A Short (!) History of the East Islip School District
Neil C. Skidmore 2000
The history of the East Islip School District is the story of growth from a one-room school to a modern educational complex.
Though there are no records of a school prior to 1857, one is known to have existed. Thanks to Mrs. Ann Amelia Griffiths’ article titled “The Little Red School House” we have obtained a lot of information.
It is believed that the first one-room school existed as early as 1775, and possibly earlier. To understand its location, it is necessary to review the local geography of the early 19th Century. Trees were plentiful and roads scarce. The building was located where Back Road crossed Mill Road, about a quarter mile southwest of what is now the intersection of Great River Road and Montauk Highway. The Back Road started at a point on South Country Road (today's Montauk Highway) at approximately the location of Alan Street. It ran in a southeasterly direction and then south, paralleling Youngsport Road (Great River Road), following very closely the path of today's Woodhollow Road.
The Mill Road on the other hand ran from the entrance to the Nicoll Farm to the mill at what is now Connetquot State Park. There is still evidence of the road at the point where it joined South Country Road. These roads were neither paved nor more than a single lane wide, closed in by large oak trees and were termed “blind roads.”
Near the end of the first decade of the 19th Century, the building was moved to Schoolhouse Road just east of Mill Road. Schoolhouse Road was a road similar to the Mill and Back Roads that ran from Mill Road to Great River. It should be pointed out that the present Schoolhouse Road is actually the location of the old Mill Road. When the area was developed after World War II, the name was changed.
The building was far from fancy. In fact, it could have been called almost rough hewn. The exterior consisted of unpainted boards sawed locally, out of native pine logs. These boards were unfinished and rough with knots protruding and on a hot day pitch oozed from them. On the inside, heat was provided by a huge fireplace. The irregularity of the siding provided ample ventilation. The ceiling was quite low. Instead of desks the same rough pine boards were nailed like a wide shelf around three sides of the room. The furnishing was completed by using slabs from the sawmill as seats without backs. Good posture was emphasized by the use of the switch or the hickory stick, depending on the age of the students.
In the early 1850’s, it was decided that a new school was needed due to increased enrollment. At about the same time new legislation was passed in Albany regarding the development of school districts. In 1853 the Legislature passed a bill that was signed by Gov. Seymour titled “The Union Free School Act of 1853.” This law permitted communities to establish tax-supported public schools with its own Board of Education. It was in 1857 that there was the first recorded mention of a school.
The building selected in 1858 was a rather attractive building. It was not ornate, but very plain and simple. It was painted brown with tan trim and green shutters. This was a two-story building with six large windows in each of the two classrooms.
A picture of this building was painted by Mr. Maitland Hanford, a local amateur artist. The original has been lost, but a copy of it was made by Mrs. Frederick Griffiths and is in possession of the Griffith family. (Since donated to the EIHS Ed.)
Excerpts from an essay written by one of the students attending this school give us a good idea of what it was like. “It was a small wooden building painted on the outside and white plaster walls on the inside with
a small cupola on the front that contained the bell that was used to call pupils to class mornings and after the noon recess. The school was located in a small clearing in the woods about half way between East Islip and Youngsport (Great River) so that pupils from both communities could attend the same school. It was on the property of William Nicolls, just north of the farm gate.
The school was a two story building and faced toward the West. The front door opened into a small hallway with door to the principals room on the ground floor and a stairway to the upper floor where the lower grades were. There were three classes in each room. There was also a small room on each floor to keep our lunch pails.
The two rooms were exactly alike. At the east end was a raised platform on which was the teachers' desk. Between the windows was the blackboard. To the center and to the back of the room was a large iron stove used for heating in cold weather. The seats and desks were wood on iron standards and most of them were double. Drinking water was supplied by a hand pump on the south side of the building. In winter, pails of water were placed in the halls and we all drank from a long-handled tin dipper, and were instructed to only take as much water as we could drink. If there was any surplus, there was a tin basin on the bench by the pail to spill it into and then it was used to wet sponges to wash slates. The lower grade had about thirty pupils in three classes. Each day began with a reading from the Bible and the singing of “My Country Tis of Thee.” Most of the boys whistled the tune and the girls sang.
