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01/18/18 9:21pm
01/18/2018 9:21 PM

Shawn Petretti straddled two worlds while sitting in the bleachers Thursday night. The Mattituck High School principal had more than a casual interest in the high school wrestling match between Shoreham-Wading River and Mattituck/Greenport/Southold. That’s because his sons, John Carl and Tristan, both wrestle for Shoreham.

It was an intriguing case of a principal watching his own flesh and blood wrestle against the team he himself once coached in the Mattituck building where he works. Talk about conflicted interests. READ

06/18/15 12:00pm
06/18/2015 12:00 PM
Mattituck's Joe Tardif pitched a four-hitter to lead the Tuckers to a win in the state semifinals Saturday. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Mattituck’s Joe Tardif pitched a four-hitter to lead the Tuckers to a win in the state semifinals Saturday. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

As the Mattituck High School baseball team assembled in the main lobby for a special celebration march through the school Monday to honor the Tuckers’ winning the New York State Class B championship, the school’s principal, Shawn Petretti, turned to center fielder Joe Tardif.

“Tardif, you know the drill, right?” he said.

Tardif laughed and said, “Yes, I do.” (more…)

06/05/2015 6:00 AM
(Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

A group of Mattituck High School teachers and students met with The Suffolk Times on Thursday to discuss the school’s ranking. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Mattituck High School junior Julie Krudop is grateful for the teachers that helped her improve her reading and writing skills.

After she was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, she was enrolled into the district’s reading program and said her teachers immediately pushed her to work hard in overcoming her personal challenges.

It’s that type of support Julie and her fellow students attributed to the school’s recent success of ranking as one of the best high schools in the nation.


03/20/2014 6:24 PM
Mattituck-Cutchogue School District residents gathered Wednesday at the elementary school for a Common Core presentation. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District held a Common Core meeting Wednesday at the elementary school. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

About 60 people attended Mattituck-Cutchogue School District’s presentation Wednesday evening about how Common Core standards are being achieved inside the classroom.


10/22/2013 3:05 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Mattituck seniors taking students' tickets at Mattituck Cinemas. On Monday morning, the school showed "Bully," a 2011 documentary showing how bullying affects teenagers and their families.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Mattituck seniors taking students’ tickets at Mattituck Cinemas. On Tuesday morning, the school showed “Bully,” a 2011 documentary that shows how bullying affects teenagers and their families.

Mattituck-Cutchogue School District students got emotional Tuesday morning discussing five bullied teens they’d only just met on the big screen.

The group of junior-senior high school students visited Mattituck Cinemas to watch the 2011 documentary “Bully,” which depicts how bullying has affected children and their families.

According to the documentary’s website thebullyproject.com, filming took place during the 2009-10 school year in different parts of the country and captured a growing movement among communities to change how schools handle bullying.

One story concerns 12-year-old Alex Libby. Cameras followed him around his hometown of Sioux City, Iowa, and showed how he was tormented, cursed at, physically abused and called “fish face” numerous times on the bus ride to school.

“I’m starting to think I don’t feel anything anymore,” Alex told his mother when she learned about what was happening to him.

In the film, school officials are shown to be dismissive about the bullying after Alex’s parents complained. A few years later, he and his family moved out of state and Alex has been giving motivational anti-bullying talks.

Mattituck students Sarah Pfennig, 16, and Tucker Johansson, 14, said they believe the movie, directed by Lee Hirsch, will make a positive change among students.

Sarah described the school’s actions in Alex’s case as “very disheartening” and said she was saddened to see how he struggled to fit in.

Tucker said he believed seeing the film in a movie theater expressed the anti-bullying message stronger than if students had watched it in the school auditorium.

“It showed it’s not OK to bully and what happens to people when you do it,” he said of the movie. “My favorite part was when they all got together at the end to help stop bullying.”

That scene in the movie showed a mournful anti-bullying community gathering where balloons were tied to several empty seats, each representing the name of a bullied student who had committed suicide.

Sarah said she was one of the many students who cried when the balloons were released after each name was read.

