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Smithtown High School West

The Northport Tigers, the No. 1 seed, faced the No. 3 seed Smithtown West in the Suffolk AA Championship game at Longwood High School Nov. 9. West won the first two sets before Northport won the third forcing a game four. The Bulls took the fourth set to win the game 25-22, 26-24, 15-25 and 25-20 and will advance to the Long Island Championship (regional final) Nov. 11.

Senior Daniel Shanley led the way for the Bulls with 20 kills. Smithtown West returns to Longwood High School where they’ll face Massapequa. Game time is 11 a.m.

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Both high schools in the Smithtown Central School District celebrated their graduation ceremonies June 24 on their respective football fields.

On the west side of town, graduates dressed in blue and white robes, while their contemporaries on the east side donned red and white.

Smithtown High School West Principal John Coady told the graduates they have “risen above the chaos” of the pandemic.

“This pandemic has taught us not to take anything for granted, and you have not,” Coady said. “You worked through the challenges and are here today as a result of your hard work and resilience.”

Smithtown High School East Principal Dr. Kevin Simmons congratulated the students on their many academic and personal achievements. He said throughout the entirety of the school year, the Class of 2021 has pivoted without hesitation, remained steadfast in their commitment to excellence and masterfully overcame every obstacle that was placed before them.

“Resilience, perseverance and perspective are character traits that have been forged throughout the past 18 months which will remain with you for a lifetime,” he said. 

 During his address at Smithtown West, school district Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Neil Katz described graduation as a time for the students to reflect on their experiences and the numerous challenges that have shaped them. He also offered six traits he would look for in hiring an individual: adaptability and flexibility; the ability to problem-solve and to think critically and creatively; a demonstration of perseverance and resilience; the adoption of a positive attitude; the ability to express empathy and caring; and being able to communicate with good interpersonal skills. He told the Class of 2021 that they have already demonstrated so many of these skills and are thus “well-prepared for the future.”

Smithtown West honor speaker George Maidoff encouraged his classmates to “view the world in a brighter light,” as well as to cherish and learn from each moment. He also urged the demonstration of gratitude. “Gratitude is a chosen mindset which gives us an optimistic perspective on life, and when practiced, we can evoke heartfelt interactions with each other and create positive change.” 

West class president Shannon Alptekin talked about the opportunities the pandemic presented.

“Considering the pandemic eliminated certain distractions from our lives, we were forced to focus on what was most important to us,” she said. “We made a difference — be it to ourselves or somebody else — and that’s what really matters.”

Smithtown East honor speaker Maximillian Nadelson said in looking at the true success of his peers and inspirations, he noticed it often came with support.

“Not only is it okay to rely on others to help you reach your goals, it is noble in its own right to be a part of something bigger,” he said. He added a special thank you to his mother for her guidance and support, a sentiment that resonated across the field. 

Senior class president Sarah Broderick said having the opportunity to celebrate graduation with family and friends was “extraordinary.” With a nod to their growth during a challenging year, she said, “I don’t want us to be remembered as the class who went through a pandemic. We are going to become the class known for our perseverance and our ability to navigate through the dark.”

After a 23-month hiatus it was time to play ball Monday, May 3, when the Bulls of Smithtown West opened their softball season at home against Newfield.

The Wolverines struck first and took a three-run lead in the top of the fourth before Smithtown West retook the lead in the bottom of inning when Brook DaSilva’s bat drove in Hailey Cinquemani to take the first lead of the game. The Bulls scored what they thought was an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth before Newfield exploded in with four unanswered runs in the top of the seventh to win the game, 8-6.

Both teams are back in action May 5 when the Bulls travel to Huntington, and Newfield plays their home opener against North Babylon. Start times are 4 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. respectively.

Pictured are the Smithtown High School West InvenTeam with Principal John Coady (left), Smithtown High School West science research teacher Dr. Joanne Figueiredo, (second from left) and Smithtown Central School District’s Director of Science Laura Snell (right).

Smithtown High School West was one of just 13 high schools nationwide to be selected as an InvenTeam this year. As an award winner, Smithtown High School West will receive a grant for $10,000 by Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam® to create their invention, a personal space monitor to help autistic children improve their social interactions.

InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers and mentors that receive grants to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. This initiative of the Lemelson-MIT Program aims to inspire a new generation of inventors. “The InvenTeams program represents the future,” said Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer from the Lemelson-MIT Program.

“We place an emphasis on STEM-focused projects to develop interest in these fields among youth. With InvenTeams, our primary goal is to foster high school students’ passion for invention, in turn inspiring them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering or math,” she added.

Led by Smithtown High School West science research teacher Dr. Joanne Figueiredo, the application process began last spring. She worked with her team of students – Sinead Doyle, Jensen Herbst, Liza Lleshaj, Rehan Mian, Tyler Nagosky, Patrick Noto, Eric Pentecoste, Madeline Raeihle and Aaquib Syed – during the summer to prepare the final proposal. A panel of judges composed of educators, researchers, staff and alumni from MIT, as well as representatives from industry and former Lemelson-MIT Award winners, assembled virtually this fall and selected this year’s InvenTeam grantees.

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects approximately one in every 59 children in the United States. “These children sometimes exhibit difficulties understanding the idea of interpersonal space,” said Dr. Figueiredo. “Our invention, the Personal Distance Monitor (PDM), is a cost-effective solution to this problem. It uses an IR sensor to alert the user when they are getting too close to another person. It also reports to an app that can help a teacher or parent to monitor progress.”

The Smithtown High School West InvenTeam will also work with Glen Meyerowitz, a graduate student at UCLA and former engineer at SpaceX, who will guide the students through the development of their invention.

“This is a remarkable group of students who have come together to solve an important problem faced by their peers in our school and other students across the country; we are eager to support them,” said Principal John Coady.

During the next nine months, the Smithtown High School West InvenTeam will develop its PDM. The team will build a working prototype of their invention that is showcased at a technical review within the local community in February, and then again as a final prototype at EurekaFest, an invention celebration in June 2021.

Lawyers reveal new details on Case

Families of several young women who died in a limo crash in Cuthogue in 2015 gathered in Smithtown for the five-year anniversary of the crash. Photo by David Luces

For the families of the four women who tragically died in a 2015 limousine crash on County Route 48 in Cutchogue, the grief and pain from that fateful day has never gone away.

Families of several young women who died in a limo crash in Cuthogue in 2015 gathered at the five-year anniversary of the crash. Photo by David Luces

The families of Amy Grabina, Lauren Baruch, Stephanie Belli, and Brittney Schulman gathered by a Smithtown street July 16 that was named in honor of their daughters next to Smithtown High School West. The group tied purple ribbons around the street sign and were also joined by the parents of four women who were injured and survived the crash.

“Due to the irresponsibility of some and negligence of others, those four women did not return, while four passengers returned physically and mentally scarred,” said Steven Baruch, father of victim Lauren Baruch. “It is five years after the fact and we are still tortured by many unanswered questions … that the picture of what actually happened remains unclear.”

At a press conference after the ceremony, Robert Sullivan, a lawyer for the Baruch family, revealed new information on the case. The lawyer showed an email from a Southold resident that was sent to town officials three years before the fatal crash. The resident in the email warned about the potential for an accident to occur on the intersection that killed the four women.

In addition, the attorney showed a newly surfaced ambulance report shows that there was a front-seat passenger in Steven Romeo’s pickup truck when it crashed into the limousine. The report says she refused medical care at the scene.

“It states on the report that she was the front seat passenger in the red pickup truck, so she saw the whole thing, ” Sullivan said. “That information was never given to us for three years. It was never turned over to the families or lawyers. Why is that? It is all part of a cover-up.”

Lawyers for the families have tried to interview the women, but have been unsuccessful as she has been uncooperative, according to the attorney.

“We have tried to depose this lady to find out what she saw, its [been] five years,” Russell said.
The Baruch and Grabina families are suing the Town of Southold and Suffolk County, claiming that they were negligent in failing to make the intersection safe before the accident.

Families of several young women who died in a limo crash in Cuthogue in 2015 gathered at the five-year anniversary of the crash. Photo by David Luces

The limo carrying the eight women, who were out celebrating an upcoming wedding, attempted to make a U-turn on Sound Avenue when it was struck by Romeo’s vehicle. The limo driver, Carlos Pino, was indicted on criminally negligent homicide charges, though the charges were thrown out by the State Supreme Court in 2016. Romeo pleaded guilty in 2017 to driving while impaired and was sentenced to a 90-day license suspension and fined $500.

