Tag Archive | "pierson high school"

Peering Into the Reutershan Trust

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Hobie Betts

By Claire Walla


What is the Reutershan Trust and how does it work? That was the discussion at Monday’s Sag Harbor Board of Education meeting which focused on the nature of the trust and was initially spurred by questions stemming from board members. Specifically, board members wanted to know what role does the school plays in overseeing costs related to the trust.

In the end, however, the presentation — given by Reutershan trustees Bob Schneider and Peter Solow — had little to do with funding. Schneider and Solow instead spoke at length on the merits of the privately funded art program created by Sag Harbor resident and architect Hobart “Hobie” Betts.

But it was just as well, said school board member Walter Wilcoxen, who in a follow-up interview noted that, coincidentally, Betts passed away Monday, the same day the trust was being presented to the school board. Wilcoxen felt it important to point out the program’s merits.

“Our art program would be decimated without it,” Wilcoxen said. “It’s so important that Hobie stepped up [to create the trust].”

The Reutershan Trust — named for Betts’ close friend Donald Reutershan, who until his death had been actively involved in the Sag Harbor School District — was established in 2000 with an endowment of $1.8 million. Each year, the fund generates somewhere between $40,000 and $80,000 in interest which is used for the sole purpose of fostering artistic programs within the Sag Harbor School District.

According to Solow, who administers the program for the district, “The thing that makes the program effective is that, from the very beginning, there was a vision provided by Hobie of what art education should be — and that vision was connected to the idea of bringing professional artists into the district. The program was really designed to create authentic artistic experiences for kids.”

Solow proceeded to run through 60 slides featuring images of Pierson students making, presenting, or discussing artwork — from photography projects like “Me By the Sea,” in which students documented their lives in Sag Harbor; to drafting projects, like the Bell Monument; discussions with professionals in the art world such as Vogue editor Andrew Leon Talley and workshops with world-renowned Spanish painter Perico Pastor and Condé Nast photographer Francine Fleischer.

Earlier this year, board members discussed the program’s financial structure, questioning whether or not the program met state regulations and how the trust should be classified under the purview of the school.

“In a sense, it’s a little similar to Y.A.R.D. [Youth Advocacy and Resource Development],” Wilcoxen explained. “If the money is run through our accounts at the school” — as had been the case with Reutershan until this year — “then the purchasing policies have to follow our purchasing guidelines, and they’re pretty strict.”

For example, Wilcoxen noted that the school requires administrators to go out to bid before purchasing any goods or services. But for a service like the Reutershan Trust, which uses money to bring artistic professionals to the school to work with students, Wilcoxen said it simply doesn’t make sense to bid-out services.

“How do you put out three bids for an artist,” he asked.

In the end, the board decided to keep all financial transactions with the trustees themselves, rather than with the school’s business office. Trustees Bob Schneider, Greg Ferraris and Marsha Heffner now have the authority to sign-off on all expenditures, with financial decisions guided largely by Ferraris who is a certified accountant.

“With regard to the trust, that’s not really our money, so we didn’t feel that we should have to oversee that money as closely as the money that the taxpayers give us,” Wilcoxen continued. “We suggested that the fund itself approve the money [it spends], and in that way they can act however they see best.”

As Schneider pointed out, the program functions according to the vision and the values initially set forth by Betts: “Pride of Place, Service, Commitment to Community, Citizenship, Good Works, and Engagement with the Greater World.” And in the wake of Betts’ death, Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Dr. John Gratto said he didn’t see the trust functioning any differently in the future.

For Schneider, the value of the trust is clear. He noted the courtyard at the middle/high school — which took four years to construct and is still an ongoing project — and the fact that students can do photography, printmaking and drafting work as examples of opportunities the trust has provided.

“Students get to work with materials that would otherwise be too expensive for the school district to get,” explained Schneider, who was principal of Pierson Middle/High School when the Reutershan Trust was founded. He continued, “The art program without the benefit of the trust would not be the vibrant program that it is today. It really has distinguished the Pierson art program from any other art program that I know of.”

