Hamptons Teen: SPEAK OUT…Say what you want 

CALLING ALL TEENS IN SAG HARBOR on Sunday, March 1st  4-6pm…. Speak Out! Teens to say what they want to see in Sag Harbor

Fresh voices and a youthful energy will bring in spring this year in Sag Harbor.

The Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor, The Sag Harbor Youth Committee and The Sag Harbor Coalition are offering a Speak Out at Bay Street Theatre, on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor, March 1 from 4 to 6 pm.

The Sag Harbor Youth Committee is helping to underwrite the costs associated with the Speak Out and The Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor and The Sag Harbor Coalition are helping to organize the event.

“The Speak Out is intended to let our youth be heard. Sag Harbor has had two Speak Outs before, in 1997 and 2000. Back then, our kids were angry; they had nothing to do. This was before SYS and the ReCenter, before the first local skateboard park at Red Creek and before the first Safe Summer Beach Program. Those Speak Outs brought attention to the lack of recreational facilities for kids and it led to an increase of programs offered to children on the eastern end of Southampton Town and the western end of East Hampton Town.”10461626_10206106258721263_6918463071028121158_n

 Speak Out came about in a Sag Harbor Coalition meeting, from a conversation community members were having about hosting an event that ‘empowered’ kids. It was suggested adults often have very little sense about what kids want or need, that perhaps kids could fill out a questionnaire or submit ideas. I suggested we do another Speak Out and this event has been evolving from there.”

The two first Speak Outs were developed by The Sag Harbor Youth Committee and were also held at Bay Street Theater.

Youth Committee founder Nada Barry remembers, “We had quite a turnout, the first one filled the theater, and what the kids had to say made it clear that there needed to be a change, that more resources had to be allocated to providing programs for our youth.”

This Speak Out will be patterned after the 1997 and 2000 events: a panel of community leaders will listen on stage; an emcee will set the level of expectation and decorum and participants will be able to ask questions of the leaders or make statements about what they like and about what they want to see in Sag Harbor.

As in those years, the Speak Out is recommended for young people in eighth grade and up. It is a teen-only event; parents will not be invited into the theater.

The members of this year’s Speak Out panel are being finalized, with representatives from the Sag Harbor school district, the Mashashimuet Park board, The John Jermain Library, the Sag Harbor Police Department, Sag Harbor village government, Bay Street Theater and local youth organizations among those being approached. A final roster of panelists will be announced in mid-February before the school vacation, about three weeks before the event.

The Sag Harbor Youth Committee will provide food and drink for the kids participating in the Speak Out. There is no fee for participation.

“This event is all about our kids being heard,” says Sag Harbor Coalition board member Benito Vila, “This is another instance where the kids bring the community together; they are our life blood and it’s our responsibility as parents and as community members to make sure they are able to thrive here as kids and go on to succeed in the world as adults.”

Kym Laube, executive director of the Westhampton-based prevention group, HUGS, Inc., and the Sag Harbor Coalition co-chair explained, “Often times adults think they know what’s best for kids and what kids think or believe. When we do not invite our youth to the table as partners and hear them out as we would any stakeholder then there is a significant missed opportunity. This Speak Out is the beginning of what we hope to be a long-lasting conversation, one that includes youth as a driving force and as partners.”

The Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor is a non-profit, community-based agency offering “out-of-school” recreational activities for the Sag Harbor community. Those activities include widely-popular youth programs such as the Summer Beach program and the Pierson After School program.

The Sag Harbor Youth Committee, founded in 1997, is a not for profit 501c 3 organization, and is dedicated to publicizing, facilitating and planning constructive and enlightening activities to engage, entertain and educate youth in Sag Harbor.

The organization’s web site:, provides a listing of kid-friendly and family-oriented activities in the area.

Hamptons Teen: Westhampton and Southampton Varsity Sprinters headed to compete in State championship
Hamptons Teens: Congratulations to the following students who will be going to the Winter Track State championship in Ithaca, NY on March 7TH… The girls 4×400 Girls relay track team is #1 in Section XI and will be heading to Ithaca to compete for the Gold Medal in the New York State Track and Field 2015 Championship. These girls qualified at the Millrose Trials and will be competing at the Armory on Saturday, February 14th. They will be competing with some of the BEST sprinters from all around the country. Hamptons Mouthpiece will be there covering that race!

Lauren Lorefice a 12th grader @ Westhampton and part of the 4×400 relay team took 2nd in the Girls 300 Meter Dash 40.97. When I spoke with Lauren’s mom after the race they were very excited but not sure if she would compete in the 300 at the State Finals. The 300 is a hard race and she might choose to just focus on the 400 relay. Whatever decision Lauren decides, we congratulate her, a great way to end her High School Winter track season.

Keira Kelly an 11th grader @ Westhampton will be competing in the Girls High Jump..she jumped an impressive 5-04.00 Good luck Keira!

