Hofstra concludes inaugural season of New Globe Theater

Hofstra’s New Globe Theater during an April 9 performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Photo by CHRIS PERAINO

By Chris Peraino

Heidi Gleichauf, a junior at Hofstra University, punted Yorick’s skull into a crowd equal parts amused and startled. She committed this Shakespeare blasphemy under the same Latin phrase – “Totus mundus agit histrionem”- that The Bard himself performed beneath: “all the world’s a stage.”

The Complete Works of William Shakepeare (Abridged), a three-person comedy that morphs all of Shakespeare’s plays into a vaudeville of parody and slapstick devoid of a fourth wall, concluded the inaugural season of Hofstra’s newly erected Globe Theater replica last Sunday.

“Working on the Globe is like practical application of the training we get in Hofstra’s drama program,” Gleichauf said. “To me, it’s the difference between seeing photos of a landmark in a history class and going to see it in person. Knowing that we have access to the most accurate representation of the Globe in the country is really exciting.”

The design and construction of the replica was spearheaded by David Henderson, Associate Professor of Drama and Dance at Hofstra University in 2016. The stage is the closest American reproduction of the Globe Theater, Shakespeare’s performative stomping ground.

For over 50 years, Hofstra hosted an annual Shakespeare Festival on its original Globe replica until the structure was decommissioned in 2008 in light of new findings that deemed it historically inaccurate. Hofstra’s original had been designed by former Hofstra University president John Cranford Adams and was first erected in 1951.

“The administration had been a little bit perturbed that we had closed the other one down,” Henderson said. “But we were like, ‘you wouldn’t ask a chemistry department to use a 1950’s textbook.’ And so we’re teaching the wrong thing here.”

Since Adams’ original design, two key discoveries have been made: a piece of London’s Rose Theater, an Elizabethan contemporary of the Globe, as well as a piece of the Globe’s foundation, uncovered by parking lot construction. With them, researchers concluded that the original Globe was 20-sided. From a distance, this feigns a circle, a shape Adams said could not be built out of 17th century timber.

Henderson and researchers at London’s current theater believe that the original Globe was akin to a “jewel box,” full of bright imagery. This theory is supported by the few descriptions of Elizabethan playhouses that still exist.

But the actual content of the Globe’s imagery is not known; Henderson garnered inspiration for his images, which include Atlas bearing the globe on shoulders, lion crests and a lineage of Classical figures, by visiting 17th century English houses that still bear their original interior depictions.

“There’s certain rules you have to follow in terms of classical style, classical proportions and classical color scheme,” he said.

The rest is conjecture. “Other than that, it was just kind of what I wanted.”

Fittingly, the new theater ushered in a new era the same way the old theater concluded one: with a rendition of Hamlet.

“In period productions on the globe, like Hamlet earlier this semester, you don’t even have the help of lighting,” Gleichauf said. “You have to suspend your disbelief more than you might using a more traditional set because scene changes or changes of location are dictated purely by what part of the stage you’re using,”

The theater adds somewhat of a minimalist effect. Hofstra opts not to use any extraneous lights beyond stage lights, to mimic the original Globe Theater. Actors have to rely on their vocal projection to create scenery where there largely is none. Simply beginning a play without providing lighting or music cues for the audience can be tricky.

“The most difficult thing was the transition from the rehearsal room onto the stage, and trying to make sure our movements and voices were strong enough to carry out into the space,” Gleichauf said. “So not so much being exposed, but quite the opposite – how to be sure you are matching the grandeur of the space.”

But of course, the actors are not entirely on their own.

“They’re helped by Shakespeare,” Henderson said. “He wrote into the plays a moment that begins the play and things like that. It’s kind of like ‘oh that’s why this in here.’”

For at least two more years, the New Globe will be a staple for Hofstra’s Shakespeare Festivals. Drama staff are still deliberating on its frequency there afterward. Shakespeare lends way to a flurry of interpretations, some of which (modern dance, say) do not bode well with the stage.

