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Kevin Simmons

Smithtown Central School District celebrated the accomplishments of Smithtown High School East’s Class of 2017 during its 102nd annual commencement exercise June 22.

The 427 graduates marched proudly onto the football field to “Pomp and Circumstance” and were welcomed by Smithtown School District Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Jennifer Bradshaw, who spoke to the Class of 2017 about smart goals and dream-driven goals. “You don’t have to pick one or the other for your goals,” she said. “Today, your graduation day, is a noteworthy accomplishment. But it is only one day that represents the culmination of 13 years of studying. You should be proud of the work that got you here. But as you embark on the next stage of life, consider not just your next goal, consider your next journey and how you want to spend that journey.”

Smithtown High School East Principal Dr. Kevin Simmons urged the graduates to dream big. “This is an unbelievably exciting time in your life,” he said. “All doors are open as you decide what your next chapter in life will be. Keep making informed choices and educated decisions. Continue to test yourself and stay committed to your beliefs because you know what’s best for you. We are so proud of your current accomplishments and we look forward to hearing all of your future successes as well.”

Student honor speaker Kyle DiPietrantonio, who is selected by the class instead of a valedictorian or salutatorian, took a moment to reflect on how far the class has come in the past four years at Smithtown High School East. “These past four years, we have been working to create our own identity,” he said. “You have the power to make a difference. You have the ability to impact and influence. Leave your legacy.”

Senior class president Juneve Porciello addressed her fellow classmates and spoke about how graduation wasn’t the end but a new beginning. “Today, we are not saying goodbye, we are saying hello to our future,” she said. “The days in front of us are what hold the greatest adventure. It’s time to take the next step in our journey.”

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Kevin Simmons is the new principal at Smithtown High School East. Photo from Smithtown school district

With school less than a month away, new leaders are prepping for the September start date in Smithtown.

Smithtown High School East and Nesaquake Middle School both have fresh faces at the helm, as Kevin Simmons and Daniel McCabe have been appointed to principal at their respective schools.

Simmons, a St. James resident, is no stranger to the Smithtown school district. He first joined the team in 2003, at Smithtown Middle School, as an assistant principal.

“There is something about the warm feeling, and the nurturing culture [at Smithtown],” Simmons said in a phone interview. “I am excited to continue to serve the district.”

The new high school principal has four children in the Smithtown school district, and said he is thrilled they are getting an education in such a successful district.

Simmons grew up in Ronkonkoma and received college degrees from Dowling College and Stony Brook University.

He also taught history to seventh- and eighth-graders in the Syosset school district before coming to Smithtown.

 Daniel McCabe is the new principal at Nesaquake Middle School. Photo from Jessica Novins
Daniel McCabe is the new principal at Nesaquake Middle School. Photo from Jessica Novins

The St. James resident said he is excited to revisit many of the students at the high school that he already has a relationship with.

“To work with the same families is something I’m extremely exited about,” he said. “To finish the educational journey with the kids is extremely rewarding.”

Simmons moved from Smithtown Middle School to Nesaquake Middle School in 2004, and served as assistant principal there until 2008, when he took over as principal.

Simmons said he thinks the new middle school principal will excel in the role he previously held.

“Dan is intelligent, a strong leader, and has great charisma,” he said. “He will meet the needs of the kids, the teaching staff and the parents there. He is a 21st century educator; he’s up to date on his research of curriculum and technology.”

McCabe has been at Smithtown for nearly 20 years, having started in 1999 as a student teacher at Smithtown High School before it was divided into east and west.

“I take great pride in the deep-rooted relationships I have with the community,” he said in a phone interview.

When the high schools were divided, he became an assistant principal at Smithtown High School West for five years, before making the move to Accompsett Middle School.

The Smithtown district veteran said he is excited for the new adventure.

Although McCabe said he has enjoyed working with various age groups, he thinks his talents are best served in a middle school environment.

“At the high school, there are very high stakes, with graduation requirements and SATs,” he said. “Middle school students are quite impressionable, they are going through a formative time period in their lives. I think it’s a blessing to be a positive influence on them during this time period.”