Tag Archive | "The Bridgehampton School"

A Solar Stove for Haiti

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By Amanda Wyatt

While Bridgehampton School has long been committed to the environment, a group of students and teachers are embarking on a new quest to make the future even greener.

The Bridgehampton InvenTeam, made of 12 high school students and two science teachers, is hard at work to develop a solar-powered cooker. The team has been meeting since the end of last school year, when they entered to win a $10,000 grant from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop the project.

While the team successfully moved through the first part of the grant application and received “glowing reviews” on their proposal for the project, they were saddened to discover early this week that they would not be recipients of the grant.

Despite this setback, teacher Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz said the InvenTeam is “going to carry on” to try to develop the solar-cooker to the best of their ability.

“I do have students who want to continue, and that was really heartening to hear,” she said. “We’re going to plug ahead and see what we can do.”

While the students will probably not be able to build the cooker without funding, they are still working on the design and the technology behind the stove.

Carmack-Fayyaz added that the students “should all be proud of being part of a very dynamic and successful team.”

She noted that over a quarter of high school students at the Bridgehampton School are involved in the project. Not only did they give up their lunch breaks to work on the invention, said Carmack-Fayyaz, but they also met every week over the summer to brainstorm.

The $10,000 prize money would have allowed for the creation of a large, solar-powered stove, which was designed for communities where people earn less than two dollars a day. The InvenTeam, which has been working closely with Wings over Haiti founder Jonathan Glynn, planned to send their finished product to Haiti.

Originally, the solar-powered stove is designed for an institutional setting, such as a school, hospital or refugee camp. However, Carmack-Fayyaz said the InvenTeam might modify the design so that it has a wider application.

The school has been involved with Wings over Haiti for several years. In 2011, then-senior Aprillina Setyawati traveled to Haiti and used what she learned about agriculture in school to build a vegetable garden on the Wings over Haiti grounds.

Setyawati’s younger brother, Aditya Nugraha, is now a senior and a member of the InvenTeam. In fact, it was Nugraha who discovered a YouTube video that inspired the group’s invention.

The video showed how to heat a pool using a heat sink and a Fresnel lens, which “had nothing to do with cooking,” Glynn said. “We were trying to take an idea and make it better and more socially applicable.”

Nugraha dismantled his computer to find components for the heat sink, and the team began building a contraption that used the Fresnel lens – a low mass lens with a large aperture and short focal length, to trap sunlight and focus it on a heat-sink filled with water.

They hope to use this idea to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly way of heating food.

“I think it’s a really good idea not just to help people in third world countries, but here in the United States,” said senior Bryzeida Perez. “Maybe it could even work for us here, depending on how far we get with it and how well it works.”

As teacher Helen Wolfe noted, experimentation and uncertainty were part of the beauty of the project.

“We don’t know what the results are going to be, and experimentation is a big part of it,” she said. “That’s why it’s good. It’s giving [the students] a different slant on using science and using what [they] know, and doing research, which [they] don’t do a lot of in school.”

The students have also been enjoying the experience.

“I got interested in doing it because it has to do with a lot of imagination,” said senior Josh Hostetter.

“I think the science of it is pretty awesome,” added senior Vanessa Cruz.

Sophomore Hailey Lund agreed.

“I like the idea of helping out people that don’t have as much as we do — making a difference.”

REVISED: Lady Whalers Dominate Under Homecoming Lights

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By Gavin Menu; Photography by Michael Heller

By Gavin Menu

Pierson High School celebrated homecoming on Saturday with the first night field hockey game in school history, although it was Bridgehampton student India Hemby who was named “Da Playa” of the game following Pierson-Bridgehampton’s dominant 5-0 win over Port Jefferson.

Hemby was awarded the team’s self-made and somewhat tattered player-of-the-game hat after she scored two goals to lead the Lady Whalers to victory. Standing in the glow of the portable lights, with “Da Playa” hat firmly positioned on her head, Hemby joked, “I don’t even go to school here!”

