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County Essay Winner

County Essay Winner photo
Hampton Bays Middle School is pleased to announce that seventh-grader Emily Barnes placed first at the county level of the National VFW Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest. She was honored at a ceremony on Feb. 26 at the Tordik-Diedrich-Duffield VFW Post 4927 in Centereach.  

Barnes received multiple proclamations during the event for her 400-word essay that was themed, “What Makes America Great.” 

Eighth-grader Elijah Amos and seventh-grader Marilyn Ramos were recognized earlier this year for being named local contest winners.

The annual VFW essay contest aims to encourage young minds to examine America’s history. More than 132,000 students across the United States pen essays for the contest each year.   

Flag flies for George Luce

Flag flies for George Luce photo

In continuing its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to U.S. Navy veteran George Luce by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of March.

“The district is proud to honor Mr. Luce for his bravery and service to the United States,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen. 

Luce was recognized on March 15 with a ceremony at Hampton Bays Elementary School, during which middle school students read his biography. The event culminated with the raising of the flag on the school’s flagpole. 

Born in Port Jefferson in 1936, Luce began his education in New York City and completed junior high school in Maracaibo, Venezuela, where his stepfather was on foreign assignment for a U.S. oil company. He returned to the U.S. and graduated from Trinity-Pawling School, a college preparatory school in Pawling, New York, before heading to attend Northwestern University.

A short time later, Luce returned to Long Island and worked for his father in the hardware business in Riverhead. In December 1957, he enlisted in the Army Reserve, and in spring 1958, he received orders to report to Camp Drum in upstate New York. Luce did not think that was a good idea, so he did the seemingly impossible — he walked to a Navy recruiter and convinced him that be belonged in the Navy, not the Army. The transfer was granted. 

A chief petty officer convinced Luce that his best assignment options were in Navy aviation, not sea duty. Luce agreed and was off to Bainbridge, Maryland, for basic training. He was the last class out of Bainbridge; subsequent enlistees attended basic at the Great Lakes training facility. His first assignment was at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. Luce had hopes to become a Navy cook. After several months, he was shipped out to Norman, Oklahoma, for a five-week introduction to naval aviation. This was followed up with a 22-week assignment in Memphis, Tennessee, where he completed all course requirements and passed the review board with a military occupational specialty in aviation electronics.

He never did get to be a Navy cook. After passing the board, he was transferred to VP-48, a seaplane squadron in San Diego, California, with aviation electronics responsibilities. He spent six months in California and was reassigned to Iwakuni, Japan, for another six months. Luce liked Japan.

After Japan, Luce returned to San Diego and eventually transferred to Whidbey Island in Seattle, Washington. By this time, his original enlistment was up, and he agreed to an enlistment extension if the Navy agreed to send him back to Japan. The Navy delivered, and Luce was back in Japan for two years as a radio operator on seaplanes. Their assignment was to use the slow, lumbering seaplanes to track shipping in and out of Shanghai in Communist China. Luce remembers the Navy telling him they could be shot down by Chinese MiGs because the jets were too fast and the seaplanes too slow. During one mission, the pilot asked the navigator if he knew their location, which the navigator did not. The pilot said, “Look out the window and you can see Shanghai.” Realizing they were now in Chinese air space, they flew out of there very quickly. 

Luce also remembers flying through a monsoon en route to the Philippines in 1960 and making petty officer second class, or an E-5.  

Luce separated from service in July 1963. Of all his decorations, the one he is most proud of is his Aircrew Badge. He returned to Riverhead and used his GI Bill benefits to complete his undergraduate studies at LIU Riverhead, earning a Bachelor of Science in business. He met his wife, Naudain, to whom he was married for 23 years. Naudain was a substitute teacher in Hampton Bays for many years, and a scholarship is awarded to outstanding students every year in her memory.