Family members said they were denied justice.

Following the 2015 East End crash and a 2018 accident in upstate Schoharie County, New York passed legislation aimed at the limousine industry. The bill, signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) in January, requires passenger seat belts, drug and alcohol testing for drivers and increased penalties for illegal U-turns and includes a website where complaints can be made.

The families also called for the Safe Limo Act to be brought to President Donald Trump’s (R) desk and signed into federal law. The bill would set new federal limousine safety rules and standards for seat belts, seat integrity and fund crash safety research, among other things.

They said they are hoping something good can come from something tragic.

“The Safe Limo Act will ensure that the industry will follow the same protocols throughout the entire country,” said Nancy DiMonte, a mother of one of the crash survivors. “We have worked tirelessly to help New York become the forefront of advanced limousine safety measures and we are now prepared to institute these bills nationwide.”

Luke Muratore

By Leah Chiappino

Each year, students who earn a cumulative grade point average of 4.0 or higher choose a representative to speak at graduation. This year Luke Muratore received the honor.

Muratore earned a final GPA of 4.52 and will attend University of Maryland, College Park, in the College Park Scholars program. He plans to major in computer science with a minor in business and hopes to work as a software engineer or program manager in New York City one day.

Throughout high school, Muratore served as president of the National Honor Society and as captain of varsity cross-country and varsity track. He was also the public relations officer for the Math Honor Society, Relay for Life team captain and was involved in Athletes Helping Athletes and DECA. Muratore says his favorite high school memory was competing in the Business Olympics.

“It was such an exciting moment to smile and present my team’s idea in front of a crowd of friends, family and teachers,” he said. “Later on in the night when it was announced that we won, I felt such a massive rush of energy.”

The honor speaker said he has his parents to thank for helping him succeed.

“My parents have always been comforting, helpful and inspiring and are a huge reason why I push myself to work hard in everything I do,” he said.

He added that he is grateful for the education he received at Smithtown West.

“I’ve never had a ‘bad teacher’ at Smithtown West,” he said. “Every teacher, coach and club adviser I have met has impacted the way I think in a unique and positive way.”

He added that the district’s efforts to try to “normalize” senior year helped him stay positive in the wake of having events canceled due to COVID-19.

Muratore encourages next year’s seniors to stay positive and to savor their time in high school.

“Make sure to smile, laugh and make the best out of every moment of high school,” he said. “Keep a positive mentality and don’t let the bad moments ruin your year. While we may be having more bad days in coming months, we must focus on the best parts of our lives rather than dwell on the worst. Achieving happiness means brushing off negativity and striving to do well as a person and community.”

By Bill Landon

Smithtown High School West’s varsity wrestling team got off to a shaky start on the mats, but battled their way back Dec. 14.

Northport High School briefly took a 19-18 lead over the West Bulls, but Smithtown dropped the hammer late. The team defeated the Tigers, 41-21, in the League III matchup.

The win puts the West Bulls at 2-0 for the season, while Northport dropped to 1-1. Next, Smithtown will take to the road to compete against Mount Sinai in a nonleague match Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. The Tigers will travel to take on Riverhead Dec. 21 at 4:30 p.m.

Northport Tigers varsity boys volleyball defeated Smithtown West Bulls, 3-0, Sept. 13 in Smithtown.

Northport boys volleyball has started its 2018 season on a positive note with two consecutive wins. They will continue on the road to play Ward Melville Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m.

The West Bulls are still looking for their first win of the 2018 season as they are scheduled to host Lindenhurst Sept. 20 at 4 p.m.


Meet the Class of 2018's valedictorians, salutatorians and honor speakers in Smithtown

Commack High School's Class of 2018 throws their caps skyward in celebration. Photo by Karen Forman

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Across the Town of Smithtown, hundreds of graduates stepped forward to receive their high school diplomas last week. Among the graduates are those who have excelled academically, achieving consistently high marks to rise top of their class to earn the titles of valedictorian and salutatorian. 

Commack High School Honor Speaker: Matthew Ciurleo. Photo by Karen Forman.