We studied arithmetic, spelling, reading, writing and geography. Most lessons were done on slates as we had no paper pads in those days. Twice a day, the windows were all opened and we had breathing exercises for five minutes. The school day was from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Punishments were fair and always well deserved. For whispering we had to write the word a great number of times, stand in a corner, sent to think about our sins in the cloakroom or given a slap on the palm with a ruler. On a few occasions, the teacher used a switch.
Most pupils walked about a mile and a half to school and walking conditions were not the greatest. The roads were narrow and sandy and often in springtime the water would be several inches deep across the road and walkers would take a detour through the woods on higher ground. One spot on what is now Woodland Drive near where the Kennedy School is located used to flood, even up to the 1950’s. Heavy snow also created a problem as there were times when pupils could not attend school for several days until the road was opened.
Then on one cold winter morning in January 1885, pupils arrived at school to find a smoking pile of ashes with an occasional iron standard from a seat or desk showing. This ended the existence of East Islip’s second school building.
For the next two years school was held in a building on Bayview Avenue in East Islip known as the “Wigwam.” This building was on the property of Dr. William B. Savage who practiced medicine in East Islip for many years. It was through his generosity and interest in education that the building was made available as a temporary school. This building still exists. It was moved to the rear of the property at 9 Bayview Avenue where it has served for years as a barn and garage, though it has been renovated a number of times.
During 1885, the sum of $8,000 was appropriated for a school and $500 more for two acres of land on South Country Road (Main Street). This site was located east of the village and remained the location of East Islip’s school for many years. By 1892, the need for expansion became necessary and additional rooms were added so that by 1905 it had grown to a nine room school. As time went on, the enrollment continued to grow and through the generosity of Mrs. W. Bayard Cutting, the playground area was increased to ten acres.
The new building was made of wood, a rather attractive structure, with each addition having peaked roofs set off with cupolas. The middle windows in each set of four had a pointed top and the trim on the building followed the design. To this was added fine gingerbread trim. The gray painted school was one of the finest buildings in East Islip. The academic (high school) classrooms were in the front of the building. Running parallel across the back were four elementary classrooms. These two sections were connected by a first grade classroom. Originally, each room contained two grades, but as enrollment grew, each room became a single grade, so that by 1923 two temporary buildings had to be erected. The floors in the building were made of wood and were treated with oil during vacation periods.
Classrooms were equipped with double desks similar to the ones used in the building that burned. The first grade room held two classes, with two teachers, and as enrollment increased, pupils were placed three in a seat. This crowding contributed to the spread of pediculosis (head lice). The school had only a part time nurse who was shared with the Islip District. As a result, health problems were often not as controlled as they should have been.
The rooms were somewhat dark and gloomy due to the fact that they contained a great deal of dark stained trim and wainscoting.
The first grade room with its two classes had a door on each side of the room that opened to a hallway. Across the hallway were the classrooms for grades 4 through 7. The second and third grades were housed in the temporary buildings that had been constructed.
There was no gymnasium or auditorium. To put on a show or play, sliding doors at the rear of three of the classrooms were opened, creating one large room. A temporary platform or stage was set up at the front of the first classroom where the performance took place.
In the early days of the school the needs or toilets were located outside, near the rear of the school property, requiring a considerable walk and an unpleasant one in cold or stormy weather. Later on plumbing was installed in the basement of the building and the need to walk to the outside facilities was no longer necessary. However, students from the elementary area had to walk outside from one wing to the other to get to the basement. This outside walk encouraged some students to by-through the basement and run home.
Naturally there was no cafeteria and lunches were eaten outside or across the street in the shade of the trees. Before the coming of the basement plumbing, lunches were eaten in the basement during inclement weather. After that, pupils were permitted to eat lunch in the classroom. Another change brought about by the installation of plumbing was the elimination of the hand pump in the hallway of the elementary wing and the installation of a drinking fountain.
The elementary curriculum was the 3R’s, spelling, penmanship, history and geography. The school was originally a 1-8 school and later a ninth grade was added and even later a 10th grade. These grades were not called “high school” but rather “academic”, a fact borne out by the attendance register of the day.
For most students the eighth grade was the terminal point of their education. The rest continued the one or two-year academic program. If they wished to complete a four year program, they finished their education at Bay Shore or Islip, as both districts had four-year high school programs. Students who finished the East Islip program were issued a 2 year certificate. As the name academic implies, the curriculum was strictly one of language, ancient history, mathematics and English.