Girl’s lacrosse helmets made optional for first time in 2017 season

A Mt. Sinai girl's lacrosse player sports a helmet in a game against Hampton Bays on April 3. Photo by JORDAN BOYD

A Mt. Sinai girl’s lacrosse player sports a helmet in a game against Hampton Bays on April 3. Photo by Jordan Boyd

By Chris Peraino, Jordan Boyd, Christian Cangiano and Joseph Caccavale

The 2017 season will be the first time that girl’s lacrosse players on Long Island will have the option to wear a helmet during play, a new rule sparking debate over whether headgear will embolden players and make the game more physical.

The option follows an Aug. 30, 2016 announcement by US Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body, to make helmets available for all levels of play: youth league through college. Most schools are leaving the decision to wear a helmet up to the players. Some provide helmets, while others simply allow their students to purchase their own. Seven schools have made helmets mandatory.

“Since this is the first year that wearing helmets is optional in this sport, the district decided to invest in providing this added layer of protection,” James Montalto, Public Relations Director of William Floyd High School, a school that has made helmets mandatory, said.

The allowance of soft headgear in girl’s lacrosse rules has existed since 1996. What is new is a ASTM standard for headgear; manufacturers must prove that their helmets can withstand a 60-mph impact from a standard lacrosse ball before their helmets can enter production. Opposed to the hard shell helmets of boy’s lacrosse, the girl’s helmets are flexible and cave on impact.

“We wanted to maintain the optional nature of headgear, it was a critical part of the standard that it would not be dangerous to other players who were not wearing them,” Caitlin Kelley, Senior Manager of Women’s Lacrosse at US Lacrosse, said. “As such the women’s headgear standard ASTM F3137 requires that the equipment of a certain malleability. It is not completely rigid and can give a certain amount when impacted.”

Since contact is not legally allowed in girl’s lacrosse (it is in men’s lacrosse), the sport is, in theory, a noncontact sport. But players do run the risk of being hit in the head by a ball or another player’s stick. According to a Newsday study of concussions within Long Island high school athletics, 65 of 4,431 girl’s lacrosse players were concussed in the 2015-16 school year. That works out to one concussion for every 68 players, a less frequent rate than that of girl’s soccer and basketball, in which one of every 41 and 54 players were concussed, respectively. Boys lacrosse notched one concussion for every 81 players.

Newsday compiled these statistics by obtaining reports from over 100 schools. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association requires coaches to fill out comprehensive concussion reports at the end of every season. Newsday’s compilation only accounts for the 2015-16 season and it is up to each high school’s coach to accurately report all cases of concussions.

Tracy Wiener, who founded Farmingdale School District’s girl’s lacrosse program in 1991, is a girl’s lacrosse purist. She believes in order to add excitement and make girl’s lacrosse a more appealing spectator sport, USL has slowly implemented rules more similar to that of men’s lacrosse. But what is gained in scoring and physicality is lost in tactic and skill. It is because of this changing landscape, one she claims is wholly different than when she began coaching 25 years ago, that she opposes helmets. She believes that they advance a more aggressive style of play.  

“The changes I’ve seen in the 25 years have been pretty dramatic,” Wiener said. “I think also they’re trying to make it more fan-friendly to watch. You look at men’s lacrosse: on TV all the time. They cover every NCAA game now. Every round of it, on the weekends. You can watch a men’s lacrosse game anytime you want. Because it’s exciting, physical, nasty. The girl’s games are a little harder to find.”

USL opted to make helmets optional and not mandatory due to a lack of data that details they are effective enough in preventing injury warrant a mandate, Kelley said.

“The warrior effect is something that is discussed and something we will be better able to evaluate with injury data and reporting,” Kelley said.

Shannon Smith, Hofstra University’s girl’s lacrosse head coach, agrees with Wiener that the sport is becoming more physical and fast-paced. Because of travel clubs, girls are more skillful than ever before. But she thinks this evolution only supports the need for helmets in play.

“The game has evolved,” Smith said. “It’s become quicker. It’s become faster. People can shoot from further out now. I think the headgear will make the game safer because the game has evolved.”

Some think helmets are even past due.

