Tag Archive | "Pierson"

Lady Whalers Bounce Back – Sports Wrap 4/10/14

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Softball Bounces Back with Two Wins

The Pierson softball team this week lost to Center Moriches, 8-2, on Friday, April 4 and then traveled to Stony Brook, where the Lady Whalers took our their frustrations in the form of a 23-2 drubbing of the Lady Bears on Monday. Pierson improved to 6-2 with a 9-3 win over Southampton on Tuesday.

Senior shortstop Kasey Gilbride went 3-for-4 against Southampton, including a first inning home run, with two runs scored and three RBI. Meg Schiavoni also went 3-for-4, and freshmen Lottie Evans and Cali Cafiero also hit home runs.

Sam Duchemin pitched a complete game, allowing just two earned runs on three hits while striking out nine.

Next up for the Lady Whalers is a road game today, April 10, at 4:15 p.m. at Hampton Bays. After a long layoff for Spring Break, the team will face Mattituck on the road on April 21.

Girls Track Earns Rare Tie Against ESM

The East Hampton girls track team tied Eastport-South Manor, 73-73, in a dual meet on April 2, a result rarely seen in the world of track competition, and athletes from Pierson were a big part of the result.

Allura Leggard won the 200-meter dash with a personal-best time of 28.2 seconds, and also finished second in the 100-meter dash with a time of 14 seconds flat. Leggard also anchored the winning 4×100-meter relay, which posted a time of 54.7 seconds. Hannah Jungck won the 3,000-meter run with a personal best time of 11:34.5 and was a member of the winning 4×800-meter relay. Several other Pierson athletes posted personal bests on the day, including Rose O’Donoghue, Alaina Goggin, and Elena Skerys.

Next up for the Lady Bonackers are two straight invitational meets at Sachem North on April 12 and at Connetquot on April 19.

Bumpy Road for Bonac Lacrosse

The East Hampton boys lacrosse team, which joins with players from Pierson and Bridgehampton, lost two games this week to fall to 1-4 in Division II Play. The Bonackers lost, 15-10, to Bayport-Blue Point on Friday, April 4 and 9-3 to Kings Park at home on Tuesday.

Pierson’s Sean Toole played well in goal against Kings Park and had 12 saves, but the team’s offense struggled to score. Pierson’s Drew Harvey had one goal and one assist while Jack Schleicher had one goal as well.

Against Bayport, Harvey had a big game on offense, scoring two goals to go along with four assists. Schleicher scored twice as well and Toole had 18 saves in goal. The Bonackers trailed by a single goal going in the fourth quarter, where they were outscored, 5-1.

A home game is scheduled for today, April 10, against Southampton at 4 p.m., followed by a road game at Westhampton on Monday at 3:30 p.m.

Laser Regatta Rescheduled for This Weekend

Due to excessive winds, the Breakwater Yacht Club in Sag Harbor rescheduled its Ice Breaker Regatta to this Saturday, April 12. There will be a skippers meeting at 1 p.m. followed by a schedule of six races, with courses to be set by a race committee boat.

For more information contact Marty Knab at 631-506-1243.

Pierson Robotics Team Heading to Nationals

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Students cheer on the Pierson Robotics Team at the Long Island Regional competition last weekend. Photo courtesy of Rob Coe.

Students cheer on the Pierson Robotics Team at the Long Island Regional competition last weekend. Photo courtesy of Rob Coe.

By Tessa Raebeck

The referee made the call—it was arguably questionable—and there was nothing they could do about it.

For the second year in a row, members of the Pierson Robotics team, FRC Team 28, thought they had just missed qualifying for the national championship of the FIRST Robotics Competition after finishing in second place at the Long Island Regional contest at Hofstra University last weekend.

The hopes of senior team leaders Alex Cohen and Lucas Pickering, who had fostered a team that had grown bigger, better and more united each year, had been dashed—or so they thought.

But Pierson wound up securing an automatic invitation to the national championship competition, which will be held in St. Louis from April 23 to 26, when it won the Engineering Inspiration Award, which, according to FIRST, “celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering and engineers, both within their school, as well as their community.”

The Pierson Robotics Team celebrated their spot at nationals with a parade down Main Street on Monday. Photo by Michael Heller.

The Pierson Robotics Team celebrated their spot at nationals with a parade down Main Street on Monday. Photo by Michael Heller.