“It’s not my homecoming but playing under the lights in front of all these people was great motivation for us,” Hemby continued, having turned more serious. “It was really fun out here for us.”

The Sag Harbor Booster Foundation raised funds for this year’s homecoming events. According to club member Robert Evjen, the weekend cost roughly $5,000 to put on. The Sag Harbor Booster Foundation, in conjunction with the Sag Harbor Fire Department, Village Police and Mashashimuet Park Board, hosted the inaugural night game under lights in front of a crowd of well over 100 people.

“We felt that having a game outdoors, in the evening, under the lights, was a way to enrich the lives of not only our student athletes, but also transfer that school spirit into community spirit,” said Evjen, who pointed out that the cost of the lights alone was $2,000.

Evjen said the booster club raises funds through community events such as last winter’s Quiz Show and Spirit Night, both of which will occur again this year. Membership is also available for $25 per year, or $150 for a lifetime membership.

“We are fortunate that we have great community support and lots of parents have become members,” Evjen said.

As for the game, the Lady Whalers responded immediately to the electric atmosphere with a first-half goal by Hemby and a dominant second half in which they scored four times. Kasey Gilbride, Claire Kunzeman and Ana Sherwood, a super talented eighth-grader, also scored for the Lady Whalers, while junior goalie Emma Romeo turned in her fifth shutout of the young season.

“It was awesome and a great honor to be the first team to play under lights,” Gilbride said. “We have to thank the Booster Club for everything they did, and the entire community for coming out to support us.”

With the win the Lady Whalers moved to 4-1 in Division III play and 6-1 overall. They have now defeated every other Class C team in Suffolk County. Port Jefferson, which fell to 0-6, Southampton and Babylon have all lost to the young, but energetic Lady Whalers this season.

“I’m excited about that, and now we have to build on it,” head coach Shannon Judge said after Saturday night’s game. “We play Southampton again on October 11, so we’ll really see where we stand then.”

The Lady Whalers played at Miller Place last night after press time and will host Rocky Point today, October 4, at 4 p.m. at Mashashimuet Park.

Not Your Average School Cafeteria

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When the Bridgehampton School’s brand new eating space opens during the second week of classes, you might want to think twice about calling it a “cafeteria.”
Administrators at the school call it a “café,” and for good reason — It really won’t much resemble the sort of cafeteria that serves up mystery meat and canned green beans. Instead, students are much more likely to dine on homemade quiche and thin-crust, whole-wheat pizza.
“We’d rather call it ‘café’ than cafeteria, because it’s kind of quaint,” said the school’s head chef and manager, Dan Pacella. “We don’t serve cafeteria food.”
Earlier this summer, the Bridgehampton School began renovating its old kindergarten classroom into the new café, which should be completed next week.
According to school district superintendent Dr. Lois Favre, the renovation “was suggested by the administrative team last year, as the [old] café was a bit small.”
In addition to seating an additional 15 to 20 people, the new café will feature a greatly improved kitchen in what used to be the coat closet of the kindergarten room. And with a new electrical and plumbing system, commercial gas range and exhaust hood with a fire suppression system, the district’s business administrator, Robert Hauser, believes it will be a more modern and energy-efficient space.
Bridgehampton’s budget for the construction project was $175,000. According to Hauser, the district is “on target” with that budget and will probably end up spending less money than allocated.
Redesigned by the architectural firm Chaleff & Rogers Architects P.C., the school’s architectural team and building and grounds advisors, the café keeps the original character of the historic classroom. The dining area features a window-laden rotunda with built-in wood seats, as well as an existing fireplace, which is decorative at this point.
“It’s been a kindergarten since the 1930s, and there were people who were very sentimental about the room,” Hauser said, explaining why the school sought to keep as many details of the old room as possible.
The school has even preserved some of the kindergarten’s original murals, cast iron radiators and oak wood trim not only for posterity’s sake, but to keep renovation costs down.
However, the café will feature brand new tiling to replace the original red-and-cream tiles which featured illustrations of ducks, bears and other animals. About 15 of the tiles were saved during demolition, and they will be displayed on the café’s walls.
Furthermore, the new café will free up space on the gym/auditorium stage, which had been used to house cardboard boxes of food, a sink for dishwashing, refrigerators and other appliances. According to Hauser, the school hopes to refinish the stage by next summer.
Cooking will also be easier for Pacella, who did not even have a stove in the old café. Instead, he made everything from tomato sauce to chili in a small oven or on a hotplate.
“I can be a little more creative now,” he said.
The old café — which will continue to serve food up until construction on the café is complete — will revert back to its original function as a classroom.
The renovation project comes at a time when Bridgehampton has opted to provide its own food for its students, rather than employing the outside food service provider, Whitson’s, which it had been using previously. However, Pacella, who used to be an employee of Whitson’s, has now been hired as an employee of the district.
The decision to self-operate the café, Dr. Favre said, has “further solidified the board of education’s commitment to health, wellness and East End sustainability.”
While the school has its own greenhouse and has been a longtime advocate of the Slow Food movement, the school plans to provide healthier and less processed meals, as well as more vegetarian options, this year.
Pacella, who serves between 80 and 100 meals per day, will continue to incorporate items from Bridgehampton’s garden and greenhouse into the cuisine served to Bridgehampton School students. He is looking forward to cooking with tomatoes, beans and herbs from the greenhouse, as well as with the sweet potatoes and squash that will be harvested in October.
“It’s great — you can just pick it and cook it,” he said.
According to Hauser, self-operating the café should also save the district money — perhaps as much as $50,000 annually, he estimated. Last year, the district spent about $20,000 monthly in food service. This year, Hauser hopes that will be only $15,000 per month.
With a $5,000 savings each month, Hauser estimates that the $175,000 construction project will have paid for itself in less than four years.

