Enormous “Team Effort” Raises Sayville’s Spirits with Family Carnival

  • June 1, 2022

    Laughter, music, squeals of excitement filled the air at Sayville’s Second-Annual Family-Community Fun Night. While gray clouds may have been gathering overhead, undaunted crowds of Sayville families—approximately 1,200 adults and children—gathered for fun on the fields below. All were enjoying an evening of entertaining activities at the S.T.R.I.D.E.S. Carnival. This end-of-year-celebration, funded by a grant from The Great South Bay Coalition, was an initiative of the School District’s S.T.R.I.D.E.S. health-and-wellness program and was held in cooperation with the Sayville Chamber of Commerce and Sayville Public Library, along with many other local organizations.

    Sayville Superintendent Dr. John E. Stimmel opened the festivities with a brief address, sharing that he was “excited to welcome family, staff, community members, and most of all, all of our students! After a long school year with many challenges,” Dr. Stimmel continued, “tonight gives us the chance to relax and celebrate one of the things that makes Sayville truly a great place to learn and work. That’s the bonds that we share with our students, our families, our educators, and our community.”

    Dr. Stimmel acknowledged the efforts of Sayville School Director of Student Services, Mrs. Jillian Makris. and Districtwide Social Worker, Mrs. Jessica Ciardullo, “who helped to harness the tremendous energy that is alive in our town, both in Sayville and in the Greater Islip community.” He also spoke on behalf of the Board of Education and the entire School District by stating “how deeply we appreciate the support of this incredible community. Together we do great things.”  Following his remarks, Mrs. Makris thanked all the amazing local organizations who pulled together— “it has been the very definition of team effort”—to make the event possible.

    To kick off the carnival, the Sayville High School Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Kerri VanBoxel, played lively carnival music.

    Curiosity and excitement drove the crowds to explore the carnival’s offerings. Many went directly to the tents. Seven red-and-white striped tents, each representing one of the S.T.R.I.D.E.S. characteristic of Self-Esteem, Trust, Resiliency, Independence, Diversity, Empathy, and Strength.), dotted the Greene Avenue field. Each tent was staffed with enthusiastic District members, club advisors and assorted student volunteers. There were approximately 120 student volunteers from all five buildings—many were High School and Middle School representatives from twenty-five school clubs or co-curricular groups, some were fourth and fifth graders. They collaborated seamlessly to facilitate the games or projects that not only reinforced the tent’s theme but ensured that the participants enjoyed their visits. 

    Green stretches of lawn between the tents provided outdoor space for the children and adults to engage in more physical activities. DJ Howie directed games for all who wanted to join in the balloon toss, parachute activity, hula hoop competition, and kept the crowds hopping. Sayville Art Department student volunteers offered the ever-popular face painting activity and also crafted balloon animals for the children.

    The Sayville Public Library arranged for the SLED (Suffolk Libraries Empowering Development) Bus, an interactive showcase specifically stocked for the S.T.R.I.D.E.S. Carnival with resource materials on mental health and wellness, and parked it nearby.  Library staff stood ready to answer questions and assist guests who explored all the bus had to offer.

    While the Sayville Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in planning and helping the event run smoothly, President Eileen Tyznar along with Chamber members Chris Olsen and Craig Sweezey went the extra mile to prepackage 600 gift bags containing bubbles, whistles, inflatable punching balls, glow bracelets, silly straws, small puzzle toys, and chalk for the children. 

    Food provided by favorite local pizza parlors: Sayville Pizza, Sal’s Pizza, and Mama’s Pizza, fed the hungry crowd while the Ice House offered ices—scooped by student volunteers—for dessert. And to keep everyone properly hydrated, the Sunrise Drive PTA donated free bottles of water for all.

    The organizers were excited to see many smiling faces—some painted with animal motifs—of the delighted carnival goers. The months of planning with District administrators, teachers, clerical, school-related personnel, parent organizations, buildings-and-grounds personnel, food-and- nutrition staff, custodial, security, and, of course, the student volunteers had paid off. 

    Along with these Districtwide efforts, the many community organizations that stepped forward with their invaluable support included: The Great South Bay Coalition which procured a grant for the festive family-fun night carnival as a way of supporting health and wellness within the Sayville Community, YES (Youth Enrichment Services), the JR Civic Association, Project Hope, and the Long Island Coalition Against Bullying (LICAB). Members of the National Guard Counter-Drug Task Force were present at the carnival. The new Fifth Precinct Inspector, John Sumwalt, who has been working closely with school districts on safety measures, brought along multiple officers from the Fifth precinct to help keep everyone safe. The Community Ambulance Company sent EMT Alex Sneddon, a former Sayville graduate, and another EMT to stand by at the festival fields.

    “The weather held and the kids had fun!” Mrs. Makris succinctly summed up the success of the evening. And when the rain eventually fell, it was the very same team effort from district staff, students, family members along with extraordinary buildings and grounds crew who stepped up to help, despite getting drenched while clearing up the fields. Sayville security and the Fifth Precinct directed traffic to ensure safe journeys home. It was miraculous to behold. 

    “I cannot help but be overwhelmed with gratitude,” Mrs. Makris shared in a letter to the Sayville Community. “To see our students laughing and having a good time was the ultimate gift.”


  • The success of the Carnival was the definition of a true team effort. From building and grounds, custodial, food service, security, faculty and staff from across the district, over 120 student volunteers from all five buildings representing approximately 25 clubs/co-curricular groups, and the High School Wind Ensemble, the night ran extremely smoothly. Shout out to:

    Within Sayville District: 

    Buildings and Grounds & Custodial, who started setting up with us from 2:00 p.m. and stayed until the very end. Danny Castellano, John Gaconnier, Charles Cummings, Stuart Hoek, Chris Bostinto Jr., Keith Haase, Adam Geiger 

    Sayville District Food Service Workers: Keith Filosa, Kristen Rokosz, Mark Schenck, Melinda Rotsheld 

    Sayville Security: Jimmy Iorio, John Fabry, Nancy Gensch, Dan Speer, Harry Zakian, Jeanette Bernes 

    Sunrise Drive PTA donated all of the water.

    Community Contributions:

    • Food: Sayville Pizza, Sals, Mamas, Ice House 
    • Youth Enrichment Services 
    • Great South Bay Coalition  (provided the grant)
    • Project Hope 
    • Sayville Chamber of Commerce (Huge Thank You to Eileen Tyznar! Also, Chris Olsen and Craig Sweezey) Long Island Coalition Against Bullying (Joe Salamone)
    • EMT/Community Ambulance 
    • Sayville Public Library - SLED Bus with wellness resources (Jonathan Pryer) 
    • National Guard Counter Drug Task Force 
    • Jr. Civic Association 
    • Huge THANK YOU to Inspector Sumwalt and the 5th Precinct who supported our event from start to finish and helped keep everyone safe. They even helped direct traffic and crowd control when it started raining.