Luce worked in his father’s hardware business for a while, served as a teacher for Nassau BOCES and worked on the maintenance crew for the Hampton Bays School District. He has four children – George Jr., Larry, Elizabeth and Amanda – and six grandchildren: Lee Ann, George, Robert, Olivia, Matthew and Phillip. Matthew and Phillip both attend the Hampton Bays schools.


A Lucky Day for Kindergartners

A Lucky Day for Kindergartners

Hampton Bays Elementary School kindergartners were on a mission on March 15 to catch a little green guy with lots of gold. The students each worked to use their mechanical skills and imaginations to construct colorful and elaborate leprechaun traps that were set in their classrooms. The traps all included gold “bait” and mechanisms to catch the little bearded man, who left green glitter throughout many of the students classrooms, taunting the children to catch him.


Ready for school

Ready for school photo
To help prepare parents and future students for school, the Hampton Bays School District held a Child Find program at the Hampton Bays Public Library on March 8. The free program screened children not yet enrolled in kindergarten for educational, language and motor skills. 

Speech pathologists provided the language and motor skill screenings during the program, while school district representatives and librarians offered information on school readiness and library services.  

Special Olympics - Volunteers Requested

special olympics logo
On Sunday June 9th, 2019, Hampton Bays Public Schools will host the Special Olympics. The daylong event will be held at Hampton Bays High School from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. If you are interested in volunteering, please sign up through this link. If you have any volunteer questions please e-mail John Foster- THANK YOU for lending a helping hand to a great event!

Celebrating 100 Days!

To celebrate their 100th day of school on Feb. 13, Hampton Bays Elementary School students took part in several projects related to the milestone number. They counted 100 blocks and other items, painted murals and added 100 items to them, and made “100th Day of School” hats. 

Flag Flies for Rick Robinson

Flag Flies for Rick Robinson photo

In its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to Army veteran Rick Robinson by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of February.

“The district is proud to honor Mr. Robinson for his bravery and service to the United States,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen. 

Members of the Hampton Bays High School Select Choir opened the Feb. 15 ceremony at Hampton Bays Elementary School with the national anthem, later following with a performance of Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” High school senior Kevin McNamara read Robinson’s bio, and county and town officials presented the honoree with several proclamations. The ceremony culminated with the raising of the flag on the school’s flagpole.  

Robinson was born in Brooklyn in 1966. He moved to Hampton Bays in 1998 and worked in the telecommunications industry in Manhattan.

Shortly before 2007, Robinson started to feel a need to serve his country. His consideration for joining the service was reinforced when his twin brother joined the Navy at age 39. Motivated by his brother’s influence and stories, he decided to join the Army at 40 years old. It was a difficult process, since the Army typically recruits at a younger age.  

Despite the odds, Robinson would not take “no” for an answer and pursued every possible avenue to enlist. In 2007, he joined the Army National Guard, a reserve component of the U.S. Army, and completed his combined basic training and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Georgia, aka the “Home of the Infantry.” There, he was affably nicknamed “the old man” for being much older than the other recruits, as well as his drill sergeants. Older did not mean inferior for Robinson, however, was rated in the upper half of the training platoon of 54 soldiers. His personal drive and sense of commitment to the Army drove his performance in training, and his success contributed to the unit receiving the Honor Platoon Award for being the best in the company.

After completing basic and advanced training, Robinson graduated with the MOS 11B, part of the Army Infantry. His first assignment was to B Company of the famous Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment, which originally gained its fame for its fighting spirit during the American Civil War.

In April 2008, Robinson volunteered to join with C Troop, 101st Cavalry Regiment, and was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Phoenix Seven. He was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hughey in Nangarhar Province, Jalalabad. During this deployment, he served as a gunner in the turret of a Humvee, utilizing 50-caliber and M240 weapons systems in support of ground troops and convoys. He spent nine months in Afghanistan.

Upon his return to the States, Robinson was again assigned to B Company, 69th Infantry Regiment this time on Long Island. In 2010, his unit was reassigned to Japan to train with the Japanese Defense Forces in combined operations. During the remainder of his service, where he was back in the U.S., his unit was twice activated for state emergencies that included protecting airports and train stations after the Boston Marathon bombing with the objective of deterring other acts of terrorism.

