Tag Archive | "pierson high school"

Pierson Students Evacuated Monday Due to Strange Odor

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A student navigates the halls of Pierson High School. Photo by Michael Heller.

A student navigates the halls of Pierson High School. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

Just before the end of the school day Monday, the students and staff of Pierson High School were evacuated after administrators observed electrical problems and smelled a strange odor coming from the basement.

“We started to have some blinking lights and we smelled an odor by the motors in the basement,” Dr. Carl Bonuso, interim superintendent for the Sag Harbor School District, said Tuesday morning. “So, as a precautionary measure in the interest, obviously, of safety, we did evacuate the building.”

Pierson students were dismissed on schedule to buses or for parent pick up. All after-school activities were cancelled. All belongings left behind were secured in the classrooms, the district said. The Sag Harbor Elementary School was not affected.

According to PSEG Long Island, roughly 337 customers in the area, including the school, were affected at 2:02 p.m. Monday afternoon due to a down wire. The problem was corrected and full service was restored by 2:43 p.m., PSEG representative Anthony S. said Tuesday.

The Sag Harbor Fire Department and electricians investigated the problem, addressing lighting and heating concerns, and cleared the building for “safety and proper operation” at around 3:30 p.m. the district said.

“This morning we’re pretty good,” Dr. Bonuso said early Tuesday morning.

In a letter sent out to parents, students and staff shortly after 4 p.m. Monday, the district wrote, “Rest assured that teachers will be forgiving of any homework or assignments that would have been otherwise due.”

“What we wanted to make sure was if someone didn’t have their book or notes to study, not only that they didn’t need to do the homework, but that they didn’t get penalized on an assessment,” Dr. Bonuso said.

On Tuesday morning, teachers supervised the retrieval of any belongings left behind by students the afternoon before.

“I commend the students and the staff,” said Dr. Bonuso, “they were all so cooperative and we handled that glitch very well.”

After Starring in Commercial, Pierson Junior Abi Gianis to Join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG)

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Pierson High School Senior Abi Gianis makes her professional acting debut in a new commercial for Clean & Clear.

Pierson High School Junior Abi Gianis makes her professional acting debut in a new commercial for Clean & Clear.

By Tessa Raebeck

Although celebrities are known to frequent Sag Harbor, they are usually in the village as visitors, not lifetime residents. Homegrown stars are rare, but Abi Gianis, a junior at Pierson High School, is well on her way to changing that.

Gianis recently filmed her first national commercial, “See the Real Me,” an acne spot treatment commercial for the international brand Clean & Clear. The 30-second commercial features seven teenage girls, including Gianis, delivering lines and smiles about how the spot treatment allows people to look past the zits and “see the real me.”

While some of the actors don’t speak at all, Gianis delivers two lines, including the commercial’s ending catchphrase – arguably the most coveted line – “clean and clear and confident.”

Gianis, who possesses the natural charisma vital to show business, used the limited resources on the East End to perfect her craft, performing on Pierson’s stage in a number of plays and musicals and dancing at Studio 3 in Bridgehampton. Most recently, last weekend she played a lead role (Cassie) in Pierson’s production of “A Chorus Line,” acting, singing and dancing ballet.

“We are very proud of her,” Paula Brannon, Pierson’s director of musicals, said of Gianis, adding that her student “is now a pro.”

Gianis has signed with a top agency in New York City and has been invited to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).

Pierson-Bridgehampton Girls Field Hockey Team Earns County Honors

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Legislator Jay Schneiderman, Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso, Athletic Director Todd Gulluscio, Coach Shannon Judge, Bridgehampton Athletic Director Mary Anne Jules, India Hemby, Rachael Miller, Kasey Gilbride, Samantha Duchemin, Emma Romeo, Emmeline Luck, Katherine Matthers, Erica Selyukova, Assistant Coach Melissa Edwards, Bookeeper Elizabeth Marchiesella, (front row) Cassandra Spencer, Phiona Vall, Hollie Schleicher, Kerrie Vila, Calista Cafiero at the Suffolk County Legislature last week. 

At the Suffolk County Legislature’s General Meeting on December 3 at the Riverhead County Center, Legislator Jay Schneiderman honored the Pierson-Bridgehampton Girls Varsity Field Hockey team. The Lady Whalers claimed the title of the New York State Class C Championship at Cicero North Syracuse High School on November 17 2013.

“These young women are shining examples of what can be achieved through dedication and teamwork. Suffolk County is very proud of their accomplishments,” said Schneiderman.

