Tag Archive | "pierson high school"

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.

IB Pushes Forward Despite Criticism

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By Claire Walla

Despite some consternation, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program continues to make headway at Pierson High School.

On Monday, May 23 the Sag Harbor School District Board of Education voted unanimously to fund the next two payments (each $9,500) in the ongoing IB application process.

Though these payments are non-refundable, Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols said the district will not be locked into the program until the entire application is due on October 1, 2011. At that point — and should Pierson be accepted as an IB school — the district would pay $10,000 on an annual basis to be a part of the IB program.

The first payment, which was already part of the school board’s regularly scheduled agenda, will result in IB assigning a consultant to the district. According to Nichols, this consultant will guide the school through the rest of the IB authorization process, helping to answer questions such as, for example, what ninth and tenth graders can do to prepare for the diploma program at the junior and senior levels.

The second payment did not need to be approved until sometime before August 31; however, to streamline the process, board member Ed Drohan suggested the board consider passing a walk-on resolution to approve the second payment right then and there.

With both resolutions passed, the board has thus far approved IB expenditures totaling $23,000.

Though some worry about the cost of the program over time — especially in light of the governor’s two-percent property tax cap (which was approved earlier this week in the legislature) — some board members argue that the projected annual costs associated with running the program are marginal.

Based on a projected initial enrollment number of 40, Nichols predicts the program will cost the district about $56,210, a cost that is expected to rise to over $100,000 after two years with the addition of an IB Coordinator, budgeted in at $60,000.

“This cost is minuscule compared to our budget,” said board member Chris Tice. The cost of the IB program in its most expensive year would be about .0003 percent of the district’s $33 million budget.

Much of the concern for parents, at this point, centers on this year’s ninth graders, a point parent Helen Atkinson-Barnes brought up to the board at the start of the meeting.

“I’m concerned about the fast track of IB,” she said. “If we don’t have teachers prepared, 2014 might not be the best year to start IB, since many of those parents [of this year's ninth graders] are not supportive of the program. I would hate to see the program start and fail.”

Nichols said he had met with Atkinson-Barnes earlier in the week to discuss the issue.

“I was very thankful Helen came and had a discussion with me,” he said. “She articulated that a lot of the concerns [parents have].”

One such issue for Laura Matthers, who has twin daughters in ninth grade, is whether or not all students will be ushered into an IB track, even if they do not plan to be IB Diploma students.

But both principal Nichols and district superintendent Dr. John Gratto assured the crowd that all students will have the option to follow the Regents’ track the same way students not taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses do now.

Matthers also wondered whether students will be locked into classes. Former Pierson student, and last year’s valedictorian, Amanda Holder, brought this issue up at the beginning of the meeting, saying she believes AP coursework affords students the flexibility to pursue more activities outside the classroom, and gives students the freedom to be more selective with their classes.

As IB Diploma candidates, students will be expected to take six classes over the course of two years, in addition to the program’s capstone class: Theory of Knowledge (TOK). In order to prepare for such a specific course load, Nichols said students will begin to map-out their classes at the end of their sophomore year.

Nichols said that there would be some flexibility moving forward, but for the most part Diploma students’ schedules will be set at the end of tenth grade.

And while the number of AP classes is projected to go down to four or five after IB has been in place for three years, Dr. Gratto pointed out that this is based on Nichols’ prediction that more students would choose IB over AP.

Parent Tom Gleeson asked what would happen in the even that very few students actually sign-up for an IB class.

Nichols said that he didn’t expect this to be the case. Because IB will begin to take precedence over AP coursework over time, he said he sees the number of students taking IB classes to be comparable to the number of students now taking AP classes.

“I don’t’ think that will happen with IB,” Nichols added. “But, in years past, when only two or three students signed up for an AP class, we wouldn’t run it.”

And for those concerned about earning AP credits that can transfer to college, Nichols reiterated that students in IB courses will still be able to take AP exams. Each IB course typically matches up with one in the AP program — for example, History of the Americas (IB) equates to U.S. History (AP).

Speaking to those who worried about the transition from AP to IB, elementary school parent Julie Hatfield said parents had nothing to be concerned over.

“I was that transition,” said Hatfield, who was a student at Rockville Centre the year the high school adopted IB. ”There were no bumps in the road. What are we afraid of, that we’re going to challenge our students? That we’re going to learn more?”

She added that Pierson is actually “smoothing it over” by providing a three-year transition.

In addition, teacher Ruth White-Dunne — who attended IB teacher training in the fall — added that the IB curriculum is flexible, and largely accessible to a wide variety of students.

“It’s open to a lot of levels of students because it’s problem-based, research-based and performance-based,” she said. “The first year will be a learning process for everybody,” continued White-Dunne, a big proponent of the IB program. “But if that’s how we want to teach, then please let us do it.”

Men Closing in on Play-offs

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By E. J. Yennie

After officials ruled that the bat used by Pierson Freshman Aaron Schiavoni on May 10 in the first of a three game series with Smithtown Christian was legal, the game (4-3) was officially called a win for Pierson.

