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Harborfields Central School District

From left, Pasquale Buffolino, Lorelei Tripp, Rebecca Pashman and Peyton McQuade, pictured on the smartboard. Photo from HCS

Two teams representing Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School in Harborfields Central School District achieved Highest Honors in the 2020-2021 “WordMasters Challenge,” a national vocabulary competition involving nearly 125,000 students annually. The school’s fifth grade team scored an impressive 171 points out of a possible 200 in the first of three meets this year, placing third in the nation. In addition, the fourth grade team scored 186 points to finish fourth nationwide.

Competing in the difficult Blue Division of the challenge were TJL fourth grade students Dylan Basile, Claire Bernstein, Sophie Clayton, Aaron Hardy, Abigail Kelly, Elise Larson, Nora McCloskey, Charlotte Storm, Ariel Tripp and Emma Waldren. Each achieved outstanding results in the meet. 

Fifth graders Pasquale Buffolino, Peyton McQuade, Rebecca Pashman and Lorelei Tripp were in the top 2% nationwide. Additionally, fifth graders Ben Cammarota, Olivia Drew, Lucy Meindel, A.J. Mercuri, Michael Palermo, Belen Ramos, Annabelle Saylor and Charlie Smith achieved outstanding results, contributing to the team’s success. The students were coached in preparation for the challenge by TJL Enrichment teacher Christine Mayr. 

Each year, the WordMasters Challenge exercises students’ critical thinking skills and encourages contestants to become familiar with a set of interesting new words, considerably harder than their grade level. Participants are then challenged to use those words to complete analogies, expressing various kinds of logical relationships.  Working to solve the analogies helps students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically.

“Having worked with these students before, and knowing full well their commitment to excellence, along with our work in the classroom, they were well prepared,” Ms. Mayr said. “As you can see from the results, they excelled and should be proud of their efforts.”

Both teams have already begun preparing for the second challenge scheduled for Feb. 22 and 26

The threat of rain could not stop Harborfields High School’s Class of 2021 from waking up more than an hour before classes began on Oct. 23 to watch the sunrise alongside their fellow seniors.

The socially distant gathering, coordinated by the student government, marked the high school’s first ever “Senior Sunrise,” starting a new tradition at Harborfields High School.

Following the postponement of homecoming, the event was the first opportunity of the 2020-21 school year for seniors of different cohorts and virtual learners to connect as a class.

Senior Class President Melina Sandel said, “It’s a great opportunity for us to reconnect after such an abrupt end to last school year. “It was great seeing all of our friends from different cohorts.”

Photos courtesy of Harborfields Central School District

Washington Drive School launches ‘Chew and Chat’ initiative

In the time of social distancing, students at Washington Drive Primary School in Centerport have found new ways to build relationships not just with their fellow classmates, but with they’re virtual friends as well.

On Oct. 20, students kicked off a new initiative: “Chew and Chat,” during which they connected with in-person learners from different classes and grades, as well as remote learners using Google Meet.

Students were eager to discuss their plans for Halloween and offered three clues, allowing their classmates to guess their costumes. At the end of the month, students will meet again for the second “Chew and Chat” session to reveal their costumes and determine if they guessed right.

With limited opportunities for students to interact with others outside of their classrooms, Principal Kathryn McNally said that she plans to offer the “Chew and Chat” sessions on a regular basis. “Because of the pandemic, students have been confined to interacting only with their immediate classmates,” Mrs. McNally said. “These sessions offer an opportunity for the kids to socialize and build those important relationships outside of their classrooms.”

Photo courtesy of Harborfields Central School District

Huntington High School. File Photo

School districts in Huntington canvassed ballots June 16 for hours before reporting results.

Elwood Union Free School District

The district passed its 2020-21 budget, 2,921 to 1,064. Its budget is set at $64,443,174, a 2.73 percent increase from last year’s figure. The district will see a tax levy increase of 2.89 percent, which is below its allowable tax levy cap of 7.22 percent.

The proposed increase of 2.89 percent is less than what is needed to fully cover the increase to capital debt, so as a result the district has planned targeted reductions. Those will include elimination of one full-time administrative position, reduction in staffing due to attrition, reduction to athletics for materials and supplies, reduction to certain co-curricular activities with minimal student enrollment and reduction in security hours to eliminate redundancy in buildings.