NYS-Qualifier-Championships-921aJoseph Strassfield a 12th grader @ Southampton High School is the only boy from the Hamptons competing at the State Finals…He finished 2nd in the Boys 55 Dash @ 6.60sec

1) 3667 Lauren Lorefice 12 2) 3578 Nora Murphy 11
3) 3570 Jennifer Jordan 10 4) 3564 Grace Gilbakian 11

Congratulations to all of the student athletes that competed in the Section XI State Qualifier, an amazing accomplishment…
Shout out to my daughter Allura Leggard and East Hamptons Boys Varsity Winter Track Team: Erik Engstrom, Thomas Paradiso and Will Ellis

photo credit:  Ricci  Paradiso
photo credit:
Ricci Paradiso

You can see more images from the Suffolk County State Qualifier HERE…

Hamptons Teen: Celebrating PS I Love you week 2015
Teens across the country are celebrating P.S. I Love you week in celebration of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
PS I LOVE YOUP.S. I Love You Day is every second Friday of February in which I ask everyone to wear purple to show that they are standing up against bullying. This year it is going to be Friday, February 13, 2015. P.S. I Love You Day is a day to remind every individual that they are loved, needed in this world, and absolutely amazing. Also, it is a day to help end depression, end bullying, and ultimately end suicide. Wearing Purple will not only show that you’re standing up against bullying, but you will see everyone around you wearing purple, and know that you are never alone♥

10361255_984817938214560_4842888736067361404_nFebruary is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month… on February 10th 2015: RETREAT TEEN Organizer Helen Atkinson-Barnes and one of the Teen leaders Allura Leggard who is 15 and a Sophomore at Pierson HS started off the “PS I LOVE YOU WEEK CELEBRATION with a presentation to the Middle-schoolers in grades 6-8 at Pierson MS/HS in Sag Harbor NY.

10968449_10205722017074717_5160310601434988295_nAllura spoke about relationship abuse to the little things we can do to connect with others. She incorporates emojis into this presentation and demonstrates how they can be a part of your everyday life to connect with others. The united color for Teen Dating Awareness Month is Orange,but on Friday, February 13th the color is PURPLE in celebration on “P.S. I LOVE YOU DAY”
#‎Orange4Love‬‪#‎TeenDVmonth‬ “Do not let someone isolate you from family and friends! Watch out for mood swings or possessiveness! Know the signs of teen dating violence and abuse. You deserve to be loved!”

Yes Allura is my daughter, but she is also very passionate about and kind of abuse towards anyone. I might be a little bias, but I think she did a fantastic job, she was engaging and the kids really seemed to be paying attention. Well done Allura Leggard, looking forward to you speaking at more schools across Long Island on Relationship Abuse.

Originally Published in 2012…PARENT PARANOIA (The Rules)
As your child leaves for college here are the rules to share with them. It is slanted more towards girls because it was written with our daughter in mind…

1.    Always carry your own money. If you can’t afford to go, stay home.
2.    Take more money than you think you need, there will ALWAYS be emergencies, be prepared!
3.    Never trust your friends more than your own instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it is NOT right.
4.    Never be afraid to LEAD!
5.    Never let someone bring a drink to you without you seeing the bartender pour the drink. If you didn’t see it, assume the drink has been tainted. Take your drink to the bathroom with you. DANGER Will Robinson, 20,000 VOLTS!
6.    If you leave your drink, NEVER return to drink it. Buy a new one.
7.    You can accept a drink if someone offers to pay, BUT the purchase of a drink does not BUY your companionship FOREVER. Never feel compelled to stay in the company of a stranger or a friend because they brought you a drink!
8.    Offer to pay the bill and then PAY IT.
9.    Anyone who seeks to control your movement, choice of friends, contact with family or freedom of speech is NO GOOD for you and MUST be avoided.
10.You don’t have to wear LESS to be noticed. We tend to be more attracted to mystery, so cover it up!
11.Sex is NOT a bargaining tool.
12.Listen to your inner voice, it is your intuition and it will help guide you. TRUST yourself.
13.Admit when you are wrong then move on.
14.Speak up, tell YOUR truth and be prepared for people to NOT believe you. It’s OK. People lie. Truth is truth and facts are facts but sometimes they are not the same, know the difference.
15.Pay Your Own Bills. Pay your bills On Time. Never borrow money (except from Mom or Dad reluctantly). Money IS the root of all evil but boy can it be useful!
16.Always believe in the goodness of man but be prepared to deal with the Creeps, they are out there waiting to spoil your good time. Don’t let them.
17.Walk away from danger (see moths and fire!). Police sirens and flashing lights to the right, time to turn and exit stage left!
18.Life is good, enjoy it, but never at the expense of others.
19.Laugh a lot. Keep it simple. Is it really that serious? Think about the worse thing that happened to you five years ago, guess what, you’re still here. You WILL survive!
20.Have Faith and Believe in God as you perceive Him to be. He will never fail you. USA, LLC