“It’s mostly due to our focus this year on expanding the team and doing work outside of just building the robot,” explained Kevin Spolarich, a Pierson junior on the team’s driving squad. “We are bringing in students from East Hampton, teaching kids in Costa Rica, and showing the robot to the children at the elementary school.”

Pierson collaborates with East Hampton High School, which supplies four of the team’s student engineers and one of its mentors, shop teacher Trevor Gregory.

“We also have done some charitable work in the off-season fixing up old broken down electric scooters for people at the VFW,” Kevin added.

At last weekend’s competition, three of the FRC Team 28 members, Abi Gianis, Alex Cohen and Tiger Britt, talked to the judges, explaining their program and presenting a video they made featuring Dr. Carl Bonuso, Sag Harbor’s interim superintendent, talking about the district’s robotics program to further demonstrate community outreach.

“The kids were so phenomenal, I’m so proud of them,” said Gayle Pickering, Lucas’s mom, who mentors the team with her husband Rick, Mr. Gregory, Rob Coe and Clint Schulman.

“The way they talked about the team and knew the robot” helped secure the award, Ms. Pickering said.

The judges also recognized the team’s innovation, honoring the engineering behind the robot that may not have been able to overcome a bad call, but did turn some very important heads.

Kevin controls the robot’s arm, which picks up, puts down and throws the ball in the competition’s game, Aerial Assist. The game requires alliances of three teams that compete against another team in a game that requires the robot to throw balls that are 2 feet in diameter.

“We use two Xbox controllers hooked up to a laptop to control the robot,” Kevin explained.

Each the approximately 30 students on the team has a distinct role on one of several squads. Captain Lucas Pickering does the driving.

“Our shooting mechanism didn’t work as intended, “said Liam Rothwell-Pessino, a junior who is in his second year on the team. “We had to switch to an entirely different strategy, one where we played midfield/defense. Lucas’s insane driving skills were a big reason our entire strategy didn’t fall apart.”

“Everybody was a real important member of the team and everybody has their different jobs,” said Ms. Pickering. “It was truly teamwork at its best.”

The leader of the scouting team, Pierson junior Shane Hennessy, was tasked with leading the crew in finding teams to complete their alliance last weekend.

“Essentially,” said Liam, “we did really well in the preliminary stage. I think we placed seventh with an 8-1 record. We ended up picking two really great teams for our alliance and made it to the grand finals undefeated. In the final series, we lost 2-1 over a really stupid ref call, but hey, I don’t want to sound like a bad sport, it was still incredibly fun.”

“We were really annoyed and depressed,” he added, “but happy when we won an award that apparently qualifies us for nationals, so in a month, we’re off to St. Louis.”

The game remains the same, but the stakes are much higher.

Using their original robots, the teams compete in the same competition, Aerial Assist, but rather than one field of competition, there are five, filling the Edward Jones Dome, where the St. Louis Rams play.

“Now,” explained Ms. Pickering, “there’ll be 192 teams to scout instead of 49, so Shane Hennessy’s going to be very busy.”

Pierson traveled to the national championship, at the time in Atlanta, about 15 years ago, when the FIRST Robotics Competition was still a small, relatively unknown event. There are now over 2,000 teams competing worldwide, with regional competitions from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

“The kids are so excited,” said Ms. Pickering. “I’m so proud of all of them, they put this together. There’s so many of them that are enthusiastic and it was really teamwork. They worked together on the scouting during the competition—that was a huge part of it. They worked together programming…the fact is that it’s teamwork and they really worked together.”

“Overall,” reflected Liam, “it was a great experience. And I’m glad Lucas and Alex get to finally go to nationals for the first time in their last year on the team.”

“It feels fantastic,” said Lucas. “We’re especially looking forward to being able to participate in a group of elite teams and talking to people from those teams.”

“It’ll also be interesting for us to see teams that are older than us for the first time,” he added of the more experienced teams. Pierson’s team was established in 1995 and thus has seniority at the Long Island regional competition.

In addition to securing a spot at the national championship, earning the Engineering Innovation Award secures the team funding—by none other than NASA, which will give Pierson $5,000 to attend the competition.

The team still needs to raise more money, though. With airfare costs high this close to the trip, Ms. Pickering said she is looking to raise $500 per student, with the overall budget close to $25,000 for the entire trip, adding, “That’s a high number, I hope.”