Program for Teens Affected by Drinking Emerges on East End

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By Claire Walla


For those who struggle with issues related to alcohol addiction, there’s Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and for those affected by people who struggle with alcohol addiction, there’s Al-anon. But what about those for whom others’ excessive drinking is also linked to peer pressure and the struggle to fit in? Those for whom a sense of identity and moral values are still being developed?

For teenagers, there’s Alateen.

On December 1, the new East End chapter of Alateen will hold its first meeting at St. Anne’s Church in Bridgehampton from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. While there are currently scores of well-populated AA and Al-anon meetings nearly every night of the week at locations across the East End, until now the closest Alateen program to the East End had been held up island in Mastic.

“I see that Alateen is so needed in this area,” said Alateen co-founder Patty*. Patty started going to Al-anon meetings three years ago because she said her family has a history of alcoholism and she had developed damaging coping mechanisms.

But she took a special interest in Alateen a year and a half ago in the wake of a cataclysmic family tragedy: in 2010 her grandson, who lived up island, died from an accidental drug overdose at the age of 15.

And with other grandchildren currently in high school in East Hampton, she said she has noticed a spate of “out-of-control” parties among high school students on the East End.

“Drugs are so prevalent and so easy to find,” she added. “Kids need places to go to talk about their feelings.”

“I think [Alateen] is an absolutely wonderful thing,” said Pierson High School Guidance Counselor Linda Aydinian.

Due to a lack of outside programs on the East End that address alcohol addiction, Aydinian said she and her fellow guidance counselors can recommend private counseling for students facing difficult situations, but that’s about it. Now, they have the option of offering teens the support of a group composed of their peers. Aydinian said she’s already circulated fliers around the school about the program.

Alateen follows the same principals of Al-anon: it is governed by a system of rotating leadership, it is completely non-denominational and it’s totally anonymous — members are strictly barred from repeating anything uttered during the course of meeting, a rule Patty said Al-anon members take very seriously.

However, unlike Al-anon, which is open to people of all ages, Alateen provides this structure exclusively for teenagers, many of whom do not deal with or internalize others’ alcohol abuse the same way as adults.

“A 13-year-old isn’t necessarily going to resonate with a 48-year-old,” explained Jennifer*, who co-founded the Alateen group with Patty.

“It’s a safe place to talk about your fears when you’re witnessing a lot of drinking around you, whether that drinking is being done by your family members or your peers,” added Patty.

Both Patty and Jennifer have been actively involved with Al-anon — for three and 14 years, respectively — and both sing its praises.

“I feel like it helped save my life,” Patty said in an interview last week.

She went on to explain that the program provides coping mechanisms for people who have suffered or are suffering through relationships with those who have addiction problems.

She said that for many teens, addiction often leads to co-dependent behavior, which can manifest in teens taking on too much responsibility at home, lying to cover-up for other people’s bad habits or generally feeling unwanted or unloved.

According to Jennifer, the biggest asset of a program like Al-anon or Alateen is anonymity.

“What we say in that room stays in that room,” she stated. “We can say anything we want and it is honored.”

“I could share my guts and it would be ok ” — Patty chimed in — “And I have.”

Jennifer, who has two young daughters herself, said a program like Alateen is desperately needed in this community.

“There are so many people out here who go to Al-anon and AA meetings, and those people have to affect the people in their lives,” said Jennifer.

Having lived much of her life with alcoholics who have been close family members, she added that she wants to be able to give kids the opportunity to have an outlet and to deal with these issues before they reach adulthood.

“That’s why I’m doing this,” continued Jennifer. “Because I’d like to save another kid.”


* Names have been changed to respect the program’s anonymity.

District Contemplates Cut to Arts Club

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By Claire Walla


For parent Roberta Riela, Pierson High School’s open art studio is a key factor in some students’ educations. In fact, she said the art program is in part why she moved her family to the Sag Harbor community nearly 25 years ago. And now that the open art studio program has been temporarily eliminated, preventing her son from continuing with his art endeavors, she is appealing to the Sag Harbor Board of Education to bring it back.

