11/14/14 2:00pm
11/14/2014 2:00 PM

There’s a lot facing the young women of today: peer pressure, relationship troubles and unrealistic body expectations broadcast on television screens and social media sites.

With so much to keep up with, it can be easy for girls to lose their sense of self, and the bigger picture of the woman they hope one day to become.  (more…)

10/30/14 4:45pm
10/30/2014 4:45 PM
RHS Guidance Counselor Anastasia Cobis brought her iPad to the College Fair to help seniors find out if the colleges they took literature from had the their desired major. (Courtesy RCSD)

RHS Guidance Counselor Anastasia Cobis brought her iPad to the College Fair to help seniors find out if the colleges they took literature from had the their desired major. (Courtesy RCSD)

Riverhead High School held its annual college fair on Tuesday at the high school gym, with a turnout from more colleges than it ever had before at one of its college fairs.

Close to 300 students in Riverhead’s senior class attended the fair, as well as over 125 organizations.

And despite the ‘college fair’ title, the event set up through the school’s guidance department had more than just four-year universities. Guidance director Charles Gassar said community colleges, trade schools and the armed services attended the fair as well.

“Dozens of high school seniors were able to speak one-on-one with each representative and find out a little bit about what they have to offer,” said guidance counselor Anastasia Cobis. “As a guidance counselor, I love to see our students networking and coming up with their own plan for what it is they want to do after graduation.”

 

10/11/14 8:00am
10/11/2014 8:00 AM
Dave Spinella watches as 10th graders Alek Lewis (left) and Xaviah Moore play a game of chess. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Dave Spinella watches as 10th graders Alek Lewis (left) and Xaviah Moore play a game of chess. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Tension filled the area as the kings and queens of the battlefield took their positions.

One competitor stared into his opponent’s eyes, trying to pull a single thread of a thought from the depths of his mind before striking his next blow.

Then, without a word, a knight had fallen. A scheme for victory was dashed.

OK. Maybe that description is a little dramatic for a chess match. But literally, it’s on point.

At least, in the depths of my weird mind it is.

So at last week’s story meeting, when one of my colleagues pitched a story about the start-up of Riverhead High School’s chess club, I think I got more excited than anyone else in the room — including the woman whose idea it was.

I really enjoy chess — and, for that matter, any other competitive endeavor. But chess involves a particular strategy and mental aspect that few other outlets offer. There are no bad calls from a ref, no wind in your face, no injuries. The resources at your disposal are limited, each tool with a certain use designed to somehow defeat the person sitting across the table from you — and your opponent has the exact same inventory!

There are no excuses other than simply making a bad move.

When my colleague said she had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t interview chess club advisor Dave Spinella, I made my move and hopped on the story myself.

Mr. Spinella is known to many of his students as “Spin.” The current girls’ varsity basketball coach, he’s a former basketball captain at West Babylon High School, where he also served as president of the school chess club.

“It would be nice to break the stereotype. It’s not the nerd club. And it’s not all guys,” he said, pointing out some female athletes in the room. “Chess teaches patience, problem solving skills, thinking on the fly and concentration.”

Last spring, Spin started the chess club after noticing a steady stream of kids coming in who had played in chess clubs in the middle school and at Pulaski Street but would have no similar outlet at the high school level.

The club started up in earnest this fall with support from the Parent-Teacher-Student Organization, which purchased 10 chess boards and two clocks for the students.

About 20 students showed up last week at the first club meeting of the school year. They included some of Spin’s athletes, some freshmen who had played in the middle school chess club and some upperclassmen who had started playing last spring.

At one table, a pair of female basketball and volleyball players huddled over one chess board. Miecko Vail was teaching Joanna Messina, who was playing her first game of chess ever.

Miecko made a move that exposed her queen to Joanna, who was unaware how important that mistake could be to winning. Ever the competitor, I couldn’t help but point the error out to Joanna. Miecko took her move back, but Joanna didn’t seem to mind and the game went on.

Spin said he’d like to have Ron Boyd speak to the chess club. He’s a former educator at Pulaski Street School who, along with Wanda Nardolillo, built up that school’s chess club in the mid-1990s. Boyd retired in 2004.