Although the team is hopeful for some large corporate sponsors, every donation counts.

To donate to the Pierson Robotics Team’s trip to nationals, send a check with a note that indicates it is for the Pierson Robotics Team to Pierson Middle/High School, 200 Jermain Avenue in Sag Harbor. For more information on the team, visit frcteam28.com.

Track Becomes Latest Option for Pierson Athletes

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Pierson freshman Allura Leggard, center, at the Armory in New York City in February.

Pierson freshman Allura Leggard, center, at the Armory in New York City in February.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Kurt Leggard

Potential. A great start. Lots of work to do.

Yani Cuesta, a Spanish and English as a Second Language teacher at the Pierson-Middle High School, is head coach of the East Hampton girls track team and doesn’t mix words when she talks about what it takes to build a great program.

“This is the first time in a long while that Pierson is combined with East Hampton in spring track,” said Cuesta, a graduate of East Hampton High School and an alumni of the track program. “The more kids participate, the more it will spread and continue to build.

“Even though our numbers these last two yeas have been the highest we’ve had in a long time, we are still building,” she continued. “We have some shining stars, but we need more depth. A small number of top athletes isn’t going to cut it with some of the larger, tougher teams we go up against.”

One of the shining stars Cuesta spoke about is Allura Leggard, a Pierson freshman who specializes in the sprint events, the 100 and 200-meter races, and the 4×100-meter relay. Leggard, a rising stars in the Pierson field hockey program as well, also runs indoor track during the winter months.

“I have been sprinting since I was five years old,” Leggard said this week. “This winter was my first time doing winter track.”

Cuesta said winter track is important for any track athlete looking to excel in the sport. Of the seven Pierson students on the girls spring track team, only four—Leggard, Hannah Jungck, Rose O’Donoghue and Elena Skerys—participated in winter track as well.

“Winter track is very important for any track athlete because the ones that are serious start then, if not in the fall with cross country,” Cuesta said. “The girls that just come out for the spring are at a disadvantage because their biggest competition has already been running since November.”

Cuesta said Leggard has the potential to “go far” as a sprinter.

“Sprinting is very tough to break into the top spots because there are so many older girls in the county with more experience,” Cuesta said. “As long as she listens, takes care of herself and works hard she has the potential to get to some of the later championship meets.”

Athletes in spring track are allowed to compete in four separate events, although Cuesta said many of the current athletes compete in only one or two events, something that would have to change for East Hampton to become truly competitive Suffolk County, where they currently compete in League VI against schools like Comsewogue, Miller Place and Westhampton, among others.

The Lady Bonackers were off to an 0-2 start going into a dual meet yesterday, April 2, at Eastport-South Manor. Next up are three straight invitationals, followed by a home dual meet against Rocky Point on Tuesday, April 22.

“The girls have a chance at winning some of the dual meets this year,” Cuesta said before adding a few closing words for motivation.

“We have a ways to go before we are as strong as I would like us to be,” she said.

 

 

Pierson Robotics Team Heads to FIRST Competition with Confidence

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The 2013-2014 Pierson Whalers Robotics team. Photo courtesy of Gayle Pickering.

The Pierson Robotics Team placed second at the Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition Saturday and will head to the national championship in St. Louis in April. Photo courtesy of Gayle Pickering.

By Tessa Raebeck

After coming in second place last year—and losing the championship on a technicality—the Pierson High School Robotics Team is returning to the FIRST Robotics Competition this year with a vengeance—and a “very fast robot,” according to Shane Hennessy, a junior who is in his fourth season with the team.

This weekend, the 30 members of the Pierson Whalers team will attend the 2014 Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at Hofstra University. An international program, FIRST challenges student teams, aided by mentors, to build a 130-pound robot in six weeks using a standard “kit of parts” and common guidelines.

This year’s game, Aerial Assist, is similar to basketball. The robot must be able to lift, throw and catch a “yoga ball,” 2 feet in diameter.  Compared to previous competitions, Aerial Assist has a catch: The team must form an alliance with two other competitors, resulting in two teams of three robots each competing against each other on the court.

The competition is more challenging this year, said Abi Gianis, a junior who is in her second year on the team.