“I’m here with four students who have been affected by the open studio being cut,” she said at a Sag Harbor School Board meeting last Monday, November 14, flanked by four Pierson High School students. “Why can’t it happen for these students?”

Indeed, the cost of administering open art studio this school year ($2,800) was made part of this year’s operating budget. While the funds are there, Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols said the program has not been halted because of a lack of support for the arts — though it may seem that way.

“I’m a supporter of the program,” Nichols said in response to Riela’s concerns. “I do want to run it and I do want to support it, but I do have to balance that with an obligation to tax payers.”

Nichols said he targeted the program at the end of last year as one that would potentially get cut from the budget due to its low enrollment numbers. But instead of cutting it outright, Nichols offered what he said was a good balance to the school’s dilemma of needing to cut costs without eliminating important class time.

“I essentially said yes to running it this year with the opportunity to reevaluate the program with the [teachers’] union midyear,” Nichols explained.

If enrollment dropped midway through the year to where enrollment numbers were at the end of last year — hovering around three or four — then Nichols said he would be more inclined to end the program. Otherwise, it would remain for the duration of the year.

“The response I got from TASH [the Teachers’ Association of Sag Harbor] was that they weren’t in support of that,” Nichols added.

School Board President Mary Anne Miller said she sympathized with Riela, but noted that the school board is tasked with the unfortunate responsibility of making cuts.

“We have to tighten up every single department,” she said. “This magnifying lens is everywhere in the district.”

Nichols said he would continue to try and reach an agreement with the teachers’ union so that if enrollment numbers stay strong, students will be able to participate in open art studio for the rest of the school year.

Donation to Schools Celebrates the Life of a Local, And His Love of Chess

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Chess adjusted

by Claire Walla


When Myron Levine decided to donate a chess table to the Sag Harbor community in honor of his son, Josh, who died tragically last year in an accident at Quail Hill Farm, it seemed to many to be a no-brainer.

The chess table would permanently reside at the location of the summer Farmers’ Market, where Josh had spent much of his time; it would be manufactured by a company Josh co-founded with his brother, Noah; and it would give Sag Harbor residents and visitors a new reason to venture into the village and enjoy the outdoors.

But last March the village voted against the proposed plan, suggesting that the area close to the Breakwater Yacht Club was not only remote, but the ground would be dug up by Exxon Mobile later in the year (a project that’s currently underway), which would make any permanent addition impossible to maintain.

That’s when Levine shifted gears.

“I decided instead of [donating the chess table to the village], I would donate the chess table to the school,” Levine said. “And they approved.”

Just this week Levine successfully donated not one, but two chess tables to the Sag Harbor School District. One table is now sitting behind the Pierson building near the field and the second table has been placed near the newly finished Eco-Walk at Sag Harbor Elementary School.

Levine said both have been strategically placed in “quiet areas,” or those places where the concentration required of a primarily mental game like chess would not easily be interrupted by the noise typical of most elementary school playgrounds during recess time.

According to Elementary School Principal Matt Malone, several students have already taken advantage of the opportunity to sit down and play the quiet game.

Levine said he is happy to have been able to donate this gift in the name of his son, who he said loved to play chess. And he hopes the tables might inspire the school district to do more to foster an appreciation for the game for its current students.

“Now that the tables are there, [the school] would love to be able to have one of the teachers talk to the students about forming a chess club,” Levine added.

He said he’s already spoken to School District Superintendent Dr. Johnn Gratto about that possibility.

“That’s one of the plans that might come from this.”

New Banners for Bees

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web New BHS Athletic Achievement Banners_4157

Students at the Bridgehampton School take pride in donning their beloved black and gold colors, but for six years Nina Hemby, a recent graduate of the school, also wore Pierson’s red and black as she competed athletically through shared sports programs in Sag Harbor. Many Bridgehampton students have also worn East Hampton’s maroon and grey, competing alongside the Bonackers in sports like track and football.

Now, thanks to Hemby and Bridgehampton School Athletic Director Mary Anne Jules, students who have not just participated, but achieved on shared sports teams — winning division, county or state titles — will be honored in the Bridgehampton Killer Bees gym, also known as the Beehive, just as Bridgehampton teams have for decades.

