Harbor Country Day School Invites You To Join Us To Learn More!
Click HERE for more information about our Virtual Open Houses, In-Person Tours, and our FREE Art and Music Preschool Programs!
Sidney Kirkpatrick, ‘70, is an accomplished author and filmmaker. His passion for writing was encouraged and nurtured at Harbor. In fact, in the seventh grade, Sid wrote a book about the history of Harbor Country Day School. He remarks that his skill and passion was supported and celebrated by Harbor’s teachers. He adds that the librarian considered books to be sacred and taught that they should be respected and loved. Public speaking, personal poise, and presentation were also skills that were taught and cultivated. Sid enjoyed reminiscing about the small school size and the benefits for students of all ages to do things together, see one another in the hallways, and grow as a family. He remarks that there was a sense of continuity and feeling that everyone at Harbor was walking along the same path. Sid particularly loved the school’s architectural character, its nooks and crannies and interesting passageways. He said Harbor gave him a comforting sense that he was part of a team; that it was safe to take risks and indulge passions. Harbor gave him a solid foundation, he says. His anchor was at Harbor.
David Morris, a proud member of the Class of 1980 and now an Emergency Room physician in Framingham, Massachusetts, says that his experience at Harbor formed the foundation for many positive things in his life. David describes his journey at Harbor as one of inspired learning and lasting friendships. He says that the Head of School at the time, Mr. Irving and then Mrs. Sorrentino, steered Harbor with a vision of excellence. All Harbor teachers, he adds, emphasized the importance of being independent learners. Harbor’s extracurricular activities were equally engaging, instructional, and gratifying, recalls David. Competitive sports and physical education were enjoyable, challenging, and promoted camaraderie. While he was not particularly interested in singing before an audience, David recalls the lessons learned by performing in the School’s musical and plays. He notes that he “got lucky” by attending Harbor and says that it is a special place where he developed close friendships, was inspired by passionate teachers, and received a foundation for a happy life.
Retired Commissioner David Fischler of the Suffolk County Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services and the former Chief of the St. James Fire Department has successfully completed the process that awards him the professional redesignation of Chief Fire Officer (CFO). The Commission on the Professional Credentialing met on August 26, 2015 to officially confer the redesignation upon Chief Fischler. Chief Fischler is one of only 1,090 CFOs worldwide.
The Chief Fire Officer Designation program is a voluntary program designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate their excellence in seven measured components including: experience, education, professional development, professional contributions, association memberships, community involvement and technical competencies. Chief Fischler received his original designation on August 20, 2003. To maintain the designation, individuals need to show that they have continued to develop as a CFO in four areas: professional development, professional contributions, active association membership and community involvement.
A Board of Review, consisting of members of the fire and emergency services profession, academia, and municipal services, review each application and recommends successful candidates for designation as a CFO.
Chief Fischler served Suffolk County for over 28 years and the St. James Fire Department for 43 years.
Andrew Picart – husband, father, poet, musician, intellectual- graduated from Harbor Country Day School in 1996. He went on to graduate from St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip, and then from SUNY Farmingdale where he studied Management Information Systems. Andrew’s career and family then took him to Connecticut where he is now an IT Support Service Management Engineer at a prominent Hedge Fund. He lives in Connecticut with his beautiful wife Lauren and newly arrived son, Tyler, born in October of this year.
When asked about Harbor, Andrew Picart smiled and said, “Throughout my scholastic life I’ve attended public, private, and religious institutions of varying sizes. None of them really captivated, encouraged, or cultivated me in the way that Harbor’s faculty and staff did. Growing up with two teachers as parents made my home life one huge and amazing classroom, but going to Harbor made that classroom experience actually extend into the school day the way no other school had. The field trips, class sizes, curriculum and mentoring nature of the community forged for me a foundation that I rely on today and everyday. Some of the best things in my life have come from my Harbor experience.”
One could ask what were the things to which Andrew was referring. Experience and confidence are high on the list, but it goes much further. Andrew has kept in touch with many fellow Harbor students, campers and counselors, forming lifelong friendships. Andrew met his wife, Lauren, while the two worked as counselors for Harbor’s Summer Camp. He brought Lauren back to Harbor to propose here. The two even returned on their wedding day to take pictures on the grounds of this place that has come to mean so much to them both. Harbor Country Day School will forever be an incredibly special place for Andrew and his family. “If I still lived near Harbor now,” Andrew declared, “I would send my son there when he was old enough to hopefully impart in him what I experienced as a child. I am thankful for that experience every day, and cherish that time in my life.”
