Monthly Archives: June 2017

Men on the boat stranded in the Long Island Sound wave to officers. Photo from SCPD.

Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau officers rescued four men who became stranded in a 10-foot inflatable raft in the Long Island Sound Thursday night, June 29 while a small craft advisory was in place.

Suffolk Police said they received a 911 call at approximately 9:15 p.m. from a man who was stranded in a 10-foot inflatable raft, along with three other male occupants. The men, who launched from Sunken Meadow State Park to go fishing, were pulled out to the Long Island Sound approximately one mile and a half north of the Nissequogue River. Their boat did not have a motor, and they were unable to paddle back due to winds blowing between 20 to 25 miles per hour.

Marine Bureau Officers Charles Marchiselli, Edmund McDowell and Erik Johnson, responded in Marine Bravo and located the men within 15 minutes of the 911 call. The boat’s owner, Marco Murillo, 36, of Massapequa, and three additional men, were taken aboard Marine Bravo and transported along with their raft to Sunken Meadow State Park.

All of the men were wearing life vests and there were no injuries.

Ward Melville's 4x800-meter relay team placed third at New Balance Nationals June 18. Photo from Christy Radke

Ward Melville spring track and field head coach J.P. Dion sent a text to his 4×800-meter girls relay team the day of the national race: “Believe in yourself, like I believe in you.”

The girls had shaved 15 seconds off their time and bested a school record in the process at the state-qualifying meet a few weeks earlier. Despite a letdown, falling to sixth after going in as the No. 2 seed in the state meet, the Patriots believed and pushed themselves to the limit to reverse the drop in the standings with a third-place finish at the New Balance Nationals in North Carolina June 18. Placing in the Top 6 also earned them All-American status.

“They have that fire, and they harnessed it,” Dion said. “They’re more than willing to work, and there’s big things to come here at Ward Melville with these girls.”

Ward Melville’s 4×800-meter relay team of Allyson Gaedje, Samantha Sturgess, Elizabeth Radke and Samantha Rutt following the third-place finish at New Balance Nationals June 18. Photo from Christy Radke

The quartet of soon-to-be seniors Sam Rutt, Sam Sturgess and Allyson Gaedje and will-be sophomore Elizabeth Radke started the 2017 season like any other. The four had competed in both the 4×800 and 4×400 relay, outrunning the school record for the latter in 2016. As the weeks passed, the girls weren’t sure which race would be the focus come county and state championship-time. That is, until the school record-shattering 9 minute, 1.81 second finish at the state-qualifying meet at Warwick Valley High School.

The team needed to finish second or better to be able to compete in the state championship. With anchor Gaedje, or “Gator” as her teammates call her, racing to a hard-fought finish against a top-tier competitor in Shoreham-Wading River’s Katherine Lee, she knew it’d come down to the wire.

“I always race against her, so I knew it’d be difficult, but I just wanted to do my best,” she said.

In a photo finish, Lee beat out Gaedje for second place. Despite the loss, the girls celebrated their historic run. They were competing on a Saturday, and had finished the race in 9:16.61 that previous Tuesday, less than 4/10ths of a second off the state standard of 9:17, which was needed to qualify to compete in the state meet.

“That’s when we knew we had what it takes,” Radke said.

Her teammates agreed, especially after easily surpassing the 2011 school record of 9:10.56.

“We were hoping just to get the state standard — we thought the school record was almost untouchable,” Rutt said. “It was really emotional. We went to the tent to grab our stuff and Sam [Sturgess] and Gator were hugging each other on the track, and J.P. Dion called us over and asked us why we’re crying.”

That’s when the Patriots found out Shoreham-Wading River had been disqualified following a judgment call from one of the officials. Lee had changed lanes rounding a bend, instead of taking the straight path, which officials argued forced Gaedje to run a longer distance.

“I was perfectly fine not going to states because they ran their socks off,” Dion said. “They really performed well. Just the fight in that race was good enough for me as a coach.”

Ward Melville’s 4×800-meter relay team of Allyson Gaedje, Sam Rutt, Elizabeth Radke and Sam Sturgess were crowned All-Americans for finishing in the Top 6 at New Balance Nationals. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The girls’ race game wasn’t up to par come states, and they knew that after a big letdown, they needed to believe in themselves, like Dion said, in order to pull out an All-American finish.
“After we ran a 9:01, we realized it’s time to get serious, and we can do something other than just show up,” Sturgess said. “Competing in that atmosphere gets you serious.”

As the leadoff runner, Sturgess knew she needed to set the tone.

“I had to get us off to a good start,” she said. “I wanted to be in the Top 6 to get us that All-American status. That’s what we’ve been working on and working toward. We were motivated.”

She made her way to sixth before she handed the baton off to Radke, who said she has always had a problem controlling her anxiety heading into a race.