At Hemby’s request, the district has purchased banners celebrating the achievement of shared sports teams dating back to 1995. The banners are gold with black lettering, which will distinguish them from the Bridgehampton Killer Bees banners, which are black with gold lettering.

The banners were unveiled during a Bridgehampton School Board meeting on Wednesday, October 28. At the meeting, Nina’s mother Nicki,  school board president, read a letter from her daughter, who now plays field hockey at Long Island University’s CW Post, a Division II school, where she is a freshman.

Hemby’s field hockey career began on the Pierson squad, which, last fall won its division, as well as the Suffolk County Class C title and the Long Island Class C Championship. The girls lost in the state tournament in overtime.

“The shared sports program had been such a huge part of my high school life and I am grateful that the three schools are able to think outside the box and offer the students these amazing opportunities,”said Hemby.

“The shared sports program at first can be a difficult one,” she added. “For many of us it means stepping outside the comfort zone of your own district, a lot of long bus rides, late nights, late homework, pre-judgment from peers and coaching staff and the hardest piece to overcome is wearing another schools colors. But what you gain are wonderful relationships, self-confidence, the ability to break preconceived notions and make unforgettable memories.”

Bridgehampton has long been known for its storied basketball program. The Bridgehampton Killer Bees boys basketball team has won eight small school state titles. Hemby hopes that as the school begins to display banners honoring other successful athletic teams featuring Bridgehampton players, students and the community alike will realize that Bridgehampton sports is about more than just basketball.

“High school sports enables the entire school to come together, whether playing or observing, to cheer for their school,” said Hemby.

“When I left for states, the support from my fellow students, the school staff as well as the community as a whole was overwhelming. I am proud you chose to memorialize that moment with a banner.”

After the meeting, Hemby’s mother said she was also proud of the school’s decision as it highlights the positive relationship that exists between the Sag Harbor School District and Bridgehampton School. In addition to field hockey, Nina also played on the girls basketball team at Pierson and on the softball team.

“I just think it is very important to know how far the shared sports program has come and that Nina was not just the Bridgehampton kid, she was Nina, teammate,” said Hemby. “It was overwhelming to travel with the other parents to state playoffs and not be treated as an outsider, but as one of the Pierson family.”

School District Proposes Capital Projects

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By Claire Walla

On December 8, 2009, when the Sag Harbor School District put nearly $7 million worth of building improvements up for bond, the community voted it down.

Now, after two years of discussions, the Long Range Planning Committee has worked to trim the cost of the project by almost $1.8 million, which — coupled with $500,000 worth of energy cost savings built into this year’s operating budget — brings the total down to roughly $4.9 million.

Committee member John Russo and the district’s architect Larry Salvesen presented the updated list of improvement projects at a regularly scheduled school board meeting last Monday, September 26.

“We looked at what failed in 2009 and pared it back by looking at what we could move and what wasn’t essential,” Russo explained.

Most significantly, the committee minimized the Pierson kitchen upgrade, at a savings of $372,360; and removed two parking lots from the list of items needing repair, saving $341,000. About $350,000 was also taken out of the proposal for projects that can either be accomplished in-house, or are not deemed necessary.

What’s more, a $12 million plan to rebuild the Pierson Auditorium has been taken off the docket altogether. Instead of paying for the project with taxpayers’ dollars, the committee recommends securing funding through private donations.

Salvesen explained that many of these improvements are expected to save the district money over time.

With reference to the parking lots in particular, board members emphasized the importance of communicating with the public, largely blaming miscommunication for the bond measure failing in 2009.

“This is entirely for health and safety,” Russo told the board. “The Jermain lot [at Pierson High School], while improved with the striping, is still inadequate for bus traffic and emergency vehicles.”

Though he said the elementary school parking lot next to the Eco-Walk is sufficient, as is the high school parking lot at the front of the school, the lot on Hampton Street at the front of the elementary school is also unsafe in its current state.

School Board President Mary Anne Miller emphasized that adding parking spaces is not the only end-goal.