Four Up for Three Board Seats in Bridgehampton

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by Andrew Rudnasky

In anticipation of the May 15 Bridgehampton School budget vote and board of education election, a “meet the candidates” forum and debate was held Tuesday in the gymnasium at Bridgehampton School. All four of the school board candidates who are vying for three available seats were in attendance — incumbents Ronald White, Lillian Tyree-Johnson and Doug DeGroot and newcomer challenger Gabriela Braia.

White, a life-long resident of Bridgehampton, is running for his second three year term on the board. A real estate agent, White currently has a 9-year-old child in the school and coaches four different sports teams around the East End.

Tyree-Johnson, a resident of Bridgehampton for 20 years, is also seeking a second term. She is the president of the Bridgehampton Community House, and is the wife of long-time Bridgehampton basketball coach Carl Johnson.

DeGroot has been a local business owner on the East End for the past 26 years. He has four children in the district, and like the other incumbents is running for his second term.

Braia, originally from Romania said she moved to Bridgehampton to raise her family. A real estate agent and self professed stay at home mom, she has two kids in Bridgehampton School.

One of the biggest issues facing the Bridgehampton School District this year, and the candidates during the debate, was the budget. Over the past few years the school has had to deal with rising costs while remaining under the state mandated two percent property tax cap.

“I think that the tax cap put a stranglehold on this school,” said Tyree-Johnson, who added that the cap has forced the board to make cuts in essential services at the school.

“Over the next three years it is going to be very challenging,” she said, adding she would ask taxpayers to consider voting to pierce the cap in coming years.

White went further, calling the two percent cap “barbaric.” He added that despite the cap restrictions, the district’s superintendent, Dr. Lois Favre, and the district’s business office have done a good job so far of working around the cap.

DeGroot feels more can still be done, however, and believes the district should continue on a path of fiscal responsibility. He called the two percent cap a “wake-up call” to the district and the entire state.

“I believe that most bureaucracies have inefficiencies in them,” said DeGroot. “I still feel that there is a few more savings to be rung out of the budget.”

DeGroot added that he was reticent to cut any single program from the school, and would much rather continue the current fiscal policy of placing small budget cuts across the board.