Jason Bleecher began his academic career at Harbor Country Day School when he was in first grade, attending both the school and the summer camp. He graduated from Harbor in 2007 but never completely left it behind. Jason, who went on to graduate from Smithtown High School in 2011, continued on at Harbor’s camp, participating in the CIT program and then eventually became a counselor. Jason is now a junior at Adelphi University studying Social Work. He is very active in his college, serving on the Executive Board of his fraternity, Pi Lambda Phi, the first non-sectarian fraternity accepting men of good character. Jason participates in many community service activities including walkathons for Multiple Sclerosis and Breast Cancer, and fundraisers for Elimination of Prejudice. Jason aspires to become a clinical social worker specializing in substance abuse as well as grief and loss counseling.When asked what he took away from his time at Harbor, Jason was reminded of Harbor's Latin motto, "Sine Labore Nihil." He reminisced, "Once I went through high school and started college, I learned that working hard is the number one priority and the key to success. The faculty and staff at Harbor Country Day School instill this Latin phrase in their students..."
Jason is a wonderful example of a Harbor graduate, as described in the school’s “Portrait of A Graduate”
Harbor Country Day School recently had a proud moment when one of its alumni, Philomena (Philly) Bubaris, was selected to deliver Stony Brook University’s Class of 2013 Commencement Address. A member of the Class of 2013, she represented her class, speaking before a crowd of over 10,000 people. She is the epitome of many Harbor students – happy, confident learners and leaders who strive for excellence.
Philly, who grew up in Fort Salonga, NY and resides in Nesconset, NY, is a 2013 graduate of Stony Brook University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She is currently serving in a 10-week internship at Bloomberg TV, but will continue her education next year to complete her MBA. She credits Harbor for helping her become the person she has.
“Since I graduated from Harbor, I have had my Harbor family behind me, helping me every step of the way. I am so grateful for the connections I made there,” said Philly. “Adolescence is tough, but as a Harbor student, my early life was much easier than it is for most.”
As with most of us, there were certain teachers who left an indelible mark in Philly’s life. One such teacher for Philly was Mr. DeKnipp.
“Mr. DeKnipp, who recently retired from teaching, certainly made my Harbor experience worthwhile,” she continued. “He is still someone I speak to frequently and reach out to for advice. I remember my first trip to Frost Valley (an overnight camp) in 4th grade when I couldn’t sleep. Mr. D stayed up with me and told me stories and made me laugh.” In addition to remembering Mr. DeKnipp and other Harbor teachers fondly, Philly talked about her academic experience at Harbor.
“My favorite subject was always English,” added Philly. “I attribute a lot of my writing abilities to Harbor. I was given a lot of individual attention and assignments that taught me to write creatively and grammatically correct. I was always allowed and encouraged to speak up and ask questions, and was spoken to like a mature young adult,” she said.
It is not surprising that sports too played a role in Philly’s growth and development. While “not so good at sports,” in her own words, she was encouraged to play on a team and did gain the experience of what it feels like to be “a real asset.” Sports also provided one her funniest memories of Harbor. It was when she was playing on the Harbor basketball team against another school.
Philly recalled, “I finally got a hold of the ball and took a shot! I never, ever got the ball in the net, until this one time, when I shot at the wrong basket!”
Based on that recounting, sports may not have been Philly’s strong suit, but school spirit was. Her proudest memory of Harbor was when she became the namesake to the Harbor Country Day School Spirit Award.
“I still think about it and get a little choked up,” said Philly. “Looking back, I realize that Harbor was one of the best times of my life. I didn’t realize how monumental my experience was there until I grew up. The Philly Bubaris Spirit Award reminds me to always be myself even when times get tough and I feel misunderstood. Being spirited and confident is what got me that award, and if I don’t stay positive as I go through life, than I am not the Philly Bubaris I want to be,” she added.
For parents who may not be sure about the value of a private school education, Philly has these insights to share.
“The value of a private education depends on the child and on the school,” stated Philly. “I was always an outgoing kid with a lot to say. I was always ahead of the class and needed personal attention in order to excel. At Harbor, because of its small size, I was able to get the personal attention that I needed and build close relationships with other students; something I struggled with in public school.”
