Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor"

Archaeological Survey Sought for Eastville House

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Preservationists have asked the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review to order an archeological survey of this property at 11 Eastville Avenue before a new house is built in its place.  Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The increasing number of teardowns in Sag Harbor has become something of a hot-button issue. But last week, the discussion was expanded to include what do about a house that is literally collapsing onto itself.

The house in question, a derelict cottage at 11 Eastville Avenue, is owned by Matt and Ed Mulderrig under the name Eastville SH LLC. They have proposed demolishing the house, whose roof and rear walls have already caved in,  and replacing it with a new one designed by Sag Harbor architect Anthony Vermandois.

But when Matt Mulderrig and Mr. Vermandois appeared before the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review last Thursday to discuss those plans, the conversation quickly turned from things like whether the roof of the new house should be made of cedar shingles to what should be done to best preserve the history that is hidden behind and under the rubble.

The Reverend Karen Campbell of Christ Episcopal Church told the ARB she believed the house is one of the oldest in the village and may have predated the Revolutionary War.

She urged the board to order the Mulderrigs to undertake an archeological survey of the house and property “before it is demolished and the artifacts are buried under a beautiful modern home with no history.”

Board members said they thought it was too late in the process to require the archeological survey, but they did table the application until Cee Scott Brown, the board’s chairman, could discuss the matter with village attorneys to make sure the board was not “starting down a slippery slope.”

“This conversation should have been four years ago when this house was still solid and standing up,” said Mr. Brown.

“I don’t know that we can transfer the burden of all that to the people who bought it,” added board member Penni Ludwig. “Now we’re going to stop their project? It’s sort of too late.”

“If you look at the picture, there isn’t much to demolish,” added board member Tom Horn. “I grew up in the neighborhood in the 1930s, and it was falling down then.”

“It’s been 300 years, what would one month do?” asked Reverend Campbell.

She was joined in her effort to slow down the application by Terry Fraser, a Hampton Street resident. Both said they had sought to reach out to the ARB earlier but had been told at the time there was no application pending on the property, so there was nothing for them to comment on.

“It really is a treasure trove,” said Reverend Campbell, who described her self as an early American history buff. “I know it looks like a wreck when you drive by.”

Reverend Campbell said the house included such intact features as six-over-six window panes, which were common during the colonial period, hand-forged latches on the doors, and a hand-dug well lined with brick.

If the house is simply demolished without an archeological record, “we will lose an important of not only Sag Harbor history but of American history,” she told the board.

Mr. Mulderrig was not too keen about the idea. “I respect the historical significance,” he told the board, “but if you do look at the picture it’s a liability, it is falling down. I don’t even want to go into that place, let alone try to take anything down.”

Later in the week, Mr. Vermandois opened a new front in the battle, submitting a detailed report that sought to debunk Reverend Campbell’s claim that the house pre-dated the American Revolution.

“I believe that while the house is old, it is likely not quite as old as [the Eastville Community Historical Society] suspects, most likely being of early to mid-9th century in date,” he wrote.

This week, Reverend Campbell said she stood by her belief that the house pre-dates the Revolution. “Experts do disagree,” she said.

At Thursday’s meeting, Mr. Vermandois said that if the board were to require an archeological survey of the Mulderrigs, it would be bound to require that of “every house that is on the market.”

He also suggested the ARB would be well-served by getting a “non-voting historic preservationist who comes to meetings and makes these sort of calls before we get to this stage.”

While the board seemed to be of a mind that it was too late to require the archeological survey, it was united in asking Mr. Mulderrig to use cedar shingles for the roof.

The board also retroactively approved a demolition permit for Teresa Romanelli for a house at 51 Palmer Terrace that was torn down.

Mr. Vermandois, the architect for the project, told the board, the house was originally built in 1915, but that most of it dated to the 1960s. He said he had planned to keep some of the foundation and walls “not because there was significant value but I wanted the builder to use them as a frame of reference.”

“There was frankly a miscommunication between me and the builder,” he told the board. “I wasn’t on the job site the day of the demolition.”

The board agreed to issue the permit, although Mr. Brown said that he wished Mr. Vermandois had explained to the board the reason for keeping the walls. “I wish you had been forthcoming with us about that,” he said.