Tyree-Johnson disagreed with this plan to cut more from the budget.

“I think it is hard because I think we have already trimmed a lot of the fat,” said Tyree-Johnson.

Braia said that while finding savings in areas around the budget sounds great, she was afraid the two percent tax cap would be too tight for some projects in the school to fit in.

“It is not a certain program we should cut, we can’t just cut programs, we don’t have many to begin with,” said Braia.

Braia said, like DeGroot, she was open to finding small budget cuts to many of the school programs.

Despite the fiscal realities facing the school, as a result of the cap, most of the candidates expressed a desire to move forward with expanding the school.

“I would definitely say that we have outgrown our space,” said Tyree-Johnson, who bemoaned Bridgehampton’s inability to host basketball playoff games due to the inadequate size of the school’s gymnasium.

Tyree-Johnson said that she would support measures to build a new gym for the school.

“I think it is a big project,” said Tyree-Johnson, “but I think it is time for us to say that this school is worth spending money on.

DeGroot said that the real issue wasn’t the gym but rather the continued use of temporary outbuildings as permanent classrooms and offices.

“As far as the physical plant of the school, the main building is really fantastic, but the outbuildings have all been meant to be temporary and they have already been used for longer than their intended lifespan,” said DeGroot.

White was less enthusiastic about further construction, saying that the board of education’s first priority should be to getting Bridgehampton’s “outsourced kids” to return to the school from surrounding schools like Our Lady of the Hamptons and McGann-Mercy.

“My goal would be to pack out this place first before we expand,” said White, “to make sure there is no elbow room in the class rooms.”

DeGroot and Braia both brought up the idea of the addition of building a swimming pool behind the school building.

“The facilities really do need to be expanded,” said Braia, “One of my dreams would be an indoor swimming pool and a gym for the kids to go.”

Braia said that the pool could attract private school students in the district back to the school. DeGroot agreed saying that an indoor swimming pool would be something he would be willing to look into.

“I do see the need for a gym and an auditorium,” said White, “possibly a swimming pool, but that it is not on my list my top five, I would much rather see increased classroom size.”

Beyond physical expansion of the school, the candidates also debated the merits of increasing the size of certain programs within Bridgehampton.

Braia said that she would like to see expanded programs for adults in the school district, as well as athletic teams for girls.

“Right now we only have cheerleading for girls, we have nothing else for the girls,” said Braia, “it would be in their best interest to be able to participate in a team sport.”

Tyree-Johnson thought the next focus for the school board, in terms of school programming, would be to increase the foreign language department at the school.

“Our world is becoming very small, and I think it is beneficial for our kids to be fluent in several languages,” said Tyree-Johnson.

DeGroot agreed that instruction in French and Spanish need to be a priority at Bridgehampton, suggesting that education should begin at the school starting as early as first grade.

White was concerned that many of Bridgehampton graduates would not be prepared to enter the current job market. To deal with this issue, he suggested creating a career development program for the students.

“Whether we like it or not the world is trade based, the person going out and getting a four year bachelors degree….that job is not there anymore,” said White.

In order to offer more educational and extra curricular programs to Bridgehampton students, the school district has long worked with other schools on the East End through shared service programs. Tyree-Johnson said that the school board has to be more creative and assertive in pushing for these shared programs.

“It’s tricky because even though we are a small district we need big things,” said Tyree-Johnson. “I would like to see us expand and continue the combined drama program with Pierson, like what happened this year.”

DeGroot said that the he saw an opportunity to use the shared services program to allow Bridgehampton students to take academic classes not offered in Bridgehampton.

Rather then seeing the shared program as a way to let Bridgehampton students go to other schools, Braia said that the board should look into sponsoring their own programs and inviting students from other schools to participate.

White said that the use of technology like Skype could open up new opportunities in shared services programs.

“I see that happening, that is what the world is coming too, I was just teleconferencing with somebody from Hong Kong and they were having breakfast,” said White, “it is just that easy, and school needs to do that.”