“It’s not that we’re trying to make them bigger, they really have deteriorated,” she said. “Their structure has diminished.”

As for Pierson’s outdoor facilities, District Superintendent Dr. John Gratto spoke to the importance of refurbishing Pierson High School’s field with synthetic turf and lights. Both measures, he said, would give Pierson athletes more ability to use the facilities for a longer period of time.

According to District Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Montgomery “Monty” Granger, the creation of a turf field would bring his department a significant savings. He currently budgets about $60,000 for field maintenance, he explained; but with a turf field the department would only have to spend about $5,000 a year to keep it intact.

Echoing some of the dissent heard back in 2009, community member Steven Reiner expressed some concerns. As far as the new field proposals go, Reiner said installing turf could be a far more complicated process than expected. However, he continued, “The light option is a far more problematic, and more vigorously opposed by the neighborhood.”

“I would think that a very full environmental report would have to be conducted,” he said, before the school district can bring this to the public for a vote He further explained that there are issues of traffic, access and public safety that need to be addressed.

“Once this becomes a decision that leaves the confines of the school and affects the community, police officers, garbage collectors [etc.] I don’t think it’s a choice one can offer the public lightly, without due diligence.”

“An awful lot of work needs to be done before lights can be considered for this area,” he concluded.

Pierson teacher and girls’ soccer coach Peter Solow suggested that perhaps the committee should consider separating the turf and the lights into two separate bonds, as the lights seem to be more controversial.

“If there was a field [and] a track, I guarantee you it will probably get more use than anything else in this community,” he said. “This is not simply an issue of interscholastic sports. The field can be used by the community on a year-long basis.”

While the school board has yet to tease out the finer details of the committee’s proposal, school board member Sandi Kruel did address concerns she had with the current plans for the Pierson cafeteria expansion.

The new plan, at $166,920, is a fraction of the cost presented two years ago, which topped $500,000. However, though the plan will add 16 seats, expand the kitchen area to include prep space and double storage capabilities, Pierson will still not have a functioning commercial kitchen, meaning cafeteria staff will not be able to cook using a stovetop.

“Unfortunately, to build a code-compliant commercial kitchen, it was an additional $350,000 for all the changes that need to be put in place,” Russo explained.

Kruel continued, “For $166,000, to do this and then not give the chef a fire to cook on… it makes me a little crazy.”

Broadening the scope of the discussion, Dr. Gratto explained that in tough economic times capital projects are often taken off the table when it comes time for school districts to tighten their belts. But, in light of the two-percent tax cap — which will affect all school districts in the state of New York next budget season — Dr. Gratto was sure to inform the crowd that funding for serial bonds would not be factored into such a cap.

The school board will continue to review the committee’s plans and is expected to discuss the project at the next bus