Sag Harbor School Board Still Looking for Committee Members

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By Tessa Raebeck

Three primary goals for the 2014-15 school year were approved by the Sag Harbor Board of Education at a special meeting on Thursday, September 11.

The main goals, which encompass smaller, more specific items to be approved later, are: 1. Increase communication to become an engaged and active pathway for school and community; 2. Build, share and measure the tradition of each student achieving a successful “Sag Harbor School Experience;” and 3. Raise districtwide accountability to reinforce student and school success.

The subcommittee that helped articulate the board’s goals will reconvene this month to establish the smaller sub goals for the board to approve, which members hope will happen at the board’s next meeting on Monday, September 29.

Board liaisons and committee assignments were also approved at the meeting and administrators repeated the need for community members to come forward to also serve on committees. The district is looking for all members of the community—and especially those with related knowledge—to serve on the Athletic Committee, Communications Committee, Educational Facilities Planning Committee, Nutrition/Wellness, Health and Safety Committee and the Wall of Honor Committee. Interested candidates have been asked to send a letter of interest to District Clerk Mary Adamczyk at madamczyk@sagharborschools.org or Sag Harbor UFSD, 200 Jermain Avenue, by Monday, September 22.

Committee charters and more information are available on the district website.

Also at last Thursday’s meeting, the board approved a salary increase of $20,000 for Pierson Middle School Assistant Principal Brittany Miaritis, resulting in a total salary of $122,500.

The increase, Superintendent Katy Graves said, is “because when she was brought on board for our middle school, her salary was not in the competitive range because she was new to the program, and she has truly proven herself in the last year.”

“So, we will be seeing that increase in her salary to bring it to a competitive range, so that we can secure our team and move forward,” she continued. “We feel very excited about the challenges we will be facing for our middle school and a very exciting year ahead.”

Harbor Committee To Weigh In

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The Sag Harbor Harbor Committee devoted half of a nearly two-hour-long work session on Tuesday to discussing the status of a lease between the village and the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard, before agreeing it would send a memo to the village board, urging it to maintain a maritime use of the property.

Committee members acknowledged they had little say over who the village board leases the property to, but they said it was important that it recognize the importance of maintaining a water-related use as required by the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

After the lease expired in May and negotiations faltered, the village board filed an eviction notice in August, ordering the yacht yard to vacate a 16,000-square-foot parcel it leased for boat storage for 20 years.

Last week, Lou Grignon, the yacht yard’s owner, accompanied by several boat owners, appeared before both the harbor committee and the village board, saying he, in turn, would have to evict about 50 clients because he no longer has space to store their boats.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Harbor Committee member Bruce Tait said it made little sense for the village to lease the property to someone else because that would require opening a new access to the site.  On top  of that, to gain access to the waterfront, a new leasee would have to cross Mr. Grignon’s property, he said.

The yacht yard also leases underwater land with four boat slips from the village, which would also be blocked to other users without an easement from Mr. Grignon.

Those slips could be reached via the Breakwater Yacht Club, which also leases village property. That lease expires in March of 2015, but the club has a 10-year option to renew, Mr. Tait said.

Sag Harbor ZBA Frets Over Project Near Bluff

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The application of Alan and Anita Sosne, who want to add a second-floor addition to their house, put in a pool and make other improvements to their property at 18 Cove Road, saw their application tabled once again by the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday.

The Sosnes’ attorney, Dennis Downes, told the board that terracing around the pool, which had been part of the original application and would have been within 8 feet of a bluff on the property, has since been removed from the application. The pool, which had been proposed for 15 feet from the edge of the bluff has been moved back to a 25-foot setback, “so we cleaned that up quite a bit,” Mr. Downes said.

But the board’s chairman, Anton Hagen, said he was concerned that a support post for a new second-story deck would be only 5 feet from the edge of the bluff.

“We haven’t really ever approved anything that close to a bluff,” he said, citing concern that the decision might be used as a precedent by other applicants. Mr. Downes agreed to explore whether it would be possible to build the deck with a cantilevered support.

In the mean time, the ZBA is still waiting for the Harbor Committee to offer its input on the application. “This is the third month we have been here and the Harbor Committee hasn’t weighed in,” said Mr. Downes.

