If Central Islip


Chris Smith H

“All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.”

-Alexandre Dumas, the Musketeer

1842. The Long Island Railroad reached eastward and the Suffolk County Station was opened. At the time, Central Islip was born: we didn’t fully know it, but it was alive. Was it prosperous? No, it was part of a commercial housing center. But was there ever a vision for people to excel in this town? In all honesty and sincerity, yes; yes there was. There was always a vision for greatness. The commercial town wasn’t intended to be just that– it was expected to be more. A prideful town, a town where spiritedness and noteworthiness were a constant. And at one point, it was a town where gloriousness produced merit and worth… but not anymore. Why has CI lost its pride?

Let me repeat what I said a second ago: Why has CI lost its pride? 

Mid-1900s. A school district in Central Islip commenced being constructed. It was framed with the idea that the town would be filled with talented and marvelous people, all united to form a great community. The founders assigned the colors purple and gold to be the primary colors of the town. They also went as far as to give the sector a brave mascot: The Musketeer. 

The Musketeer is a brave mascot. People today will tell you it’s a lame mascot, something that has lost its value over time. However, I like to believe that the Musketeer is and always was a role model. It’s a fighter, clashing to do whatever it takes to achieve its wants and its needs. It’s a hero, someone who dares to do what it takes to do what’s right. It’s a symbol of loyalty, justice, and honor. In the book, The Three Musketeers, they represent harmony and unity amongst each other. We are not supposed to be divided with a figure like the Musketeer as the representative of the district.

And yet, we became divided.

1990’s. The Glory Days of CI. The time when spiritedness was… awake. The circle-shaped building of CI, the High School, was beautiful. There was no shame in being a CI student, only pride. You set foot in the building, and you felt a sensation of dignity enter all your organs. The hallways were vibrantly colorful, with alluring flyers all over the walls for events going on in the community and purple and gold decorations all over, celebrating another day in CI. Teachers woke up stimulated to get to work and thrilled to teach the future generation. Students, though having responsibilities, never lost sight of CI. There were opportunities for these kids and they willingly partook in them. It was a perfect place, where everyone was anyone. There were so many CI students from so many cultures, so diverse, yet… so sewn up together. 

Pride existed in every angle of CI. Our band was so passionate, the instrumental melodies it created produced liveliness among students. The chorus elegantly chanted and perfectly performed every time they were on stage. Speaking about stages, the plays here in CI used to be preeminent, and the audience used to be packed and in tune with what was happening. Artistry in CI prevailed and people constantly were manifesting masterpieces, things they felt prominent to share. Athletes back then gave it their all for their community, they fought battles on the field, and they fought in unison. Students volunteered to make a change in CI for the better, and for a moment, they did. And that was the 90s.

Allow me to change the last few paragraphs so it describes today’s standards of CI. 

2023. Pride scarcely exists in CI. Many students today are ashamed of being a Musketeer and a CI resident. The hallways are colorless and the student body has become deactivated without its dignity. Students stopped partaking in CI activities and instead complained about there not being enough events. Students today are also overwhelmed and walk the halls like ghosts. One by one, harmony starts disentangling. People lost sight of not just CI, but of its greatness. The band still plays and the chorus still sings, but the audiences stopped listening as intently. The plays still run and are as remarkable as ever, but do the students notice? Artists in the community now don’t see this as a career choice, thinking that art is unstable and only naturally gifted and creative people can make it. Athletes still fight battles in the field, but the fights they fight aren’t the same as they were. Students today feel forced to volunteer in the community to collect hours, not a feeling of pride. Lastly, many people of CI believe there is no hope for this town. Aspirations there once were diminished at some point.

Quiet. That’s how silent CI Pride is. Students stroll the halls, burdened and incapable of recognizing their potential to do great. Apathy is contagious and staff are not immune. The essence of the Musketeer has been obscured and dismantled. And this town, this community, has been shamed and engulfed by negativity. This might not be the reality you want to hear, but it’s the reality we face…

So is that it for CI and its pride?

Let me inform you of some things before you think CI is done. CI has some of the most unbelievable and phenomenal students and staff anyone can ever ask for. CI has one of the best research programs on Long Island, winning competitions left and right. CI has one of the greatest marching bands and chorus out there, with it getting constant recognition but not enough that it deserves. The plays and the events that go on in this build are some of the most extraordinary things ever. If you take the time to look at the arts being made, one can realize that students have talent and potential in these fields. CI has incredible athletes and coaches, and we are getting awards. There are people advocating for change in CI and volunteering to do good, but that isn’t enough. 

What does this mean for CI?

Let me tell you what I believe makes CI great: CI’s diversity. No one in this building is like another. Everyone is different and unique in their own way. If you take a look at the logo of CI’s school district, it says “Children, our future… Diversity, our strength…” Take that in. The different cultures of CI working conjointly to build the future: that’s a perfect world. No matter what gender, race, ethnicity, belief, sexuality you are, you have something to bring to the table in CI. That’s why I think the Musketeer is a flawless mascot for the community. Anyone can be the Musketeer. Anyone can be the symbol of CI.

Can you envision a great Central Islip? I can, and that’s because it is great. There are great things happening in CI consistently. So much goodness already is manufactured in CI; on the field, on the stage, in the classroom, etc. What needs to change is how you perceive it. It’s one thing to say CI is lame and complain about the problems in CI. But it’s another thing to recognize CI does have things to marvel at and we are outstanding. We need to participate more in our community. There is only one CI and one of us, and this place needs our skills to become a better place for its future. It’s our job as Musketeers of this community to work unitedly to make things greater in CI. Maybe that should be the question: Can you envision if Central Islip was GREATER?

As I said a couple of paragraphs ago, this is the reality we face. I advise you though, the darker reality is not the reality we must face. CI IS THE HOME OF THE MUSKETEER. We are all mighty and great in our ways. We are all fighters, heroes, and innovators. As one once told me “CI has been called ‘the ghetto’ for far too long. This town is great, and it’s time for the people of this town to make it greater” So if you want there to be change in CI, change must resonate in you. It is time to rekindle CI Pride and keep walking. Everyone must excel.

2024. CI Pride exists in every acre. School Spirit is… alive. The high school is back to being this heavenly place it once was. There are flyers all over the wall in CI, of all different bright colors and sizes, all promoting upcoming events. Purple and gold decorations are back on the wall, celebrating another day in CI, a place full of opportunity for those who seek it. Teachers are at the doors, waiting for students to enter and are excited to see them enter their classroom. Students are not overworked and instead are attending school events, never giving up on their town. The hallways do not have fights, no conflicts, just peace and acceptance. Diversity is all over, yet nothing is going to infringe on the unity the students have built. Conversations are alive among the school people, acting more like a family than a group of strangers. The students listen to the instrumental songs of the band and feel courage to do something great. The chorus sings once more, and students appreciate their talents as their ears drink in the melody. The theater is full of people watching the shows the students work so hard to make for them and are reacting properly to the production. The art department shares their talent throughout the building and people take a minute off their busy schedule to admire it. The athletes work together once more to win games and spread the words that “CI is alive”. A person with a purple and gold costume accompanies them in the field as well, yelling “We are” and in return getting “The Musketeers.” People start partaking more in CI events, even volunteering to make a change because after a long stare in the mirror, they quickly recognize that CI is great and they are… the Musketeers.