After the debate, the Bridgehampton board of education presented its proposed budget for the 2012-2013 school year. The big number presented to the taxpayers has been increased to $10,696,364, a 1.13 percent increase from last year.

The proposed budget would increase the tax levy to about $1.62 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The Budget vote and board elections will both be held at the Bridgehampton High School on Tuesday, May 15 from 2 to 8 p.m.

Schools Look for Mandate Relief

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When the two-percent property tax levy cap was adopted last year it was done alongside a promise that New York State would scale back on the unfunded mandates it requires school districts and local governments to meet.

So far, for school administrators like Bridgehampton Superintendent Dr. Lois Favre, the promise of mandate relief has been just that — a promise, and one that has gone unfulfilled even as school districts begin the preliminary process of drafting their budgets.

Last Friday, at SUNY College at Old Westbury, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Mandate Relief Council held one of several forums it will host throughout the state to hear from stakeholders about what kind of mandates should be rolled back or readdressed.

According to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., a package of mandate relief is expected to be rolled out in March, although he stressed he believes true relief will come over several years.

In the meantime, before a final package is rolled out, everyone is being asked to comment and Dr. Favre and Sag Harbor School Superintendent Dr. John Gratto are by no means short of ideas.

“One substantive relief that would assist Bridgehampton would be some control of healthcare costs that have a major impact on our budget, despite efforts towards employee contributions,” said Dr. Favre. “Another area that should be seriously considered is aligning special education requirements with the federal regulations, as New York State seems to add many more requirements to what is required federally.”

Dr. Favre said she would also like to see the rules allowing student choice to attend charter schools changed so that it is limited to schools that are failing.

“Bridgehampton has a strong program that is designed to meet the individual needs of students and consistently makes adequate yearly progress, yet parents can opt for a charter school placement, even if we can effectively meet the students needs,” she said.

Dr. Favre added the transportation costs coupled with tuition are tremendous in these cases.

Lastly, Dr. Favre said new requirements for teacher training, evaluation, and curriculum leads to less time in the classroom and a lot of unanticipated costs for school districts.

“I would say by far and away, the biggest mandate relief for school districts, and the villages and towns would be the repeal of The Triborough Amendment, which requires public employees to get an automatic salary increase annually,” said Dr. Gratto.

The 1982 Triborough Amendment requires public employers to provide step salary increases annually to their employees even if they are unable to reach agreement on a new contract. Since the terms of the old contract remains the same, there can be less of a motivation for a union to offer concessions during contract negotiations.

“It has the consequential result of inflating salary increases,” said Dr. Gratto. “If that was repealed and there were no salary increases given until a contract was settled it would equalize the playing field for both sides.”

Dr. Gratto said pension reform, which would require employees to pay into retirement, helps in the long run, but in the short-term offers little relief.

He suggested the state could revisit its retirement formula, allowing teachers to retire after working to the age of 55 with 25 years of service rather than 30.

Last week, Dr. Gratto met with Thiele and New York State Senator Ken LaValle to suggest having Suffolk County alter the time in which it collects school taxes. Of the 62 counties in New York, Suffolk is the only one that collects school taxes in January as opposed to September. As a result, schools borrow money through Tax Anticipation Notes (TAN) to see themselves through to January, Dr. Gratto added.

“Even though we have favorable interest rates, this district spends about $125,000 a year in TAN interest,” said Gratto, translating to millions spent throughout the county.

“That is two or three teaching positions that could be preserved by not having to spend that money on interest,” said Dr. Gratto.

Bridgehampton School Eyes Shared Transportation Services

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School districts across New York State were sent reeling after the New York State Legislature adopted Governor Andrew Cuomo’s two percent cap on the property tax levy. The new law restricts school districts and municipalities alike in how much they can raise spending each year.

However, there were some concessions made within that bill to attempt to ease the burden, including one that allows school districts to share transportation services. This week, the Bridgehampton School began considering just that.