Voters elected two candidates to the board of education. Newcomer Sara Siddiqui secured the most votes of 2,489 and will be elected to fill the balance of an unexpired term from June 9, 2020, through June 30, 2020, to be followed by a full three-year term. Challenger Thomas Scarola, who received the second highest number of votes with 2,281, will serve a full three-year term beginning in July. Incumbent Becky Marcus failed to secure reelection with 1,775, as did George Neofitos with 755 votes.

Northport-East Northport Union Free School District

Voters passed the 2020-21 budget 5,241 to 1,545. Its budget is set at $172,752,759, a $1.6 million increase from last year’s total. The budget package supports  K-12 instructional programs, funds the purchase of 1,500 Chromebooks to complete the final phase of the 1:1 computing initiative so that all students K-12 have their own device, preserves the district’s art, music and athletic programs, maintains class sizes within district guidelines, preserves staffing and programming to support the social-emotional needs of students and supports the district’s professional development initiatives for staff.

In the event of future foundation aid reductions, the district will look to defer a number of expenditures. The total would come out to over $1.8 million. In a worst-case scenario, the district could eliminate late bus runs, eliminate/reduce school trips, reduce athletic opportunities (games, teams), and reduce full-time equivalent employee hours, among other things.

Board president David Badanes secured reelection with 5,119 votes. Incumbent Donna McNaughton was reelected with 4,463 votes. Challenger Victoria Bento fell short in her bid with 2,762 votes.

Harborfields Central School District

The 2020-21 budget passed by an overwhelming 3,609 to 1,472. Its total budget figure will be $88,843,177. The district will see a tax levy increase of 2.80 percent. The tax levy amount is $68,465,006 compared to last year’s amount of $66,600,280. State aid is down from $16,466,214 to $14,526,584, which is an over $1.9 million decrease.

Incumbents Christopher Kelly and David Steinberg were reelected to the board. Kelly received 3,477 votes, while Steinberg garnered 2,855 votes. Challenger Freda Manuel came up short with 2,174 votes.

Cold Spring Harbor Central School District

Voters passed the 2020-21 budget 944 to 373. Its budget is set at $71,092,749, which is an $817,932 increase from its 2019-20 figure. The district’s tax levy amount will be $66,819,125. The overall budget is about $1 million under the tax levy limit.

District officials are expecting further aid reductions from the state. However, the current budget maintains all programs. The district will continue its Chromebook initiative for all students at the middle and high school, extensive professional development for teachers, continue the partnership with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and DNA Learning Center, fund arts programming, including a partnership with the Huntington Arts Council and Lincoln Center Education.

In addition, the budget will facilitate the approval for new three-year transportation contracts, appropriates $900,000 in capital construction funds for the following projects: Field House locker room reconstruction, grounds storage building construction at the middle and high school, performing arts center house lighting replacement.

Proposition 2 was passed by voters, 911 to 451. It would transfer an amount not to exceed $750,000 from the district’s unassigned fund balance to replace existing faucets and the upper synthetic turf field at Cold Spring Harbor Jr./Sr. High School.

Proposition 3 was also passed by voters, 916 to 448. It will authorize the creation of a capital reserve with a limit of $15,000,000 in deposits plus applicable interest over a 15-year term to complete future capital construction projects.

Four candidates ran for three seats with three-year terms, beginning July 1, 2020. Incumbents Janice Elkin and Mark Freidberg secured reelection while challenger Tara Belfi was elected to her first term.

Huntington Union Free School District

Voters passed the 2020-21 budget, 3,696 to 1249. Its budget is set at $135,938,167 with a 1.77 percent increase. Its tax levy amount comes out to $112,350,000.

Its second proposition also passed 3,976 to 924. It will approve the release of monies for state-approved projects that will total over $3.6 million. Southdown Primary School: $340,000 would be used for rooftop solar panels; Huntington High School: Partial roof replacement costing $1 million; Finley Middle School: Science/prep rooms reconstruction and boiler replacements would cost $2 million; and Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School: New auditorium seating and flooring would cost $300,000. Costs of repairs of Finley Middle School lockers will also be included in the total.