The problem, according to Lisa Koehne, the board’s secretary, is that the current procedure in the village is to only refer applications deemed complete to another board that is supposed to offer an advisory opinion. The board agreed that once Mr. Downes provides an updated survey, it will pass the application on to the Harbor Committee for its review.

The board also formally approved Sotheby’s International Realty to convert the former offices of The Sag Harbor Express at 35 Main Street into a real estate office. The Express is now at 22 Division Street, on the other side of the building.

Although a code change rendered offices in the Main Street shopping district nonconforming uses, the village board grandfathered in existing offices, allowing them to change from one use to another with ZBA approval.

Mr. Hagen was the sole dissenter. “There is a lot of resistance to having another real estate office on Main Street,” he said. “That’s why I’m voting against it.”

The board also tabled, until its December meeting, the application of Page at 63 Main, which is seeking a variance for a refrigerated unit at the rear of its building.  The restaurant is currently involved in a court battle with the village over a renovation project that added seats to the rear of the property, and Mr. Downes asked that the application be tabled until the court case is resolved.

Sag Harbor Author Writes Guidebook to Following Your Heart

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Robbie Vorhaus, author of “One Less. One More. Follow Your Heart. Be Happy. Change Slowly.” Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

Robbie Vorhaus has it figured out. Commit to follow your heart regardless of where your head tries to take you, and you will be happy. Mr. Vorhaus has outlined this simple formula for arriving at your destination and achieving your purpose in life in his new book, “One Less. One More. Follow Your Heart. Be Happy. Change Slowly.”

“Every human being wants to follow their heart. That’s why I wrote the book, is because I’ve always wanted to follow my heart,” Mr. Vorhaus said. “I’ve constantly looked for books on following my heart. But nothing ever addressed following my heart because it’s so personal,” he said.

After years of thumbing through a plethora of self-help, New Age and spiritual books, Mr. Vorhaus said he never found the guidebook to happiness that he needed. So he wrote it.

“Happiness is a funny word,” he said. “It’s not something you do, it’s a way of being. We’re here to be, to express and to experience.”

Mr. Vorhaus worked for years as an advisor to the rich and famous, during which time he realized what happy clients had in common. “The people who were the most fulfilled, who had the best attitude in life,” he said, “the ones who were the best adjusted were those who pursued the path of following their hearts. Which meant looking to uncover their authenticity: why are we here? Which is a big question.”

The concept behind the book, Mr. Vorhaus said, came right out of Sag Harbor. In the winter of 2007, a local mother called Mr. Vorhaus’s wife, Candace, after seeing him on CNN as a contributor. The woman was going through a difficult time and wanted to know how to be less stressed and how to be happier. In response, Mr. Vorhaus wrote a column in The Sag Harbor Express explaining his mantra of one less and one more.

One less, he explained, represents a decision to eliminate a negative element from your life. One more is about actively choosing to add one positive thing to your life every day. If one adds something positive and eliminates something negative each day, that day becomes a bit happier and another step to achieving one’s purpose, he said. After his column was printed, Mr. Vorhaus started getting notes from around the world, he said. “So it started right here,” he said in the Express offices on Friday.

Peppered with stories of his life and those of people he has encountered professionally, Mr. Vorhaus outlines the seven simple steps to finding your heart’s desire in his new book.

Step one: Start now. “Make the conscious decision today that you are going to consider following your heart and being happy. You have to start now,” he said. Putting the decision off, he said, “is allowing your head to take you off the path that you’re already open to.”

The next step is to come present, then to consciously choose to follow your heart and to change slowly. After that, Mr. Vorhaus advises choosing one negative, resistant thought feeling or action to eliminate. Something in your life that doesn’t fit, he said. It can have to do with finances, sex, love, fitness, health, he said. But it has to stop.

Then choose one more. Choose to embrace a positive feeling or action, he said. “Allow yourself the luxury of curiosity, the luxury of quiet, laughter and passion,” he said. Mr. Vorhaus believes that every human being has something pulling them, and by consciously making these choices, people alter the course of the universe.

The last two steps are to celebrate your progress and then do it all over again the next day and the day after and so on.

A simple formula, but one Mr. Vorhaus acknowledges is not for everyone. “If you want to consider that there is a greater purpose, you have to believe it,” he said. “You have to prepare, you have to start getting ready.”

