seats on the town board.

Bender and Glinka bested Bridgehampton resident Jeff Mansfield and Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone in the town board race.

“I am so very thankful to my friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, everyone who was so generous and encouraging during the campaign,” said Glinka, the town board race’s top vote getter, in a statement on Wednesday. “But more importantly I am thankful to the voters of this great town, my hometown of Southampton, for endorsing me with their vote. I look forward to continuing to listen to all the people and to working on finding balanced solutions to many crucial issues at hand.”

“As I committed to be your full time representative, I am currently winding down my workload and finishing off projects that are in progress,” said Bender, who is in the construction field. “I am excited about this next chapter in my life as a public servant. Working for you the taxpayers to solve problems and protect our community.”

“Grading” Sag Harbor Teachers: Administrators Discuss Goals Updates at Board of Education Meeting

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External Auditor Alexandria Battaglia, CPA, addresses the Sag Harbor Board of Education Monday night.

External Auditor Alexandria Battaglia, CPA, addresses the Sag Harbor Board of Education Monday night.

By Tessa Raebeck

“This has been a week of very special teams,” said Dr. Bonuso, interim superintendent for the Sag Harbor School District, congratulating the champion Lady Whalers field hockey team and the community team that helped pass the district’s two bond propositions.

Passing the bond was a key component of the district goals for the 2013/2014 school year, which Dr. Bonuso presented to a small group of people gathered Monday for the Board of Education (BOE) meeting.

Dr. Bonuso discussed the headway made on the first three of the district’s nine goals. He said progress was made on the first goal, improving academic achievement, through the resubmission and implementation of Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR), an evaluation system required by the state since 2012. It rates teachers as highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective, based on a 100-point scale. Half of the review relies on administrative observations, 10 percent on an “evidence binder” of components like electronic posting and 40 percent on test scores. For teachers whose students are not yet being tested regularly, that portion is determined by a project the district assigns in order to produce a score. Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols said the majority of Sag Harbor teachers were graded “effective.”

“We need to take a second look at this emphasis on testing, the over testing,” said Dr. Bonuso. “We need to take a second look at whether or not we have the materials and modules – let alone the mindset – to approach this in a manner where people are feeling good about what’s happening instead of anxious and discouraged.”

Susan Hewett, a parent, asked the board how teachers are rewarded or reprimanded based on their APPR performance. Dr. Bonuso replied teachers are not rewarded, but if they are determined to be “developing” or worse for two years, “we can literally remove them…even if they are tenured.”

If a teacher is rated “ineffective,” the superintendent said, “We don’t have to go through all the gyrations and all the bureaucracy that in the past we had to in order to remove you.”

The administrators reported on the progress of the newly formed shared decision-making teams, a component of the second goal: to build partnerships with the community. Two teams have met, one for the elementary school and one for Pierson. The district-wide team is looking for two replacements for members who left the committee prior to the first meeting.

Board member Mary Anne Miller questioned the inclusion of the middle and high schools in the same team, which BOE Vice President Chris Tice agreed should be revisited.

The third goal is to ensure sound fiscal operation and facilities management. The district added experienced security personnel and hours at both school, enhanced systems at school entryways and held its first lockdown drill of the year last week. External auditor Alexandria Battaglia said Monday the district is in good financial health, with an unassigned fund balance of about $1.4 million.

In other school news, BOE member David Diskin again asked the board to discuss starting to video record their meetings. Board President Theresa Samot said it was a good idea to look at further.

The next BOE meeting will be held December 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pierson Library.