“It makes you really appreciate how things are here,” Sarah said of Mattituck schools. She said she believes principal Shawn Petretti and assistant principal David Smith take bullying seriously and getting “The Bully Project” into Mattituck is another way of showing how administrators want to help students combat bullying.

The school has recently held other programs to teach students about compassion.

In September, American Paralympian Rohan Murphy visited students and gave a motivational talk about perseverance. Last year, John Halligan of Vermont visited the school to talk about how bullying drove his son, Ryan, to suicide and how he hoped his story will prevent future tragedies.

Mr. Petretti described Mattituck’s latest anti-bullying program as another tool to address the issue and said students will be writing reflective essays about the movie in their English classes.

Seniors also met with younger students last Friday to discuss the school’s culture and ways to deter bullying.

Since Mr. Petretti said he doesn’t want the movie experience to be a “one-and-done program,” he’s working with his staff and students to create a follow-up plan.

“I need your help,” he told students at the conclusion of the movie. “You’re on the bus, in the locker rooms and in the halls.

“Don’t just let this go.”

Cassidy Bertolias and Jillian Pedone, both 13, said they haven’t seen the types of physical bullying depicted in the movie at their school but have noticed that students will sometimes “talk behind each other’s backs” and agreed students will now be more aware of how negative comments hurt people’s feelings.

“[The movie’s] going to do something for our school,” Cassidy said.

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09/20/2013 5:11 PM
FILE PHOTO | Some Mattituck High School seniors will be in detention Saturday.

FILE PHOTO | Some Mattituck High School seniors will be in detention Saturday.

A group of Mattituck High School seniors will be in detention Saturday after administrators learned students had written on the roof with chalk and placed a total of about 200 balloons inside the building the night before school started.

High School principal Shawn Petretti said the term “prank” isn’t the best way to describe what happened on the evening of Sept. 8 because it has been a tradition for seniors to decorate the front of the building for the first day of school over the past several years.

While most students acted responsibly as they decorated the front entrance with chalked messages, streamers, pictures and signs, he said some students went on the roof and wrote messages in chalk. They also trespassed into the building and filled the front lobby and the senior hallway with balloons and decorations, he said.

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Mr. Petretti said he met with the class of 2014, which will be the district’s 100th graduating class, after discovering what had happened. He then asked for the students involved to step forward in lieu of the district launching an official investigation.

“Approximately 40 seniors came into my office and had admitted to what they were doing, even though some of their classmates did not,” he said during Thursday night’s school board meeting. “I thought that showed great character. I was pretty proud them — not with their actions, but how they reacted to the situation.”

Even though some students that came forward didn’t break the rules, Mr. Petretti said they still stepped forward because they also felt responsible since they were there as the situation unfolded.

And on Thursday night, four students addressed the school board during the public comment portion of the meeting to apologize for their class’s misconduct.

Mr. Petretti said he was impressed by the students’ courage and appreciated the unsolicited act of remorse.

“It’s a good class,” he said. “Worthy of our centennial class.”

Mr. Petretti, a fan of the 1985 movie “The Breakfast Club,” said Saturday detentions have been in place in Mattituck for about 13 years and started when he was the school’s dean and current Superintendent James McKenna was the principal.

Administrators have found the Saturday arrangement more beneficial than other forms of suspension because students won’t miss class and will still be held accountable for their actions.

“It’s a way of getting our pound of flesh without impacting academics,” he said. “I’ll be with them on Saturday. Its our own Breakfast Club.”

As for the 2015 senior class, Mr. Petretti said he’ll be meeting with students to come up with a plan for future senior traditions.

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06/23/2013 11:00 AM

CLAIRE LEADEN PHOTO | A community service designation on a Mattituck High School diploma.

Mattituck High School has listed community service designations on its diplomas for about five years and now plans to make it easier for students to take advantage of the offer next school year.

The school’s Community Service Club will be in full swing following this year’s pilot program. The recognition listed on diplomas shows how many community service hours a student has completed in high school.