Residents elected two individuals to the BOE to a three-year term commencing July 1, 2020, and expiring June 30, 2023. Longtime trustee member Xavier Palacios secured reelection with 2,494 votes, challenger Kelly Donovan was elected to her first term with 3,061 votes. Board president Jennifer Hebert decided to not run for reelection this year.

Commack School District

Commack School District’s 2020-21 budget of $199,759,525 was approved by residents, 5,332 to 2,128.

Trustee Susan Hermer retained her seat with 3,401 votes. Her challenger Mike Weisberg garnered 3,021. Incumbent William Hender ran unopposed and received 5,157 votes.

The 2020-2021 school budget has a tax cap levy increase of 1.99 percent with a budget-to-budget increase of 1.37 percent.

Harborfields High School. Photo from Google Maps

The Harborfields Central School District will host its capital improvement bond referendum vote on Tuesday, Dec. 3. Polls will be open from 2-9 p.m. in the Oldfield Middle School auditorium.

The majority of projects proposed in the new bond referendum are basic infrastructure upgrades such as replacing outdated boilers, repairing cracked sidewalks, improving fresh air intake and replacing deteriorating ceiling and lighting fixtures. Not only have many of these systems exceeded their useful lifespan, but they are no longer compliant with code.

With an increased focus on student and staff safety, a number of security enhancements are also included in the proposal, including the construction of security vestibules at every school. Original doors and hardware will also be replaced to enhance building security.

The proposal includes a number of academic improvements for students, including the renovation of school libraries at TJL, OMS and HHS. The new spaces will provide students with modern environments for group collaboration, while using the latest in educational technology. A new general science classroom will also be added at TJL. A number of physical education and athletic enhancements are also included in the proposal, such as the construction of a new outdoor play area at Washington Drive Primary School and the renovation of the South Gym and the installation of a synthetic turf field at high school.

The proposed bond would cost approximately $20.4 million. Even with the community’s approval of these expenditures, residents will see a decrease in their taxes due to the timing of this bond to overlap with two expiring bonds. This is due to the fact that the district has approximately $52.7 million in debt that will be retiring in 2021 and 2023 from the bonds issued to construct Washington Drive Primary School. The new debt associated with this proposal would essentially “replace” a portion of the old debt.

All eligible residents are encouraged to vote. For information on voting including absentee ballot information, as well as a complete listing of projects proposed through the referendum, please visit the district’s website, www.harborfieldscsd.net.

Huntington High School. File photo

By David Luces

Northport-East Northport School District

Northport residents overwhelming passed this year’s budget of $171.1 million to a vote of 1,553 to 977. The 2019-20 amount was a $4.2 million and 2.56 percent increase from last year. The district tax levy cap for 2019-20 will be 2.78 percent and the levy amount will increase by over $4 million. 

A $1.8 million from the capital reserve fund will be used for additional asphalt, concrete and drainage repairs as well as traffic reconfiguration at the entrance of Northport High School. 

Three candidates competed for three open seats this year. Allison Noonan, Larry Licopli and Thomas Loughran all ran unopposed and were elected to the board. Noonan received the most votes with 1,864, Licopli followed with 1,796 and Loughran received 1,770.  

Huntington Union Free School District

Huntington residents convincingly passed the $133.5 million budget with a vote of 1,064 to 259. The 2019-20 amount is an increase of 2.83 percent and $3.6 million over the current year’s spending plan. 

A second proposition on the ballot was approved by residents that would fund an estimated $3.9 million worth of projects. 

Three candidates competed for two open board seats this year. Incumbent William Dwyer secured re-election for another term with 804 votes. Michele Kustera received the greatest number of votes with 966 votes and won election to the board. Joesph Mattio fell short with 570 votes. 

Harborfields Central School District

Residents passed the 2019-20 budget of $88 million with a vote 754 to 340. The latest budget amount is an increase of 2.25 percent from 2018-19 and it leads to a tax levy increase of 3.12 percent. Administrative expenditures will cost $9.9 million, programs will cost $64.9 million and capital projects will take up another $13.2 million. 

Hansen Lee and Collen Wolcott won election to the board with 948 and 846 votes, respectively. Lauri Levenberg fell short with 630 votes and Freda Manuel received 248 votes.  