“I was freaking out,” she said, laughing while still showing that nervousness. “I kept telling myself ‘maintain and kick, maintain and kick.’ I didn’t want to get passed, because that gets me down, so I kept my spot, and ended up moving up a couple of spots before handing off to my teammate and hoping for the best.”

Rutt was next in line, who helped move the team to fourth before passing the baton to Gaedje.

“It was a little bit of a mind game, because we had to think to states and remember how bad we did and how we needed to pick it up,” Rutt said. “It’s cool to see what you can do when you put your mind to it. It’s so mental — how far you can push your body. The way Gator races, she’s so driven. I knew that as long as I got her in a good enough spot that’d be good enough for us.”

As she crossed the finish line, Gaedje said she couldn’t believe what her Patriots had done.

“My head was a little fuzzy,” she said, laughing. “I was a little tired, my legs were burning, and it took a little while to process, but my teammates came over and hugged me. I couldn’t believe it.”

File photo

Suffolk County Police today arrested two men in Dix Hills following a pursuit on the Long Island Expressway early Friday morning, June 30.

Police said Highway Patrol Bureau Sergeant Peter Clancy observed the operator of a 2016 Nissan Sentra driving erratically west on the Long Island Expressway near exit 62 at approximately 2 a.m. Sgt. Clancy attempted to pull over the vehicle but the driver allegedly fled. The driver of the Sentra and an acquaintance, who was driving nearby in a Chevrolet began weaving through traffic. The drivers refused to stop for the Sgt. and Highway Patrol Bureau Officer Robert Scudellari deployed stop sticks which stopped the Chevrolet. The Nissan continued and Sgt. Clancy was able to bring the vehicle to a stop on the Long Island Expressway at Exit 52 in Dix Hills.

Highway Patrol Bureau charged the driver of the Nissan, Queens resident Robert Richards, 32, with reckless driving and third-degree fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle. Second Squad detectives charged the driver of the Chevrolet, Queens resident Donzel Raywhyte, 28, with three counts of first-degree possession of a forged instrument for possessing three forged out of state licenses. Highway Patrol Bureau charged Raywhyte with second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and false personation.

Richards was held overnight at the 2nd Precinct and scheduled for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip June 30. Raywhyte will be held overnight at the 2nd Precinct tonight and scheduled for arraignment July 1. No attorney information was immediately available.

A map of the temporary speed zone restrictions in Huntington during the holiday. Photo from Town of Huntington

The Town of Huntington released a video this week reminding residents to keep safety in mind while enjoying summer boating.

The video highlights the danger of boat wakes and urges boaters to practice safe boating summer-long — especially during the weekend leading up to Independence Day.

The four-minute video is narrated by Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) and was jointly produced with the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs.

“It’s your responsibility to be a safe boater,” Edwards said in the video. “For many of us, being on a boat is the highlight of the summer. Let’s do all we can to make sure that boating is enjoyable for all of us.”

The video features a demonstration of the effects of a boat’s wake at different speeds on kayakers, shore erosion, wildlife and other boats and reminds boaters to heed markings, speed limits and be aware of other boaters on the water.

In the first few moments of the video, Edwards is on a dock talking about the power the wake off a boat can create, and then the wake of a passing boat soaks her.

“Wow, look at the wake of that boat, and look what it did to me,” Edwards said, shaking off the water from her clothes. “If you’re on that boat, creating that wake may be a lot of fun for you, but not for the people that are out of the water.”

For increased boat safety, the town is establishing a 5 mph speed limit from 8:30 to 11 p.m. in all of Northport Bay and Huntington Bay south from the line extending from Target Rock to Buoy One in Coast Guard Cove, as well as Long Island Sound from the easternmost section of the Northport Power Plant to the westernmost end of the causeway on Asharoken Avenue. This restriction began in response to the 2012 tragedy, when three children died off Oyster Bay Cove when the boat in which they were watching a fireworks show capsized as it was returning to Huntington.

“As July 4 approaches, we again ask all residents to follow the rules and celebrate the holiday in a way that is safe to themselves, their families and guests and respects the rights of others,” Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said in a statement.

This year there are two scheduled fireworks events including one sponsored by Asharoken Village and the other presented by the Dolan family off Cove Neck.

In addition to speed restrictions, some town facilities — Crab Meadow Beach, West Neck/Quentin Sammis Beach, Hobart Beach and the Soundview Boat Ramp — will remain open past sunset, after 5 p.m., but entry will be limited to town residents on a space available basis. Once the parking lot at a particular beach is full, no additional entry will be allowed and police may restrict access on roads leading to the facilities.

The town has been working with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Suffolk County Police Department Marine Bureau and multiple incorporated villages on measures aimed at allowing people to safely get to and get home from fireworks shows. These measures include coordinating patrols and establishing a security zone around the firework barge shooting in the Asharoken area.

To watch the safety video visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1njzVS0NCE.