“Helmets in the girl’s lacrosse game is something that is a long time coming,” Pat Bishop, former professor of kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and an expert on head injuries in sports, said. “While the frequency of such direct blunt trauma may be low, the consequences can be, and often is, very devastating.”

Two helmet models approved

Two helmets have been approved by US Lacrosse: the Cascade LX and the Hummingbird Women’s Lacrosse Headgear.

The Cascade helmet features a two piece look, sporting a visor attached to a base akin to that of a bicycle helmet. The metal visor serves as a replacement to the goggles that players already wear. Hummingbird’s helmet are similar to a baseball helmet and fits around goggles. Neither model provides protection below the eyes, differing from men’s helmets that encompass the entire head.

“This is more like a bicycle helmet,” Carol Rainson Rose, Northport High School’s girls lacrosse coach, said of the Cascade LX. “It’s not hard and it’s a lot lighter than the boys helmet.”  

Cascade outfitted both the Northport and Mount Sinai high school team’s – premiere Long Island squads – with helmets to test out this season.

Cascade and Hummingbird will also monitor the helmet’s performance in order to make future adjustments.

USL will do the same and collect data on the effectiveness and impact of helmets. This season’s players will serve as the first guinea pigs in a study that may potentially lead to future mandates.

Even Wiener thinks that this is inevitable.

“If you had asked me 10 years ago if I thought we’d be wearing helmets I would have laughed at you,” Wiener said. “And here we are today… No school without helmets is going to want to play a team with helmets and have a player be concussed.”

Local Muslims experience double-standard in wake of recent London terrorist attack

An entrance sign at the Islamic Center of Long Island, located in Westbury. Photo by Chris Peraino

By: Skyler Gilbert and Chris Peraino

Abdur-Rahman Partap’s coarse, black beard stands out in mostly white Long Island. To a point that, he says, he gets beeped at, and scorned on his drive to work. The niece of Habeeb Ahmed fears leaving her house in a hijab without her husband now. She has had her scarf pulled in public, and regularly receives dirty looks when wearing it. One woman, who wished to remain anonymous for her own safety, said that the day after the London attack, she got a phone call from an unknown number: “B***h, f**k you. Go back to your country,” the voice screamed from the other end of the line.

Hate crimes against the Islamic community in the United States are at their highest levels since 2001, according to FBI data. And, in the wake of London’s terrorist attack last week, the anti-Islamic rhetoric on Long Island has soared.

“When people say ‘go back to your country,’ what do I have to say to these people?” Ahmed, the vice-president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, asked. “This is my country. My son was born and brought up here. What gives you the right to talk to us, legal residents here, like that?”

Ahmed has noticed a double-standard in the way Muslims are treated after high-profile jihadist attacks.

“[When white people commit crime,] a report comes back to say that a shooter is mentally disturbed,” Ahmed said. “No Muslim is ever mentally disturbed if they do these things.”

Every time a terrorist attack happens, his heart races in anticipation of what could happen to him, his family and his community if the perpetrator claims to be a Muslim.

“I feel that subconsciously local Muslims [wait] after extremist events to settle down,” Hashaam Nasheer, a resident of Manorville, said. “They try to avoid anything that would cause attention to themselves or to Muslims in general.”

Shirley Masjib has upped its security in recent years after heightened discrimination both locally and around the world.

Negativity is not all that local Muslims experience, though it is pervasive.

“I’ve been in the grocery store and had a woman come up to me and apologize on behalf of her country and what’s going on and how Islam and Muslims are portrayed,” Abdul-Lateef Poulos, the Imam of Shirley Masjid, said.

Poulos believes the source of discrimination is American’s zero-sum take on immigration: equal rights for others are equated to a lost rights for the majority.

“I think there is a feeling of losing of power, culturally speaking, in America where what was once a monolithic culture, at least the dominant one, is being lost,” he said.

Other factors that have contributed, Poulos said, including media-generated stereotypes. Some of these ideations are so strong that they can creep into the thoughts of Muslims themselves.