Elwood Union Free School District

In a landslide, residents passed the 2019-20 budget of $62.7 million, 1,223 to 350. The upcoming budget will have a tax levy increase of 2.56 percent. Administrative expenditures took up $7.1 million while programs took $47.1 million; $8.6 million will be used for capital projects. 

Two candidates competed for one 3-year term seat. Incumbent Deborah Weiss won election with 845 votes while Sara Siddiqui fell short with 712.

Cold Spring Harbor Central School District

Residents passed the district’s $70.3 million budget with a vote of 241 to 108. The tax levy for 2019-20 will increase by 2.94 percent. Administrative expenditures will take up $6.2 million; $52.8 million will go to programs; and $11.3 million will be reserved for capital projects. 

Two incumbent candidates ran unopposed. Amelia Brogan secured 282 votes and Julie Starrett received 277.                                                               

Commack Union Free School District

Commack residents passed the district’s $197.1 million budget convincingly 1,797 to 537. The 2019-20 budget will see a 2.95 percent increase in the tax levy. $20.4 million will cover administrative expenditures; $142.3 million will go to district programs; and $29.4 million will be used for future capital projects.  

Four candidates competed for two 3-year term seats: Steve Hartman won election with 1,813 votes as well as Justin Varughese who received 1,543. Pamela Verity fell short with 453 as well as Jennifer Mansi who secured 660. 

Two candidates competed for one 1-year term seat, including Susan Hermer who won election with 1,627 votes while Jennifer Scully only received 565 votes.

Harborfields High School held a student-organized HF commUNITY Summit as an alternative to National Walkout Day March 14. Photo from Twitter.

Harborfields students came together to share their feelings on school shootings and gun violence Wednesday, rather than walking out.

Harborfields High School hosted a student-organized HF commUNITY Summit in the gymnasium at 10 a.m. March 14 rather than participating in National Walkout Day, a planned demonstration in which students across the United States exited schools in protest.

“Our schools are very safe and not just because we have enough security guards, cameras or buzzers,” said Superintendent Francesco Ianni in his March message to the community. “Our schools are safe because we believe in the importance of letting children speak about their feelings and emotions as a result of the events that surround us. We are always there to support and guide our students in appropriate freedom of expression.”

Harborfields principal Timothy Russo said the schoolwide event was scheduled after he was approached by many students who expressed a desire to “do more than simply walk out of a building and congregate somewhere,” in an undated letter to the community. Student organizers led the summit that allowed any students to publicly speak about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida Feb. 14 that killed 17 people and the ensuing, heated national discourse.

“No one should feel so unsafe in a place of such community and security,” said student speaker Sophia Braunstein. “Regardless of what political ideology you stand for, I think we can all agree that America has a problem.”

Braunstein, a senior, remembered how she was in seventh grade when the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings occurred that killed 20 children and six adults in 2012.

Harborfields senior Sophia Braunstein speaks at the schoolwide rally March 14. Photo from Twitter.

“I was left with a fear that never left,” she said. “The day after the Parkland shooting, that same feeling resurfaced and my anxiety grew so bad I asked my mom several times to leave school.”

Braunstein said even she could see the differences in the national discussion in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, where the victims were elementary school students, compared to Parkland’s high school students who are utilizing social media to call for change.

“For students in Harborfields who feel discouraged by adults saying you shouldn’t have a voice, or we don’t know what we are talking about, don’t be,” Braunstein said. “History repeats itself.”

She cited the leadership shown by the Little Rock Nine, a group of nine African-American students who, escorted by federal troops, led the desegregation of public schools at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas in 1957. Braunstein’s comments also touched on college students impact on public opinion of the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

“We can be and will be the generation that can say we ended mass shootings in America,” she said.

Olivia Espinoza, a student at Harborfields, said she really enjoyed hearing the passionate speeches from her peers Wednesday.

“This rally showed a beautiful side of our generation that isn’t afraid to stand up for what we believe in, contact our local senators, participate in protests and marches, and make a difference in the world,” Espinoza said. “I am confident we are on the road to change.”

Harborfields school administrators were not immediately available for comment on the event.

Chris Kelly and David Steinberg smile after their victory. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Harborfields

Budget: $84.2 million

The 2017-18 budget is about $1.6 million more than last year’s total, with a tax levy increase of 1.68 percent. It passed with 1,224 yes votes to 249 no votes.

