By Leah Chiappino
Hauppauge High School has named Caroline Fortmeyer and Devin Capece as its valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
The graduates have had to finish their senior year and celebrate their achievements in the midst of a pandemic. Yet, Fortmeyer said that the situation has taught her resilience and perspective.
“Although it was very unfortunate to have my prom canceled and graduation delayed, this entire experience has transformed my life in ways that are far more important than these events,” she said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has yielded lessons of resiliency, innovation and gratitude for our entire society.”
Capece added that he chose to look at the positive aspect of having online classes, such as the fact his family grew closer together.
“We can’t change the fact that COVID-19 has forced us to distance ourselves from others and that all of the senior moments that we had been looking forward to were suddenly stripped away, but we can control whether we allow it to destroy our spirit,” he said. “I am hopeful that this crisis will display the resilience of our generation and teach us to find value and hope in a dire situation. … I am grateful that this period has provided all of us with the time to reflect upon what is truly important.”
Fortmeyer earned a final grade point average of 102.61. She is headed to Northeastern University in the fall where she will major in business. The valedictorian said that she is uncertain about what her specific career path will look like, but that she hopes to work with people in a math-oriented field. At Hauppauge, she was National Honor Society class president and was a member of the Mock Trial club and the chamber choir. The choir took her to competitions in New Jersey, Virginia and Florida and allowed her to perform at various community events. She said the choir’s trip to Disney last year as her favorite high school memory.
“It was truly an unforgettable experience,” she said.
Having lived in Hauppauge her entire life, she said the community is one of the things she will miss the most when she goes away to college.
“I am grateful to have grown up in such a supportive community,” she said. “In fact, some of my earliest memories involve attending school events with my brothers. It always amazes me how our community is so united especially during the most difficult of times, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
Fortmeyer credited both the support of her family and the education she received as factors leading to her success.
“I cannot express sufficient gratitude to my parents for their tireless support and advice, which has been invaluable to me,” she said. “I thank them for their patience, love and for teaching me the most important life lessons. I would also like to thank all of my teachers, for their commitment and dedication has been so impactful. Since the day I began kindergarten, I have felt welcomed and supported by every teacher that has entered my life. I am beyond grateful to have learned from such knowledgeable teachers and people of admirable character.”
Capece finished his senior year with a 102.18 GPA. He is set to attend Purdue University to study chemical engineering. He is unsure what he would like to do as a career but is certain that he wants to use his education to help solve societal problems he is passionate about.
The salutatorian was involved in a number of honor societies, was a varsity tennis player and played the saxophone with the advanced jazz band. He was president of the ethics and debate club, secretary of the robotics team, and competed in the Model United Nations competition. He also volunteered with Vincentian Leadership Institute to go on various community service trips throughout New York City and was a Eucharistic minister and outreach volunteer at Christ the King Parish. Capece also worked with Long Island Cares to organize food drives.
Capece said his favorite high school memory was hanging out with friends and ordering pizzas late at night at the hotel during the trip to the Festivals of Music in Virginia Beach he took his sophomore year.
One of four boys, Capece credits his close-knit family for his success.
”Both my parents are the most giving people in the world, and represent love at its core,” he said. “Of course, no family is perfect, but it’s the imperfections that make it perfect. My parents have always taught us positive values, most notably selflessness and doing good for others, but have also made us aware that nothing good ever happens without hard work.”
Specifically, he thanked his mother for helping him navigate the college search. She “helped me to figure out which schools were best to apply to, and she became a database of college information,” he said. “I am truly thankful that she has put so much effort into my life, and that she enjoys doing so.”
Capece also thanked the high school band director, Andrew Monsen, and credits him for making his experience in the music department so enjoyable.
By Donna Deedy
People everywhere are talking about the celebrity college admission cheating scandal, since more than 50 people were indicted last week on felony charges. Television actress Lori Loughlin — voted mostly likely to succeed in Hauppauge High School class of ’82 — was among those arrested. The situation has turned tragic for her family and the other people involved. But, as people in education often say in the face of crisis, “Let’s make this a valuable teaching moment.”
Dennis O’Hara, superintendent for Hauppauge School District, agreed to respond to a few questions about the situation. Here’s his advice to the community:
What lessons can be learned about self-worth?
The greatest lesson here is that one’s self-worth is an inside job, meaning it comes from within. If one feels less than another, or inadequate, being handed something or gaining an advantage through cheating, is when feelings of inadequacy only increase. Low self-worth is erased only through hard work and perseverance. In life, we deserve what we earn — nothing more, nothing less.
I’d like to add that integrity is priceless. Once it is given up it cannot easily be regained. In this case, the integrity of these parents, and possibly more importantly, of their children is severely compromised — in a very public way. I hope they, and current high school students, realize it was not worth it.