She continued, “All of the moral code that I apply to my daily life today developed and solidified while I was a Harbor student. Some people say private school is silly because it is so small that kids won’t ever learn to be in a big group or make friends. I disagree. Because it is so small and tight knit, you have no option but to make friends. You have to learn to work out your differences and get along. That social experience is what helped me pick and choose the people I spent time with in high school and in college.”
Perhaps Philly said it best when she said, “Private education is a tough choice, especially because parents always want what is best for their kids. But sending a child to Harbor will always be a good decision. It really is just a great place.”
Philly is not the only member of her family to attend and graduate from Harbor. Her sister Dessy Bubaris was a Harbor graduate in 2008 and was the recipient of the school’s Headmaster’s Award. Their parents are Joan and George Bubaris. Mr. Bubaris serves on the Board of Trustees at Harbor.
Harbor Country Day School (www.hcdsny.org, St. James, NY), one of Long Island’s premier private schools for preschool through eighth grade, is proud to announce that one of its graduates, Francesca Iannacone, has been admitted to the highly competitive and prestigious New York City high school of performing arts, Talent Unlimited (www.tuhsnyc.com). Francesca auditioned for and was accepted into the school’s drama program. She was one of 30 students accepted in a field of approximately 500 students who competed for a spot in the program.
It was Francesca’s mother, Jeanne Forster who notified Harbor of her daughter’s accomplishment saying, “I think this is quite an achievement on her part and I thought you would like to know. We cannot thank you enough for the tremendously positive influence that you have had on Francesca. The Harbor community of teachers, staff and students has been wonderful to Francesca and our family. I think things would have been very different if we had not come to Harbor.”
While Harbor provides classes for students in preschool through eighth grade, Francesca joined the Harbor school in her seventh grade. According to her mother, drama and acting have been a passion of hers since the fourth grade, and Harbor’s role in helping advance Francesca’s aspirations were both on the drama and academic fronts.
“I feel the dedication and compassionate attitude of the Harbor administration and teachers accelerated my daughter’s academic achievements and definitely shaped her to have high self-esteem and a willingness to take initiative with both her acting and academics,” continued Jeanne Forster.
From her perspective, Francesca has nothing but fond memories of her time at Harbor. “My fondest memories include art class with Mrs. Grass because she let us be creative and didn’t make any rules when it came to our art,” said Francesca. “I also remember my English class with Ms. Brunet where we went into depth with each book that we read. I found it extremely interesting,” she added.
Francesca also fondly recalled: the history movie she and her fellow students made in Ms. Fotis’ class, when she realized she really could understand geometry, shaking the head of school’s hand every morning especially since “he was such an inspirational person,” and walking around the school and feeling comfortable and safe.
When asked specifically how Harbor’s administrators and teachers helped encourage her to follow her dreams and develop both her academic and drama skills, Francesca was quick to answer.
“My English Teacher, Ms. Brunet, wanted to be an actor. She shared this with me and showed me that academics and theater is a good match,” said Francesca. “I regularly had heart-to-heart talks with my advisor and Physical Education Teacher, Ms. Decker, who helped me to learn how to deal with academic challenges. Another fond memory was making a history movie with Ms. Fotis, and, Harbor’s Head of Academic Affairs, Mr. Cissel, was always kind and thoughtful, and I still look up to him,” added Francesca.
Jeanne Forster noted that, based on Harbor’s rigorous curriculum, Francesca will be able to complement her program at Talent Unlimited by taking certain Advanced Placement classes at Hunter College if she maintains her high grades.
She concluded by saying that, “Harbor is a very special and unique school. From our experience, which has been substantial, there is no school in the area like Harbor. The Administration, the teachers, and even the people who maintain the school, are the most caring and inspirational people that we have met. This follows to the friends that we have made there. Francesca was a good math student in public school, but we never thought she would be able to accelerate her math so far and so quickly.” As of May 27th, Francesca was scheduled to take her Geometry and Earth Science Regents Exams. Some of the high schools to which she applied had not heard of an eighth grade student having three regents under the belt before high school,” added Jeanne Forster.
Francesca resides in Middle Village, Queens, New York. A friend of her mother’s told her about Harbor. In commenting on the distance from Queens to St. James in Suffolk County on Long Island’s North Shore, Jeanne Forster said, “I drove from Queens every day and it has been difficult, but totally worth it. For the wonderful friends that she (Francesca) has made at Harbor, it’s been worth it alone.”
Click HERE for more information about our Virtual Open Houses, In-Person Tours, and our FREE Art and Music Preschool Programs!