Pre-Prom Safety Presentation May be Mandatory in Sag Harbor

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By Amanda Wyatt

For many teens, the prom isn’t just a school dance; it’s a nightlong party. But members of the Sag Harbor Coalition concerned about the use of alcohol and drugs on prom night are trying to change this.

Pierson High School has held a voluntary pre-prom presentation on safety and making healthy choices for years, offering a discount on prom tickets to those who attend. However, at the coalition’s April 3 meeting, it was proposed that the event be mandatory for the parents of all prom-goers.

The idea was brought to the board of education (BOE) during their Monday night meeting.

“The members of the coalition felt pretty strongly about this and I certainly support it,” said Theresa Samot, BOE president and a coalition member.

“It’s a program that we’ve had in place for some time, but it’s been optional. And I think if we’re going to take some positive steps as a coalition, I think this would be a very good place to start,” she told the board.

“For the first time, I feel like we really took some action and really came up with some concrete recommendations that could be implemented,” she added.

Chris Tice, the board’s vice president who also sits on the coalition, agreed.

“At the coalition meeting, there was a consensus around the table that perhaps it should be required if you go to the prom. And many districts actually require students and their parents to attend that,” she said.

As Jeff Nichols, Pierson’s principal, pointed out, “The focus of the presentation in the past has been not only the event, but most importantly, what comes prior to the prom and what comes after. And that’s the community side that I’m concerned about.”

“The prom goes from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Most kids show up at 8 p.m. and they’re out by 10:15 p.m. And yet it’s a 12 hour evening,” he said.

While Nichols said had never made the meeting mandatory because he “wanted to entice students to come,” he was still amenable to either option.

At the same time, Mary Anne Miller, a BOE and coalition member, said she had heard “mixed reviews” about the effectiveness of the meeting.

“I’m a little hesitant to mandate it until we make sure that we’re making a very good choice,” she said.

Both Miller and Nichols pointed out that there were other details of making the prom presentation mandatory which would also need to be worked out. For example, an “appeal process” must be put in place for students whose parents cannot attend the presentation at the scheduled time.

In related news, the coalition is hoping to implement a new alcohol and drug curriculum for the next school year. Dr. Lisa Scheffer, a coalition co-chair and the director of the school’s pupil personnel services (PPS), said she had been looking into academically sound, comprehensive programs.

“Our next step is to choose one and to commit to using a curriculum that conveys [a] no-use message consistently and extend it through the entire pre-k through 12 sequence,” she said at the coalition meeting.

“We’re looking at a September start, so that would require that we get moving pretty soon and start identifying what the curriculum is, purchasing into the materials and start training our staff,” she added.

Coalition members also agreed that parent education and community outreach were integral aspects of any program.

“What we need to do is make sure whatever we’re doing as a school, we do in unison with the community so that we can move forward; otherwise, it’s a dissipated effort,” said Dr. Carl Bonuso, interim superintendent.

A total of $25,000 was proposed for the creation of such a program, according to 2013-2014 budget figures released at Monday’s BOE meeting.

Also at the last coalition meeting, co-chairs Dr. Scheffer and Dr. John Oppenheimer decided to partner with Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano to draft a letter regarding law enforcement and underage drinking.

As Fabiano pointed out, there are laws that many people may not be aware of, such as the county’s zero-tolerance stance on drinking and driving underage.

The letter will be reviewed at the next meeting — which is scheduled for Monday, May 6 at 6 p.m. — and will be widely dispersed to the community, said coalition members.

Bonackers Knock Out Whalers in Dogfight Friday Night

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By Gavin Menu; Photography by Michael Heller

Some non-league losses sting so much more than the others.

Rival East Hampton bussed up Route 114 Friday night and left Sag Harbor with an all too familiar result, a 65-54 boys basketball victory that solidified the Bonackers’ stranglehold over Pierson in recent years.

Senior guard Thomas King paced a balanced attack for East Hampton scoring 16 points to go with 13 rebounds. Thomas Nelson, Juan Cuevas and Danny McKee also scored in double figures for East Hampton.

Ian Barrett and Jake Bennett scored 14 points apiece to lead Pierson, which fell to 0-2 on the young season after back-to-back non-league losses.

“One of our goals this year was to beat East Hampton,” Pierson head coach Dan White said amid a crowd after the game had ended. “And the whole game we never got passive, we never gave up.”

The question now for the Whalers is can the short-term hurt lead to long-term motivation and can the sting from the loss be turned against future opponents once there is much more than local bragging rights on the line.