What messages do you want high school seniors and families in the community at-large to take away from this situation?
I would like our students to understand there is a sense of pride and real peace in rejoicing in accomplishments that are earned. Life is about a sense of purpose, about finding a calling and striving to be the best one can be in that purpose.
It’s less important to measure oneself against others than it is to strive for one’s own dreams. I have four sons, and I often remind them life will be filled with challenges, but there is no glory in the accomplishment if it was without difficulty. In essence, having something handed to you does not build self-worth.
I often say it is not about where one is at the moment that matters, but where one is headed that counts. Each day be better than the day before and everything else will take care of itself.
Regarding college admissions, parents should not look for the best window sticker. Instead, they should help their children find the college or university that is the best fit. I can tell you from personal experience this approach relieves a great deal of stress for the parents and the child. In Hauppauge, we embrace this philosophy and are proud of the effort our students are putting forth.
One last thought regarding parenting and college admissions is that I would much prefer to be judged by the kind of men my sons have become than by the college they attended.
Kings Park girls volleyball defeated visiting Hauppauge in four sets, 3-1, Oct. 22.
The win improved the Lady Kingsmen’s record to 9-2, putting them in second place in League V with one game remaining in regular season play.
Kings Park will hit the road to play Harborfields Oct. 25 at 5:45 p.m. in their last 2018 league match.
Despite some tense moments late in the game, a fast start, a huge play on a fourth-and-25, and a key second-half touchdown drive propelled the Comsewogue football team to a victory in its homecoming matchup against Hauppauge Oct. 21. The Warriors move to 3-5 with the 28-21 win, which head coach Sean Tremblay called his team’s most complete performance of the season.
“It was the first time we started and finished a game all year,” Tremblay said after the win.
Presumably riding the adrenaline rush that comes with playing in front of a packed out, electric homecoming crowd, the Warriors jumped out ahead of the Eagles (0-6) in the first half.
Junior running back Reno Molina found the end zone in the first quarter to put Comsewogue up 7-0. The Warriors took to the ground early and often, producing more than 300 yards rushing on the afternoon, though one big pass play might have been the key to the win.
On a third-and-17 from the Hauppauge 22-yard line early in the second quarter, running right on an option play, sophomore quarterback Jaden Martinez kept the ball and eluded several Eagles on his way to what he thought was a score to put his team up two touchdowns. A holding penalty backed Comsewogue up and wiped the touchdown off the scoreboard, and on fourth-and-25 from the Hauppauge 30-yard line, the Warriors went to the air.
“I had seen something in coverage and I knew [Richie LaCalandra] was going to be open — we just needed to protect it and we did, and Richie got in,” Tremblay said of the play, which he called a momentum changer. He said he never considered attempting a long field goal or punting on the fourth-down play.
Martinez took the shotgun snap and rolled to his left, uncorking a perfect pass to the wide open senior LaCalandra running a corner route, who made the catch and skipped into the end zone to put the Warriors up 14-0. The play accounted for all of Martinez’s yardage through the air for the game.
“Richie’s just a great athlete,” the quarterback said of his running back. “He got himself open and I rolled out of the pocket, and he was just wide open.”
LaCalandra had 90 yards rushing and a touchdown to go along with two catches for 30 yards and the fourth-down score through the air. His rushing touchdown came on a reverse handoff from the Eagles’ 21-yard line in the final minute of the second quarter, as LaCalandra made a few Eagles’ defenders miss on his way to the goal line, where he lunged in despite having his helmet ripped off.
“We came out and worked hard in practice this week, and it all paid off when it came to the game,” he said.
The Warriors took a 21-0 lead into halftime, but a strong third quarter from the Hauppauge offense and two Warriors’ fumbles left the door open for a comeback.
“Defensively they were throwing the ball underneath our coverage,” Tremblay said of Hauppauge’s effective third quarter on offense. “We were so worried about them throwing the ball vertically that at times we were bailing just a little bit too much.”
With less than a minute remaining in the third, Comsewogue got the ball back up 21-14, and with junior quarterback Tom Tommaso under center, the Warriors engineered a drive that ended in a 6-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Mike McGuire to put his team up 28-14.
“After we scored and made it 28, that kind of regenerated our fight,” Tremblay said of the key second-half drive. Molina intercepted a pass with seven minutes remaining in the fourth in Comsewogue territory to ice the game for the Warriors.
Comsewogue’s two turnovers were the fewest the team has had in any game this season, according to the head coach. He said it shouldn’t be a surprise that it led to a win.
The Warriors will be back in action Oct. 27 at East Islip for the final game of the season. Opening kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.