To this point nothing has been said about the boundaries of the district. Whether they were outlined from the beginning is not known, however a map dated 1912 shows the boundaries the same as today. Connetquot River on the east, the Great South Bay on the south, Winganhauppauge Brook on the west and the North Fire Line Road on the north. North Fire Line Road ran in a northeasterly direction from what was the State Hospital line to the Connetquot Brook. In the early days this was an area of pine and scrub oak and the road was primarily used to prevent the spread of fires. This road is shown on maps dating back to 1863. When the area was developed in the 1950’s, problems were created as to whether a family lived in the East Islip District or the Central Islip District. For instance, families living on Babylon Street near Connetquot Ave. are in the Central Islip District, while those further east are in the East Islip District. Another problem was when the boundary line passed through a house. The answer to what district you lived in was determined by which side of the line the master bedroom was located.
Enrollment continued to grow and on December 17, 1924, the taxpayers of the district approved a $300,000 bond issue for the construction of a new building to be built behind the existing one. Completion of the building was delayed due to the fact that the builder went bankrupt and the construction had to be completed by the bonding company. The cornerstone was laid October 12, 1925 and the building was opened for use in September of 1927.
With the opening of this building, East Islip began to offer a full four-year high school program. The first class, numbering 12, graduated in June 1928. It is interesting to note that when the class of ‘28 returned in 1978 to be honored on the 50th anniversary of their graduation, the class of ‘78 numbered close to 600.
This new school was a three-story building of brick and mortar. In addition to a four-year high school program, the district now has a Kindergarten. The first floor contained grades K-3. There was only one Kindergarten room, but there were two rooms each for the other elementary classes. The second floor had grades 4-8, the nurses' office (we now had a full-time nurse), a kitchen and a domestic science room. The third floor held high school classrooms plus the library, a science laboratory and a large study hall.
The domestic science room on the second floor was never used for the purpose for which it was intended and became a regular classroom. The kitchen became a source of income for the Senior Class to help finance their annual trip to Washington, D.C. Here they sold ice cream, cookies, hot chocolate and soup. There was no cafeteria and students still ate their lunches in the classroom. High school students would sneak their lunches outside to provide a longer period of baseball or touch football. The school day was 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM for K-8 and 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM for high school with a one hour break for lunch from 12 noon to 1:00 PM.
Classrooms still had wooden floors. Seats and desks were fastened to them so they were not moveable. Seats and desks are now designed for single occupants, not two.
The school had a combination gymnasium and auditorium, though small by today’s standards. As an auditorium, it contained a stage, but due to the fact it was also a gymnasium, it had no permanent seats. Seating was provided by portable folding seats, arranged in seating units of three or four seats. These were stored under the stage. They were taken up or down on a ramp through an opening in the front of the stage, whose grill matched those of the two ventilating ducts on each side.
The room had a large crystal chandelier which was in stark contrast with the rest of the room. Eventually, a net was placed beneath it to protect it from errant basket and volley balls.
At this time the eligible age for leaving school was 14. The passing of Preliminary Regent exams was necessary to graduate from eighth grade. So eighth grade was a terminal point for many students who failed these exams or dropped out before they had to take them. This changed somewhat in 1947 when the compulsory attendance age was raised to 16. Pupils attending St. Mary’s school were brought to the public school each June to take their Regents Exams also.
At the high school level passing Regents Examinations was also necessary to graduate. The curriculum was enlarged to include Business Subjects (Called Commercial) and Art, in addition to the academic subjects.
When the new building was ready for occupancy, the old nine-room building was sold to Mr. Frank Buchacek, who had the building cut into six sections and moved to the west side of Laurel Ave., north of what is now Union Blvd (at that time New St.), where the sections were made into homes, three on each side of Woodland Street. These houses still exist at this location. Some have gone through many architectural changes. One still shows the distinctive features of the old building.
In 1938 a proposal was put forth to enlarge the building by adding a three-story addition across the front. This would allow the district to expand and improve the school curriculum. Much of the money for the addition would have been provided by the Federal Government through the Public Works Administration. On September 23, 1938 a vote on the bond issue of $425,000 was defeated by a vote of 194-296. The project was resubmitted on October 13, 1938 with the amount reduced to $420,000. It was voted down again, this time by a vote of 316-497. So the building remained unchanged until a number of years after World War II.