On the district’s website Superintendent Ianni thanked all the residents who voted to approve the budget.

“Thank you for all the support that you have given throughout this budget process,” the message said. “This would not be possible without your help.”

A household with a $2,000 assessed value will see a tax increase of $85.22. Someone who makes $75,000 or less is eligible for a tax rebate of $314.85, and the rebate is reduced by $84 in each of three higher salary brackets.

With two seats and four candidates at the Harborfields district this year, half of the candidates came out victorious.

Incumbent and Vice President David Steinberg easily maintained his seat on the board with 800 votes cast in his name.

Chris Kelly and David Steinberg smile after their victory. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

“It’s a pleasure and honor to be able to serve again,” Steinberg said after the results were announced Tuesday night. “It’s such a great community, we’ve done such great work over the last three years and I look forward to continuing that work over the next three.”

As for newcomer Chris Kelly, it seems the third time was the charm, as the resident has tried the past three years to win a seat. He came in second with a close 741 votes.

“I’m honored and humbled and I can’t wait to get to work,” Kelly said after his victory.

Residents Lauri Levenberg and Anila Nitekman were unable to win a seat for themselves, with 623 votes and 476 votes respectively.

Northport-East Northport

 Budget: $163.5 million

The 2017-18 budget is about $1.6 million more than last year’s total. It passed with 2,074 yes votes and 636 no votes. The estimated increase for a $3,800 assessed value household is $122.

Proposition 2, which involved capital reserve expenditures, also passed with 2,197 yes votes to 512 no votes. This proposition will allow the district to use capital reserves to fund additional projects including resurfacing/replacing two tennis courts and replacing the fence at William J. Brosnan School, installing new operable gymnasium windows at East Northport Middle School, and more.

For Northport residents the message was clear: they’re not interested in change. Incumbent Donna McNaughton was able to beat out challenger Thomas Loughran for another term on the board.

Donna McNaughton will continue to serve Northport-East Northport. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

McNaughton came away with 1,750 votes and Loughran with 769 votes.

“I’m very humbled by the support from the community,” McNaughton said after  it was announced she won. She added she was excited to continue to work for the district.

McNaughton was the only one of three incumbents who ran for re-election this year, as a petition last year passed to reduce the size of the board from nine members to seven.

Huntington

Budget: $126.2 million

The 2017-18 budget has a tax levy  increase of 1.35 percent. It passed with 1,022 yes votes to 148 no votes. A home assessed at the district average of $3,600 would see an increase of $111.24.

A second capital reserve proposition to authorize the creation of a new building improvement fund also passed by a vote of 998 yes votes to 176 no votes.

In the Huntington school district things went according to plan, as the two incumbents running unopposed won another term. Vice president Jennifer  Hebert and Trustee Xavier Palacios will both continue to serve their community, winning 1,037 votes and 978 votes respectively.

Hebert said in her candidate statement she believes in listening to all sides of every issue. She is particularly passionate about public school education and believes the learning experience offered to Huntington students should be the finest in the nation.

Palacios said in his candidate statement he has strived to be a problem-solver and to use his legal expertise to contribute to solutions regarding pressing issues facing students, teachers and taxpayers.

Harborfields High School. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Harborfields

The Harborfields school district has two seats to fill this May and four candidates. The school runs an at large election, meaning the two candidates with the most votes will fill the two seats.

Vice President David Steinberg and Trustee Nicholas Giuilano’s terms are up, however only Steinberg has chosen to run again, with three resident challengers looking for a first term on the board.

Chris Kelly is running for a third-time, hoping to finally secure a seat. Kelly has been working in the market data business for the past 19 years, and said he wants to bring his professional skills to add something “unique” to the board.

“I deal with a lot of changing variables and big budgets, and I need to anticipate what the future is going to hold,” he said in a phone interview. “I see this aligning with the school district perfectly.”

He has volunteered for the Harborfields Get Out the Vote committee and the Parent Teacher Association.

Anila Nitekman said she moved from Manhattan to Greenlawn because of the strong reputation the district had.

She’s the founder of Tiny Bites Food Shears, and has worked for Cablevision, American Express, and the city of New York after 9/11.