Bell Will Get A New Purpose

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By Claire Walla

High schoolers are often told that what they are learning will have greater application in the world at-large. But for a group of Pierson High School students this year, their hard work will pay off in a very tangible way.
With help from teacher Peter Solow and funding from The Reutershan Educational Trust, students have helped design an architectural plan for and will hopefully help to construct a new monument on their campus, which would prominently display the historic bell that’s been sitting relatively unseen in the Pierson building for years. (Originally part of the Presbyterian Church, the bell was moved to Pierson when it was built in 1907.)
During a presentation for the Sag Harbor Board of Education on Monday, August 1, Solow explained that the goal of this project is “to take students through the concepts of design.” While he said students have ventured into similar design projects in the past, this plan is different in the sense that “this time, we are actually intending to construct what we design.”
The group drafted a plan that depicts a hexagonal pillar, atop of which the bell would sit in an arched frame. The pillar itself has six solid faces on which plaques could theoretically be placed. The structure, which would be placed at the corner of Division Street and Jermain Avenue, would be made of concrete and would call for a ring of benches to be built around the pillar. The original concept imagined a raised structure with ramps and handrails so as to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, but this aspect of the plan has since been redrafted.
On the advice of architect Larry Salvesen, who donated his time to help the students with their project, the design will now lay level with the ground. This essentially eliminates the need for ramps and handrails, which will limit construction costs, and Salvesen pointed out that it restricts the amount of surface area vulnerable to graffiti.
Plus, as district Superintendent Dr. John Gratto added, without handrails “it’s no longer a skateboard attraction.”
Solow said one of the first big practical decisions the design team faced was where to put the structure. At one point the group considered putting the structure at the entrance to Pierson High School, but it was eventually determined that the monument should be placed at the corner of Jermain and Division near the “Welcome” sign at the north-west corner of school property. Unlike the concrete covered walkways by the front of the school, that area “provides a park-like setting,” Solow said.
It also creates “additional usage for part of the Pierson grounds that haven’t been used at all. The idea was also for [the monument] to be in a place that could also be used by the broader Sag Harbor community; that location is pretty prominent because of all the people driving by,” he added. “It would be seen by literally thousands of people every day.”
Board member Chris Tice looked favorably on the current location, saying “it’d actually be a great place to watch your kids go sledding” in the winter.
The impediments to the project now involve several fixed structures that are currently at the corner site. While there was talk of relocating the sign at the front of the school to give the monument prominent positioning, Solow pointed out that there is a tree just behind the sign that needs to be removed anyway. After speaking with local arborists, Solow said two of the trees at the foot of the school’s property “are in bad shape,” even “hazardous.”
In order to avoid dangerous conditions before the start of the school year, board members agreed to remove the tree, in addition to another adjacent to the front parking lot, which was also deemed hazardous by local experts.
While the final steps in the monument construction process have yet to be laid out, the structure is now set to rest set back from the corner of the property where a large oak now sits; it would still be visible beneath the canopy of a Linden trees that dot the land.
The board plans to hold at least one public forum on the bell monument and will invite community members to take part in the conversation before plans are solidified.
“The community is very strong about Pierson Hill,” said School Board President Mary Anne Miller. “We need to come to some kind of consensus before we sign-off on this.”
Because of the Reutershan grant — which has amounted to $60,000 — Solow pointed out that this project will be funded independently, without tax-payer dollars.
“We have no estimates yet on what the overall thing is going to cost,” Solow said. “But this is going to be paid for by the trust and other private sources, if necessary.”

In other news…
Dr. Gratto announced the board’s goals for the year, which address academic excellence, effective communication and fiscal responsibility, in addition to a fourth goal added this year: implementing a comprehensive wellness program. District administrators outlined 35 specific objectives under the umbrella of these four goals, including unifying the district’s athletic programs under “a systematic plan,” an add-on objective suggested by board member Chris Tice that evening.
Director of Business Operations Janet Verneuille announced that the district will change its bus routes this year, condensing six routes into five. The changes will save the district about $50,000. Verneuille said the plan was mainly implemented in an attempt for busses to avoid driving down narrow roads.

Sara Hartman: Student Starts a Music Career

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Sara Hartman

By Annette Hinkle

Sara Hartman is not unlike a lot of other teens in Sag Harbor. The soon to be Pierson High School junior has a summer job at the Kite Store on Main Street and in the coming days, will no doubt be spending time at the beach with friends.

But these days, Hartman is also busy doing something else — honing her skill as a recording artist. The young singer/songwriter has two original songs available on iTunes — “Everyone I Love,” released on May 23, and “Catch Me If you Can” a song that became available on June 24.

With a voice far more mature than her years would indicate, Hartman’s soulful tunes will lead listeners to quickly realize this is a young talent with great potential — particularly amazing given the fact that Hartman only recently began sharing her music publicly.

It all began in the band room at Pierson this past winter where Hartman, who plays drums in the school’s band and as part of the pit orchestra for musical theater productions, went during her free period. There, she would pull out her guitar and privately sing her latest originals.

“She and another student were in the band room one day and the other girl was playing a song she had written,” recalls music teacher Eric Reynolds. “Later Sara started singing and playing her own song on guitar. I came out and said, ‘It’s like something you hear on the radio – like a Norah Jones song.’ She told me she writes her own music. I had no idea.”

In fact, at that point Hartman wasn’t even in the school chorus.