Last June, during the Islamic holy season of Ramadan, Nasheer walked down the streets of Manhattan before the crack of dawn, 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, wearing his white Thawb, a traditional Arabic robe. Through the early fog, he saw another man donning similar attire, with a black beard and a big bag.

 

“For a second, and just for a split second, I was a bit afraid,” he recalled. “Then I came to my senses.”

The phrase “Islamic terrorism” is also problematic, Ahmed says, due to its improper use of being a descriptor and emblem of a much larger group of people.

“Just call me a terrorist, don’t call me an Islamic terrorist,” he said. “Why do you need to bring a population of 1.6 billion into the picture. That’s a major problem.”

Ahmed, who as a Muslim born in India, says he has always faced religious discrimination and reaches out to other marginalized groups to find solace. He is friends with the brother of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who was killed in a 2008 hate crime. Every anniversary of his death, Ahmed visits Lucero’s grave.

“This is the least I can do to pay my respects to this man,” Ahmed said.

Poulos added that one way to break the tension toward the Islamic community is to abolish the “us-versus-them” binary perspective of many ethnically Western Americans.

“If a view the world as ‘us’ and ‘them’ and you define ‘us’ as being Americans or Christians,” he said. “And the other as being Muslims, than that’s how you’re going to see the world and you’re not going to give those courtesies that you would to your own to the other.”

Despite the visceral attacks to his own people, Ahmed uses the teachings of Muhammad to remain hopeful for the future.

“[God] is going to take care of everyone, whether you’re a Muslim or Christian or a Jew or whoever you are,” Ahmed said. “Because he has created all of us.”

Prom Boutique expands with online innovation

A rack of dresses at ReCreateU, one of Prom Boutique’s drop-off locations. Photo by Christian Cangiano

By Chris Peraino and Christian Cangiano

Prom Boutique, an annual Long Island-wide donation event that supplies young women of low-income with dresses and accessories for their prom and graduation, started collecting dresses online for the first time in early March.

Prom Boutique is in its 23rd year and this is the first in which the program has enabled online capabilities. The Long Island Volunteer Center runs Prom Boutique in conjunction with the fashion and marketing departments at Nassau Community College.

“For girls that are registered for the event, but cannot attend for any reason, we are implementing this year – first time ever – a Google Form for the girls to show out,” Diana O’Neill, Director of the Long Island Volunteer Center, said.

Inspired by recent online retail trends, young women are able to fill out a comprehensive Google Form that asks for various dress preferences and size inquiries. They can then couple the questionnaire with uploaded pictures of their hypothetical dream dress from Instagram or Pinterest. This allows the Prom Boutique to reach an expected record high number of young women, possibly surpassing the 1,800 dresses that were donated post-Superstorm Sandy. Over 300 young women have already signed up, with the request deadline not falling until the third week of April.

Nassau Community College fashion students are given the opportunity to act as personal shoppers who match dresses based on the preferences detailed by young women in their Google Form, offering them field experience, while also benefiting underprivileged young adults. These selections are then shipped to the homes of the young women.

“It’s not just a career responsibility and growth,” Heidi O’Connell, professor of Marketing Retailing and Fashion at Nassau Community College, said.  “It also gives back to the community.”

O’Neill established the first boutique 23 years ago when she serviced 35 young women in an impromptu pop-up dress stand.

Now, the program boasts 20 drop-off location, a staff of 300 volunteers and thousands of donated dresses to young women of low-income families to date.

“I always say that this project validates whatever it took in this young woman to, under adverse circumstances, graduate,” O’Neill said. “Stay in school, get her diploma, walk with her class and now celebrate that accomplishment. Their parents and their teachers tell us that they would not be able to go to their event [without a dress].”

Since the Prom Boutique relies on donated trucks to haul dresses from drop-off locations to Nassau Community College, the host of the dress selection event, it has traditionally set aside a singular selection day for logistical reasons.

Efforts to broaden the collection-side of the Prom Boutique are also occurring. Alumni of Villanova University have established an alternate collection date at St. Anthony’s High School. And while most drop-off locations only accept donations on April 23, a few, such as ReCreateU, a clothing boutique in Rockville Center, are open for donations from now up until April 23 during business hours.