“We have to build a robot that is capable of not only completing the task, but also can cooperate and work with other robots that we will have had never worked with before,” she said. “Teamwork between different teams is really focused on this year.”

The Whalers' robot poses in the Pierson gymnasium. Photo by Gayle Pickering.

The Whalers’ robot poses in the Pierson gymnasium. Photo by Gayle Pickering.

Abi said the Whalers have scouted other team’s websites and YouTube pages, but cannot form official alliances until they arrive at the competition today, Thursday, March 27

As leader of the team’s scouting division for the second year in a row, Shane is finding his role has become “much more important because of that focus.”

“Last year,” he said, “it was more to figure out strategy, but this year it is integral to our success.”

At the competition, Shane must “know everything about every team there.” He will coordinate with the 12 members of the scouting division to find out information on their opponents and potential allies.

“Since we all have to work together as teams, we need to know which teams work well with us,” Shane said. “Also, we want to be able to prep for the matches where we don’t get to choose our alliance. If we have data on them, we can work together more efficiently.”

Pierson’s robot is fast this year because it has a mecanum wheel drive train, a way the motors are connected to the wheels that allows the robot to quickly go in any direction with ease.

“But our speed also means that we can be pushed around easily,” Shane said. “This means that a good teammate would be one that could block the opposing team for us.”

The robot has pincers that enable it to pick up and throw the ball, using pneumatics to open and close the mechanical arms, which were designed by programmers Liam Rothwell-Pessino and Ben Klinghoffer, with help from Rob Coe, a former electrical engineer—a team mentor—and Lucas Pickering, who captains the team along with Alex Cohen.

Liam, who joined the team last year as a sophomore, said, “Last year, I was kind of lost—as is everyone else I’m told, their first year—but then the second year, you get the hang of it and you really start to contribute. Then it really starts to get interesting and you feel like you’re part of the team.”

“I’d say that the struggling in the first year and being taught by the seniority on the team definitely helps bring the team closer together,” he added.

“We have received a lot more community support in the last few years, and the program has become more than just building a robot, in the sense that we’re really a team and robotics has become an enriching learning experience,” said Shane. “We worked really hard this year, and I think we’ll do well.”

The Pierson Robotics Team's robot and the balls it must throw in the FIRST Robotics Competition at Hofstra University this weekend. Photo by Gayle Pickering.

The Pierson Robotics Team’s robot and the balls it must throw in the FIRST Robotics Competition at Hofstra University this weekend. Photo by Gayle Pickering.

Sag Harbor School District Presents Options for Parking Lot Plans, Offers Traffic Safety Solutions for Pierson Drop Off

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Option 1, one of three potential plans for the reconfiguration of the Jermain Avenue parking lot at Pierson Middle-High School in Sag Harbor, as presented to the Board of Education Tuesday. Plan courtesy of the Sag Harbor School District.

Option 1, one of three potential plans for the reconfiguration of the Jermain Avenue parking lot at Pierson Middle-High School in Sag Harbor, as presented to the Board of Education Tuesday. Plan courtesy of the Sag Harbor School District.

By Tessa Raebeck

Sag Harbor’s traffic calming proponents and school district officials may not have reached a compromise on parking plans for Pierson Middle-High School, but at least they have some options.

At Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, the district’s architect, Larry Salvesen, laid out three options for expanded parking lots at Pierson. Altered from the plan originally proposed in a capital projects bond approved in November, the options aim to address criticisms from members of the community that the parking lots would encroach on green space and drastically disrupt the vista of Pierson Hill.

Proposed revisions to the Hampton Street lot at Sag Harbor Elementary School. Plans courtesy of the Sag Harbor School District.

Proposed revisions to the Hampton Street lot at Sag Harbor Elementary School. Plans courtesy of the Sag Harbor School District.

Plans for the Hampton Street lot at Sag Harbor Elementary School, a considerably less controversial project, have been scaled back and now call for the addition of 15 new parking spaces as opposed to 25. The plan extended the lot toward Hampton Street,  adds an internal circulation route and places crosswalks across the exit and entryway.

At Pierson, there are 112 existing lined spaces. The Jermain Avenue parking lot has 39, the Division Street parking lot also has 39, the Montauk Avenue lot behind the school has 28 and a small administrative lot on Division Street has six spaces.

There are 152 staff members, Mr. Salvesen said, adding there are also spaces reserved for visitors and the handicapped, leaving about 40 employees without spaces.