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By Daniel Dunaief

Hurry, hurry, hurry! You’ve got five minutes to get to the high school before your daughter’s graduation. It usually takes six. You might have to go faster than the speed limit, but you’ve done it before.

Your daughter looks great and she’s so calm. You push on the accelerator on the straight road ahead. Your daughter takes a deep breath.

OK, just a little faster and you’ll make it. Oh, no, no, no, a small car pulls in front of you. It’s being driven at 25 mph in a 35 mph zone. Why do cars pull in front of you and then go slowly? “Come on!” you implore, flicking your fingers forward as if you were trying to scratch a chalkboard from the bottom up.

“Dad, it’s OK,” your daughter insists. “I don’t want you to be late,” you say.

You drive carefully around a curve and head for another straight part of the road. You reach a stop sign, where a BMW misses an opening to go. It was a small one, but you’ve got to make your own openings in this town. That’s what you’d tell everyone today if you were giving the speech your daughter won the right to deliver.

Your daughter did better in school than you did. That makes you proud, but you don’t have time to be proud. All these people are slowing you down. You just have a few more turns.

A Girl Scout troop crosses the road in front of you. Your daughter was in Girl Scouts years ago, but you don’t like them now. They’re making you late for such an important day for the family.

Then the Girl Scouts, whose uniforms make you think of those mint cookies, cross the street. You’re a block from the school and a sedan takes forever to park.

You grind your teeth and lift your hand to touch the horn. Your daughter puts her hand firmly on yours and shakes her head slowly.

The woman with streaks of gray in her hair and a green suit looks vaguely familiar as she gets out of a car.

Finally, you park, get in the school and, shockingly, your daughter’s friends have reserved you great seats.

You pick up your phone to start recording your daughter’s speech. The camera’s out of memory. You grind your teeth as you try to delete enough old pictures to record this magic moment.

“Good morning,” your daughter’s voice offers the room. Your wife tells you to stop fiddling with your phone and look up. After your daughter shares memories of high school, she wants to offer advice to her class.

“I want you to remember to leave some margin for error,” she urges. Right, you smile. Your daughter, who made so many fewer errors than you did, is talking to the other people about their mistakes. You nod to the other people.

“If we need to do something, to be somewhere or to accomplish anything, we need to accept that the route might include detours or unexpected obstacles,” she offers, sharing that crooked smile she developed in middle school. “It’s not anyone else’s fault. If it’s important, don’t blame the obstacles. Be prepared for them. Planning means understanding them and giving yourself some extra time to reach your goals.”

You take a deep breath, the way she did so many times while she waited for you at the entrance to the house. You look around the room to see if anyone else knows she’s talking to you. You now recognize the woman on stage with streaks of gray in her hair and a green suit; she’s the superintendent of schools.

You realize how much smarter your daughter is than you.

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro stand on the newly paved Quaker Path in Stony Brook. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) recently announced the completion of the resurfacing of Quaker Path in Stony Brook, from Route 25A to the Old Field Village Line, just south of West Meadow Road.

“Quaker Path is a main arterial roadway, leading to both Stony Brook University and the Long Island Rail Road Stony Brook train station,” said Losquadro. “I am glad that we were able to provide relief for residents, motorists and pedestrians in this area, while removing this roadway from our high priority list.”

The total cost for this extensive paving project, along a nearly two-mile stretch of roadway, was $413,000. Crews replaced 240 square feet of aprons, nearly 300 linear feet of curbing, 1,350 square feet of sidewalk, and installed three, new ADA-compliant handicap ramps.

“Numerous residents have contacted my office requesting that Quaker Path be paved,” said Cartright. “I am happy that Superintendent Losquadro and I can announce the completion of this paving project, which alleviates major quality of life concerns in this neighborhood. I look forward to continuing to work with the community and the Highway Department to improve roadways in our town.”

Ward Melville valedictorian Kirti Nath and salutatorian Isabelle Scott before the graduation ceremony. Photo from Three Village Central School District

For Ward Melville’s valedictorian Kirti Nath, the importance of failure has been her biggest lesson during high school.

“The thing I can take away most, more than anything, is failure is progress, and you have to go with the flow,” she said in a phone interview. “When things happen to you, they may be a blessing in disguise, or they’re just part of the whole process.”

While Nath may recognize the value of failure in life, her high school career has been filled with many successes. In addition to taking advanced placement classes and a 106.52 average, she was involved in the school’s Science Olympiad program and was captain her senior year.  She was editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and also  a member of the Spanish Honor Society and National Honor Society.

She said some of her best memories from Ward Melville are her times with the Science Olympiad team, especially when they qualified for nationals in 2016 after not expecting to. She said there was a point this year where they thought they were behind, so the members put in extra time working on the competition. They scheduled seven practices, some as long as three hours, in a span of eight days.

“The team became more of a family than a team,” she said.