Commack High School

Honor Speaker: Matthew Ciurleo

GPA: 105.12 (weighted)

College: Harvard University

Major: Economics

Ciurleo served as president of the National Honor Society, a captain of the varsity boys golf team and was a member of both the Boys Scholar Athletic Leadership Club and Italian Honor Society.



Kings Park High School Valedictorian Lina Rohrer. Photo from Kings Park school district

Kings Park High School

Valedictorian: Lina Rohrer

GPA: 106.04 (weighted)

College: Not disclosed

Major: Physics

Rohrer plans on continuing her education by studying physics.




Kings Park High School Salutatorian Keiffer Acoba. Photo from Kings Park school district

Kings Park High School

Salutatorian: Keiffer Acoba

GPA: 105.01

College: Carnegie Mellon

Major: Computer Science

Acoba was named among the Top 300 Scholars in Regeneron’s Science Talent Search, a Coca-Cola Scholar finalist, and a Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Regional finalist. He was vice president of the Independent Science Research, co-captain of the math team,  head programmer of the robotics team and president of Science Olympiads.


Smithtown High School East honor speaker Matthew Timmel. Photo from Smithtown school district

Smithtown High School East

Honor speaker: Matthew Timmel

GPA: 4.13

College: Florida State University

Major: Business finance, computer  science

Timmel served as president of DECA, senior leader of RYLA, a member of the National Honor Society and played on the varsity boys badminton team.




Smithtown High School West Honor Speaker Kevin Camson. Photo from Smithtown school district

Smithtown High School West

Honor Speaker: Kevin Camson

GPA: 4.08

College: University of Notre Dame

Major: Political Science

Camson served as student liaison to Smithotwn’s board of education; founder and president of Student Pipeline; member of the teen council for the Robin Hood Foundation; founder and leader of Project Smith-Stead; founder of Tables to Enable; a member of the School Start Time Steering Committe; and on track and field.

East Northport resident awarded an honorary degree from Smithtown High School West June 21

A lifelong dream has been made a reality for a Holocaust survivor who, after nearly 30 years educating others, can finally say he’s received his high school diploma.

East Northport resident Mordechai Miller was given an honorary degree at the 103rd commencement of Smithtown High School West June 21, becoming a member of the graduating Class of 2018. The 87-year-old donned a blue cap and gown, sitting with his fellow graduates on the field to wait to hear his name called by Principal John Coady.

“It’s very exciting,” Miller said upon hearing he was being granted a diploma.

The moment was decades in the making for Miller.

Everything he’s wanted in life he’s been able to achieve, except for this.”
– Leah Miller

“Everything he’s wanted in life he’s been able to achieve, except for this,” said his daughter, Leah. “He’s really wanted this for a long time, but it’s not something you can ask for.”

Miller was born in the village of Jablonna, Poland, in 1931. Due to the outbreak of World War II, he was only able to complete first grade before he and his family were forced to live in a Jewish ghetto before eventually going into hiding. They were liberated from the war front town, where they had taken up work as Polish refugees, by the Soviet army in January 1945.

Miller moved to the United States in 1956 where he settled in Brooklyn. A self-motivated man, he started his own business selling used truck parts and eventually opened his own junkyard in Bay Shore after moving to East Northport in 1984.

Since the 1990s, Miller has shared his life story as a public motivational speaker at hundreds of events, according to his daughter. For the past 10 years, he has regularly been a guest speaker in Christina Cone’s Holocaust and Genocide class at Smithtown High School West.

We thank you for all your work with our students, sharing your experiences and congratulate you on receiving your diploma.”
– John Coady

“He will always start out by saying that he loves to come to school because he didn’t get a chance at an education,” his daughter said.

The Holocaust survivor’s goal in sharing his life and experiences with students each year is to increase tolerance in the world. To honor Miller’s message of doing right by others, Smithtown’s staff decided to confer upon him an honorary degree.

“As he was deprived of a formal education and was never awarded a high school diploma, it is our privilege to bestow upon him this long-awaited document,” the principal said. “We thank you for all your work with our students, sharing your experiences and congratulate you on receiving your diploma.

Miller was given a standing ovation by the students, parents and Smithtown faculty at the June 21 ceremony as he walked across the stage and accepted his degree.

“He has always wanted this opportunity, and tonight they have made his dream come true,” his daughter said.

While the school district has given out honorary diplomas before, Miller was the first be allowed to walk in the ceremony.