During a school board meeting last Wednesday, business administrator Robert Hauser informed the school board that they have the ability to go out to bid for the 2012-2013 school year for transportation services.

Hauser said BOCES has suggested the district hire a consultant to look at what kind of contract would best benefit the school district. He noted that the East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Southampton school districts own their own buses and Bridgehampton is now allowed to contract directly with those schools for transportation.

“Nothing is preventing us from at least opening a dialogue with the Southampton School District,” said Hauser, noting Bridgehampton could contract with them to transport district children who attend The Ross School, for example, instead of paying the $50,000 the district does now to provide that bus route. The same could be done with East Hampton.

Bridgehampton School spends about $53,000 annually for a bus to take about nine students to Our Lady of the Hamptons, said Hauser, noting East Hampton and Southampton already provide buses to the Southampton-based, private Catholic school.

“When you think about it, for those school districts, they are already covering the fixed costs so anything we can offer them would be extra,” said Hauser.

Board president Nicki Hemby wondered if the district could assign a bus stop for those pickups.

Superintendent Dr. Lois Favre suggested the board consider hosting a workshop on transportation to strategize for the future.

Shakespeare at Bridgehampton

If Josh Perl gets his way, next summer East End residents will be treated to two weeks of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on the expansive lawn behind the Bridgehampton School. In Perl’s vision, the lawn would be transformed into festival grounds in celebration of the pageantry that historically coincided with the mounting of the great poet and playwright’s productions.

Last Wednesday, Perl made his pitch to the Bridgehampton School Board.

The founder and director of the Hamptons Independent Theater Festival asked the board if his not-for-profit theatre company could set up shop on the school’s grounds for three weeks in August. During that time, the company would host a theatre camp for children and stage about a dozen performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” said Perl.

The company would have a suggested donation of $20 for the performances, although Perl stressed it is his mission to make theatre accessible for all, and those who could not pay the donation would be welcomed with open arms.

The camp, however, would have to charge for students to attend.

In addition to using the rear of the school grounds, Perl also asked for the use of the school’s restrooms and two classrooms to be used as the actor’s dressing rooms.

Perl noted there could be an opportunity for Bridgehampton students to participate in the production, or at the very least in the festivities planned prior to the show.

Dr. Favre suggested Perl fill out a building use form, and that the board would then discuss the concept in earnest, including whether or not the district could waive grounds fees for the theatre company.

In other news, Dr. Favre reported that the district’s new ASPIRE (After School Program of Inquiry, Research and Enrichment) program is an enormous success in its first 10-week session.

The daily after-school program for elementary school students offers an interdisciplinary approach to one subject during each 10-week session.

While Dr. Favre originally expected between 15 to 20 students, it quickly grew to host 40 students, she said.

Teachers like David Elliot and Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz have actually donated their time to the program at no cost to the district, said Dr. Favre.

Elliot said the program was “evolving” and credited Bridgehampton principal Jack Pryor for administrating the program, and Dr. Favre for conceiving the idea of bringing ASPIRE to Bridgehampton.

After school, students are studying their subject – bugs in this first session – in the library and in the greenhouse, with physical activity mixed into the curriculum, said Elliot.

“We are feeding bodies and minds,” he said.

The Difference a Year Makes at The Bridgehampton School

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“You are having a totally different experience than I had last year, because there were like 300 people here,” said Bridgehampton School Board member Lillan Tyree to school board candidates Joe Berhalter, Jo Ann Comfort and Lawrence LaPointe on Monday.

The Bridgehampton School boasts a contested election next Tuesday night, with three candidates including one incumbent vying for two three-year terms on the board. However, just a smattering of community members turned out for the annual “Meet the Candidates” debate and subsequent budget hearing, a decidedly different turnout than last year when scores of Bridgehampton residents showed up in a hotly contested school board race that was viewed by many as an unofficial referendum on whether or not to close the high school at Bridgehampton.

