Tag Archive | "pierson high school"

High School Sailing Thriving at Breakwater

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Skipper Maxine DeHavenon from East Hampton High School and crewman Liam Kenny from East Hampton Middle School sailing off Sag Harbor on Monday

Skipper Maxine DeHavenon from East Hampton High School and crewman Liam Kenny from East Hampton Middle School sailing off Sag Harbor on Monday

By Gavin Menu

Far from any video game, smartphone, house chores or homework, students from the Ross School, Pierson and East Hampton High School gather on fall afternoons to rip across the water in Sag Harbor Bay. Just outside the breakwater and beyond Sag Harbor’s fleet of multi-million dollar yachts, the sport of high school sailing is alive and well.

“I practically live here,” said Wyatt Moyer, a student at Ross who is on both the fall and spring sailing teams and participates in the Breakwater Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program during the summer months.

While many of their friends play more traditional interscholastic sports like soccer or field hockey, members of the local sailing teams call Breakwater their home base and travel to competitive regattas across Long Island.

Moyer and four other Ross students, along with five sailors from East Hampton and two from Pierson, currently make up a collective team from the East End. They also compete, at times, as individual schools depending on whether a regatta is structured as a team event or designed for individual boats.

“More are welcome and recruiting is in process, possibly with sailors from Southampton, Bridgehampton, Sagaponack, even Riverhead,” said Sean Elliot, the sailing director at Breakwater. “High school sailing at Breakwater is open to anybody middle school and up who is interested in getting involved.”

Sailors on Monday took advantage of 18-knot wind gusts and jockeyed for position during a series of practice races, which take place daily from 4 to 5:30 p.m., rain or shine. Watching from the club’s usual race committee boat, Elliot spoke about a student who walked into the club cold a week ago, said he was tired of sitting around after school every day and hasn’t missed a day of practice since.

“A lot of the kids who come out stick with it, and that’s basically what the club is all about,” Elliot said about Breakwater, which charges junior sailors just $30 per year to become members, with no additional costs to be a part of the sailing team. “Rather than sitting around on the couch, they’re out here on the water learning to sail. It’s an amazing experience.”

Breakwater also serves as host for the high school spring season, which is much larger, according to Elliot, with about 25 sailors expected to compete starting in March of next year. The fall season runs until Thanksgiving, even as temperatures begin to plummet.

“You’d be surprised what some of these kids can endure,” Elliot said, adding that the club helps with equipment and foul-weather gear.

The team this fall will attend regattas at The Stony Brook School and The Waterfront Center in Oyster Bay, with Elliot and two other coaches— Martin Monteith and Dwight Curtis, who are both from Ross—hoping to compete with The East End Youth Sailing Foundation, which is based out of the Old Cove Yacht Club on the North Shore and is the home base of the Mattituck High School sailing team.

“High school sailing is booming nationwide and we are glad to help promote it to the fullest extent,” Elliot said. “Besides being a great sport for young sailors, building confidence and team unity, it is also great for the their college applications. College coaches are consistently checking on local high school events and we have some great connections at that level.”

Students interested in getting involved can call Breakwater at (631) 725-4604.

Skipper Cole Colby and crew Veronica Ko, both from the Ross School sailing on Monday.

Skipper Cole Colby and crew Veronica Ko, both from the Ross School sailing on Monday.

Adults on The Water Too

Breakwater’s Wednesday Night Fall Series will come to a conclusion next week as the club’s bigger boats continue to battle for local bragging rights. Fred Stelle sailed Witchli to a win in Division 1 last Wednesday, September 17, posting a corrected time of 47:28. David Betts and Charlene Kagel, aboard Instant Karma, finished second in 49:24 and Lee Oldak, aboard Purple Haze, finished third in 50:22.

In Division 2, it was Jim Smyth and Derrick Galen sailing White Lightning to victory with a corrected time of 50:07. Osprey, captained by George Martin, finished second in 51:28 while Wave Equation and captains Bruce Dinsmore and Joan Worthing finished third in 56:46.