“I have worked to develop and cultivate collaborative partnerships,” she said in a phone interview. “And I think I could create a unique opportunity to bring new partnership opportunities to the district.”

She said she wants to partner students with industry leaders to help kids with their future careers.

Steinberg said he is eager to continue the work of the board, which he said has been very successful lately, including the creation of a new technology initiative.

“The district has very strong momentum,” he said in a phone interview. “With a new superintendent and Tech 2.0, there is a lot of great work happening here. Why wouldn’t I want to continue to work with this community?”

He said the support from the community has been great, like the $50,000 recently raised for Tech 2.0 by a Harborfields organization.

Lauri Levenberg has been a district resident for more than 20 years, and said she has the insight to help lead the school in a positive way.

“The most important issue facing Harborfields is how to provide an education for the whole child while remaining fiscally responsible to the community,” Levenberg said in her candidate statement.

She works as a speech therapist in the Three Village school district, and has served on the board of religious organizations including Temple Beth El in Huntington.

Northport-East Northport

With only one seat available at large, this is a unique year for the district, as the board will see a reduction of two members thanks to a petition filed two years ago by United Taxpayers of Northport-East Northport to reduce the number of trustees.

The petition was made into a proposition which voters approved during last year’s vote to bring the board from nine members to seven.

Trustees Donna McNaughton, Regina Pisacani and Jennifer Thompson were all at the end of their terms, however due to the petition only one of the three seats can be filled. Pisacani and Thompson have both decided not to seek another term on the board.

Pisacani said the decision was not an easy one.

“I dedicated an enormous amount of time to my board of education duties,” she said in an email. “It was many hours away from my family and many hours away from my own professional development.  My motivation for joining the BOE was to assist in bringing change and stability to this school district.”

Thompson did not return calls for comment.

However McNaughton is still eager to continue serving her community.

“I still have a passion for it,” she said in a phone interview. “We should be taking enthusiastic 5-year-olds and making them into  enthusiastic 18-year-olds.”

She said the district is going in a positive direction, with plans like the recent bond approval which will see infrastructure and athletic facility improvements.

“We’ve had seven one-term board members, there has been a lot of instability and I want to continue to work with the superintendent to help bring his vision to fruition.”

The incumbent said the district will face many challenges in the future, including the ongoing LIPA lawsuit, decreased enrollment and more, and she wants to work to find solutions.

Challenging the current trustee is East Northport resident Thomas Loughran, an attorney who only recently got involved in the district board affairs.

Loughran said he started attending school board meetings in February when the board was able to approve the nearly $40 million bond.

“I’m a paralegal and my firm deals with school districts all the time so this is right in my wheelhouse,” he said in a phone interview. “My voice is beneficial to the board. I know community members and teachers within the district.”

The challenger said he has an extensive background that would lend itself to a positive collaboration with the board. He has dealt in his profession with legal matters, civil rights issues, discrimination issues and more involving school districts.

Huntington

In the Huntington school district things are business as usual, as two incumbents are running unopposed for another term. Vice president Jennifer  Hebert and Trustee Xavier Palacios are both running for third terms.

Hebert and her husband have lived in Huntington for 20 years, and have two boys attending district schools, as well as a third in college.

A Long Island native, Herbert worked as a public school kindergarten teacher in Massachusetts for several years and is currently the director of the pre-school program at St. John’s Nursery School in Huntington village.

She volunteers for the Huntington district in the Parent Teacher Association and has served as  president and treasurer.

Hebert has served on various district committees through the years, including the long range planning committee.

Hebert said in her candidate statement she believes in listening to all sides of every issue. She is particularly passionate about public school education and believes the learning experience offered to Huntington students should be the finest in the nation.

Palacios is an attorney and a Huntington district alumni himself. He and his wife have three children, including a daughter who was a member of Huntington’s Class of 2016.

In 2008, Palacios purchased and renovated a distressed property in Huntington Station where he established a satellite law office along with a community revitalization non-profit organization.

Palacios volunteered in each of the past two years to serve as the high school mock trial team’s legal advisor, training students in the art of courtroom skills and strategies. He has spent hours working behind the scenes with coaches and athletes to help spur participation and promote excellence in the Blue Devil athletic program.