The non-league portion of the season ends for Pierson Tuesday at home against Bayport-Blue Point, with the League VIII schedule beginning next Friday at the Ross School. Before long, Pierson will be facing teams like Southold, Bridgehampton, Greenport and Stony Brook, all of which will be looking to stake claim to the league championship this year.

The Whalers, who lost, 50-46, in overtime against Shoreham-Wading River on Tuesday, jumped out to an early 10-0 lead over East Hampton on Friday, riding a wave of momentum sparked on by a raucous home crowd.

But with King and Cuevas leading the way, East Hampton, which traveled with a rowdy crowd of its own, chipped at the lead and actually took a one-point advantage into the second quarter. From there the Bonackers built a lead that reached 15 at one point late in the game, as the play grew more intense and physical with every passing minute.

Two technical fouls were called, one on each team, and there could have been plenty more as these two teams always seem to bring out the fire in the other. Forrest Loesch and Robbie Evjen, who excelled on defense in the game, fouled out early in the fourth quarter as Pierson could only cut the lead to nine in the waning minutes.

“With two of our better players on the bench we got down 12 or 13 and we could have mailed it in and gone down 20,” White said. “But they stuck with it. This was the best practice we’ve had all year. Nobody in our league is going to come after us like they did tonight.”

 

 

 

 

Pierson Homecoming This Weekend: Rain or Shine

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Homecoming is a much loved fall tradition where football rivalries and school spirit are a source of pride.

Ok, Sag Harbor has no football team — but this is a village with plenty of spirit, and Pierson’s PTSA and the Sag Harbor Booster Foundation are joining forces to make this weekend’s homecoming one to remember.

In addition to time-honored events like Friday’s bonfire at Long Beach, Saturday’s parade, skits at Mashashimuet Park, and varsity games, this year there will be some new homecoming traditions designed to appeal to all ages.

“Homecoming is seen as something for high school students, and some schools will tell you that’s the way it should be,” says Laura Matthers, secretary of the Booster Foundation. “But we’re looking at it as school spirit and we want to transfer it into community spirit. That’s the goal.”

“We’re trying to make it more community oriented so it’s not just a high school event,” adds PTSA president Stacey Britt. “[School board member] Mary Anne Miller said when her daughter was in a stroller they had so much fun going to Long Beach, getting a hot dog and watching the bonfire.”

“We’re trying to go back to that,” she adds.

This year, instead of parents flipping burgers at the beach during Friday’s bonfire, Britt has arranged for two food trucks to handle the hungry masses — Silver Spoon Specialties (which served up food at HarborFest) and an ice cream truck. The PTSA will collect a portion of the food sales.

Perhaps the most noticeable homecoming addition will be at Mashashimuet Park where the Booster Foundation is organizing the “First Annual Night of Lights.” A little tweaking of the field hockey schedule has ensured a nice match up against Port Jefferson Saturday and the Booster Foundation has rented lights to make the game a special event.

The Booster Foundation will also offer a full concession stand at the park and high school varsity athletes will lead soccer and field hockey clinics during the day on Saturday for grades K-6.

“One of our missions is to bring together the schools, and this was the best thing we could think of,” says Matthers. “The kids are enamored of the athletes, and the athletes love to show what they can do.”

“It’s a simple, no brainer kind of thing,” adds Matthers. “The athletes love it, and the kids touch base with players they’ve read about in the newspaper.”

 

Pierson Homecoming 2012 Schedule

Friday, September 28

Boys Varsity Soccer vs Stony Brook – 4:30 p.m.

Bonfire and pep rally at Long Beach – 6 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 29

Homecoming Parade – Main Street to Mashashimuet Park followed by skits at the grandstand – 9 to 10:30 a.m.

Field Hockey Clinic for grades 2-6 —12:30-1:30 p.m.

Girls Varsity Soccer vs Port Jefferson – noon

Soccer Clinic for grades K-6 – 2 to 3 p.m.

JV Girls Field Hockey vs Port Jefferson – 5:30 p.m.

Varsity Girls Field Hockey vs Port Jefferson – 7 p.m.

Pierson Gets Out Fast

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Whalers Golf: Best performance in 26 years, says coach.

By Gavin Menu

Sean Crowley has been coaching at Pierson High School for 26 years and has seen his share of impressive athletic achievements. But last week at the Noyac Golf Club he witnesses an especially remarkable performance as his team posted a score of 208 in a 9-0 victory over Westhampton Beach.