Gary Vorwald, Nath’s Science Olympiad coach when she attended P.J. Gelinas Junior High School, said he saw how driven she was even in her younger years.

Kiri Nath. Photo from Three Village school district

“The future is so bright for her,” he said. “She is such a high achiever.”

While in the junior high school, he said she came in first at a Science Olympiad competition in the category of Disease Detective. For the category, students need to identify the source of a disease and how it spreads. He said while in high school, she came back to Gelinas to coach the junior high team in the same category, and she has the work ethic and people skills needed to succeed in the future.

“Everything she does, she does with passion, with enthusiasm,” Vorwald said.

Nath said science happens to be one of her biggest interests. Earlier in high school, entomology, the science of insects, intrigued her, and then in her sophomore and junior years, she began working at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University as a research assistant in a lab, which led to her senior year project.

“My senior year project involved studying the effects of pharmaceutical pollution on fish at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences,” she said. “So I got to work a lot with fish — which was very challenging but super fun.”

Working with zebra fish embryos, and common antidepressants such as Prozac and Wellbutrin, the valedictorian said she discovered that when found in water, the drugs affect the respiration rate of the fish depending on the concentration of the prescription.

This fall Nath will enroll in the dual degree Life Sciences and Management program at the University of Pennsylvania, which the college’s arts and sciences department and the Wharton School of Business administer jointly.

“I really like the way the program is structured,” she said. “It offers a breadth of study that doesn’t pigeonhole you into looking into a specific thing right out of high school.”

Nath said she’s excited to see what areas she becomes passionate about while studying at the University of Pennsylvania.

“In college I’ll figure out what I’m most interested in, right now it’s probably more science related but it could change as I move forward,” the valedictorian said.

Ward Melville High School’s salutatorian Isabelle Scott dreams of traveling all over the world one day, and if the budding journalist gets her way, readers will be experiencing her adventures with her in print.

Scott will attend Brown University this fall and major in journalism — a field she said she believes will satisfy her love for travel.

“I didn’t want to get in the position of being at a desk job from nine to five,” she said. “I appreciate routine, but I don’t think I can stick with something like that for my whole life. I write a lot and it wasn’t something I wanted to give up, so I figured journalism was the best way to mix those two interests.”

Isabelle Scott. Photo from Three Village school district

Scott said her education at Ward Melville has prepared her for her future endeavors. Originally a student at The Laurel Hill School, she started her studies in the Three Village  school district at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School and  graduates from Ward Melville with a 105.1 grade point average. Besides taking advanced placement classes in all four main core areas, she’s been involved in Art Honor Society, mock trial club, French Honor Society and National Honor Society. Outside of school, she has sung with her youth choir at church and volunteered as a counselor and tutor at the local Boys and Girls Club as well as taken kickboxing and dancing classes.

Despite all the preparation for a college education, Scott said she won’t know just how well prepared she is until she is actually experiencing it even though her friends who graduated from Ward Melville before her have given her confidence.

“It’s hard to tell until you get there, but all of my friends who are already in college said they felt very prepared, particularly for the workload,” she said in a phone interview.

After college, Scott said she would love to go abroad and report from different countries, but not from war zones, as she said she is a pacifist. The budding journalist said she would love to do culture segment stories similar to the ones she sees in National Geographic or Time Magazine, reporting on ordinary life in various countries.

While she hopes one day to work for The New York Times, she said she is aware that the publishing world is constantly changing with the digital arena. Wherever her journalism studies take her, Scott said she sees herself doing a lot of traveling and immersing herself in a country and its culture to produce original work.

When it comes to communicating abroad, the salutatorian said she already knows a good amount of French, and she said when she feels more comfortable with the language she would like to study Spanish and Mandarin.

“I think it’s helpful to learn as many languages as you can,” she said.

While she said she has a lot of good memories from her time in Three Village, she said many occurred in ninth grade, including painting a mural in Gelinas with fellow students and visiting her English teacher’s office.

“I had an English teacher Ms. Cadolino, and one day I brought a bean bag chair into her office, and we used to just sit,” she said. “I would come to her for writing advice, and we would just talk. She was very much a mentor to me, so I have good memories of being in her office.”

Scott said she will also remember interacting with all the students who had diverse interests, many becoming her close friends. 

“I learned as much from the students as I did from the teachers,” the salutatorian said.

By Desirée Keegan

Local school districts took pride in their highly accomplished students at the top of the class this year. Last weekend, valedictorians and salutatorians from Miller Place, Mount Sinai,
Rocky Point and Shoreham-Wading River took to the stage to address their peers during the Class of 2017 commencement ceremonies.