Pierson Students Lobby for CPR to be Taught in New York Schools

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Pierson students Emma Romeo, Arlena Burns, Joseph Carlozzi and Alex Toscano and their health teacher Sue Denis met with Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. in his Albany office June 3.

Pierson students Emma Romeo, Arlena Burns, Joseph Carlozzi and Alex Toscano and their health teacher Sue Denis met with Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. in his Albany office June 3. Also pictured are Barbara and John Schmidt, who attended the event in memory of their 14-year-old grandson, Ronan Guyer, who tragically passed away after suffering a heart attack during a practice for a state cross country championship in November, 2012. Photo courtesy Assemblyman Thiele’s office.

By Tessa Raebeck

Madison McCarthy was just 5 years old when she went into sudden cardiac arrest in her kindergarten classroom in upstate New York. The principal of her school held Madison in his arms for 18 minutes waiting for help No one checked her breathing, no one performed CPR and Madison died waiting for help.

Pierson Middle-High School Health teacher Sue Denis and her student CPR instructors, backed by the American Heart Association and supporters like Madison’s mother, Suzy McCarthy, are now lobbying state politicians to ensure tragedies like Madison’s don’t happen again.

Having taught CPR at Pierson for 20 years this spring, Ms. Denis has instructed  hundreds of students—who have saved  16 to 18 lives—to be instructors, but at schools across the state, CPR programs are neither mandated nor funded.

Sue Denis's first CPR class at Pierson in the spring of 1994.

Sue Denis’s first CPR class at Pierson in the spring of 1994. Photo courtesy Sue Denis.

That could change very soon. After years of teachers, survivors and mourning relatives asking legislators to back a bill to require kids in New York to learn CPR before graduating high school, a bill passed the state Senate last week and the state Assembly on Tuesday, June 17. It is now waiting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature. If the governor signs the bill, it will then go for final approval to Commissioner John King and the Board of Regents, who will be responsible for whether CPR training is actually implemented into educational curriculums statewide.

“One step at a time,” Ms. Denis said Wednesday, June 18.

The American Heart Association says the requirement could help to save thousands of lives across the state each year. Nationwide, according to the AHA, approximately 424,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year—and only about 10 percent survive.

The survival rate fluctuates between 2 and 10 percent across New York State, Ms. Denis said, adding that in the 16 states where CPR certification is mandated for high school students, that survival rate can be as high as 50 percent.

A cardiac arrest can be brought on by 14 different causes, including drowning, getting hit in the heart, smoke inhalation, loss of blood and heart attacks, the latter which occur about every 30 seconds in the United States.

“There’s just so much in our diet and the way Americans live these days is just so unhealthy, that it’s a common occurrence to have a heart attack,” Pierson senior Caleb Atkinson-Barnes  said while in Ms. Denis’s CPR instructor class Friday, June 13. “You could be anywhere and a person could go down—and knowing CPR will save that person’s life.”

Sue Denis's elective class of 10th, 11th and 12th grade CPR instructors at Pierson Friday, June 13.

Sue Denis and her elective class of 10th, 11th and 12th grade CPR instructors at Pierson Friday, June 13. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Ms. Denis and four of her Pierson students—Arlena Burns, Joe Carlozzi, Emma Romeo and Alex Toscano—traveled to Albany Tuesday, June 3, to ask for the bill’s passage. They heard from Ms. McCarthy, Madison’s mom, and other families who lost loved ones who could have been saved had someone started CPR earlier.

Alex Toscano, a senior at Pierson and a CPR instructor, told state lawmakers that Ms. Denis has been teaching CPR since before she was born and that she cannot understand why every school doesn’t teach the life-saving skill.

Teaching students to save lives seems like a political no-brainer, but legislators have stalled bills in the past because they are hesitant to put another unfunded state mandate on New York’s already fiscally tight school districts.