“It’s the best I can remember in 26 years,” Crowley said of the performance, which featured three scores of 41 from his top three players – seniors Dillon Decker and Gabe Denon and sophomore Ben Kushner. “I am really pleased how much preseason preparation we put in, which will provide important depth throughout the line up.”

Junior Jack Bori shot a 43 against Westhampton, while seniors Brad Reiner and Jake Bennett shot 42 and 45, respectively. Two days later at Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville, Pierson dominated once again in an 8-1 win over Center Moriches. Decker shot a 45 in the top spot, but posted the team’s lone loss of the day, while Bori shot a 4-under 39 to lead the Whalers.

Denon shot a 41 and Kusher, who played junior varsity as a freshman last year, shot a second straight 41 against Center Moriches to impress his coach. Rounding out the Whalers golf roster are Aidan Kirrane, Liam Doyle and Zack Zimmerman.

The win over Center Moriches moved Pierson to 2-0 and set up a huge rivalry week that included a match last night against the Ross School, along with upcoming meetings against Southampton today, September 20 at 4 p.m., and East Hampton this Tuesday, September 25 at 3:30 p.m. Both matches will be held at Noyac.

“The first half of the season we need to win or hold at home, then go on the road in the last week to both Southampton and East Hampton,” Crowley said when asked about the season in general and the hunt for a League VIII crown. “That’s when our senior leadership, depth and maturity will be needed to succeed.”

 

 

 

YARD Summer Program Approved; IB Becomes Official at Pierson

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By David McCabe

During their annual reorganization meeting on Monday, members of the Sag Harbor School Board approved the hiring of personnel for the Youth Advocacy and Resource Development (YARD) summer beach program. They were also informed that Pierson High School has been accepted into the International Baccalaureate (IB) program for next year.

Concerns over whether the beach program would run this summer have plagued the board for months, and had come to a head recently as the proposed start date of the program, Friday, July 6, drew closer. As of Wednesday, YARD representatives confirmed the program would, in fact, begin this Friday at Long Beach in Sag Harbor.

At issue in recent months were a number of problems which an auditor found with the program in 2010, including employees bearing incorrect civil service titles and questions over whether the district should be assuming liability for a recreational program.

During the course of the meeting, some members of the school board objected to approving the personnel actions in the absence of IMA’s (inter-municipal agreements) with the different municipalities who are funding the program. Mary Anne Miller, who ended a one-year term as board president on Monday, but remains a board member, said she believed it was illegal for the program to be operated by the district without those documents in place. She pointed to a memo issued by the district’s outside counsel, attorney Tom Volz

But Sandi Kruel and Chris Tice, two board members who have been vocal proponents of the program, argued Volz’s memo did not preclude the district from running the program without the agreements if they were able to fund the summer program without moneys from the other municipalities. Kruel also sits on the board of Friends of YARD, a non-profit organization created to fundraise for YARD activities.

Currently, Friends of YARD has enough money to fund the summer beach program without assistance from outside municipalities, Kruel said.

Miller said that, as of Tuesday, Volz had clarified his original statements and told board members that at least one municipality must have signed an IMA in order for the district to legally run a recreation program.

Unbeknownst to school board members, this point was likely moot even as they debated it: the North Haven Village Board voted to approve their agreement with the district at a meeting Monday evening. According to Miller, Southampton Town had signed an IMA by Tuesday afternoon.

“I think the board did what was right for children,” said Kruel.

Some board members were once again critical of Friends of YARD, saying that many of the logistical hurdles which stood in the way of the program could have been cleared earlier. In response, Kruel provided the Express with a list of questions the board had presented to the Friends of YARD one year prior, with answers attached.

Monday’s school board meeting also brought news that Pierson High School had been accepted into the International Baccalaureate program, the culmination of a years-long process that was at times contentious.

The IB program is a diploma granting course sequence that is often presented as an alternative to the College Board’s Advanced Placement classes. Students begin taking IB classes during their junior year and receive a diploma when they graduate. Jeff Nichols, principal of Pierson High School, had been credited with being a driving force for bringing the IB curriculum to the school.

Before the foundation that develops the IB curriculum could allow Pierson to offer its diploma, it sent an evaluator to campus to make sure it had the facilities and technology to support the program. Teachers have also attended IB training sessions.

“I think it’s a great positive addition to the district as a whole and I think it’s going to help us grow district wide, I don’t see it as a plus for just juniors and seniors,” said Miller.

Football is Nixed

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By David McCabe


Sag Harbor’s Pierson High School has a history of being too small to field a football team — though up until the 1950s, the Whalers had a six-man squad. In recent years, Pierson students interested in taking the gridiron have been able to do so by playing on the East Hampton High School football team.

