Despite the presence of political heavyweights, the most popular acts at the 18th annual Bay Shore-Brightwaters Community Summit were the students -- from elementary to high school -- singing, dancing, performing and cheerleading for a crowd of hundreds of parents and administrators in the high school gym.
The theme of Thursday's summit -- embracing change -- was reflected in the three main speakers, all of whom are new to office: Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci and Bay Shore schools Superintendent Peter Dion.
"The fact that we're all here tonight underscores the outstanding strength and vigor of our community, our businesses and our schools," said Dion, adding that the district's proposed 2012-13 budget maintains jobs and programs without increasing class sizes.
Bellone praised the district on its tight-knit community and academic success and said the county will look to Bay Shore as a model for solving its financial problems.
"One thing we have to do for certain is we have to grow this economy, we have to create jobs and put people back to work," Bellone said.
Croci commended the "townwide pep rally" and said a community "embraces change" by embracing leadership to meet challenges. "Let's get together, make a decision, and do it," Croci said. "Let's go for this $26 million deficit in the Town of Islip . . . We haven't solved that problem, but we're working on it."
Diane Urso, 43, moved with her family to Brightwaters from New York City four years ago. She has two children at Fifth Avenue Elementary. The summit, she said, is "a great opportunity to find out what's going on in your school and community."