“It’s all a theory until you try it,” Mr. Vorhaus said, who described his book as a handbook on the path of life. The magic formula won’t be easy, he said.

“Nothing moves until you commit. You have to be ready to raise the stakes. Once you commit the world changes. People will be against you, people will be afraid,” he said.

“There comes a point where you’re going to have to go all in. If you really want to give it your all, you have to go all in. Once you go all in, you’re going to experience some sort of crisis. You cannot follow your heart without some part of you dying,” he said.

By this he means your ego, or other demons that hold you back from your true purpose. Mr. Vorhaus advises people to let go of blame and have more accountability. “Your life is your life,” he said. “Do less of what doesn’t feel good, and more of what does.”

The Sag Harbor Express will host an evening with Mr. Vorhaus at Bay Street Theater on Thursday, October 16. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the author’s talk will begin at 7:30 p.m. A Q&A will follow. Mr. Vorhaus will sign books before and after his talk. Admission is $10 and the book will be on sale for $25. For more information about the book visit vorhaus.com.

Sag Harbor Artist Transforms Museum into Busy City Square

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Reduced size frontats


A work-in-progress by Peter Solow featuring his mysterious muse, center, a re-working of a painting he did of his daughter many years ago.

By Mara Certic

As fall quickly approaches and crowds thin out across the East End, those craving the bustle of summer need only wander into the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum this weekend to find themselves transported to a busy Florentine piazza.

“City Square,” by artist Peter Solow, will be on display this month. Using cutting edge technology, Mr. Solow has reprinted his sketches, paintings and photographs to create a life-sized multimedia city square within the walls of the whaling museum.

Mr. Solow, a longtime art teacher in the Sag Harbor School District, has taken photographs and sketches that he took and made during trips to Florence over the years to create a wrap-around Little Italy on four walls.

Thanks to money from the Reutershan Trust, art students at Pierson Middle School and High School—and Mr. Solow—have had high-tech printers and scanners at their disposal. “Besides the “wow” effect of digital technology, how should one integrate it into traditional art-making,” Mr. Solow said. “That’s something I’ve been running around in my head for a while.”

He made his first proposal for the exhibition well over a year ago, but the idea for it has been around much longer than that. “It’s sort of an interesting exhibition in that there’s a whole bunch of different things going on at the same time,” Mr. Solow said in his art room at Pierson High School on Monday.

“When I was going to school in New York, one of the first pieces of art that really popped out at me, that really sort of resonated with me was a small piece by Giacometti of a city square,” he said. The figures in the Giacometti sculpture, he said, seemed to be there by fate.

“There have been a series of things since that time that built on that idea of that,” Mr. Solow said. When he first traveled to Italy he was fascinated by the piazzas, he said, which reminded him of a Walt Whitman poem he remembered really speaking to him in his youth. In “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Mr. Whitman addresses the reader directly, and refers to the shared past, present and future experiences of the Brooklyn ferry:

“Others will see the islands large and small;

Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high,

A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,

Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide,” the poem reads in part.

On Mr. Solow’s first trip to Italy, he was particular struck by how old all of the open spaces, buildings and art were. “The fact that you walk on the same roads, it’s the past, the present, the future altogether,” he said, “It’s about the timelessness of what it means to be human.”

The other important theme of the show, Mr. Solow said, is the process of making art. “What this show is actually going to show is how, over a period of years, I make a painting,” he said. Mr. Solow has incorporated unfinished paintings, sketches, photographs and has revisited other works he has done into the final piece.

One panel has an unfinished painting he did of his daughter, Kathryn, when she was nine years old, overlaid with a sketch he did of a piazza in Florence during a recent trip. “What I started to do with the images was work back into them and create something else,” he said.

On another wall is a photograph of his daughter, now grown up, sitting in the Spanish Chapel in Florence, looking for a lunch spot on her cell phone. An abstract collage has been scanned onto the picture. His daughter, he explained, is a photographer herself, who introduced Mr. Solow to the art of incorporating painting and various forms of new technology into photography.