Berhalter, who once led the charge to close Bridgehampton’s high school, is the sole incumbent seeking re-election after Carol Kalish chose not to seek another term. A five-year resident of Bridgehampton, his wife Dolores was born and raised in the hamlet. Berhalter opened on Monday night by saying improved academics is at the forefront of his desire to continue on the board, and that the school has made strides in the right direction.

“I personally think education is the key to success and anything we can do to help that will help the kids, and that really is what my objective is,” said Berhalter.

“My children have gone through the Bridgehampton School for the last 15 years and we found the school to be the place we want to be, the place where we want our children to be,” said LaPointe, who has two graduates from the district as well and a son in fourth grade. LaPointe said he wants to ensure the school is maintained, which is why he decided to run.

A 15-year resident of Bridgehampton, Comfort said that sending her five-year-old daughter to Bridgehampton was once something she questioned, but after experiencing the school’s child-parent program, she realized Bridgehampton had a lot more to offer than she thought.

“The board has done a great job of getting it this far and I would like to keep the forward momentum going,” she said.

Change, the big issue in last year’s board race, was addressed in terms of expanding the district by allowing out-of-district students from the Springs School District, into the Bridgehampton School. Springs School is asking its residents this month whether they would like their high school children to have the option of attending Bridgehampton or Sag Harbor, in addition to East Hampton.

LaPointe opened the discussion, noting it is a big issue, particularly when it comes to the budget and how the school itself handles the increase in the number of students.

“I definitely think the school has room to build on the student population, but how we do that is a big issue,” said LaPointe, who advocates the district reaching out to families in Bridgehampton whosend their students to private school elsewhere.

“My personal feeling is yes, I do support it,” said Comfort, noting Bridgehampton has room to take students. The children in Bridgehampton would benefit from additional students, she added, and students from other districts could thrive in the small school environment Bridgehampton offers.

“Obviously it would be helpful to have more students in the school and also the teaching style we have is unique in this area and there are a lot of students in other districts that would benefit from our teaching methods,” said Berhalter who added that there are students at Bridgehampton who would similarly benefit from being in a larger environment.

“I think the whole concept of choice is a great thing for our school,” he said, later adding the school has 140 students with space for 250.

LaPointe later said he would like to work with residents in Bridgehampton to reach out to in-district families, noting the cost of tuition at many private schools has gone up, while at the same time so has the reputation of the Bridgehampton School.

“We should look to residents of this town to participate more in the school,” he said, adding programs like the Landscape and Environmental Design course will attract families to Bridgehampton.

Comfort advocated for regular open houses, inviting members of the community into the school so they can see the progress the school has made.

Berhalter said the more academic success and top flight colleges Bridgehampton graduates attend, the easier it will be to draw in those residents.

“Over the last several years, we are improving, so we are doing the right things, but it takes time to build that up,” he said.

Comfort founded the Bridgehampton School Foundation, which is raising money for a greenhouse for the school’s edible garden, and she advocated for expansion of the school’s garden to contribute to its cafeteria.

“It’s teaching them the basics of how to grow their own food,” she said. “The more we can teach the kids you can make a salad instead of macaroni and cheese, the better off they’ll be.”

“Being a vegan, it’s a pretty easy answer for me,” joked Berhalter, although he cautioned he would hate to see a charter school-like education at the expense of rigorous academics.

LaPointe agreed with both Berhalter and Comfort, supporting the expansion of the edible garden.

Comfort also supported the expansion of the Career Academies, which spawned the Landscape and Environmental Design course at Bridgehampton, although she would like to see what students are interested in before honing in on the next career focus.

Berhalter disagreed, supporting the notion in larger districts, but concerned in a small district like Bridgehampton it could be used as a substitute for strong academics.

“I think it is a great tool,” said LaPointe, noting it opens up Bridgehampton to other students interested in that educational style.

Voters go to the polls Tuesday, May 18 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Bridgehampton School.