Miller Place

William Sussman and David Argento were the school’s valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

William SussmanSussman, who graduated with a 101.4 GPA, was a National Merit Scholar and Advanced Placement Scholar with Honor.  He was president of the Future Business Leaders of America and received U.S. State Sen. Kenneth LaValle’s (R-Port Jefferson Station) Youth Leadership Recognition Award. Enrolled in nine AP courses throughout his years at Miller Place, including AP Chemistry and college computer application, he served as the Mathletes team captain, and was a member of the National Honor Society and the Foreign Language National Honor Society.

He will attend Yale University in the fall to major in electrical engineering.

“I think the best way to put it is gratification,” Sussman said about being named valedictorian. “After years of putting in hours of work — staying up late to do all the homework and projects in addition to extracurriculars — it felt good to be recognized.

Sussman followed in the footsteps of his father, Dr. Howard Sussman, an associate professor of clinical family medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine and valedictorian of his own high school in 1988.

“It’s kind of exciting and poetic,” Dr. Sussman said. “He values education incredibly highly and he’s really gone above and beyond to learn all he can.”

David Argento

Argento, who is heading to Providence College in the fall to study finance on the school’s St. Thomas Aquinas scholarship, was named salutatorian with a 99.1 GPA. With a loaded schedule, he was a National Honor Society parliamentarian, co-captain of the varsity tennis team, an Eagle Scout, and was also a member of Mathletes, orchestra and a jazz combo musical group. Like the valedictorian, he has taken nine AP courses at Miller Place. Argento said he hopes to have the opportunity to run his own business someday.

Argento’s older brother Chris was valedictorian at the school in 2012. He said he never expected to be in the position he is now.

“It feels great, but I didn’t really have it as a goal to be salutatorian,” Argento said. “I just tried my best and it seemed to work out.”

He said he chose his college because of its similarity to Miller Place, which he called a very positive environment.

“Both schools are rather small, and I just felt very comfortable there right from the start,” he said.

Mount Sinai

At the top of Mount Sinai’s class are Ben May and Helene Marinello.

May, the school’s valedictorian, graduated with a 103.97 GPA, and is known for his environmental work. He was the founder of Mount Sinai’s Model United Nations and environmental outreach club, was on the Matheltes team, and was captain of the Ocean Bowl team, which won a national title this year. He took three AP classes as a sophomore, four as a junior and six his senior year.

Benjamin May

“The school was very receptive to me wanting to challenge myself academically,” he said. “Over the past three years we’ve made the school very sustainable [through the environmental outreach club]. We started a recycling program, we do annual cleanups with about 70 students cleaning up Cedar Beach.”

Outside of school, the valedictorian was also on the planning committee for the first Long Island Youth Conservation Summit and is the group’s current national communications coordinator, writing the emailed newsletter. Through the Sea Youth Rise Up campaign, he won a video contest last spring, was selected to travel to NYC and Washington D.C., where he participated in a live internet broadcast, met with the president of the United Nation’s general assembly and met with former President Barack Obama’s (D) environmental quality council.

“It was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, because with that meeting, we were pressing them to found a new national monument at the marine protection area called Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument,” May said of the new marine protected area Obama established last fall.

His passion is meeting with politicians and pressing for environmental changes. He plans to double major in international relations and economics at Pennsylvania State University this fall and plans to become proficient in six different languages.

“I could use that for international diplomacy through political advocacy when it comes to the environment, which is what I hope to do in the long run,” he said.

When he thinks about his time spent in Mount Sinai, and when asked how and why he’s striven for success for so long, May recalls the instant he knew he was chasing the No. 1 spot he’s in now.

Helene Marinello

In his AP World History class, for every chapter read, students needed to create an outline. Grades would be given from 1 to 5, depending on how much work seemed to be put in. May’s friend would spend half an hour on his assignment and get a 4, and May put in two hours with each assignment, and received at 5.

“Almost every single time we’d get the grades back, he’d ask me why I put in so much work — What matters getting that extra point?’” May recalled. “I just wanted it. I felt I knew I could get that extra point if I put in a little extra effort, and I kept that mindset throughout high school and put in that extra bit of time to get the better grade. It’s super fulfilling. It shows it pays to put in the extra work.”

Marinello graduated with a 102.04 GPA. She said high school has left her with many
memorable moments, but enjoyed a trip to Disney World this past March the most.

“I felt as though our whole school bonded as one large group, instead of the usual cliques,” she said. “I got to become closer with people I normally would not have talked to.”

She said she felt honored to be at the top of her class.

“The competition between class rank was very vigorous, so it is truly a privilege to be recognized for what I was able to accomplish,” she said. “Seeing all my hard work finally pay off, in a way other than just good grades, brought me great pride. These past 13 years at Mount Sinai have been an all-around learning experience that I don’t think any other school district could have given me. Between the amazing faculty at this district and the community that surrounds the school, I will never be able to forget the memories I have made.”

Rocky Point

At the top of Rocky Point’s Class of 2017 were Pooja Deshpande and Nicholas LoCastro.