“I had a study hall — I’d always hear them singing in there,” notes Hartman.

So with encouragement from Reynolds and chorus teacher Suzanne Nicoletti, Hartman gave up that study hall to join the chorus where the alto was able to hone her skill.

“I take what I can from it vocal-wise,” she says, “All the syllables the ‘Ts’ and ‘Ps’ you’re supposed to pronounce.”

While Hartman’s talent may have come as a surprise to the music teachers at Pierson, she acknowledges it’s not new for her.

“The first complete song I wrote was about my friend, Colleen Ryan, who moved and went to Connecticut,” recalls Hartman. “I was getting it out — it’s angsty. I wrote it before she moved in 8th grade in anticipation … because I’m a worrier.”

“Listening to my old stuff, bits and pieces I really like, I am proud of myself,” adds Hartman who finds that inspiration in songwriting often starts with a single sentence — or even a single word.

“It’s about what that means and how you can approach that word,” says Hartman. “I’ve had a difficult home life — divorce —that’s where a lot of it comes from.”

And has that difficult situation ultimately made Hartman a stronger songwriter?

“Yeah, and a stronger person,” she concedes. “It’s not a rebirth — I think that sounds cheesy — but self awareness.”

Though Hartman has been quietly writing music for a while, she admits that “Putting it on iTunes made it real.”

Playing live in recent months has also made it real.

On June 24, Hartman performed at the first Hampton Coffee Company “Live Music in the Garden” series in Water Mill. She also performed at Pierson’s spring concert. But she notes that her first “official” gig — at Crossroads Music in Amagansett, which was part of “On The Air at Crossroads” a monthly radio show hosted by Cynthia Daniels — was particularly eye-opening.

“Cynthia Daniels, my producer, is beyond fantastic. She’s helping me with everything — introducing me to this whole new world I love and love to be in,” says Hartman. “It was my first gig and I was terrified. But I brought it upon myself. They handed out flyers and a lot of people came.”

“It was amazing – Mike Clark, the owner, said ‘That’s the most people we’ve ever had in the store,’” adds Hartman. “I did three original songs – that’s all I really had prepared. I listened to it afterward and it was horrible. The bits and pieces, you can fix in the studio, but not when it’s live.”

Among the “bunch of strangers” in the audience that day was Elvis Costello’s keyboardist.

“He shook my hand,” says Hartman. “That was really intense. The reaction was positive.”

Lately, Hartman has also become a ukulele enthusiast – thanks to one she borrowed from Dr. Robert Schumacher, a science teacher at Pierson. It’s an instrument that she plays on “Everyone I know.” She also had help from local adult musicians on that recording — Klyph Black on bass and Randy Hudson on guitar. While she’s enjoying the experience of being a performing musician, Hartman admits she is a little nervous about the attention that comes with “going public.”

“It’s still very uncomfortable for me at times,” admits Hartman. “I’m working on the performer part of being a singer/songwriter. I still shake a little bit. But after you finish the song and you hear this applause … it’s amazing.”

Pierson Baseball Moves into Playoffs

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By EJ Yennie

A three run seventh inning comeback won the final game of the season for the Pierson  baseball team at Stonybrook on Friday, May 20 after an anti-climatic forfit by Stonybrook (2-16-0) on what would have been Pierson Seniors day on Thursday May 19. The 4-2 win put Pierson at 11-7 in league play earning them the number two seed in the playoffs and a double elimination game against the Port Jefferson Royals on Wednesday, May 25.

Friday’s game at Stonybrook started slowly for Pierson with senior Jake Weingartner pitching 5 2/3 innings with 6 Kk’s allowing 1 hit and 0 earned runs. Stony Brook scored on 2 errors in the bottom of the 6th. Tyler Gilbride threw a runner out from centerfield to keep the game tied. Freshman Forrest Loesch relieved Jake and went 1 1/3 innings allowing 0 hits and 0 earned runs with 2 K’s to earn the win.