But next year, that opportunity will cease to exist — at least at the varsity level.

The East Hampton School District has made the decision to terminate the long-standing agreement between the schools because, when Pierson and East Hampton field a combined team, they are bumped up to a higher class and face much tougher competitors. The class system groups teams based on school enrollment numbers, and the addition of the Pierson students would cause East Hampton to move up this fall from Class B to Class A. With Pierson onboard, East Hampton, which already struggles against Class B competitors, would have had to face teams from much larger schools.

“It’s not a pleasant thing to have happen but I understand the rationale,” Pierson High School Athletics Director Montgomery Granger said, “because they’re [East Hampton] already not very competitive and to put them in a more competitive class would be unhealthy for the kids.”

Pierson students will still be able to play football at the middle school and junior varsity level, Granger said. This academic year, two freshmen played on the junior varsity team. The decision to discontinue the combined team at the varsity level could affect those two students should they try out for the higher-level squad during their junior year. Granger said decisions on what sports teams will be combined between Pierson and East Hampton high schools for the 2013-2014 school year will be made in March 2013.

Granger notes that Pierson students can still play with East Hampton High School athletes on a number of other varsity sports teams next year, including tennis, wrestling, lacrosse and swimming.

District to Lease Lots to Ferry Operator

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By David McCabe


Despite opposition from neighbors, the Sag Harbor Board of Education has unanimously decided to lease two of the parking lots at Pierson High School to Peconic Jitney, the new company seeking to operate a ferry service between Sag Harbor and Greenport this summer.

The company, which is largely financed by Hampton Jitney, will run a shuttle between Long Wharf and Pierson, allowing ferry passengers to park their cars in the school lots while they travel to the North Fork for the day.

The decision came during Monday’s school board meeting, which stretched on for three and a half hours — largely because of discussions unrelated to the parking lots.

A group of about 40 area residents, calling themselves Neighbors of Pierson, had voiced opposition to the initial plan — which would have used the school’s Montauk Avenue lot, on the grounds that it would increase traffic and noise in the primarily residential area.

In an attempt to resolve these issues, prior to the meeting Sag Harbor School District  Superintendent Dr. John Gratto met with Steven Reiner, who represents Neighbors of Pierson, and Geoffrey Lynch, the President of Hampton Jitney. As a result of that meeting, Dr. Gratto adjusted elements of the proposal in an attempt to satisfy residents complaints. Most significantly, Peconic Jitney will lease the Jermain Street lot instead of the Montauk Avenue space, while the school’s Division Street lot will act as overflow parking for passengers.

Since the Jermain Street lot is already in a high traffic area, Dr. Gratto said, the influx of vehicles is less likely to disturb neighbors. But despite the alterations to the proposed contracts, members of the public and board members grilled Lynch and Dr. Gratto for about 45 minutes.

“This is the opportunity for the board and the public to discuss this for the first time,” board member Chris Tice said.

Much of the concern for those present stemmed from the proposal’s stipulation that the final shuttle would arrive in the lot at midnight on the weekends. Tice, as well as Reiner, raised the possibility this might be too late for neighbors.

Lynch noted the schedule is only tentative and could be changed if there is no demand for an 11 p.m. ferry from Greenport.

He also said the driver of the shuttle, an 11-passenger van, will be responsible for removing garbage from the lot after he or she drops off the final group of passengers.

Dr. Gratto and others on the board argued that the additional traffic brought to the neighborhood as a result of the deal is outweighed by the $20,000 in revenue the lease will generate for the district.

“The school district does have an interest in revenue producing ideas that allow us to maintain programs and services for students,” Dr. Gratto said.

Reiner countered that though the school’s neighbors were not pleased about the proposal, they understood the need for additional revenue in fiscally lean times.

“There are good reasons for the school district to want to make a couple of bucks out of this,” he said.

The contract between Peconic Jitney and the district will only be enforced if the ferry service receives approval from a variety of other authorities, including, said Lynch, the state, the county, the Coast Guard, the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) and the Village of Sag Harbor Board of Trustees. Lynch added that of those groups, the village trustees would be the most likely to shut the project down if there are major concerns at the end of the ferry’s trial run period this summer.

“If there are too many negatives that are outweighing any positive benefit that this ferry may bring, then they will kill it,” he said.

If they don’t, the ferry’s financers are hoping that the service will begin no later than the last week of June — allowing the route to be operational during the busy July 4 holiday weekend and remaining up and running through Labor Day.