Pooja Deshpande

Deshpande graduated with a 105.38 GPA and was a member of the National Honor Society,
vice president of the Math Honor Society, president of the Human Rights Club, the Interact Club and Thespian Society, was a mentor of the North Shore Youth Council’s Big Buddy Little Buddy program, which pairs high school students with younger ones, and tutored students in subjects ranging from mathematics to French.

Taking 10 AP courses, the valedictorian won the Principal’s Leadership Award, became an Advanced Placement Scholar with Honor, received the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Award in writing and won numerous awards at the Long Island Science Congress. She’s also been involved in the school musical every year.

“I have grown so much over these past years, and I am so thankful to have been raised by such a community,” Deshpande said. “The Rocky Point School district has taught me that not only is being unique accepted, it is celebrated, and the differences that everyone has should be used to bring us closer together, as a strong community.”

Through the Interact Club, she  assisted in a Camp Pa Qau Tuck cleanup in Center Moriches, the school blood drive, fundraised for various organizations and was a mentor to students with various disabilities.

Nicholas LoCastro

“I have learned through these experiences that although I may not be able to change the world, I have the power to change a life, and to someone, that can mean a world of difference,” she said.

She will be attending Stony Brook University’s Honors College in the fall, majoring in neuroscience with a minor in mathematics, on the pre-medicine track.

Close behind was LoCastro, with a 105.13 GPA. Taking seven AP courses, he was also a National Merit Scholar, AP Scholar, was president of the Science Club, member of the honor society, math honor society and thespian society. He played Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound Of Music”, was in the tech crew for spring pocket theater, was a member of guitar club, participated in New York State Council of Administrators of Music Education festival mixed choir and Suffolk County Music Educators Association festival choir.

“Rocky Point has an excellent music and theater program,” he said. “It also let me broaden my horizons and perform in school musicals, something I had never done before high school but am glad I did.”

Natalie Bazata

Rocky Point also had an exhortation speaker in Natalie Bazata, who graduated with a 104.64 GPA.

For all four years, she participated in chamber orchestra and pit orchestra, ran the variety show, a demonstration of the immense musical and artistic talents of Rocky Point students, during her junior and senior year, and also dabbled in school organizations like human rights club, Be A Nicer Neighbor club and Big Buddy Little Buddy.

“The teachers and other staff of the Rocky Point district are caring, passionate and knowledgeable in their fields, and I am incredibly thankful to have crossed paths with them,” she said. “I usually have a huge fear of public speaking, but for some reason, I felt more proud and excited than scared in that moment. Words mean very much to me, so it was an honor to craft a speech that said things exactly how I wanted to say them in a
moment of celebration.”

Shoreham-Wading River

Anthony Peraza and Kyle Higgins finished at the top of the Class of 2017.

Anthony Peraza

Peraza, who continues a string of family success in the district, graduated with a 102.45 GPA.

He took 10 AP courses to be named an AP Scholar with Distinction, ran cross-country all four years, and was named captain, competed in winter  and spring track and played alto sax in jazz band.

“When I first got named, it felt surreal and didn’t really hit me for a while,” Peraza said. “I’ve kept expectations low — I knew I was high in my class, it wasn’t a focus during school.”

He will be majoring in biological engineering at Cornell University in the fall.

“I know academics are great and it will challenge me, which is what I want,” he said.

Higgins graduated with a 102.17 GPA. He took eight AP courses, to be named an AP Scholar with Honor, was vice president of the National Honor Society, a member of Natural Helpers Club,  a varsity lacrosse player,  a community program’s lacrosse coach, and was named academic All-County for varsity basketball and named second team All-Division in football.

Kyle Higgins

“I worked hard in school,” he said. “It was never really my aim to get to salutatorian, I just wanted to do the best that I could, so it was an added bonus just to be named that.”

He will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall, majoring in aerospace engineering and will play lacrosse for the school. He was also the recipient of the  Thomas Cutinella Memorial Scholarship.

“There were definitely a lot of nights I stayed up way past when I should have because I had to get work done, but it’s just about being able to stay focused on what I was doing at the time and get done what I need to get done,” he said.

Kevin Redding contributed reporting

File photo.

Students at Kings Park, Hauppauge, and Smithtown school districts put in strong efforts this year to come out at the top of their classes. The valedictorian and salutatorian at Kings Park and Hauppauge, and the honored speakers at Smithtown High School East and West shared a little about themselves so the community can get to know them better.

Kings Park

Salutatorian: Joseph Ribaudo

Ribaudo will be graduating with a cumulative weighted average of 105.89.  He participated in  Model UN, varsity golf, Science Olympiad, math team, National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, trivia team and the business club DECA.  He only recently joined the  DECA program this year and  qualified  to go to the international competition in Anaheim, California.  He also excelled at regional and national science competitions.   Ribaudo  received the National Hispanic Scholar award, which is given to the top 2000 Hispanics in the nation.  He also teaches religion twice a week at St. Joseph’s parish.  Ribaudo will be attending Yale next year, double majoring in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology and economics.