“I always wanted to do charity work… I can help the best I can as long as I can stay in the store and not take too much time away from my store,” Rachel Song, owner of ReCreateU, said. “I started to post on social media and telling all my clients. I even have a mailing list, about 500 people

In order to protect the anonymity of the young women, and to forestall any stigmatization, distribution of the dresses is conducted confidentially. The volunteer center contacts high school guidance counselors, social workers and at-risk youth programs, who in return notify young women of low income families of the opportunity to obtain a prom or ceremonial dress free of charge. If accepting, the women are given the date of the dress selection event, which remains undisclosed to the public; attendance is run via a private, invite-only basis.

Funding for the program, which is wholly volunteer-based, is provided by a number of sponsors, this year’s largest being HSBC Bank.

“When you see that look of pure joy on a young woman’s face, you know how hard she had to work to get there,” O’Neill said. “And know she’s found something that really validates, sets the confidence in her and you can’t almost put it into words. It’s just pure joy. And we as individuals witness that we are just invited to a really special moment: a memory marker in a young woman’s life.”

Riverhead bridge still under construction year after initial deadline

Construction on the bridge, located on Route 25 at the LIE junction, continues a year after its initial proposed completion deadline. Photo by Chris Peraino

By Chris Peraino and Brittany Tesoriero

A year after its initial deadline, repairs at the Riverhead bridge on Highway 25 at the Long Island Expressway junction are still in progress, and the NY DOT has issued a new, unlikely, completion date for this spring.

Construction on the bridge began in July of 2015 with a $10.2 million budget. It aimed to amend asphalt and structural corrosion, improve the bridge’s drainage system and update its guide rail. The addition of a sidewalk, which is still nonexistent, was also part of the construction plan. Guide rails have yet to be updated and construction is still occurring on the bridge’s structure, although it remains operational. The status of drainage improvements remain unclear. 

“Construction to replace the bridge deck is currently underway and is scheduled for completion in the Spring of 2017,” Ed Hearn, the Public Information Officer for the NY DOT, said via email.

The bridge, adjacent to the Hotel Indigo in Riverhead, was deemed “structurally deficient” by the National Bridge Inventory Database, a collection of federally sanctioned bridge inspections compiled by the Federal Highway Administration. It  is part of Region 10, as classified by NY DOT, which has a total of 564 bridges. Since 1995, the region has replaced or reconstructed 156 of these bridges, according to its website.

“One completed, the bridge will no longer be rated as ‘deficient,’” Hearn added. 

Corrosion was gradually caused by traffic and weather stress. After its latest inspection, the bridge was said to be “somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is” according to the database. It was built in 1972. 

Data for the inventory is submitted by each state’s respective Department of Transportation and may date as far back as 2014, and as near as 2016 due to inspection processes.

Inspectors rate each bridge on a 0-9 scale, 0 being collapsed. A 4 denotes poor condition and a “structurally deficient” rating. This status does not indicate the severity of a defect but rather that a defect is present,” according to the database’s website.

“Labeling a bridge as structurally deficient means that we need to develop and execute a plan to repair the parts of the bridge that are reducing its rating or replace the bridge entirely,” Ryan Giles, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Stony Brook University, said via email. “After repairs, the bridge is inspected again and assigned a new score. Because the repair or replacement plan was designed to target the faults of the bridge, the bridges typically receive higher scores.”

The Riverhead bridge is just one of seven “structurally deficient” bridges in Suffolk County. The worst rated is an East Hampton bridge off of Cranberry Hole Rd., which yields a 10.7% sufficiency rating and the following evaluation: “Basically intolerable requiring high priority of corrective action.” In comparison, the Riverhead bridge has a 75.1 sufficiency rating.

Poor infrastructure and roads have already started to affect some of the more than 2.8 million people live in Region 10. 

“A lot of old people come [to Suffolk County] and they talk about how every year they see that it’s more dangerous for people, they’ve been here awhile so they see the change happen,” Angel Nomel, a gas attendant at a Gulf gas station in Setauket said. 