Down 2-1 in the top of the seventh, Loesch began the rally with a single. With his first varisty up at bat, Nick Kruel’s bunt advanced Loesch and Kruel’s speed landed him on base.  With two men on and no outs, it looked like Pierson might have a chance of tying the score. Joe Faraguna, also on varsity for the first time, grounded to the right, loading the bases. Sean Hartnett doubled in Loesch to tie the game at 2. Weingartner hit a groundball to third base forcing Kruel out at home. With the score tied, Tyler Gilbride doubled to leftfield, scoring Faraguna and Hartnett, to put Pierson ahead 4 to 2.

The win placed the Whalers as a second seed in a double elimination tournament for the Suffolk County League VIII title and gave the Whalers a home field advantage for the first game of the tournament against Port Jefferson.

Pierson vs. Port Jefferson Royals

Despite the home field advantage, the Pierson Whalers lost the first of the double elimination playoff series on Wednesday, 4-3 to Port Jefferson.

Port Jefferson took the lead in the top of the fifth, scoring two runs off of Pierson errors. Pierson came back to tie the score in the bottom of the inning. Hunter Leyser was walked, then stole second and third. A base hit by Sean Hartnett scored Leyser. A double by Tyler Gilbride scored Hartnett, tying the score, 2-2.

Port Jefferson came back in the sixth, scoring two more runs before Pierson changed pitchers for the second time, bringing in Jake Weingarten to close the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, down two runs, Joseph Faraguna singled down the first base line. After a pop out by Leyser, Sean Hartnett tripled, scoring Faraguna. Down by one, with Hartnett on third and one out, it appeared that Pierson had a chance to even the score. A ground out followed by a pop fly out ended the game, 4-3 Port Jefferson.

Pierson will be playing either Port Jefferson or Mercy on Friday, May 27 at 4 p.m. If Mercy wins tomorrow, they will play Port Jefferson in Sag Harbor on Friday. If Port Jefferson wins tomorrow, Pierson will play McGann Mercy on Friday in Riverhead. Details on Friday’s game will be posted on the Sag Harbor School website.


The tradition of honoring Pierson Seniors at their last home game of the season was postponed on Thursday, May 19, as the game was forfeited by Stonybrook. The Whalers (11-7-0) instead took on the Lady Whalers in an impromptu scrimmage that kept both teams limber for this week’s playoffs and championship games.







YARD is Good for This Year

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By Claire Walla

After meeting with representatives of the Youth Advocacy Resource Development (YARD) program, Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Dr. John Gratto announced that the two parties had come to a decision.

“We agreed that the YARD summer beach program would remain under the auspices of the school district for 2011,” he said.

The school board has agreed to operate the program and the district will still essentially “own” the summer beach program this year.

However, Dr. Gratto continued to say that going forward the school board expressed an interest in detaching the summer beach program from the school’s list of responsibilities. The program could remain in operation, in this case, if it were to become a separate entity entirely (YARD is currently under the school’s insurance policy); or, Dr. Gratto added, “perhaps it could be run by Southampton Town.”

“It’s not a done-deal, per se,” school board president Walter Wilcoxen added.  From here on out, the future of YARD and it’s dependence on the school will be based “on the will of the board.”

School board member Dan Hartnett added that YARD was created at a time when “it was a completely different era,” before districts were subjected to such strict financial controls and annual audits.  “The question now is: how can we look at the needs of the kids and still be served in an era of accountability.”

He continued, “I’m happy that we’ve reached a decision to look at the beach program this year, because it is a beloved program.  And certainly there is time between now and next year to look at ways to administer and supervise it in a way that doesn’t harm the school.”

In other news…

To address the ways in which technology has changed the nature of communication, the board of education will revise board policy to take into account new ways of distributing information, i.e. texting and tweeting… yes, even Facebook.

“This is an important topic,” said school board member Dan Hartnett. He explained that there is a Sunshine Law in New York State, which prevents a board of elected officials from meeting in private when a majority of members is present.  Understandably, this notion is complicated when it comes to today’s swift back and forth of snippets of information.

“We should ask that all broadcast emails be copied to the [district] clerk, so that [all information] can be accessible to the public,” said school board president Walter Wilcoxen.