“Right now, there’s not an issue with faculty parking,” Pierson Principal Jeff Nichols said later in the meeting, adding most faculty members park on site and he knows of only two employees who park off site, both by choice. There are also several spaces given to students on a rotating, lottery basis throughout the year, Mr. Nichols said, calling the situation “pretty good from my perspective.”

The existing conditions at Pierson. Plan courtesy of the Sag Harbor School District.

The existing conditions at Pierson. Plan courtesy of the Sag Harbor School District.

“The intent here was to keep the existing counts, improve the safety and if at all possible add a few spaces,” Mr. Salvesen said of the original bond plan, which had the parking lot being  expanded about three-quarters of the way down the northern edge of Pierson Hill.

Mr. Salvesen presented three new options to the board and the community, which will now go to the Educational Facilities Planning Committee, the group responsible for drafting the bond, for its review.

Option 1 is closest to the original plan, but adjusts radii to allow for safer access for buses and emergency vehicles. Buses would load and unload on the side of the parking lot, bordering the building. The plan includes potential on-street parking for nine cars if permitted by the village, which has jurisdiction over the streets. All options would add a sidewalk along the street for the length of the hill with crosswalks at the entry points.

Option 1 would propose a total of 44 lined parking spaces in the Jermain lot (see above).

In Option 2, the school bus loading zone would be moved to an on-street pull-off loading zone on the southern side of Jermain Avenue, which Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano told Mr. Salvesen he would permit. The Jermain lot would have 38 spaces.

Options 1 and 2 call for the removal of an old Norway maple tree that Mr. Salvesen said is not in good health and “will take care of itself over time anyway,” and the relocation of several others.

Option 2 for the Jermain Avenue lot. Photo courtesy of the Sag Harbor School District.

Option 2 for the Jermain Avenue lot. Plan courtesy of the Sag Harbor School District.

Both options provide for the potential to construct five additional spaces in the Jermain Avenue lot in the future.

A “reduced scope scheme,” according to Mr. Salvesen, Option 3, would still expand the Jermain Avenue lot westward, but considerably less so, with less intrusion onto the walkway and green space on the hill’s northern edge. It would have 30 spaces, five spaces for on street parking, if allowed by the village, and an optional three spaces that could be constructed later on. The Norway maple would not need to be cut down, although two trees, the dedication tree and a small double cedar, would still need to be relocated. The bus-loading zone remains on school property.

The net gain of Option 3 is one parking spot.

In all three options, the Division lot has 49 proposed spaces, with the 10 additional spaces made by filling in the green tree wells, once occupied by trees that have since died.

Board member Mary Anne Miller said she is “not in favor of cramping the Jermain lot at the expense of the Division Street lot.”

Ms. Miller said since 2004, enrollment in the district has grown by 135 students, “so it isn’t the sleepy little Pierson that it used to be.”

Option 3 for the Jermain Avenue lot, as well as the proposed plans for the Division Street lot. Plan courtesy of the Sag Harbor School District.

Option 3 for the Jermain Avenue lot, as well as the proposed plans for the Division Street lot. Plan courtesy of the Sag Harbor School District.

Carol Williams, who lives across the street from Pierson, called the first two options “extremely destructive to the character of the hill” and asked whether the plans could be superimposed over an aerial photograph.

Gordon Herr asked the board to consider a product his company, Marketing Works, sells, EcoRaster permeable paver, a green alternative to asphalt. Manufactured from 100-percent recycled bags, the product resembles a box-like planter and allows for grass parking lots, has a 20-year warranty, does not deteriorate in extreme temperatures, can be plowed over and can sustain trees, Mr. Herr said, eliciting cheers from the audience.

All of the options, which will be run by the planning committee at an open meeting Tuesday, April 8 and again presented for public input at the following board meeting, Wednesday, April 23, allow for a 100-foot drop-off area along the right side of the Jermain lot, which Mr. Salvesen said could alleviate the congestion in the Division Street lot.

Addressing the traffic safety issue for afternoon pick-up and morning drop-off, Mr. Nichols proposed some temporary solutions to be implemented, which the board approved.

The first is to provide multiple points of entry into the building: the main entrance, the Pupil Personnel Services door off the Jermain lot and at the cafeteria, to accommodate students entering from the Montauk lot.