Mr. Solow tells all of his advanced photography students the same thing, he said: “Every picture you take is a self-portrait.” Another photograph included in “City Square” is a picture of Mr. Solow’s muse. He doesn’t know her name, who she is or have any idea what her face looks like, but the dark-haired woman in a black dress walking through a Florentine square has been his muse for the past 20 years, he said. “She has been the catalyst, since the early ’90s, for a whole series of paintings and drawings and all kind of stuff.”

The combinations of new and old images mirrors Mr. Solow’s feelings about the shared experiences of public places, he said. “I don’t want to say it’s autobiographic, because that’s not right. But it’s all about processes and experiences,” he said.

City Square opens at the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum at 200 Main Street on Saturday, September 20. For more information call the museum at 725-0770. 

“The Honest Medium:” Ted Davies Woodcuts at the Romany Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor

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"Entrance Uptown" by Ted Davies. Courtesy Romany Kramoris Gallery.

“Entrance Uptown” by Ted Davies. Courtesy Romany Kramoris Gallery.

By Tessa Raebeck

When Romany Kramoris first opened her gallery space in Sag Harbor, it was on the recommendation of Ted Davies. Nearly 40 years later, the Romany Kramoris Gallery is showcasing the work of the late artist, an innovator in woodcutting, screen printing and photogram techniques, who captured the intricacies of New York City street scenes and created timeless pieces of social criticism.

“He’s the one that got me started in the art world,” Ms. Kramoris said of her friend and mentor, who died in 1993.

Ms. Kramoris was renting a small studio space at the end of Main Street in Sag Harbor during the 1970s when one day Mr. Davies, who had a second home in Sag Harbor and spent much of his time out East in his later years, wandered in and suggested she open a gallery.

“I said, ‘Well, how do you do that?’” Ms. Kramoris recalled.


“Broadway and Bowling Green” by Ted Davies. Courtesy Romany Kramoris Gallery.

“He said, ‘Well, I’ll help you do it and I can be your first show,” she added. “I said, ‘Oh, that sounds pretty good.’”

He showed her how to create a press release, mount a show and host a reception and in the summer of 1980, Mr. Davies became Ms. Kramoris’s first artist.

“Ted was always getting involved in the different art community situations here and helping other artists,” said Ms. Kramoris. “He absolutely loved doing what he was doing—he was an artist through and through.”

A Queens native, Mr. Davies studied under Harry Sternberg and the German Expressionist George Grosz, who instilled in him the importance of political commentary in art.

“Ted’s work was sociologically charged,” said Ms. Kramoris.

Mr. Davies captured the New York he loved in his woodblock prints, intricate carvings of famous destinations such as Central Park, Broadway and Wall Street, as well as common places like the old elevated train stations, Chinese laundries and shoe shine stands. He captured 1960’s New York City through renderings of barbershops, second-hand bookstores and bars frequented by artists and writers.

“His vision of the city is intimate and amused, catching the quirky details and human touches, the city’s hard edges softened into tilts, curves and loops,” Christina Schlesinger, a cultural historian and art critic, wrote of Mr. Davies.

An old friend of Mr. Davies, master printer Dan Welden, called his friend’s technique of woodblock printing “the honest medium,” because mistakes are permanent and every stroke made is clear.

Mr. Davies would take a piece of wood, usually a soft type that was easier to mold, and first draw a pencil outline. The artist then pounded chisels, hammers and other hand tools into the block to make impressions before he chiseled away the negative space.

In order to make a face, for example, Mr. Davies would draw the outline and chisel it down from the flat block, leaving the nose and other parts of the face that jut out. Undercuts would be made around the eyes, then he would chisel away the whites of the eyes, leaving the iris raised. After ink is applied to the raised parts, the piece is put through a hand press, so that the raised areas are reflected in the print while the chiseled negative space remains plain.

Mr. Davies also “developed certain techniques in the photogram genre that he more or less invented,” Ms. Kramoris said.

In photogram, a photographic image is made without using a camera. Objects are placed directly onto a light-sensitive material and then exposed to light, resulting in a negative shadow image that highlights the textures and depth of objects with gray and pale blue tones.

In the mid-1960’s, Mr. Davies created his “Cards of Life, Cards of Death” series of woodcuts, a politically satirical pinochle deck of cards.

“They’re certainly not outdated even though he did them 50 years ago,” Ms. Kramoris said of the prints, which highlight the abundance and excess of American culture.