Palacios said in his candidate statement he has strived to be a problem-solver and to use his legal expertise to contribute to solutions regarding pressing issues facing students, teachers and taxpayers.

Harborfields High School. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

By Victoria Espinoza

Harborfields

Sabrina Qi and Trevor Jones are the valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the Harborfields graduating class of 2016.

Sabrina Qi. Photo from Harborfields central school district.
Sabrina Qi. Photo from Harborfields central school district.

Qi was named a scholar in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program, she received the National School Development Council Academic Growth & Student Leadership Award and was presented the Daughters of American Revolution Good Citizenship Award. She is enrolled in six Advanced Placement courses and one college-level language class. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Global Justice Club and Science Research Club. Qi will attend Duke University in the fall with plans of majoring in biomedical engineering and biophysics. “I think Harborfields has truly prepared me for the future with all the classes I have taken,” Qi said. “As long as you take the classes that you are interested in, the teachers will prepare you for what you want to study in college.”

Trevor Jones. Photo from Harborfields central school district.
Trevor Jones. Photo from Harborfields central school district.

Jones is also enrolled in six Advanced Placement courses at Harborfields and is the class president. Among his high school experiences, he interned for U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), worked at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and North Shore-LIJ to conduct medical research, and he served as the student representative at the board of education meetings. He will attend Boston College on a full scholarship with plans to major in biology or public policy.

“I am going to miss the community,” Jones said. “The classes and teachers are great, but at the end of the day, what I am going to miss most are my peers, my friends and the environment we have here.”

Northport

Ian Buitenkant is this year’s valedictorian at Northport High School, with Emily Labruna following as salutatorian.

Ian Buitenkant. Photo from Northport-East Northport school district.
Ian Buitenkant. Photo from Northport-East Northport school district.

Buitenkant is a National Merit Commended Scholar, and has been the math department’s Student of the Month. He interned at the Academy of Information Technology last summer with SeniorNet, an organization that teaches computer skills to retired and elderly people. The valedictorian enrolled in 10 AP courses throughout his four years and was awarded the AP Scholar with Honors in 2015. He is a member of the high school Mathletes Team, and his junior year had one of the highest cumulative scores among all participants in a multi-week competition sponsored by the Suffolk County Math Teachers Association. Outside of the classroom, he can be found at a chessboard. He was named the Suffolk County High School Chess champion in 2013, and is also the president of the high school Chess Club. Buitenkant was also on the high school varisty tennis team for three years. He plans to attend Stony Brook University’s Honors College, majoring in computer science as a member of the Honors Program, and hopes to become a software developer in the future.

Emily Labruna. Photo from Northport-East Northport school district.
Emily Labruna. Photo from Northport-East Northport school district.

Labruna is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate. She spent two summers at Cornell University and Johns Hopkins University through the Packard Scholars Program, and her participation in these programs led her to want to continue neuroscience research in college. Labruna was a math department Student of the Month and is a National Merit Commended Scholar. She is a member of the Mathletes, the Academic Team, varsity softball, the National Honor Society, and Schools for Schools, where she has helped raise money for the education of children in poverty. The salutatorian also has a third-degree black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. She will be attending Johns Hopkins University with a major in neuroscience.

Huntington

Huntington High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian are Rachel Carpenter and Olivia Stamatatos, respectively.

Rachel Carpenter. Photo from Huntington school district.
Rachel Carpenter. Photo from Huntington school district.

Carpenter is the president of Huntington’s branch of National Honor Society, and has participated in all eight of the high school’s drama productions. “When I first moved here four years ago, I had no idea I would have been in the position I am in now,” she said. “I have the people of Huntington High to thank for my growth and success.”

Olivia Stamatatos. Photo from Huntington school district.
Olivia Stamatatos. Photo from Huntington school district.

Stamatatos is president of the school’s branch of Italian National Honor Society, a member of the Mathletes, wind esemble, and Tri-M Music National Honor Society. She also takes dance lessons at the Lynch School of Ballet in Huntington.  She plans to pursure a degree in biochemistry “in order to gain a deeper understanding of underlying factors that contribute to the curative properties in natural substances.” She credited the staff at Huntington. “The teachers of Huntington High School have not only provided me with a high quality education, but have also built strong relationships with me and have always made me feel welcome,” she said.