Valedictorian: Anjali Verma

Verma will be graduating with a cumulative weighted average of 105.98.  She serves as president of Science Olympiad, student leader of the Kings Park Chamber Orchestra, vice-president of Model U.N. and vice-president of the Independent Science Research Club.  She is a three-season athlete participating in the cross-country, winter track, and spring track teams.  For the past year, Anjali conducted research under the mentorship of Dr. James Dilger, volunteering in his lab to investigate a safer alternative to opioid pain medications.   She has been recognized as a Coca-Cola Scholar, a National Merit Scholar, a Presidential Scholars Program nominee, and was a 3rd place finalist at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair in the computational biology category.  Anjali will be attending Columbia University next year, majoring in mechanical engineering.

Hauppauge

Salutatorian: Rachel Black, 18

Black will be attending the University of Notre Dame to study mathematics with a concentration in life sciences. Selecting her favorite high school memory is difficult, because there have been so many. She was fortunate to go on the German Exchange trip her sophomore year, and said that it was a blast and she learned so much. Also her freshmen year she ran her last race of the season in cross-country and became an all county runner. But there are so many, even small moments like bonding as a class, or joking around at  extra help, she doesn’t think she could say what her single favorite high school memory was. There are so many things she is excited about for college. She is super excited to be able to focus more intently on one area of study, as well as participating in the service events, club teams and ministry Notre Dame has to offer. She is going to miss the people in her high school the most. Black will miss her friends and  teachers, coaches, and advisors. She will also miss all her sports teams and being a part of the clubs she was involved in. She said Hauppauge High School was her second home and she will really miss it. Black was involved in student council and served as president,  treasurer of the school’s National Honor Society  and German Honor Society, co-president of  Science Olympiad , member of Natural Helpers, and participated in cross-country, winter track and spring track as captain.

Valedictorian: Angela Musco, 18

Musco will be attending Stony Brook University in the fall. She will be in the Honors College as well as the Scholars for Medicine Program (8 year medical program). She plans to major in biology with a focus in neurobiology, as well as  minor in Spanish. As president of Interact Club (a community service club), she helped organize Safe Halloween, an annual event to allow children to trick-or-treat and play games safely. This is one of her favorite memories because she said she likes working with the children. She is most excited to meet more people and make new friends at college. Musco said she is also excited to live on her own and be more independent; she is  looking forward to being exposed to new ideas and starting her journey towards  her career in medicine. She will miss seeing her best friends every single day. While in high school she was a member of  National Honor Society,  vice president of  Spanish Honor Society,  president of  Interact Club,  vice president of the student body,  treasurer of debate club and more.

Smithtown West

Honored speaker: Cory Zhou, 17

Zhou will be attending Yale University to study biomedical engineering or economics. His favorite high school memory is staying overnight every year at Relay for Life. He said it’s an incredible event that raises a ton of money for the American Cancer Society, and to be a part of it with his friends was so rewarding and fun. Zhou is most excited to be able to meet so many new people and form more lifelong friendships, as well as gain more independence to explore many new academic and extracurricular interests. He said he is going to miss the people at Smithtown West the most. All the teachers he had were so incredibly passionate, and he said he developed real relationships with each one. His amazing friends have been through so much with him; the best times he has had were the ones spent with them, and he said it’s going to be so hard not having them with him every day. In high school, he was involved in Academic Quiz Bowl, Science Olympiad, math team, DECA, Freshman Kickstart Mentoring, varsity badminton, symphonic band, and several honor societies.

Smithtown East

Honored speaker: Kyle DiPietrantonio, 18

DiPietrantonio will attend  George Washington University double majoring in international affairs and Spanish. His favorite high school memory would be attending DECA’s International Career Development Conference in Anaheim this past April. He said it was an amazing time spent with his teachers and friends. As this year’s co-president for Smithtown East, it was an excellent and full-circle way to end his DECA experiences. Aside from competing, some highlights included bonding with his peers, watching the sunrise, and visiting Universal Studios with 19,000 other DECA members from around the world. He is most excited about being in the vibrant city of Washington D.C. and in a new environment. He is also excited to meet new people from all walks of life and expand his perspective. DiPietrantonio will miss a tremendous amount about his school, especially the unforgettable people he was fortunate enough to cross paths with and all of the memories they shared. He said Smithtown has always been so supportive of him and has given him a solid base to succeed in his future. He is leaving high school knowing he genuinely took advantage of every opportunity, from intriguing clubs and classes, and even several trips abroad. DiPietrantonio was very involved in his high school’s extracurriculars. This year, he was the co-president of DECA as well as the vice president of Suffolk County DECA. Additionally, he was the co-president of the Spanish Honor Society and the co-president and captain of the Academic Quiz Bowl team. He was also part of the Smithtown Industry Advisory Board as a member of the international business committee. He was an active member in the leadership class the past two years where he led the Friends Dance committee that supported students with autism at the Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism. Finally he was involved as a member in the National, Social Studies, Business, Math, and DECA honor societies.