Mr. Nichols also suggested closing the entrance to the Division lot off in the morning (except for teachers parking there) and encouraging parents to head down Division Street from Grand Street, rather than up from Jermain or from Marsden.

The school will station two people, in addition to the current monitor John Ali, to monitor the Division Street area and two people to monitor Jermain Avenue. Mr. Nichols said they will be “very proactive” in letting parents know of the changes and would implement them beginning Monday, April 7.

The plans presented by Mr. Salvesen on Tuesday also include a renovation of Pierson’s main entrance, currently hidden in a corner by the Division lot. With “some of the character of the former front door” at the top of the hill, it will have a gateway arch, thin steel columns and tablature with the school name to make the entrance more prominent.

Lady Whalers Open Season with a Bang

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Emma Romeo is greeted by teammates after her sixth-inning homerun on Monday

Emma Romeo is greeted by teammates after her sixth-inning homerun on Monday

By Gavin Menu; photo by Kevin Duchemin

Playing in frigid conditions on their home field behind Pierson High School, the Lady Whalers and ace pitcher Sam Duchemin brought heat of their own to kick start the League V season.

Duchemin tossed seven complete innings, striking out three with no walks and just two hits, to shutout visiting Mattituck, 9-0, for the team’s first win of year.

Senior Emma Romeo hit a sixth-inning, two-run homerun to cap an impressive all around day for the Lady Whalers’ offense. Freshman Lottie Evans, hitting in the lead-off spot, hit a three-run triple in the fourth inning to open the floodgates for Pierson, which had been struggling to create offense until that point.

“We really didn’t come alive until the fourth inning,” head coach Melissa Edwards said. “If was a first game jitters kind of thing.”

Duchemin got in trouble in the top of the fourth as Mattituck loaded the bases with two outs. In the next at-bat, she forced a lazy pop fly to first base, which Evans squeezed to close out the game’s first real threat.

Taylor Cox, Sabrina Baum and Zoe Diskin drew three straight walks off Mattituck pitcher Lisa Angell to load the bases for Pierson with one out in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Evans drove a triple to the fence to score all three, and came home herself on an RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Romeo. Freshman Isabel Peters also scored in the inning to give Pierson a 5-0 lead.

Which was all Duchemin needed in the end, although she and her teammates celebrated the homerun by Romeo, the team’s senior leader and catcher.

“I thought it was going to be a pop-up it was so high,” said Edwards. “I think we looked okay today. But of course, I always expect them to play amazing.”

Pierson played at Babylon yesterday, March 26, and will host Mercy tomorrow, March 28, at 4:30 p.m. Port Jefferson will host the Lady Whalers on Monday, March 31, also at 4:30 p.m.

“There really isn’t any easy team we’re going to play,” Edwards said when asked about the road ahead. “We should have solid competition all along.”

 

Pierson Laxmen Key in Two Wins

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By Gavin Menu

The East Hampton boys lacrosse team, which features a handful of Pierson players, picked up wins in its first two games, following a 12-7 win over Longwood on March 18 with a 15-9 victory over North Babylon last Thursday, March 20.

Pierson’s Jack Schleicher had three goals and three assists and Drew Harvey scored three goals and had five assists to lead the Bonackers over Longwood. Jack Lesser, another Pierson student, had a goal and won 13 of 16 face-offs.

Against North Babylon, it was Harvey leading the way again with four goals and five assists as the Bonackers jumped out to a quick 2-0 start.

“Sean Toole has been good in the goal,” head coach Mike Vitulli said when asked about other Pierson players, of which there are nine on the squad. “Max Grout and Joe Gengarelly are both starting and playing well.”

The Bonackers suffered their first loss of the season, falling 10-5 to Harborfields on Tuesday. They will play at Sayville today, March 27, at 4:30 p.m. and at Hampton Bays on Wednesday, April 2 at 7 p.m. The team’s next home game will come on April 4 against Bayport-Blue Point at 4:30 p.m.

East Hampton Track Teams Hosts First-Ever Invitational

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The East Hampton boys and girls track teams hosted the school’s first-ever invitational on Saturday, with several Pierson students posting standout results. Ian Barrett and Gavin O’Brien placed second and third, respectively, in the 200-meter dash, with Barrett posting a time of 26 seconds flat. O’Brien finished right behind in 26.7 seconds.