Suffolk County is also plagued by 572 “functionally obsolete” bridges. Bridges of any score can obtain this classification if its geometry has become antiquated and can no longer support a contemporary flow of traffic. Most of these bridges are older and therefore, not designed for modern vehicle dimensions. 

“Bridge health is very much like human health, if we paid for better preventative maintenance then our bridges would not reach such poor conditions and the traffic disruptions would be less severe,” Giles added.

Governor Cuomo’s recent allotment of $115 million for bridge repairs on Long Island and in New York City is set to start April 1. The grant will hopefully aid in quickening the process of bridge repairs.

Long Island fishing industry mounts legal opposition to proposed wind farm

A dawn picture of the Montauk Point Light, which sits about 35 miles from the location of the proposed wind farm. Photo by Chris Peraino

By Chris Peraino and Joseph Caccavale

The local Long Island fishing industry is prepping a legal case against the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to halt an impending lease of a wind farm 11 miles off the coast of Jones Beach.

The two sides will meet in court by the end of spring or early summer, Andrew Minkiewicz, an attorney representing the interests of the commercial fishing industry, said.

“If you want to build a wind farm ‘that’s great,’ but let’s go through a public process first,” Minkiewicz said.

 

The coalition, spearheaded by a scallop industry trade group, the Fisheries Survival Fund, and comprised of a number of fishing associations and businesses, alleges that BOEM did not adequately consider potential environmental impacts on marine wildlife. Such impacts include possible sedimentation that would disrupt fish, shellfish and squid species, exposure of fish to barotrauma from pile driving practices conducted during installation of the wind farm and the endangerment of bird species that migrate through the area. In return, impediments to commercial fishing production would arise.

As a burgeoning industry, the ramifications of wind farms are just beginning to be realized. Critiques of Maryland and California farms have circulated, with critics citing negative environmental impacts and a decrease in property value of local residents.

“First thing for us is are you going to be destroying the fish,” Bonnie Brady, Director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association and one of the plaintiffs in the case, said. “Because if the fish aren’t there, it doesn’t really matter. And if it’s short-term, there is no proof once they do anything of this what are the generational consequences of your actions. That’s why they should be studying this and if they started back in 2000 when they were talking about this cockamamie idea, maybe we would have a better idea as to what’s going on.”

Any impact to New York’s sand ridges, that provide vertical relief up to 10 meters, could put the well-being of “more than 35 federally managed species of fish and shellfish” at risk, according to a February 2013 area assessment conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “These important habitats are likely to occur in the [wind farm’s] area and should be further evaluated prior to any potential project development,” the document states.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decided earlier in the month not to grant a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit, finding the insurance of Statoil’s preliminary lease not strong enough to prove immediate, irreparable harm. But the case will continue, with BOEM arguing that the time to assess environmental impact would be further down the line of production, years from now.

“I think you’re supposed to assess them before you make a lease, call me goofy that way,” Brady said.  “But if I were Statoil, I would certainly want it taken care of before the lease is signed because then you just hand over the money and BOEM says thank you very much.”

Statoil, a Norwegian-based wind farm company, won the rights to the wind farm with a record-setting bid of $42.46 million. The previous record for an off-shore wind lease was $8.7, set in 2014 for development off the coast of Maryland.

“Do you not believe that money talks?,” Brady said. “I know there is a great deal of profit involved in the investor. I’m not sure if it’s four to six times more expensive there is any benefit to consumers, but I can’t imagine that destroying the ocean is up on anyone’s list. But that’s what will happen in these areas. These are industrial projects.”

“We take note of the court’s decision,” Peter Symons, head of Statoil’s U.S. media relations said via email. “This offshore wind farm could potentially provide New York City and Long Island with a significant, long-term source of renewable electricity that aligns with New York State’s far-reaching clean energy goals.  Working cooperatively with all stakeholders as we proceed with the study phase of this process is a high priority for Statoil.”