Smithtown Christian evened the series up with a 10-8 win on Wednesday, May 11.

On Friday, May 13, Pierson finished the series with a 3-0 win, clinching the series and keeping their chances of a playoff berth alive.

Pierson scored their first run on Friday in the bottom of the second. A base hit by Gavin Kudlak followed by a sacrifice out by Forrest Loesch, put Kudlak in scoring position.

Brendan Hemby’s base hit scored Kudlak, giving Pierson a 1-0 lead.

Solid fielding by both teams kept either team from scoring again until the bottom of the fifth. Pierson’s Colman Vila was walked, and then advanced to second on a base hit by Hunter Leyser.

Jake Weingartner singled, scoring the fast–running Vila. Leyser attempted to take an extra base but was tagged out in a run down between second and third.

The bottom of the sixth started with an Aaron Schiavoni walk. A Kudlak base hit advanced Schiavoni to second, where he was replaced by pinch runner Kyle Sturmann.

Loesch’s sac-fly advanced both runners, putting them in scoring position. A base hit by Hemby loaded the bases with no one scoring. After a pop out by Vila, with bases loaded, Mike Heller was walked, scoring pinch runner Sturmann who walked in his first varsity run.

Forest Loesch, pitching his first complete game, allowed no hits in the seventh, giving Pierson-Bridgehampton the win, 3-0.

Whalers Start Last Series with an 11-2 Win: Need One More Win For Play Off Berth

The Whalers (9-7) won the first of a three game series against Stony Brook on Monday, May 16, with a score of 11-2.

According to Whalers’ coach John Tortorella, Tyler Gilbride, Aaron Schiavoni, Jake Weingartner and Gavin Kudlak all contributed offensively.

The freshman duo of Colman Vila at the mound and Aaron Schiavoni at the plate were instrumental in the win.

“Aaron called a great game and they really worked well together today. He kept everything in front of him,” said the coach. “Colman hit his spots and really pitched well. He was confident and very effective.”

Vila pitched six innings, had fifteen strike outs and allowed only two hits. Tyler Gilbride pitched the seventh with two strike outs.

The coach remained positive about the team’s playoff possibilities stating, “We are now one win away from the playoffs with two games to play against Stony Brook. We are currently 9 – 7.”

“All League VIII teams need to finish above .500 to qualify for playoffs. Since we play an 18-game schedule, 9 – 9 will not cut it so we need to finish 10 – 8 or better.”

“As of now, Mercy and Port Jeff have clinched playoff spots with Pierson and Greenport looking to clinch this week.”

Both Tuesday and Wednesday games were cancelled because of rain.

Pierson is scheduled to play its final regular season home game today, Thursday, May 19. Their final regular season game, against McGann Mercy, is scheduled for Friday, May 20 in Riverhead.

Post season games begin next week. Pierson and Greenport are both one game away from being in the playoffs; both have two games left to play against the two weakest teams in the league.

For updated information about the playoff schedule, which is not yet available, readers can go to the Sag Harbor School Web site and look under “Athletics.”

Lady Whalers Set for Play-Offs

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By E. J. Yennie

The Pierson/Bridgehampton Lady Whalers finished their regular season with a sound thumping of the McGann Mercy Lady Monarchs last night, 13-3 in a game cut short due to rain.

But perhaps the most important game of the week was beating their chief rivals, Port Jefferson on Monday night, 4-3, on the Royals home turf.

In Monday’s game, the Lady Whalers (11-5) gave up two runs to the Lady Royals (14-3) in the first inning.

But the Lady Whalers responded in the second when Kaci Koehne doubled, advanced to third on a stolen base, and then scored the first run for Pierson. Samantha James scored after her, on a throwing error to tie the score.

Port Jefferson regained the lead in the third.

Down 3-2 in the fifth, with two outs, Alexa Lantiere reached first on a throwing error. Kasey Gilbride tripled to left field, scoring Lantiere for the tying run. Koehne was walked. In a double steal attempt, Gilbride headed home as Koehne reached second. The Royals made a play for the plate too late and Gilbride scored the go ahead run.

Pierson, now 11-5, is guaranteed a bid in the play offs. Port Jefferson and Pierson-Bridgehampton are the only two teams in League VIII with a .500 record needed to clinch a spot in the play offs.

Win over McGann Mercy 13-3

The Lady Whalers final regular season game was cut short in the fifth, this time because of rain, but they still dominated, with a 13-3 victory against McGann Mercy(6-8-0).

With only five innings of play, Sariah Cafiero had three RBIs. Kaci Koehne scored four runs for the Lady Whalers, including a solo home run. Melanie Stafford was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

Play-off Bids

On Tuesday, Coach Melissa Edwards said “Mercy may get a bid if they petition, depending on the seedings meeting on Friday.”

But on Wednesday, according to Ted Stafford, the Lady Whalers score keeper, the Mercy coach has decided not to petition for a right to play in the playoffs, leaving Port Jefferson and Pierson to challenge each other for the championship.