Slow Food for The Bridgehampton School

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The local chapter of Slow Food, a worldwide not-for-profit dedicated to local, fresh, sustainable foods, has organized a National Day of Action on Labor Day, Monday, September 7 – an Eat-In – to focus communities nationwide on the importance of healthy, local foods in schools. The local chapter, led by Emily Herrick of the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton, will host its own Eat-In at the Bridgehampton School from noon to 3 p.m.

Slow Food East End is asking participants in the “Eat-In” to bring a dish prepared from local ingredients to share with others at the event. Nutrition counselor and writer Alexa Van de Walle is slated to speak, with Caroline Doctorow and Tara Lea performing music.

“It’s basically just a community potluck,” said Herrick on Monday.

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Boasting an edible garden and a Career Academy-based curriculum originally centered on landscape design – this year reaching out into botany and nutrition – students at the Bridgehampton School have been actively participating in the evolution of how food is viewed on the East End of Long Island for several years now.

According to Herrick, the relationship between Slow Food East End and Bridgehampton was natural, with Slow Food already hosting a potluck and screening of “Two Angry Moms” to raise funding for a greenhouse at the school. Slow Food East End has already funded the construction of a greenhouse at the Hayground School, also in Bridgehampton.

The national chapter of Slow Food organized the nationwide Day of Action in anticipation of the reauthorization of the Childhood Nutrition Act in Congress, which is set to expire at the end of September. In a letter sent to local legislators, the Slow Food organization notes that due to changes in food quality, production and consumption, the life expectancy of this generation of children is expected to be lower than that of their parents due to increases in obesity, childhood diabetes and cancer.

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Slow Food is asking Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama to invest an additional $1 per child for each child’s lunch as a part of the Childhood Nutrition Act enabling schools to spend additional funding on vegetables, fruits and whole grains rather than the chicken tenders and hamburgers often found in school cafeterias. The organization is also looking for Congress to establish strict standards for food sold in schools, including in vending machines, fund grants for farm-to-school programs and school gardens, and establish subsidies that encourage schools to purchase locally.

As Herrick noted, without financial support from the federal government, the Bridgehampton School has already begun making inroads towards this type of nutritional model within its district, with the creation of an edible garden and curriculum geared towards agriculture, landscape design and this year, culinary skills and nutrition.

Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz teaches the landscape design course at Bridgehampton and has been working with students for the last two years with the end goal of having vegetables and fruits grown in the school garden served in the school’s cafeteria.

“What we are about at this point is bringing fresh produce into our school,” she said on Tuesday.

Carmack-Fayyaz said this year a culinary science and nutritional class will be taught as an aspect of science this year, with a focus on the science of how food is produced, botany, agriculture and nutrition. The Career Academy landscape design class, which has resulted in the Edible Garden at Bridgehampton, currently overflowing with ripe tomatoes, melons, basil, corn, herbs and bright with a variety of flowers, is a class that has integrated business classes, design courses, botany and mathematics. The nutrition course, which will likely evolve throughout the year, noted Carmack Fayyaz, will introduce science to the class with a lab course that will focus on cooking healthy snacks – snacks Carmack-Fayyaz said she hopes will eventually be sold in the school’s cafeteria.

“This year at Bridgehampton we do have Whitsons,” said Carmack-Fayyaz of the school’s food service provider. “We have been working closely with the Bridgehampton manager for Whitsons, Dan, and he has been great in cooperating with us to ensure we are introducing more greens into the cafeteria. What we need to do this year as a school is explore the economic feasibility of running our own cafeteria. We have to see if we can afford it.”

Carmack-Fayyaz said the district has already reached out to administrators from the Tuckahoe School District, which self-operate their own cafeteria. A representative from that district is expected at Monday’s Eat-In to talk to Bridgehampton School officials about how they have made the program work in Tuckahoe.

“I have to give a lot of credit to [superintendent] Dr. [Dianne] Youngblood for embracing this movement,” said Carmack-Fayyaz. “Bridgehampton is unique in that this administration has shown a commitment to these projects and have made resources available.”

“This is a collective movement,” added Carmack-Fayyaz. “We have a lot of great support for this across the East End.”