Allura Leggard, another Pierson student, finished in second place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.8 seconds.

In total, East Hampton hosted three boys teams in Hampton Bays, Southampton and Westhampton, while the girls hosted four teams in Eastport-South Manor, Sayville, Southampton and Westhampton Beach.

The boys will compete at Comsewogue today, March 27, at 4 p.m. before returning home to host Eastport-South Manor on Tuesday, April 1 at 4 p.m. The girls will travel to Eastport-South Manor for a meet on Monday, March 31 at 4:30 p.m.

Pierson Middle School Student Earns First Chair in State Honor Band

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Pierson Middle School student Thomas Brooks poses with his award certificate and saxophone at the New York State Honor Band recital in March. Photo courtesy of Austin Remson.

Pierson Middle School student Thomas Brooks poses with his award certificate and saxophone at the New York State Honor Band recital in March. Photo courtesy of Austin Remson.

By Tessa Raebeck

At the beginning of each band class, Austin Remson has a dilemma. Does he tell Thomas Brooks—who is, without fail, playing music from memory on the piano—to stop playing and get to his seat, or does he let him play a little longer?

Mr. Remson, director of the seventh and eighth grade band at Pierson Middle School, has to tell Mr. Brooks to take his seat so the class can begin, but his reluctant strictness has paid off. Earlier this month, Thomas earned first chair for alto saxophone in the New York State Honor Band for middle school students.

Sponsored by the New York State Band Directors Association, the award is “a big honor,” according to Mr. Remson. “He made our school very proud.”

Students have to achieve a certain level on New York State School Music Association evaluations and earn a certain grade in music class in order to be considered. If they meet the criteria, the music teacher recommends the student and a committee of music teachers from around the state selects the best students, about 65 in total from grades six through eight who are then inducted into the Honor Band.

“He received a perfect score at NYSSMA,” Mr. Remson said of Thomas, “so that put him in qualification to be recommended for the honor band. Along with this NYSSMA score, they want to know what his extracurriculars are, whatever music things he does and how he performs in the class—and everything was very high achieving.”

Upon arriving at the symposium, held from March 7 to 9 in Syracuse, Thomas auditioned for his seat, achieving first chair. After rehearsing for two full days for seven hours straight, the honored students performed a concert.

Thomas’s music career started five years ago, when he was in third grade, with private piano lessons with Sue Daniels.

After asking to play drums but having to settle for his second choice, the saxophone, because the drum section at the Sag Harbor Elementary School was already full, Thomas could have been disappointed, but instead he was hooked.

“It just happened to be that way,” he said of how he came to play the instrument, “and then I liked it.”

“It’s just a really fun instrument. I like the sounds. I like the way our band sounds when we play a really good song. And I don’t know, it’s just lots of fun,” he added.

Thomas also plays baseball, basketball and soccer competitively and works as a camp counselor at Future Stars at SYS, but music is his true passion.

“I like to listen to all sorts,” he said. “I mean, anything that sounds nice I’ll listen to. I like playing it just as much as listening to it. On iTunes, there’s anything you can listen to, so I listen to anything.”

Thomas likes to buy songs on iTunes, listen to them and then figure out how to play the song on the piano.

“I’ll kind of just think about it and then I’ll try to play it,” said Thomas, who is now in his second year of Mr. Remson’s seventh and eighth grade ensemble.

“He has a very good ear for music,” said Mr. Remson. “He just loves music, I can see it. And as someone who loves music also, I see a lot of myself in some of my students that really love music and it’s great.”

“He’s got a real natural talent and he’s very receptive if I give him a direction in how to play something,” he added. “Two years ago, when he came into the ensemble, he had difficulty articulating the notes. Within a week, he was perfect… He just excelled and excelled and excelled.”

Besides his natural talent, Mr. Remson said, Thomas excels due to his hard work and devotion to constantly improving. NYSSMA evaluates students on levels 1 through 6 and Thomas is already preparing to perform at level 5—despite not yet being in high school.

“I did level 1 in fourth grade and then I just went on,” he said.

At NYSSMA, students prepare a piece at their respective level to perform in front of a judge. They are graded on different criteria—tone quality, intonation, musicality, rhythm—and if they do well enough they can be invited to play in honor ensembles.