Though the district escaped the early blows of the post-World War II building boom, the impact of home building eventually caught up with East Islip. By 1950, the need for added space was obvious. In May 1951, the taxpayers approved a proposal for renting temporary quarters, which would take care of the increased enrollment. This was a three-room building on Hawthorne Avenue which was rented from Mr. Frank Vanecek and was known as the “Annex.” The building is still in the same location and now houses the Creative Learning School and Camp.
Inasmuch as the renting of additional space was only a stopgap means of solving the growth in enrollment problem, a survey by Rutgers University provided projections on enrollment and the districts' building needs. As a result, a special meeting was held on July 31, 1952 at which an appropriation of $890,000 was approved by a vote of 611 to 347. This amount provided for the completion of two one story wings with complete facilities for industrial arts, home economics, and additional elementary classrooms. It also provided for a cafeteria, an administrative suite and a new gymnasium. Extensive alterations were also made to the “ old building,” which provided additional classrooms and a fully equipped auditorium. Classes began to make use of these additions in the Spring of 1954.
This addition had no sooner been occupied when it became apparent that the pressure of Long Island’s population growth was making itself felt on East Islip. It appeared that within a short time, additional elementary classroom space would be needed. In addition, if the elementary enrollment was growing, in the more distant future the secondary enrollment would grow also. Therefore, plans were made for the purchase of additional land in Islip Terrace to be used for school expansion. At the Annual School Board Meeting on May 4, 1954 the Board of Education was authorized to investigate the purchase of land on the east side of Wantagh Ave. (now Craig B. Gariepy Ave.) in Islip Terrace. At the same time, the purchase of additional playground space for the Main Street building was authorized. At Special Meetings on October 1, 1954 and January 19, 1955 special, the Islip Terrace land was purchased for the construction of an elementary school and for future school growth. The following Fall, on November 4, 1955, a bond issue was approved for the construction of an elementary school on the newly purchased land in Islip Terrace. In September 1957, this new building, the Islip Terrace Elementary School, was opened with a capacity of 935 students. After many years, Islip Terrace finally had a building of its own.
Once again, the combination of secondary and elementary school was starting to feel the strain of overcrowding as growing pains started to make themselves felt in high school.
On February 15, 1956 the purchase of a tract of land on Timber Point Road was given approval by the voters of the district. During the spring of 1958 a bond issue was approved 343-170 for the construction of a second elementary school to be built on the Timber Point Road site. Though it was changed later, the law at that time required that a district with a bonded indebtedness above a certain level required a 2/3 vote rather than a simple majority to pass additional bond issues.
Construction on this new building was begun in July of 1958 and the school was opened on December 7, 1959, with a capacity of 895 pupils. With this building, East Islip now had two of the largest elementary schools in the state.
Now the Junior-Senior High School had full use of the Main Street Building, with the exception of several Kindergarten rooms. However these facilities were inadequate for a satisfactory school program. As a result a new senior high school was planned. The construction of this building was authorized by the taxpayers of the district when they approved a $2,900,000 bond issue at a special referendum on September 30, 1959 by a vote of 1,541 to 770, with a 2/3 vote being required. A previous June 25, 1959 vote had failed to meet the 2/3 requirement by a vote of 682-593. This building was to be located immediately to the east of the Islip Terrace Elementary School.
In May 1960, the East Islip Public School System became a village superintendent. Over the years, the State of New York has been attempting to decentralize total control from Albany. In the late 19th or early 20th Centuries, counties were divided into Supervisory Districts. Suffolk County was divided into three. the Towns of Islip and Brookhaven formed the Second Supervisory District, of which East Islip was a part and was designated the Union Free School District #3, Town of Islip. All matters requiring the action of a superintendent were handled by the District Superintendent in Patchogue. Attendance registers from the early 1900’s indicate that the District Superintendent made regular visits to the East Islip School. At that time, all visitors to the school were required by law to sign the attendance register. Now the tasks handled in Patchogue will be handled here in the local district. Mr. Lawrence H. Gallagher, who had been supervising Principal, was appointed to the position of first Superintendent of Schools in East Islip.
