Greenport school district cuts ribbon on new gymnasium

Greenport school officials unveiled a new gymnasium at the elementary school Wednesday afternoon.

Elementary School Principal and Director of Special Education, Joseph Tsaveras, said the new facility symbolizes the district’s dedication to “developing every child in our care.”

“It is with great joy and excitement that we gather here today to celebrate the grand opening of our elementary gym,” he said at Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony. “This marks a significant milestone in the journey of our school and underscores an unwavering commitment to providing the best possible environment for our students to grow, learn and thrive here at Greenport.”

The $18 million project was approved by district voters in 2019 and includes plans for a new school library and a home and careers classroom. The district hosted a groundbreaking ceremony when construction began in May 2022. Rooms inside the existing school building were renovated to accommodate the new uses. The gym will serve as the elementary school’s main gymnasium and as an auxiliary athletic facility for high school students.

The display cases in the hallway leading to the new gym have been filled with memorabilia dating back to as early as 1937, highlighting generations of students’ athletic achievements in multiple sports in what the district dubbed the “Greenport High School Athletic Museum.”  The gym was bedecked in school’s colors of purple and gold Wednesday, and filled with elementary students who were entertained by Porter, the school’s mascot.

Members of Greenport’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps presented the colors before the school’s A Cappella Club sang the national anthem to kick off the celebration.

Superintendent Marlon Small thanked faculty and staff who he said were “instrumental to us being here today celebrating this wonderful occasion.

“Over two long years we’ve watched the building rise, we’ve watched all the things that have happened with our construction and crew, and we’ve waited patiently for this day,” Mr. Small said. “We do know that this day was made possible through the hard work, through the leadership, through the vision of so many people.”

Local officials in the audience included village Mayor Kevin Steussi, village clerk Candace Hall and board of education members Kirsten Droskoski and Robin Walden. Former members Babette Cornine and Sandy Martocchia, who were on the board of education when the project was approved, were also on hand.

Justin Cobis, superintendent and principal of the nearby Oysterponds school dictrict and other district board members joined in the festivities and were acknowledged by Mr. Small.

“We think it’s only fitting that you’re here to join us as part of the continued partnership and collaboration between our two districts,” Mr. Small said. “We know that our success is your success.”

Mr. Cobis said that this new building is a win for the whole community.

“We’re certainly grateful to the board of education at Greenport and to Mr. Small for including us. Like he mentioned, we’re great partners together and we like to collaborate continuously,” Mr. Cobis said. “This being my first year, I have felt that there is a concerted effort by Greenport to include us, not just in ceremonies like this but in helping to collaborate and to plan for the future as our students combine in the 7-12 [grade] experience.”

Greenport elementary phys. ed. teacher Cindy Sepenoski said the new gym means “so much” to the students.

“We sometimes have scheduling issues where there isn’t a gym for the elementary and now, we’ll have our own gym,” she said. “Everybody is really excited, I mean it’s so beautiful, everyone’s really buzzing and excited to get going in here.”

Sixth grader Ash John Javidi addressed the crowd as well.

“On behalf of the 6th grade, I would like to say that we are very excited to have this new gym space for our school,” he said. “I would like to thank the board of education for making this happen, it’s not every day that we get an addition to the building, so thank you very much.”

Greenport’s 2024 valedictorian, Nathaniel Stevenson, let the audience know what the new space means to the high school students.

“Today is a special day for our high school as we open a new auxiliary gym,” he said. “This isn’t just about a new building though; it’s about continuing a tradition of sports excellence that has been a huge part of our school’s history.”

Mr. Tsaveras ended his speech with a pledge.

 “As we embark on this new chapter, let us remember that the true value of this gymnasium lies not in the brick and mortar, but in the opportunities it will afford our students to discover their strengths, overcome challenges and achieve their full potential,” he said. “Let us pledge to make this the most special space in our school, foster a culture of sportsmanship and excellence and continue to strive for greatness in all we do here at Greenport schools.”