“You would rather not support the bill then—God forbid, you’re ever in that situation where you need someone’s help—there’s less people around that know what to do?” Pierson senior and CPR instructor Emma Romeo said of the politicians in class Friday, prior to the bill’s passage. “Because I know if I was in that situation, I would want as many people around to help as possible.”

“You’re going to feel safer in any situation,” added classmate Sheila Mackey. “The fact that most of the teachers in our school don’t know CPR or in other schools don’t know CPR—I’m just surprised the bill hasn’t been passed, it’s a chance to save lives, why wouldn’t they go for it?”

Ms. Denis started at Pierson in the fall of 1993 and had convinced the administration to let her teach CPR by the spring of that school year. Her first graduates in 1994 are now among hundreds of students she has taught, “thousands probably,” she said.

“I’ve been so lucky here at Pierson and fortunate that I’ve always had the support of the whole administration—the principals, the superintendent and the board,” said Ms. Denis.

To her knowledge, about 30 of her students have performed CPR and 16 to 18 lives have been saved.

While working at the Bridgehampton Club, Ms. Romeo saved a little boy who was choking on a Goldfish cracker by performing the Heimlich maneuver.

Ms. Denis’s former student, Rich Simmons, now a fireman in the village, years ago performed CPR on a 65-year-old man whose boat capsized in Sag Harbor. He saved his life.

In September, Erick Saldivar, another former student of Ms. Denis, saved his aunt’s life when she went into respiratory arrest.

“She started seizing and I thought back to Ms. Denis’s class about what to do,” Mr. Saldivar told the Sag Harbor Express last October.

“You obviously are going to feel more confident in that situation knowing that you’ve been taught by someone who knows it so well like Ms. Denis, so you know exactly what to do,” Ms. Toscano said.

“What we always tell the kids,” said Ms. Denis, “is you’re never going to do CPR when it’s a nice, comfortable, relaxed environment. You’re going to do it in a really stressful, critical situation.”

“It’s a scary thing,” added student-instructor Zach Depetris. “It’s not something that you’re going to be able to do no matter what; it’s a life or death situation.”

Speaking of those who have died from cardiac arrests who were not aided by CPR, Ms. Mackey said, “They were just normal kids. They just went into cardiac arrest, just no one knew how to help them or what to do.”

“Our kids,” Ms. Denis said, “have shown again and again that they’re willing to step up to the plate and do it.”

Pierson and the Ross School Win Big at the 12th Annual Teeny Awards

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Pierson High School students rehearse the final dance number of "A Chorus Line" in the high school auditorium January 26. Photo by Michael Heller.

Pierson High School students rehearse the final dance number of “A Chorus Line” in the high school auditorium January 26. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

Up against 15 other competing high schools, Pierson High School and the Ross School took home 10 awards between them at the 12th Annual Teeny Awards ceremony at Longwood High School Sunday, June 8.

Hosted by East End Arts, the Teeny Awards recognize exceptional acting, directing and technical work in the theatre productions at local high schools. The 2013-2014 awards saw the entry of over 30 dramas, comedies and musicals, with more than 1,000 students involved in the casts, crews, pit and production teams.

“Whatever position you hold in a theatrical production–it is of the utmost importance,”  Teeny Awards Coordinator Anita Boyer said in a press release Sunday. “Each member of the troupe relies on the others in order to pull off a show and being a part of it is such a unique and incredible experience.”

 

Pierson High School

Before a crowd of past Teeny Award winners, theatre owners, local politicians and other distinguished guests, Pierson students performed the number “What I Did for Love” from “A Chorus Line,” warming up for what would be a long night of shaking hands and grabbing trophies.

Pierson took home one of the biggest awards of the night, winning “Best Ensemble” for its production of “A Chorus Line.”