Mattituck High School principal Shawn Petretti said the school created the club in order to help students become more aware of local community service opportunities. He described the initial response as “tremendous” and said between 30 and 40 students got involved with the club this year.

“It’s about getting the kids to participate and acknowledging their efforts in a formal manner,” Mr. Petretti said. “There’s only so much they’ll learn inside school. We want them getting real world experiences.”

AP biology teacher Janine Ruland said she created the club mid-school-year because she believes community service experience is important to a student’s development. Ms. Ruland, the club’s adviser, said although she ran the meetings this year, student officers will be appointed going forward.

She proposed the pilot program in order to find out if there was a student interest and said she was pleasantly surprised by the increased community service involvement. Some volunteer projects the club got involved with this year include winter coat and clothing drives, bake sales and creating Easter baskets for children at a local day care.

Students also worked with Cutchogue New Suffolk Library’s “doggy biscuit” program, in which students were given biscuit batter, baked the treats at home and brought them to the local animal shelter. The student volunteers also worked with Group for the East End and did some weeding, mulching and cleaning at local beaches, Ms. Ruland said.

“My goal is to showcase how wonderful these young people are,” she said. “As they’re reaching out to their community, hopefully it will strike a nerve and they’ll find how meaningful it is.”

In addition to the minimum requirement of 65 hours over a four-year time frame, students are only allowed to bank 15 hours toward their total hours for certain community service projects, such as volunteering at a hospital. The requirement encourages students to diversify their experiences, Mr. Petretti said.

As the school continues to look at ways to provide students with community service opportunities, the high school principal said he’s considering increasing the overall minimum requirement in order to make the designation more significant.

“This makes them stand out a little bit more,” Mr. Petretti said of Mattituck’s students using the designation during the college admission application process.

Ms. Ruland said she hopes community experience will foster students’ future interest in helping others.

One project scheduled for next year includes taking some of the money students raised through bake sales to support Project Linus, which provides kits to make blankets for hospital patients.

Ms. Ruland said the students will be dropping off the blankets because another piece to the community service experience is its intangible rewards — seeing how their efforts have changed other people’s lives.

“When you see the effect you have on others, it’s very rewarding,” she said.

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09/26/12 5:00pm
09/26/2012 5:00 PM

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | District representatives who spoke at the Sept. 20 school board meeting said administrators will have to spend much more time doing teacher observations this year.

The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District is struggling this year to live up to new state-mandated standards for teacher evaluations.

District representatives who spoke at the Sept. 20 school board meeting said administrators will have to spend much more time doing teacher observations this year due to new teacher annual professional performance reviews, known as APPR, which impose far more stringent measures of whether teachers are effectively doing their jobs.

The district is also creating and implementing new tests, known as student growth assessments, which students will take at the beginning and end of the school year, to measure the improvement in their ability to grasp the material over the course of the year. Teachers are to be graded by the state on their students’ ability to learn the material in the classroom. Mattituck and other districts were charged by the state with coming up with their own methods to measure student improvement over the course of the school year.

School districts throughout the state spent most of last school year fighting the requirements, which officials said were bound to be a drain on their districts’ financial and human resources.

Superintendent Jim McKenna said principals and assistant principals at district schools will need to spend eight to 10 weeks of the 40-week school year observing teachers and writing up reports to send to the state.

“We know it’s going to be a drain. We’re trying to stick with it,” he said.

Mattituck High School principal Shawn Petretti told the board that his school plans to spend $2,000 on Scantron forms alone for the new student growth assessments.

He said teachers have already begun giving the tests, which are designed to show how much the students learn over the course of the year. Ideally, he said, their scores would improve 30 percent between September and June.

“This way, every teacher gets a true rating on student growth,” he said.

The assessments must be scored by other teachers within the district.

Mr. Petretti added that the district is still trying to figure out how to create assessments for performance-based subjects like art and music.

“This is pie-in-the-sky stuff in Albany,” he said.

Board members said they agree with the administration that the new regulations are onerous.

“The amount of time and the amount of effort and money we and other districts are spending on this just seems a little ridiculous,” said board president Jerry Diffley.

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