Thomas was accepted into the select ensembles for the Hamptons Music Educators Association and the Suffolk County Music Educators Association, but could not attend because he was performing in the state honor band the same weekend.

If Thomas has an upcoming event, such as the state band, he practices about 14 hours a week. If he doesn’t have anything on the horizon, he still dedicates at least six hours a week to practicing.

Thomas is the first Pierson Middle School student to be named to the State Honor Band, let alone achieve a first chair position.

“It’s going to be much more difficult to get into these kinds of things because I’ll be the youngest one [in the high school division] as a freshman,” Thomas said. “But, I’ll still try for HMEA and maybe I could get into the high school honor band…it’ll be hard, I have to work on my NYSSMA solos.”

Of the honor he’s already earned, Thomas said, “I guess it looks good on a college application.”

Thomas’s future plans are up in the air. “I could do that community band in Sag Harbor,” he said.

Lady Whalers Riding High into New Season

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Leading the Pierson softball team this season will be, from left to right, Kasey Gilbride, Meg Schiavoni, Emma Romeo, Sam Duchemin, Zoe Diskin and Sabrina Baum.

Leading the Pierson softball team this season will be, from left to right, Kasey Gilbride, Meg Schiavoni, Emma Romeo, Sam Duchemin, Zoe Diskin and Sabrina Baum.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller

There’s a bright and confident aura surrounding the Pierson softball team as it heads into the spring season. And rightfully so.

The Lady Whalers have returned almost their entire lineup from last year’s team, which advanced to the New York State Class C Final Four before losing to eventual state champion, Frewsburg, in the semifinal round. The returning players include co-captains Kasey Gilbride, Emma Romeo and junior pitcher Sam Duchemin, all who have championship pedigree to spare and high hopes of overcoming last season’s semifinal loss.

“They’re focused, they have their goals set, they know what they want to do,” head coach Melissa Edwards said this week, speaking specifically about her co-captains, who were part of the school’s state championship field hockey team in the fall. “They are the leaders of my team, but this is a team thing. There is an overall family aspect to it. This is a group effort, and they get that.”

Gilbride and Romeo return for their senior years after having played varsity for the last four seasons. Gilbride is the team’s “coach on the field,” according to Edwards, not to mention its best hitter and sure-handed shortstop.

“Kasey overall is the consummate athlete,” Edwards said. “She’s lights out in field hockey, but she’s a very good softball player as well. She has speed and power.”

Romeo, who was injured for most of field hockey season, returns as the starting catcher and battery mate to Duchemin, who should be one of the top pitchers in the league, if not Suffolk County.

“Pitching is the only thing I worry about in the offseason,” Edwards said. “But Sam plays travel all year long, and as long as she is throwing, that’s all that matters. Pitching has to be a year-round thing.”

Also returning to the infield this spring are juniors Sabrina Baum, at second base, and Meg Schiavoni, at third. Freshman Lottie Evans returns at first base, giving the Lady Whalers a formidable, albeit young, infield that is stacked with talent.

“We are a returning squad, but we’re still a very young returning squad with only two seniors,” Edwards said. “Meg Schiavoni has gotten so much better, and Sabrina is so much better as well. Lottie’s so strong, she’s tall, she’s got it all. My infield is insane.”

Edwards is also excited to bring back a strong core of returning players in the outfield, including junior Zoe Diskin and freshman Isabel Peters, who started last year as an eighth grader. Freshmen Cali Cafiero, Maizy Guyer and Mackenzie Beadenbeck will compete for time in the outfield as well.

The Lady Whalers’ charge upstate began last year with a win over Port Jefferson in a three-game Suffolk County Class C Championship series. Port Jeff has moved up to Class B this year, so the only teams that could stop Pierson from another county title are Southold-Greenport and Stony Brook. There are no Class C teams in Nassau County, so a win in Suffolk would advance Pierson straight to regional competition.

There has been a re-alignment with league play this season, and Pierson will compete in League V with all of the Suffolk’s Class B and Class C schools. The league season will begin this Monday, March 24, with a home game against Mattituck at 4:30 p.m.

“It’s pretty neat coming off the run we had last year,” Edwards said. “And there’s an expectation to go back. Kasey, Emma and Sam are doing a dynamic job of keeping everyone focused.”

“Overall this season, we’re very optimistic,” she continued. “Our goal is to go back to states and we’re working hard at it.”