The technical end of “A Chorus Line” was also featured in a heavy showing during the awards. Shelley Matthers was recognized for her role as stage manager and Shane Hennessy took home a technical design recognition award for his role in lighting design for ”A Chorus Line,” as well as Pierson’s other productions “A Murderer Among Us” and “The Fantasticks.”

Emily Selyukova was also recognized for technical design for her work as set designer and student director for “The Fantasticks.”

Emily and the entire cast of “The Fantasticks” took a Judges’ Choice Award home to Sag Harbor for their work as a student run and directed production.

The Lead Actress in a Drama award went to Rebecca Dwoskin of Pierson for her performance as Olga Buckley Lodge in “A Murderer Among Us.”

 

The Ross School

The Ross School also had a strong showing. Joannis “Yanni” Giannakopoulos was named best supporting actor in a drama for his performance as Scotty in “Median.”

Ross also earned best supporting actress in a drama, with Amili Targownik winning the award for her solo showing in “The One-and-a-Half-Year Silent Girl.”

The supporting actress in a comedy award resulted in a surprising tie, but the twist simply gave Ross School two awards instead of one; For their performances in “The Grand Scheme,” Daniela Herman, who played Bethel, and Naomi Tankel, who played Clarice, were honored.

Inga Cordts-Gorcoff was awarded a prize for her role as stage manager for “One Acts” at Ross.

The Eight Guinea Pigs of Sag Harbor’s IB Program are Ready to Graduate

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IB Diploma Candidates Max Snow and Bryant Yunker play a scientific song for fellow soon-to-be graduates Chance Sevigny, Kyle Sturmann, Garrett Potter, Tiger Britt and Carli Fischer at the IB recognition ceremony in the Pierson Middle-High School library Thursday, May 29 (Drew Harvey is there but not pictured).

IB Diploma Candidates Max Snow and Bryant Yunker play a scientific song for fellow soon-to-be graduates Chance Sevigny, Kyle Sturmann, Garrett Potter, Tiger Britt and Carli Fischer at the IB recognition ceremony in the Pierson Middle-High School library Thursday, May 29 (Drew Harvey is there but not pictured). Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck 

Adequate sleep, a social life and good grades: a diploma candidate in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program must choose two.

At a recognition ceremony for the first group of Pierson High School IB diploma candidates, eight seniors who were the guinea pigs when the school started IB in September 2012, Vice Principal Gary Kalish joked that students could only choose two of the three—and, perhaps surprisingly, the students laughed.

“Two years ago,” said Garrett Potter, a senior and IB diploma candidate, “we, Cohort 1, made the conscious decision to take on the challenge of the IB diploma program head on. And I can honestly say, two years later, I have not only improved as a student through the program but as a person.”

The eight inaugural students, Tiger Britt, Carli Fischer, Drew Harvey, Garrett Potter, Chance Sevigny, Max Snow, Kyle Sturmann and Bryant Yunker, were recognized in a ceremony before teachers, parents and administrators last Thursday, May 29, in the Pierson library.

As the district’s IB coordinator, Mr. Kalish led the initiative to introduce the international curriculum to Sag Harbor. A rigorous college preparatory program that seeks to educate the whole student, emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, responsibility and cultural understanding, IB is currently offered to Pierson students in grades 11 and 12.

Following recommendations made to the board of education by Mr. Kalish and Principal Jeff Nichols in March, the district is in the process of extending the IB curriculum to include a Middle Years Program (MYP) that would make it available for students in grades six through 10.

IB is designed to give students a global perspective, with more group discussion, problem solving and abstract thinking than traditional lecture-style classrooms. To qualify for the diploma, the eight members of the group had to complete six IB classes, as well as the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course, Extended Essay Project, and Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) activities.

In addition, the students completed internal and external assessments demonstrating understanding of different subject areas, including math and science portfolios, research investigations and research papers and oral commentaries, which included some 20 minutes of speaking in another language, “quite an impressive feat,” according to Mr. Kalish.