Unattractive prostitutes surround the King of Hearts in “The Great Lover,” while a 1960’s Playboy bunny—closely resembling the king himself—serves him drinks.

In “Resources,” the Ace of Diamonds card has a circle filled with money, factories and consumer goods flanked by oceans, mountains and the sun. The King of Spades is a matador, who faces a pair of bullhorns in the grim sport of bullfighting as an audience of spectator skeletons looks on.

The King of Diamonds appears as Uncle Sam in “The Government,” standing on a pile of money with crosses and the capitol building behind him and fighter planes, grenades and helicopters overhead.

In addition to the standard critiques of capitalism, big business and war-mongering, “there are many subtleties to which such a simplified reading cannot do justice, and close study is repaid by many delightful discoveries in both form and content,” Helen Harrison said of the suite of woodcuts in a 1981 New York Times article.

The work of Ted Davies will be on display at the Romany Kramoris Gallery, located at 41 Main Street in Sag Harbor, from Thursday, September 18, through October 9. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, September 20, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. For more information, call (631) 725-2499 or visit kramorisgallery.com.

PechaKucha Vol. 9 at the Parrish Art Museum

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Sag Harbor Elementary School teacher Kryn Olson visiting with students at the Jacaranda School for Orphans in Malawi, Africa. Photo courtesy Kryn Olson.

Sag Harbor Elementary School teacher Kryn Olson visiting with students at the Jacaranda School for Orphans in Malawi, Africa. Photo courtesy Kryn Olson.

By Tessa Raebeck

In the ninth installment of the popular PechaKucha program at the Parrish Art Museum, a series of rapid-fire presentations by various members of the creative community, 10 presenters will share their diverse experiences on the East End.

Each presenter will share 20 slides for 20 seconds each for a six minute and 40 second showcase into their work. This batch of artists, activists and entrepreneurs includes:

Dan Asselin, an East Hampton native, musician and environmental activist who has organized for rallies in Washington, D.C., and wrote the comedic anti-fracking song “Natural Gas,” with lyrics like “ain’t nothing natural about natural gas…. it’s about as clean as a horse’s ass, it’s about as sustainable as cancer…. it’s about as safe as driving drunk and fast while texting on a bridge without a guardrail;” multi-media artist Cliff Baldwin, from Aquebogue, who makes light installations, video productions and writes music; interior designer Dale Cohen of Dale Cohen Design Studio and author of the lifestyle and design blog, “BACHELORbydale;” Riverhead-based Peggie Ehlers, who bridges “farm to fashion” with Nuna Knits, products made from plant and animal fibers; “garden guru” Jeff Negron, who consults individuals and businesses on creating and maintaining vegetable gardens through his kitchen, garden design and management business; Sag Harbor Elementary School teacher and visual artist Kryn Olson, who recently returned from a trip to the Jacaranda School for Orphans in Malawi, a small landlocked country in southeast Africa; bird watching veteran and tour leader Frank Quevedo, who is the executive director of the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center; Gary Reiswig, the owner of the Maidstone Arms in East Hampton and author of “Water Boy” and other works of fiction and nonfiction; director and co-curator of East Hampton Shed Hadley Vogel, who gives multi-media artists an alternative exhibition space; and part-time Sag Harbor resident Brooke Williams, whose blog thisisauthentic.com features photography and personal anecdotes on all aspects of life.

PechaKucha is on Friday, September 19, at 6 p.m. at the Parrish Art Museum at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. Tickets include museum admission and are $10. Museum members get in for free. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (631) 283-2118 or visiting parrishart.org.

Accident on Scuttlehole Road in Bridgehampton Causes Traffic Delays

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Southampton Town police officers and Bridgehampton Fire Department EMTs attend to the wounded driver of a semi tractor-trailer carrying a load of dirt that overturned at the intersection of Scuttlehole Road and Brick Kiln Road on Friday morning

Southampton Town police officers and Bridgehampton Fire Department EMTs attend to the wounded driver of a semi tractor-trailer carrying a load of dirt that overturned at the intersection of Scuttlehole Road and Brick Kiln Road on Friday morning

By Michael Heller

Southampton Town police officers and Bridgehampton Fire Department EMTs attend to the wounded driver of a semi tractor-trailer carrying a load of dirt that overturned at the intersection of Scuttlehole Road and Brick Kiln Road on Friday morning. The driver was subsequently transported to the hospital via helicopter for further treatment.