Robinson was honorably discharged in January 2017 after 10 years of service. He currently supports the local community by working at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and he is an active member of the American Legion – Hampton Bays Post 924 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5350.  

Spotlight on Public Education

Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen joined Ron Masera, Superintendent of the Remsenburg-Speonk Union Free School District, and Julie Lutz, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer of Eastern Suffolk BOCES, to discuss public education on Bob Vecchio’s “Spotlight on Long Island Schools” radio show. During their visit, they discussed state aid, school safety, mental health and support for students, among other topics. To hear the segment, click the links below.

The ‘write’ Stuff

The ‘write’ Stuff  photo
Hampton Bays High School student journalists were recognized with top honors and several Quill Awards at this year’s Press Day, held Jan. 28 at Adelphi University. 

Among the awardees was Dylynn von Bartheld, who earned an honorable mention as most outstanding reporter; Julia Heming, who was honored with a third-place award for best news article; Kiera Hughes, who placed third in the opinion category; and Schuyler Dorchak, who placed third for best feature. All of the winning pieces had been published in the school’s newspaper publication, The Tide. 

More than 20 schools from across Long Island participated in the event. In addition to the award presentations, students took part in discussions about “fake news” and other problems facing contemporary journalists.

The Hampton Bays School District extends its congratulations to these student journalists for their hard work. 


Chinese New Year celebration

Chinese New Year celebration photo
Stephanie Tam’s second-graders at Hampton Bays Elementary School celebrated Chinese New Year on Feb. 5. As part of the festivities, they learned about the holiday’s traditions, made colorful masks, learned to speak and write a few words in Chinese and received a traditional red envelope.  

The Ugly Truth

ugly truth image
On Thursday, March 7, Hampton Bays High School will host the South Fork’s first presentation of “The Ugly Truth” at 6:30 p.m. in its auditorium, 88 East Argonne Road, Hampton Bays.

The multiagency presentation will center on the opioid epidemic on Long Island and feature representatives from the Suffolk County Police Department, Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office and Suffolk County Office of Mental Health.  

During the event, experts will offer information related to the opioid epidemic and a complimentary Narcan training for all attendees over 18 years of age. The SCPD will also be available in the auditorium lobby before and after the event to collect unwanted medications in order to properly dispose of them. 

Flag Flies for George Hitchcock

Flag Flies for George Hitchcock photo
In continuing its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to U.S. Army veteran George Hitchcock by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of January. 

“The district is proud to honor Mr. Hitchcock for his bravery and service to the United States,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen. 

Hitchcock was recognized on Jan. 25 with a ceremony at Hampton Bays Elementary School. During the tribute, middle school students read his biography and middle school student Marilyn Ramos recited her patriotic essay, “Why I Honor the American Flag.” The event culminated with the raising of the flag on the school’s flagpole. 