“What really makes the IB program unique, aside from those six courses and their assessments, is what the IB weighs as equally important in terms of their preparation for life after high school,” said Mr. Kalish.

Students are pushed to be critical thinkers, develop natural curiosity, act with integrity and honesty and show empathy, compassion and respect for others, Mr. Kalish said.

“I’m not going to sit here and say it was easy,” Garrett said, adding nothing worth accomplishing is ever easy.

“What I would say to Cohort 2,” he said, addressing the group of junior students in their first year of IB seated in the audience, “is I know things may seem tough at times, [but] that feeling of accomplishment when it’s all over—it’s all worth it.”

Garrett apologized to the graduating group’s parents for “stressing you guys out sometimes,” and thanked the administration “for going through this process with us and doing it together.”

“We know it was equally as hard for you, but we believe it was a mutualistic relationship, in that we all benefited from it greatly,” he added. “I believe the program has many more good years in the school.”

Theory of Knowledge, an essential component of IB, is a two-semester course that challenges students to question the bases of knowledge in the disciplines they study and to develop the ability to analyze evidence and express it in a rational argument.

“The best student does not need to wear their grades on their sleeves to demonstrate their stature,” said TOK teacher Sean Kelly. “Fearlessness, toughness, dedication and, most important of all, integrity…When you consider the expectation and standards inherent in the IB program, you can see how it can reveal the best in students.”

Student Drew Harvey said the biggest switch in adapting to the IB program was on the shoulders of the teachers.

“They had to change their whole curriculum and go outside what they’ve been teaching for the past 10 to 20 years,” Drew said.

“Mr. Kelly taught us to think outside the box and create our own opinions,” he said, adding the students’ were primarily pushed through writing.

History of the Americas teacher Ruth White-Dunne, he said, “did a really fine job of teaching history in a way we never thought was possible [and] showed us historical perspective by showing us all the causes and effects of global issues for all sides and parties.”

“That really opened our eyes to another way of thinking that was echoed through Mr. Kelly in his class,” added Drew.

Another key component of the IB curriculum is the Creativity, Action, Service requirement. Students must obtain 50 hours of each of the three components. The means to do so vary widely; creativity hours can be earned through playing an instrument or making art, action through moving your body via horseback riding or bushwhacking, and service through helping the community.

Seniors Carli Fischer and Kyle Sturmann told the room about their experience initiating recycling in the elementary and middle schools.

“These kids got pretty jacked up,” Kyle said of the younger recyclers. “I’m not gonna lie, they were into it.”

Pierson Places 49th out of 100 in Division at FIRST Robotics Championship

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Member of the Pierson Robotics Team on their way to the closing ceremony of the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in St. Louis, Missouri Saturday, April 26. Photo by Gayle Pickering.

Member of the Pierson Robotics Team on their way to the closing ceremony of the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in St. Louis, Missouri Saturday, April 26. Photo by Gayle Pickering.

By Tessa Raebeck

After months of preparation and four days of intense competition, the Pierson Robotics Team placed 49th among the 100 teams in its division at the finals of the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship Saturday.

The Pierson Robotics Team arrives in St. Louis for the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Photo by Gayle Pickering.

The Pierson Robotics Team arrives in St. Louis for the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Photo by Gayle Pickering.

Pierson’s Robotics Team, also known as FRC Team 28 and the “Beasts from the East,” spent six weeks designing, building and programming a robot—among myriad other competition-related tasks such as networking, marketing and fundraising—starting in January.

At the end of March, the team competed in the Long Island Regional competition at Hofstra University, earning second place and the Engineering Inspiration Award, which qualified it for the national competition.

The successful season culminated Saturday with Sag Harbor earning a position among the top teams in the world—and lots of ammo for next year.

“Everyone seems very motivated to have a great off-season,” said Liam Rothwell-Pessino, a junior at Pierson in his second year on the team. “Plus, everyone had a lot of fun,” he added.