Sag Harbor Students Fare Well on Standardized Tests

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Graph prepared by Sag Harbor School District administrators.

Graph prepared by Sag Harbor School District administrators.


By Tessa Raebeck

While board meetings at the start of the school year can often be tense, the mood was light and cheerful Monday, September 8, as Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Katy Graves updated the Board of Education on the district’s results on state assessments.

At the educational workshop, Ms. Graves, Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols and Sag Harbor Elementary School Principal Matt Malone compiled an extensive presentation of history, graphs and raw data on Sag Harbor students’ test performances.

“I always caution everybody that it’s only one piece of what we’re looking at,” Ms. Graves said of the data. “We take our data and we bring it to our teachers and our teachers take us that next part of the way.”

Sag Harbor fared well out of the 64 districts in Eastern Suffolk BOCES that took standardized tests in 2014.

Out of those districts for ELA, Sag Harbor’s fourth grade ranked 11th, the fifth grade ranked fourth, the seventh grade ranked third, and the eighth grade ranked fifth.

Mr. Nichols said the sciences at the high school level are all strong.

“Much like at the middle school,” he said, “we far exceed the New York State average in every discipline with the exception of mathematics, which you’ll see we’re still on par with New York State, but certainly not performing at the level as you see in other disciplines.”

He added that after two years with the Common Core, “We’re seeing some patterns in the assessment results and we’re able to allocate resources accordingly to where we’re focusing.”

In an effort to raise math achievement, the district has added math specialists at the middle school and elementary school, as well as teaching assistants who are trained in specific areas to add to “key instructional times,” Mr. Malone said.

Instructional time in math for the sixth grade has been doubled and math exposure is increasing for all middle school students, Mr. Nichols said.

Standardized testing of New York State students dates back to 1865, when Regents exams were first administered as high school entrance exams. Younger students began being tested in reading and mathematics in 1966, in writing in 1983 and in science in 1989.

The required tests in English Language Arts (ELA) and math that students take in fourth and eighth grade began in 1999. After President George W. Bush signed the “No Child Left Behind” Act in 2003, which expanded the federal government’s role in student testing by requiring states to develop assessments in order to receive federal school funding, all states were mandated to administer ELA and mathematics tests for all students in grades three through eight and science tests twice, once during grades three and five and another time during grades six through nine. New York State chooses to administer the science exams in grades four and eight.

At present, Sag Harbor students are given the following state-mandated tests: the New York State Alternate Assessment (only for students with severe cognitive disabilities); one speaking test and one listening, reading and writing test for English as a Second Language students; ELA tests for students in grades three through eight; mathematics tests for students in grades three through eight; a science performance test for grade four; a science performance test for grade eight; a written science test for grade four; and a written science test for grade eight.

High school students are also required to take the following Regents exams, which are in the process of being aligned with the new Common Core curriculum: Grade 11 ELA; either integrated algebra or geometry or algebra II/trigonometry; grade 10 global history and geography; grade 11 U.S. history and government; and a choice of earth science, living environment, chemistry or physics.

Testing this year starts September 29 with the alternate assessment and runs through June 24 with the last Regents exam.

Implementation of new exams is usually done slowly, but New York’s recent switch to Common Core raised protests from administrators, parents, teachers and students across the board last year due to its fast implementation.

“It was a blindside to the educational community who were used to things being implemented in a fairly strategic fashion… Most teachers and most educators didn’t have a problem with the Common Core, they had a problem with the implementation and how that felt,” Ms. Graves said.

The first administration of the Common Core Geometry Assessment will be this year. In 2017, this year’s 10th graders will be the first grade required to pass the Common Core Regents Exams with a 65 percent passing grade in order to graduate and in 2022, this year’s fifth grade students will be the first required to pass the Common Core Regents exams at “aspirational performance levels” of 75 to 80 percent.

The administrators’ presentation on the data is available online.

Graph prepared by Sag Harbor School District administrators.

Graph prepared by Sag Harbor School District administrators.