File photo

Students at Huntington, Northport-East Northport and Harborfields school districts put in strong efforts this year to come out at the top of their classes. The valedictorian and salutatorian of each district answered a few questions to let their community get to know them a little better. The graduates were asked the following: (1) What were you involved with at your high school? (2) What college are you attending and what are you studying? (3) What is your favorite high school memory? (4) What are you most excited for in college?  (5) What will you miss most about your school?

Huntington

Salutatorian: Miranda Nykolyn, 17

1. I was involved with Key Club (secretary), varsity rowing, varsity tennis, Mathletes, and Science National Honor Society (treasurer).  Science research is among my favorite activities.

2. I am attending Stanford University and majoring in mechanical engineering/applied mathematics.

3. My favorite high school memory would have to be winning the New York State Scholastic Rowing Championships in the Women’s Varsity Single.

4. I am most excited to be living on my own, and being responsible for my own actions. College is a great time to grow and find a healthy balance between schoolwork and fun.

5. I will miss most the amazing people in my community and the great programs offered. Huntington High School has many AP classes and a variety of extracurriculars that allow for any interest to be fostered.

Valedictorian: Steve Yeh, 18

1. I was involved with Stocks Analysis Club, Math Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Social Studies Honor Society, Chinese Foreign Exchange Club, Quiz Bowl and Science Bowl, piano, tutoring at Huntington Station library and Natural Helpers.

2. I am attending Cornell University next year majoring in math and economics and minoring in physics.

3. I don’t necessarily have one favorite high school memory, but as a whole I loved being around my friends, having meaningful discussions and debates in history and government courses and helping out my classmates with academics and regular daily problems and vice versa; this makes it more of a community rather than just a school.

4. I am most excited about meeting new people who come from diverse backgrounds and also being able to study a variety of courses across a breadth of disciplines while also learning more in-depth about respective content material.

5.   I will miss my friends and teachers the most.  I have learned so much about various subjects, but more importantly, I have learned more about myself.

Northport-East Northport

Salutatorian: Sarah Abodalo, 17

1. I was involved with varsity soccer (captain), named All Conference and All County (2015, 2016) and Newsday Top 50 Players (2015, 2016). I also was All County SCMEA (2014, 2015), NYSCAME for Voice (2016), NYSCAME for horn (2015), marching band, symphonic winds, tour choir (officer), pit orchestra, and Tri-M Music Honor Society.

2. I am attending the Honor’s College at Hofstra University, with majors in English and French language and education.

3. My favorite high school memory was when I toured England and Scotland with our tour choir in the summer 2015.  Performing in some of the most historical places in the world was one of the most gratifying experiences I have had the opportunity to partake in.

4. Next year I will be playing on the Hofstra University women’s soccer team. I am beyond ecstatic and honored to be playing at such a high level with such talented individuals.

5. I will greatly miss being a part of the fantastic music program that Northport provides its students. Choir and band have been a major part of my life and I am sad to have to say goodbye to all the wonderful teachers I have had over the years.

Valedictorian: Cybele Laisney, 18

1. I volunteered at the Atria, provided free tutoring for those in need, and at the Huntington YMCA. I was in French Club (president), Grandfriends (vice-president), National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, and Technology Honor Society. I also played varsity tennis.

2. I am attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a major in bio-engineering.

3. I will remember meeting with Martha, a resident at the Atria, to sit down and chat every Tuesday. She offered a lot of wisdom and always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I’ll miss her a lot next year,

4. I’m most excited to be surrounded by new people in the Cambridge/Boston area. I know the people I will be surrounded by will only inspire me to push myself further.

5. I’ll miss the people I’ve met along the way. I’ve gotten to know some truly wonderful people throughout high school, and although it is heartbreaking to be apart from the people I’m close to, I know they will do bigger and better things in college.

Harborfields

Salutatorian: Ishaan Lohia, 17

1. I was involved in the Harborfields Theatre Company, National Honor Society, science research and Mathletes.

2. I will be studying physics at Northeastern University.

3. My favorite memory is senior playfest.

4. I am most excited to study the things that I love at college.

5. I will miss the friends that I have made at Harborfields.

Valedictorian: Casandra Moisanu, 18

1. I was involved in All-County girls varsity soccer, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Mathletes.

2. I’ll be studying environmental science at Cornell University.

3. I’ll remember being a part of the soccer team here at Harborfields High School.

4. I am most excited to learn new things at a higher level.

5. I’m going to miss the family feel that we have here in Harborfields.

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