At about the same time as the establishment of a Village Superintendency, the old story of the need for additional classrooms became evident. The two elementary schools were becoming crowded and the “Annex” was brought into use once again, this time to take care of Kindergarten classes. Each of the three classrooms handled three sessions of Kindergarten classes, for a total of nine.
Still there was a need to plan for and provide more classrooms. On March 9, 1961, at a Special Meeting the purchase of land on Connetquot Avenue in North Great River and a bond issue for the construction of a 600 pupil elementary school at a cost of $979,000 was proposed. This proposal was approved by a vote of 1,526-436. Two other propositions were approved at the same meeting. Approval was given for the renovation of the Main Street Building as a Junior High School at a cost of $1,533,000 by a vote of 1,531-421. Also, the purchase of land for the future John F. Kennedy Elementary School for $40,000 was given approval 1,445-501.
The Junior-Senior High School moved into the new high school building during Spring Vacation in 1962. Each classroom was packed up before the vacation and materials were moved during the recess. However the library was moved just before the break. Each class was lined up and paraded past the shelves. Pupils were handed a group of books and keeping in the same order proceeded down to a school bus and boarded it. When they reached the new building they disembarked, still in the same order, walked to the library and the books were placed on the shelves in their proper order. So, when the school opened the library was ready to go.
Though teachers and pupils had moved in, the building was not completely finished. Everyone had to get used to strange sounds and smells and little interruptions such as the installation of a chalk tray while classes were going on. Despite it all, everyone survived.
This building housed the Junior High for the rest of the 1961-62 school year and through the entire 1962-63 school year.
The other big event of the 1962-63 school year was the opening of the Connetquot Elementary School providing space for 600 pupils.
In September of 1963 the Main Street Building re-opened as the East Islip Junior High School with a capacity of 1,000 students. During the renovation many changes had taken place. The old Kindergarten rooms had become fully equipped science rooms. A second Home Economics room and an additional Industrial Arts room were added. Also included was a band room, eliminating the need on the auditorium stage. The auditorium had a sloping floor installed with theater type seats. In addition, the old balcony was removed. New flooring was installed in both corridors and classrooms. The building looked completely different from the 1927 edition. Even the front had been changed as additions were added to provide new stairways to the upper floors.
In addition to grades 7 and 8 (the 9th grade was in the high school temporarily) the pupils of the future John F. Kennedy School were housed on Main Street. A bond issue for $1,235,000 for construction of J.F.K. had been approved on February 6, 1963 by a vote of 1,112 to 834. Construction proceeded and the building opened in September of 1965.
Still the problem of growing enrollment haunted the District. On June 25, 1964 the District sought approval to buy more land and provide additional classroom space. On that date a vote was held to purchase a new school site in Islip Terrace, across the street from the high school and to provide additions to the Connetquot Elementary School. The cost of the new land was $150,000 and was approved 496-205. The Connetquot additions were to cost $380,000 and they obtained approval by a vote of 514-135.
In 1965, it became evident that more elementary classrooms were needed. So once again plans were made for another elementary school to be built on Spur Drive South and Manhattan Blvd. On November 20, 1965 the voters approved a bond issue of $1,381,000 by a vote of 559-359 to construct the Ruth C. Kinney Elementary School, named in honor of a long time teacher and administrator of the East Islip District. At the same time the amount of $84,000 was approved to provide an addition to the District Office on Laurel Avenue.
This to a degree took care of the needs of the elementary population. Now once again it was necessary to turn to the needs of the secondary schools. The first thought was to build a second junior high school. By a vote 890-772 a bond issue of $4,283,000 was approved on May 4, 1966 to construct this building. However, further discussions on secondary needs brought about a change of plans. This new junior high school would never be built. Now the plan was to build a new high school across the street from the existing high school. The old high school would then become a junior high school. Once again the voters went to the polls and approved, by a vote of 1,123-779, the amount of $8,465,000 to construct this new high school. A proposition to spend $685,000 to include a swimming pool was defeated 806-1,070. The amount of $4,000 to purchase 4 acres of land for the Ruth C. Kinney School was also approved.
When the new high school opened in September 1970, the district had 4 elementary schools, two junior high schools housing grades 7-9 and a senior high school for grades 10-12. One of the features of the new high school was a 1,200 seat auditorium. It was fully equipped to put on concerts, plays and other theatrical and entertainment performances.