Boyd says there’s more to chess than just winning the match. He said he ran Pulaski’s in-school suspension program and would use the game as a tool to teach kids about more than the game itself.

He pointed out that just by playing with someone else in a club setting, socialization skills are being nurtured. And even when you lose, he said, “you learn another strategy to apply to your own game.”

I guess I never thought of chess as a learning tool. But then again, when I think about the game of chess as an actual battlefield, I suppose that doesn’t exactly lend itself to teaching moments.

Maybe my next move is to learn a thing or two from Ron, Joanna and Miecko: Be a little less competitive and a little more social.

Which chess piece do I use for that?

Joseph Pinciaro is the managing editor of the Riverhead News-Review. He can be reached at 631-298-3200, ext. 238

09/23/14 10:00am
09/23/2014 10:00 AM
Amy Methven, a senior at RHS, was one of 100 high school students selected nationwide to perform in a prestigious orchestra next month in Nashville. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Amy Methven, a senior at RHS, was one of 100 high school students selected nationwide to perform in a prestigious orchestra next month in Nashville. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

She hits all the right notes. And soon, 17-year-old violinist Amy Methven will be rewarded for it.

Come October, Amy will be performing on a much larger stage — at the famous Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville — as one of 100 high school students selected nationwide for the National Association for Music Education’s 2014 All-National Honor Symphony Orchestra.

“On one level [playing the violin] is very personal and requires a lot of focus. You have to train yourself to spend a lot of time practicing by yourself,” Amy said. “On a broader level, it is something really great to do with others. You create something beautiful with all these different people.”

A senior at Riverhead High School, she is the first Riverhead student chosen to perform by the organization, which works to promote music education.

The select group of students will have the opportunity to work with internationally recognized conductor Gerard Schwarz of the Seattle Symphony during a three-day conference leading up to the performance on Oct. 29. Students will also attend training sessions with other classical greats.

“He is a celebrity in the classical world, and I am really, really excited to meet all these other kids who share the same interest,” Amy said.

While Amy said she enjoys learning and playing with classmates in the orchestra and chamber orchestra at Riverhead, she said there aren’t many students in the district who are passionate enough to pursue lessons beyond school.

Amy’s orchestra teacher, Marisa Macchio, who encouraged her to apply for All-National honors, said Amy’s enthusiasm is what makes her stand out.

“Amy strives not just for perfection but for improvement, and that is what makes her stand out among her peers,” she said. “She is always looking for constructive criticism to help her through a difficult skill or musical passage.”

Amy said she has been working on improving since the day she started playing the violin — when she was 8 years old.

<z9.500>“To me, it’s more than a hobby. I spend so much of my week going to lessons and youth orchestra and pre-college [classes], and if I’m not doing that I’m practicing,” she said. “It is a big commitment. But I love it.”

The All-National Honor Symphony Orchestra will be playing a symphonic poem called “October,” by 20th century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, which Amy said she has already started practicing.

She said she wished more emphasis was placed on music and the arts in school, as there’s so much more to learn than simply performing.

“It definitely gives you a sort of focus you don’t get from anything else — it’s more than just win the game. You have to do it with a sort of poise and understanding,” she said.

09/17/14 5:00am
09/17/2014 5:00 AM
The Harlem Wizards pose with Riverhead faculty members at last year's game. (Credit: Riverhead School District)

The Harlem Wizards pose with Riverhead faculty members at last year’s game. (Credit: Riverhead School District)

The Harlem Wizards basketball team will return to Riverhead High School Nov. 19 and the Riverhead Central Faculty Association is currently seeking sponsorships for the event that attracted more than 1,000 people last year.  (more…)

08/31/14 6:00pm
08/31/2014 6:00 PM
Riverhead High School graduate Miguel Maysonet was vying for a spot on the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster. (Credit: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Riverhead graduate Miguel Maysonet was vying for a spot on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster. (Credit: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Here are 10 News-Review stories you may have missed over the past week. To make sure you stay on top of breaking news out of the Riverhead area, follow @riverheadnews1 on Twitter.  (more…)