Port Jefferson School District to finalize energy performance contract on heels of green roof

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The Port Jefferson Middle School welcome sign is aligned with a sign from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, explaining that the school is part of the Environmental Protection Fund. Photo by Joseph Wolkin

By Chris Peraino and Joseph Wolkin

The Port Jefferson Middle School welcome sign is aligned with a sign from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, explaining that the school is part of the Environmental Protection Fund. JOSEPH WOLKIN/THE LONG ISLANDER An energy performance contract between the Port Jefferson School District and Johnson Controls, an Energy Service Company (ESCO), that will upgrade the district’s energy infrastructure is set to be finalized in the upcoming weeks.

The partnership is just the latest in a number of eco-friendly initiatives spearheaded by Fred Koelbel, Port Jefferson School District’s Director of Facilities. In late January, the district installed a 3,400 square foot green roof atop of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School that curbs the impact of stormwater that would otherwise seep into Port Jefferson Harbor via gutters, and ultimately reach the Long Island Sound. The roof is made up of regionally grown sedum and a waterproof membrane that retains and filters the water, limiting the amount that pours into the local harbor.

“When I applied for the grant, the premise was, look this is not going to change the world; this is a small area. But what made this so unique is you can literally walk right up to it and see it,” Koelbel said. “It just becomes an example. We’re talking about sixth, seventh and eighth graders.”

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Any renovations Johnson Controls undergoes will pay for themselves, as the district will ultimately save money by reducing its energy consumption, Koelbel said.

Some such renovations include upgrading the district’s energy management system, allowing Koelbel to monitor and adjust heat and lighting across the school district from his PC at home.  Exact installation dates are not yet solidified, but Koelbel said work is to begin around the beginning of March.

Adjacent to the green roof stands a four square foot plot of the sedum encased in a transparent shell, rendering the waterproofing membrane and growing medium visible.

Underneath lies a calibrated bucket that allows students to gauge the collected rain water of the plot. By multiplying to account for the full 3,400 square footage, students are able to track the roof’s total production. It serves not just as an eco-friendly innovation, but also as a hands-on educational tool that normalizes a healthy environmental consciousness.

“The real issue is when water washes over a surface that is contaminated,” Henry Bokuniewicz, a doctoral marine biology professor who teaches a class on the Long Island Sound at Stony Brook University, said.

Although rain water itself is not harmful, runoff from the road may contain nitrates and contaminates that affect the production of micro-algae, as well as the “growth and profundity” of wildlife, Bokuniewicz said. Runoff played a role in the near eradication of a once-thriving lobster population in the Long Island Sound. Green roofs cycle potentially harmful water back into the atmosphere and away from gutters.

A Department of Environmental Conservation grant subsidized all but $68,000 of the roof’s total $275,000 cost, the remaining cost being covered by the district. A commercial roofing manufacturer that specializes in green roofs, Siplast, oversaw installation.

“There is no question about the benefits of green roofs,” Jorg Breuning, founder of Green Roof Service, LLC, said. “There is also no question that people need to talk about it and teach that.”

While other districts expressed interest in a green roof to Koelbel when he hosted an instructional in late January, Port Jefferson remains the only district to on Long Island to boast ownership.

“Most people don’t know anything about [green roofs] or if they are aware of them, they are under the impression that they are very expensive and are only there for visual appeal,” Dr. Brad Rowe, a professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Horticulture, said. “People, young people included, need to be educated on their numerous environmental, social, and economic benefits.”

Koelbel attests his ability to install the green roof, which does not directly save the district money, to the clout he has gained with past energy-saving undertakings. After winning a 2009 recession Recovery Act that allowed Koelbel to install LED lighting, ultimately saving the district money, administration became more open to energy-reduction efforts.

Since then, the district has installed solar panels, introduced motion sensor lights that automatically shut off when there is a lack of movement and refurbished a number exterior light poles from sodium-based fixtures to LED, reducing energy usage from 2,000 watts per pole to 300. The remaining sodium-based fixtures are set to be altered to LED under the upcoming contract.  

Though official statistics have been skewed due the departure of the worker who tracked energy output numbers, Koelbel says that the district has reduced its energy consumption by 30 percent. That number is to increase after the energy performance contract is under way.