Half Hollow High School Students visit Sylvester Manor…..Last Week I was invited by Juanita Simpson a teacher at Half Hollow Hills HS in Dix Hills, NY to tour the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm in Shelter Island with her students from the African-American Student Organization Club and One World Youth Organization club. In all the years that I have lived in Sag Harbor, I was completely unaware of this Plantation that is filled with such history of the first black people who were brought to Shelter Island as slaves to work on the Sylvester Plantation.  Ms. Simpson, 2 additional chaperones and 40 students predominately African-American were the largest group of African-Americans to ever visit the Sylvester Manor which occupies nearly 83.5 acres of land. The property  is massive and breathtakingly beautiful.DSC_5848

The Story that is told on the Sylvester Manor website reads as follows: The Sylvester’s were slaveholders from 1653 until 1820, near the end of slavery in New York in 1827. The first three enslaved people probably arrived with Grizzell Sylvester from Newport upon her marriage to Nathaniel sometime in July of 1653. Others probably came from West Africa through Barbados, where the Sylvester’s had two sugar plantations. Highly skilled workers, Africans and African-Americans were indispensable on the farm working as blacksmiths, coopers, horse and livestock trainers, dairymaids and domestics.

Slavery in New England operated differently from that in the South or in the West Indies, where four-season crops, such as sugar, required hundreds of enslaved people. Numbers in New England were fewer — 24 people, including 13 children, comprised Nathaniel and Grizzell’s African work force — and tasks and workload varied from season to season. They worked with Manhansetts and members of other Native tribes, who, as their traditional way of life began to vanish, turned to laboring for rum and trade goods. Nathaniel and Grizzell were the largest slaveholders in New England in their day.

It was fascinating to tour the home in which slaves actually lived, and more remarkable is that the family has kept much of the home in its original form. The wallpaper is original, (can you believe that) the living quarters where the slaves lived has not been touched and much of the original limited furnishings were still there.


It brought tears to my eyes when I visualized how torturest this must have been for them. The day I visited it was a beautiful 70 degree day and only 8-10 were allowed upstairs in the slave quarters at a time, there were no windows opened and it was sweltering, imagine 30-35 people living in that space. In the summer it was brutal and in the winter it was freezing.DSC_5863

I was enthralled with this history, but more-so with how insanely cruel the slaves were treated, many of the slaves were subjected to such harsh treatment, like those that could not sleep in the main house slept where they worked all-throughout the year…Winter-Fall-Spring & Summer, it was heart-breaking to hear the stories. As we left the 3rd floor we were told about the staircases, I could not help but notice the differences between both steps, one felt like I was climbing a hill and we were holding on for dear life walking down those steps the other seemed as if I were gliding down the steps without needing to hold on to the railing.DSC_5878DSC_5877

The students of Half Hollow Hills were equally pained to hear the cruel treatment of kids their own age many many years ago, simply because of the color of their skin. The students took nothing for granted on this day they were like a sponge absorbing the information. What a wonderful opportunity Ms. Simpson shared with her students. These students were some of the most well-behaved  teenagers I have ever been around.DSC_5879DSC_5851DSC_5880

This was my first time meeting all of them and they were so talkative, inspiring, engaging and so inquisitive.  I had a wonderful time with all of them. Many people usually pre-judge African American teenagers unfairly and when they are faced with kids that are so respectfully it almost surprises them. I am not surprised, they were amazing to be around for the day, after all this is not a mandatory club they participate in, this is a club that they chose to be part of. These my friends are our leaders of the future, in this group you might just be looking at a future President of the United States of America, there is no doubt in my mind.

After touring the house we walked to what is believed to be the burial ground for many of the slaves that died. There are no tombstones to let us know who they are, a fence has been built to symbolize the resting place for them.The students walked hand-and-hand to the grave site, I can visualize how they would have walked together in unity to bury one of their own. Again it touched me to see how positive the students were and how willing they were to oblige and hold hands without the mumbling beneath their voice on why they needed to do this. These young people were in the moment, silent, respectful and thirsty to hear the history.

Walking to the burial ground
Walking to the burial ground

After hearing a brief history of the burial ground some of the student performed for their fellow students as a tribute to the day and to their ancestors. One recited a beautiful poem, others performed a step-dance and a modern dance that just took my breath away.

Click Here to see more images Sylvester Manor Half Hollow Hills High School Students

Moira Doyle,Juanita Simpson, Georgette Grier-Key

I cannot wait to take my daughters and their friends on this tour, I only caught the second part, so I am very anxious to see the full tour. Thank you Moira Doyle, Sara Gordon, Georgette Grier-Key (Executive Director from Eastville Community) and Juanita Simpson for inviting me. The students stopped by Conca D’Oro in Sag Harbor to pick up pizza and for an evening picnic at Long Beach reminiscing on the days activities. The Day had come to an end and it was time to board their school bus for a long drive home, but I am sure this will be a day that they all will remember for the rest of their lives. Thank You Half Hollow Students for allowing me to spend the day with all of you.DSC_5901