After arriving in St. Louis on April 23, the team kept busy attending conferences, meetings and matches—and enjoying some special celebrity appearances. A total of 400 teams from across the world competed in four divisions: Pierson competed in the Curie Division.

Pierson Robotics teammates at the FIRST Robotics Competition in St. Louis. Photo by Zoe Vatash.

Pierson Robotics teammates at the FIRST Robotics Competition in St. Louis. Photo by Zoe Vatash.

Team captains Lucas Pickering and Alex Cohen, who are both seniors at Pierson and have led the team for the past two years, are passing on the “reins of leadership,” as Liam called them, to junior Kevin Spolarich, who started on the team in 2012 as a freshman.

Photo by Zoe Vatash.

Photo by Zoe Vatash.

“I’m happy about where I’m leaving the team, but I’m not quite done yet,” Lucas said Sunday. “We’ve got a lot of plans for the rest of the year to prepare for next season. I’m really glad Kevin is here to take the team over. I know for sure that it’s in good hands.”

“I definitely have some big shoes to fill, but I’m determined to keep our momentum going,” Kevin said of his new position. “We’re going to be recruiting, learning and practicing all through the off-season so we can do even better next year.”

“It was a really great learning experience for us to see all of the amazing robots sponsored by companies like Boeing and NASA and now we know what to expect from competition at that level, which will help us next year,” he continued. “We also were inspired by a lot of interesting designs [at the championship] and we’re planning to experiment with some new systems during the off-season, like the ability to switch between two types of wheels during a match.”

The Engineering Inspiration Award that qualified Pierson for the international championship was given to the team for its work to expand the team’s role in the community. Team 28 did robotics-related charitable work around town, brought in students from East Hampton High School, showed the robot to students at the Sag Harbor Elementary School and taught Costa Rican children about robotics, among other initiatives.

Such awards demonstrate the FIRST competition’s commitment to not just robotics and technology, but also to using the camaraderie and innovation required by a robotics program to further altruistic initiatives and enhance education.

The arena of the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Photo by Zoe Vatash.

The arena of the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Photo by Zoe Vatash.

“FIRST really tries to put focus on spreading the message and helping others outside the competition,” Lucas said. “The Hall of Fame is made up of the Chairman’s [Award] winners, which shows that the most important part of FIRST is actually about teamwork and helping others, rather than just robots.”

“When NASA paid for our entry fee to St. Louis because we won the Engineering Inspiration Award—something they didn’t do for competition winners—it showed us how much focus there is on going outside the robot to spread the message of FIRST,” he added.

In the closing ceremony Saturday, the 2014 Chairman’s Award was presented to Team 27, from Clarkston High School in Clarkston, Michigan, for its work helping to advance education. The team flew to Washington, D.C. to lobby for legislation involving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education for underprivileged children.

“It made me really want to give back to a community that’s been so supportive of us,” Lucas said of the inspirational closing ceremonies.

Robotics mentor Clint Schulman and team leaders Lucas Pickering, Kevin Spolarich and Alex Cohen prepare for competition in St. Louis. Photo by Zoe Vatash.

Robotics mentor Clint Schulman and team leaders Lucas Pickering, Kevin Spolarich and Alex Cohen prepare for competition in St. Louis. Photo by Zoe Vatash.

The closing ceremonies also involved a guest performance by musician and seven-time Grammy Award winner will.i.am, famed as the front man for the Black Eyed Peas and his music videos supporting President Obama’s 2008 run for office.

Throughout the competitive season, in addition to the networking and the fundraising, the technological innovation and community outreach, the lobbying at school board meetings and celebrating at their parade, Team 28 has always appeared dedicated first and foremost to one key component: having fun.

“The closing ceremonies were very fun,” said Liam. “Will.i.am played, but he was pretty mediocre. We had fun throwing paper airplanes from six stories up down at the president of FIRST. One almost hit him.”

The Pierson Robotics Team at the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Pierson Robotics Team at the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Gayle Pickering.

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.”