The schedules and fields for playoffs will be posted on the Sag Harbor School web site early next week.

Sag School Budget

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By Claire Walla

On Tuesday, Sag Harbor School District residents will go to the polls where they will vote on a proposed budget of $33,226,084 for the 2011-12 school year. This represents a spending increase of 5.48 percent over this year’s budget.

“It maintains all programs in the district, as it is now,” said the district’s director of business operations Janet Verneuille. With a tax levy increase of 4.69 percent, the board of education aims to increase spending for three key initiatives: energy conservation measures and a new elementary school playground (together estimated to cost $701,723) and a universal pre-K program (estimated to cost $180,000).

Together with fixed increases for benefit costs ($605,688) and salaries ($546,726), district spending will increase a total of $1,725,273.

At Monday’s school board meeting, Verneuille briefly spoke to the importance of the new programs built into the proposed budget, explaining that the current elementary school playground is nearly 20 years old.  

“It’s time for a new one,” she continued.  “We have to make sure it’s safe for our kids.”

As for pre-K, she said the benefits are a little less indirect, but still important.

“If we can address [academic or social] problems at an earlier age, research shows we will save money in the long run,” said Verneuille.

According to school superintendent Dr. John Gratto, the budget would be 2.3 percent less without these added expenditures.

“But, indeed those things need to be done,” he said.  “For many years we’ve been putting off building improvement projects.”

The proposed budget represents a projected tax rate increase of 5.85 percent for East Hampton (or $256 for a home worth $1 million), and 6.07 in Southampton (or $284 or a home worth $1 million).  However, Verneuille was quick to add that she received a new estimate recently that projects this figure to be under six percent in both towns.

Verneuille added that one of the important components of this budget package is the creation of a reserve fund, to be called the “Facilities Renovation Capital Reserve Fund.”  If created, the school would be able to add up to $500,000 of savings a year, and the fund would not be able to exceed $5 million at any point in time.

“It’s not something the school would be committed to.  If you don’t have the money, you can’t do it,” Verneuille noted.

Dr. Gratto explained that this year, for example, the district has $500,000 in savings from teachers’ retirements and transportation savings that would be eligible to go into such a fund.  Verneuille added that because this fund would only be sustained by surplus funds at the end of the year — should they exist —it would have no effect on taxes.

“I think it’s a very positive thing for the district,” she concluded.  “It’s kind of like a savings account.”

The budget vote will take place Tuesday, May 17 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Pierson High School Gym.

In other news…

As of this week, the middle school sailing club is not continuing as a program this spring.  According to Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols, the school advertised within the district for a teacher who would be willing to commit two hours, two days a week for eight weeks — but no one stepped forward.  

He said if any parents or community members are interested in the supervisory position, it still may be possible to get the program up and running.

Anyone interested in helping with the Middle School Sailing Club has been requested to contact Jeff Nichols.

Seventh Inning Rally For Lady Whalers Win

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Down two runs, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, it looked like the Pierson-Bridgehampton Lady Whalers were facing their third loss of the season last Friday, April 15. The Ladies rallied to a 7-6 victory against the Hampton Bays Lady Baymen, sparked by Kasey Gilbride’s first homer of the season.
Hampton Bays was up two runs by the bottom of the second. Kasey Gilbride had a single, but stretched it out to steal both second then third. Samantha Duchemin’s single brought in Gilbride for the Whalers’ first run of the afternoon. A single by Emma Romeo brought in Duchemin, tying up the game. Sariah Cafiero’s single scored Romeo, giving the Lady Whalers a 3-2 lead.
With two runs scored by Hampton Bays in the top of the fourth, Pierson first baseman Samantha James singled. Rebecca Speckenbach’s double advanced James who then scored off a pop fly by Duchemin , tying the score, 4-4.
In the top of the fifth, a Lady Baymen drive was fielded by Pierson and thrown to third, where the ball bounced off the runner’s helmet as she dove to the bag. As the umpire called safe, the runner recovered, jumped up, ran towards home, scoring the fifth run for Hampton Bays.
The Lady Whalers stranded two on base in the fifth and sixth, allowing a run in both innings, to bring them into the seventh down 6-4.
The bottom of the seventh started with a home run by Gilbride, her first of the season. With two outs, needing two runs to win, eighth grader Duchemin came to bat. Duchemin singled and advanced to second on an error. She was replaced by pinch runner India Hemby. Romeo doubled, bringing in a racing Hemby, who slid into home just before the ball arrived, tying the score. A Cafiero base hit scored Romeo, giving the Lady Whalers the win, 7-6.
The Lady Whalers, holding on to their number two spot in League VIII traveled to Mt. Sinai on Monday for a non-league game. They faced the Suffolk County League VI Leader, who, with an 8-2-0 overall record and a 7-1-0 league record stunned the Whalers, 10-0. Pierson’s overall record, 5-3-0 reflects just one league loss.
The Lady Whalers will be traveling to Center Moriches on Tuesday, April 26. They will be playing Bayport-Blue Point at home on Wednesday, April 27 at 4:30.