Greenport school officials seek community’s help purchasing track equipment

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08/23/2013 3:09 PM |

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Greenport School District athletic director Jim Caliendo, right, and high school principal Leonard Skuggevik at Thursday’s public forum discussing the school’s track.

Greenport School District officials are asking the community’s help to get the school’s track ready for competition.

During a public forum to discuss the track’s future, high school principal Leonard Skuggevik suggested to a group of parents that they focus on fundraising efforts as the district finalizes a complete list of what the track team will need this season and how much each item will cost.

Although the focus of Thursday’s meeting was about raising nearly $8,000 to purchase a high jump mat, Greenport Athletic Director Jim Caliendo said Friday he’s received calls from a few local school districts offering to donate the mat.

The Mattituck-Cutchogue and Greenport school districts are pursuing separate projects to reconstruct their respective high school tracks since ending an agreement that allowed Greenport students to practice in Mattituck.

For the past two years, Greenport athletes have practiced in Mattituck, although the districts have maintained separate track teams. During a Mattituck school board meeting in June, high school principal Shawn Petretti denied allegations that the district had canceled the agreement with Greenport and said the school was simply following Section XI rules. At the time, Mr. Petretti said Section XI, which governs high school sports in Suffolk County, states that a school district must provide facilities if enough students form a team.

Greenport school officials have said that because the announcement from Mattituck was made in the spring, there was no time to plan and budget for reconstructing their school’s track.

Since Mattituck and Greenport parted ways, the Southold School District, which doesn’t currently have a track team, has agreed to join Greenport in its efforts and plans to create a combined track team with Greenport this coming school year. The team will compete in the spring track season, which starts in March. There will not be a winter track team.

Mr. Caliendo said he believes about 100 students will play on the 7-12th grade boys and girls varsity teams this season. The teams will have three coaches.

He also gave an update on the district’s progress with the track, in which five of the six lanes are currently unusable because they are heavily covered with weeds. School officials said they believe the district last had a track team in the 1970s.

Mr. Caliendo said the Mezynieski family from Driftwood Farms in Orient and John Costello from Costello Marine Contracting in Greenport have volunteered to do the construction. He said he believes the work will be done before school starts next month. He added the district is also borrowing equipment from Mattituck schools to help fix the cinder track.

While there’s also a plan to clear weeds from Greenport’s pole vault runway, Mr. Caliendo said it will not be practice-ready for the track team this year.

He said a sand pit for long and triple jumps will be ready since the district is reusing sand recently removed from the elementary school’s playground, which is currently under construction.

Heather Walker and Lisa DeLuca, both parents of Greenport track team athletes, kicked around fundraising ideas after the public forum and said they plan to launch a Facebook page to promote the cause.

Ms. DeLuca said she was impressed with how the district was able to develop a plan within a short period of time.

“I can’t believe how you were able to get everything done,” she told Mr. Skuggevik and Mr. Caliendo. “So, thank you.”

“That’s what I’m here to do,” Mr. Caliendo replied.

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