Born in Brooklyn on June 25, 1946, Hitchcock moved with his family to Rockville Centre six years later and graduated from South Side High School in 1964. He went on to study business administration at Stevens Business College in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, but decided business was not for him and looked into joining the military. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard and Air Force had long waiting lists for enlistment, and he was drafted by the U.S. Army in 1967.
In March 1967, Hitchcock arrived at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for his basic training. He graduated in May and boarded a bus to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for advanced individual training in the MOS 11D20 for armor. There, the 20-year-old received his orders to ship out to Vietnam.
When he arrived in Vietnam in August 1967, Hitchcock was assigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry as a reconnaissance scout on an armored personnel carrier. The 11th Cavalry was constantly on the move in Vietnam. In January 1968, while the 11th Cavalry was on operations near the Cambodian border, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops launched the Tet Offensive, attacking every major city and province in South Vietnam. As part of the United States’ response, the 11th Cavalry was ordered to support operations in Bien Hoa near the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon. 
On Feb. 3, 1968, Hitchcock’s armored personnel carrier took a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade and he was wounded. He suffered shrapnel wounds to his neck, arm, hip and legs and was medevaced to the 93rd Hospital in Bien Hoa for life-saving surgery. While recovering, the hospital was attacked by mortar fire and Hitchcock once again found himself in peril, as he could not be moved to a bunker because of all the tubes and wires attached to his body. He was flown to Japan for another month of hospitalization.
 In March 1968, Hitchcock was reassigned to the United States for re-evaluation at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and then sent home on convalescent leave. After recovering, he was assigned to the 6th Armored Cavalry at Fort Meade, Virginia. During this time, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and the 6th Cavalry was tasked with protecting the nation’s capital from rioting. Hitchcock felt he had left a war in Vietnam only to find himself in what felt like another war in the United States. Fortunately for him, his commanding officer, after reading his medical history, transferred him to the First Army Data Processing Center in Fort Meade, where he remained until his honorable discharge in March 1969.
Hitchcock was awarded the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the 60 Day Vietnam Ribbon, the National Defense Medal and the New York State Conspicuous Service Citation for his meritorious service.
After his discharge, Hitchcock served as an officer with the Suffolk County Park Police, working in plain clothes and as a detective investigator. He also attended night school at Suffolk County Community College and earned a degree in criminal justice. He continued his education at the New York Institute of Technology until he had to stop to care for his father, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Hitchcock moved to Hampton Bays and met wife, Carol, at the Boardy Barn. The two have been happily married for 47 years and have two children, Sean and Beth, and two grandchildren, Trevor and Leah. Hitchcock enjoys his present hobby of “treasure hunting” with a metal detector on the sands of Suffolk County beaches and parks. He is a member of the Long Island Treasure Hunters Club, whose members try to return found items of value to their owners. In addition, he is an active member of the American Legion in Hampton Bays, a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5350, and a member of the Suffolk County Police Conference, the Disabled American Veterans and the 11th Armored Cavalry Association.

Funds Raised Through Volleyball Tournament

picture 37
Members of the Hampton Bays Middle School Student Council recently provided the Airborne Tri Team with a $140 donation. To raise the funds, the council members sponsored a volleyball tournament on Jan. 11 in which students could play alongside Airborne Tri Team members.  

A Breakfast Treat

A Breakfast Treat photo
Hampton Bays High School students enrolled in the district’s culinary arts program honed their skills by preparing and serving breakfast to local veterans on Jan. 9. 

The chefs-in-training cooked up eggs, bacon and other breakfast dishes for a group of 13 veterans who normally meet monthly at the Merry Maid. With the local restaurant closed for the season, however, the school welcomed the veterans for the delicious breakfast. 

The morning meal also provided student reporter Natalie Gomez with the opportunity to interview the veterans for a school newspaper article she is writing.  

The veterans greatly appreciated the hospitality of the school and took up a collection to donate to the school’s culinary program. 

Middle School Clubs Bridge Generations

Middle School Clubs Bridge Generations photo

Members of the Builders Club and Students Take Action Club at Hampton Bays Middle School learned more about the lives of local senior citizens as part of an intergenerational connections project on Jan. 9.

The members of the clubs, which are advised by Joan Moran, visited the Hampton Bays Senior Center to interview six residents, inquiring about their childhood, careers and families. The students will take this information to pen biographies on the interviewees, which will be read at the school’s Senior Awards presentation on Jan. 16.  

The seniors who participated in the project included Sunny Bates, Dave Griffin, Bob Murray, Ann Murphy, Mary Paimisano and Margret Riebel. 

Coding with Botley

Coding with Botley
During the month of December, students in first through fourth grade at Hampton Bays Elementary School have been learning to code using Botley the Robot during their STEM lab period. Under the direction of STEM lab teacher Jonathan Della Speranza, the students used code to solve challenges and program Botley to navigate through a maze, catch a ball, score a goal and detect objects in his path.