It was also air conditioned. Most of these features were provided because plans were made on the assumption that this would be the last facility of this type to be constructed in the district.
Another feature of the school was the fact it was one of the first high schools on Long Island to have a computer to be used for instruction. This gave many students a head start on their careers. Also, it was the first school in the district to have an elevator to provide access to the second floor for handicapped pupils.
Within the next 10 years, a decline in pupil enrollment began to materialize necessitating plans to re-organize the student housing arrangements for the district.
In 1979, the junior high school on Main Street was closed. The attached district office on Laurel Ave. remained for another decade however. The junior high building was sold to Licari Associates who proceeded to convert the building for commercial purposes. The one story west wing became apartments. The classrooms in the three story center section became offices and apartments. In addition, a restaurant, ”The Backstage Cafe” was located at the original principals office. The auditorium in this section became the Broadhollow at Bay Way Arts, a theater where the Broadhollow Players put on a variety of plays and shows for both adults and children. The east wing became the Belfran Health and Fitness Center with the former Home Economics and Industrial Arts rooms being made into a swimming pool. For the first time since 1885, there was no longer a school on Main Street in East Islip.
With the closing of this building all secondary facilities were located in Islip Terrace. The Islip Terrace Elementary School became a grade 7 and 8 junior high school known as the East Islip Junior High School. Things remained fairly stable for the next ten years. In 1989 all 7th and 8th grade classes were housed in the Islip Terrace Junior High School. The high school which was originally a 10-12 school now took in the 9th grade as well.
At the same time the district office building on Laurel Ave. was sold to Licari Associates and the district offices were moved to the renovated second floor of the old Islip Terrace Elementary School. The first floor of this building was used for some junior high industrial arts courses and also housed students from the Cleary School, a school for the hearing impaired, whose students were mainstreamed through the high school. In 1990,the first floor of the former Islip Terrace Elementary was again renovated and became the Early Childhood Center for pre-school and Kindergarten pupils for the whole district.
In 1994, through arrangements with Long Island State Park Authorities the district opened an alternate education school in what is known as the Hollins House. This facility is located on what was the former Nicoll Estate, not far from where the 1858 building was located. The Hollins House had been the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hollins and had been a cottage for employees on the Nicoll farm before the renovation by the Hollins family. For the time being, at least, this ended the addition of building to the district. As of this writing however, additions have been made to the John F. Kennedy and Connetquot Elementary schools. Similar additions are in progress at the Ruth C. Kinney and Timber Point Elementary Schools. These additions should be completed by September 2000. Plans are also being made to provide an addition to the high school and an addition to the junior high shool. The addition to the junior high would be to adapt the building for the middle school concept. This building would then house grades 6-8.
During this period of building growth and development there have been many changes and improvements in the curriculum for East Islip pupils at all grade levels. These improvements were done to provide the best education possible for the children of the district.
Pupil enrollment is not a static thing. Not all growth is the result of new housing. Many homes in the district became available through death or relocation of former owners. Though these homes might not have had children living in them previously, these homes are now being bought by young families with children and the growth continues. This is the same thing that had happened previously throughout the district.
This “short history” as I have titled it has been intended to show two things: To show what life and education was like in the days of a one school district and to show the growth that has taken place after World War II. The latter has been mainly the story of new building and bond issues. Nothing has been mentioned of the human aspect of the schools in this later period. No mention of the people who worked and studied in the building. Nor of the achievements, scholastic, artistic and athletic, though there have been many. Untold is the story of the heights reached by East Islip graduates in medicine, science, law, politics, the arts, professional sports and other areas.
Also not mentioned, but by no means intended to be forgotten have been the development of tradesmen, businessmen and other blue and white collar workers whose hard work has helped to make East Islip and other communities the solid places they are.
All of this is another story yet to be written as the East Islip School District and its history move on into the 21st Century.
To Mr. Frederick W. Griffiths for making available the picture of the 1858 school and the writings of his mother, Mrs. Ann Amelia Griffiths
To Mr. Michael Capozzi, Superintendent of Schools for allowing me access to the district archives.
To Mrs. Marie Rogers, District Clerk, for navigating me around the District Office.
To Mrs. Debbie Finger and Ms. Joanne Mann for their help with the old records.
To anybody not named who provided help with this project.