Rutgers Cancels Trip to Mecca Despite Executive Ban Appeal

Niloofar Sima, an Iranian citizen and sophomore at Stony Brook University, recalled discouraging her mother from traveling home to visit her ill grandmother: “I told her you going there is not going to change a thing.” Photo by Skyler Gilbert

By  Chris Peraino and Skyler Gilbert

The Center of Islamic Life at Rutgers University has cancelled an upcoming hajj, citing airport discrimination anxieties despite a federal appeals court refusing to reinstate President Trump’s executive travel ban.

The cancellation of the hajj to Mecca on March 11, considered a mandatory religious duty for any Muslim to carry out at least once in his or her life, is indicative of a greater trend among universities throughout the Tri-State Area. The schools are promoting cautious travel policy and citizens from the seven potentially banned nations have expressed travel timidity due to ambiguous status, as expressed by a number of university chaplains and students in the Greater New York Area.

“I don’t want to put students through an interrogation myself,” Kaiser Aslam, Rutgers’ Muslim Chaplain said. “I’ve been in one for six hours in previous years. We don’t want to put students through that and we’re not sure how they would react to it, so it’s causing us to halt our travel plans and our programming.”

He estimates that 200 to 300 Rutgers students have expressed general fears of prejudice at jama’ah, an Islamic congregational prayer. These anxieties played a part in the trip’s indefinite postponing.

“Honestly it’s leading to a cultural phenomenon where students are just giving up their travel plans because they don’t know what is going to happen,” Aslam said.

At least one Rutgers student studying abroad was barred from reentering the United States, although no specific names were disclosed due to ongoing legal proceedings and in order to preserve the wishes of the impacted student(s), Aslam and Yasmin Ramadan, former president of Rutgers’ Muslim Public Relations Council, confirmed.

Some schools, including Yale University, are recommending that students from nations who would be debarred if the executive order stands preclude themselves from any travel outside the United States.

“We have received a lot of personal e-mails from the dean and the president of the university and everything,” Mohamed Osman, a sophomore chemistry major at Yale and a Sudanese citizen, said. “They have been in very close contact with us, letting us know what’s going on.”

Osman attended high school at an English-speaking international high school in Khartoum, and struggles with the possibility that students there now — including his younger brother Khalid, now a high school junior — would not have the same opportunity he had: to attend an American university.

“The director of the school recommended that you don’t plan on going to the U.S.,” Osman said. “It is true that a lot of the people this year are not going to have the opportunities that I got two years ago, which is really sad in my opinion.”

Osman is the only member of his family that lives in the United States, and acknowledged that the ban would prevent him from seeing his relatives, either during the upcoming spring break or in the case of an emergency.

For Stony Brook sophomore Niloofar Sima, this anxiety has become a reality. Sima, who grew up in Mashhad, Iran, moved to the U.S. at age 14 with her immediate family, but all of her extended family still lives in the Middle East, including her grandparents, who helped raise her and her sister.

“[My mom] called me yesterday to tell me that my grandma is in the hospital,” Sima said. “And she was crying. She was like, ‘I don’t even care. I’m gonna go regardless. It’s my mother.’ I told her you going there is not going to change a thing. Whatever happens to her still happens.”

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Feb. 9 in a 3-0 decision not to reinstate the order. The future of the case remains up in the air.

A group of 17 prominent higher education institutions, including all eight Ivy League colleges, co-authored an amicus briefing Feb. 13 in support of the plaintiffs of a district court case relevant to the ban, Columbia University Assistant Chaplain Mouhamadou Diagne confirmed.

“The uncertainty generated by the Order and its implementation is already having negative impacts well beyond persons from the seven affected countries. People from all over the world are understandably anxious about having their visas prematurely canceled through no fault of their own,” the 33-page briefing stated. “Comments by high-ranking Executive Branch officials have suggested that the Order could be extended to other countries, heightening institutional anxiety.”

The president tweeted on Thursday, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” insinuating that he would appeal the case to the Supreme Court, but White House officials later said that rewording and reissuing the initial executive order is also an option.