Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School celebrated the 59th annual commencement exercises as the graduating Class of 2018 was recognized on June 21 at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.
Greeted by school administrators, board of education members, family and friends, the 370 members of the Class of 2018 marched in to “Pomp and Circumstance” played by the concert band and directed by Eric Dobmeier.
Board of Education President Laura Gavey offered congratulatory remarks to the class. “We know that you have worked hard during your educational years and have taken advantage of the many opportunities presented to you to get to this very special night,” she said. “The board has had the pleasure of seeing you excel on the field, the stage and in the classroom during the last four years. The Class of 2018 has definitely made memories both inside and outside of Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School. Tonight is the beginning of the rest of your lives. Please grasp it firmly and head down a path leading to eternal success, which is measured by your happiness.”
Sen. John Brooks also spoke to the soon-to-be graduates and offered words of advice. “Take a minute and look around at your fellow graduates. Fifty years from now, you may not recognize one another but you will remember one another. You will remember what you shared in this school. Treasure the last four years; the friends you made, the things you did, what you learned.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Bannon imparted words of wisdom by sharing the song “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw with the students. “When I think about this class, I marvel how you have exceled in the classrooms, on the athletic fields, on the stage and everywhere in between,” she said. “You have certainly left an indelible mark on Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School. You are to be commended for all of the positive energy, effort and dedication you put into everything you did while you were in high school. I wish you all the best in whatever your future holds for you.”
Salutatorian Samantha Sanchez urged her classmates to embrace their fears and follow their dreams. “I know many of us are scared of what’s to come and are not certain of what our next stage of life will look like,” she said. “No matter what plans you make for the future, we can’t predict the paths we will go down. Each of us has a purpose in this world; each one of us is a puzzle piece of what we call humanity and the goal is to find where we fit as individuals. We will go through highs and lows and those points in our lives will mold us and shape us into who we will become.”
Valedictorian Alexandra Saczawa talked about setting goals and working hard. “Some of you might still not be sure of what you want to happen in the future and all of these things are ok because it’s the journey that you will remember and not the destination,” she said. “However, during the journey, it is important that you have some sort of purpose. Without a purpose in life, people become lifeless and feel as if their life has no meaning. My parting advice to my class is to always set goals for yourself. Even if they are constantly changing, always have something to work toward and always try to improve yourself to ensure that you are growing as a person. Also, stay confident in yourself and know that you are capable of being great because everyone sitting in front of me can do amazing things if they set their minds to it.”
Principal Joseph Agosta encouraged the graduates to make their mark on the world. “When you look back and reflect, you will recognize that there was so much support these past 13 years,” he said. “You were supported by loving families, caring and dedicated teachers and administrators, a board of education focused on providing you with the skills needed to help you reach your potential, stand on your own and take your place as productive world citizens. Looking forward, much is expected of you and I have great confidence in your abilities. As you move on in life, remember the values, pride and sense of community each member of the Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School staff has worked so hard to provide.”
Class of 2018 Senior Class President Shannon Corr presented the class gift — a donation to the incoming freshman class and funds to help beautify the senior courtyard — to Assistant Principal Jonathan Cutolo. Mr. Cutolo and Assistant Principal Jonathan Krawchuk then called the names of each member of the Class of 2018, where Dr. Bannon and Mr. Agosta presented them with their diplomas.
Mr. Agosta instructed the students to then turn their tassels and officially pronounced them Class of 2018 graduates. After tossing their caps high in the air, the students marched out to “Chorale and March.”
Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School honored its soon-to-be graduates of the Class of 2018 at the annual senior awards ceremony on June 7. Gathered in the school’s auditorium, the seniors were recognized for their hard work and dedication during the last 13 years.
Following the national anthem sung by Nicholas Favichia, Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School Principal Joseph Agosta welcomed the audience and praised the students for their passion and motivation. “You are here today because of your unwavering drive for success every day,” he said.
Surrounded by family and friends, as well as members of the board of education, central and high school administration and teaching staff, more than $70,000 in local, memorial and organizational scholarships were presented to deserving seniors. In addition, students were presented with the Principal’s Recognition Award and the New York State Department of Education Academic Excellence Awards.
To close out the evening, Mr. Agosta presented awards to the Top 10 students in the Class of 2018.
Name: Franklin Parra
Hometown: Copiague, NY
Elementary School Attended: In Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Write a Three-Word Scouting Report on Yourself: Great athleticism, competitor, student of the game
Favorite Current MLB Player: Luis Severino, New York Yankees
Favorite Sport to Play Other Than Baseball: Basketball
Favorite Sport to Watch Other Than Baseball: NBA basketball
Favorite All-Time Professional Athlete: Pedro Martinez
My Favorite Copiague Baseball Memory: My favorite baseball memory from Copiague is when I got my first win of my senior year. It was exciting pitching in front of big league scouts. It was great that my teammates were able to finish the game and preserve the win for me after I came out of the game.
My Role Model/Inspiration: Definitely my Dad. He is a hard working man who always made baseball possible for me. Even though he worked many hours, he would always make sure that I was able to play and to get where I needed to go.
What Will You Miss the Most About Copiague: My coach, Coach Bennett, and the relationship we had. My teammates and some of my teachers, especially Ms. Alyssa Marino, who helped me so much through school with my academics and offering caring guidance and support along the way.
In Five Years, I Will Be: Hopefully standing on the mound pitching at Citi Field for the New York Mets in front of thousands, but most importantly in front of my family and Coach Bennett.
Copiague School District administrators and Board of Education members recognized the faculty and staff members who will be retiring at the end of the 2017-2018 school year and also acknowledged teachers who were granted tenure during the June 4 board of education meeting.
Superintendent of School Dr. Kathleen Bannon, board of education members, district administrators and department chairs offered their congratulations to the 17 retirees, who have more than 400 years of combined service to the district. Retiring at the end of the school year are: Rosary Bertuzzi, foreign language teacher (32 years, HS); Vincent Calla, security aide (13 years, central office); Denise Cordella, elementary teacher (33 years, Susan E. Wiley Elementary); Karen Coyle, elementary teacher (32 years, Deauville Gardens East Elementary); Marie Deblasio-Silsdorf, social studies teacher (26 years, Middle School); Linda Drenckhauhn, elementary teacher (18 years, Susan E. Wiley Elementary); William Estees, security guard (20 years, HS); Patricia Field, senior clerk typist (19 years, HS); Lissette Feliz, foreign language teacher (14 years, Middle School); Lisa Flores, speech teacher (32 years, Deauville Garden East/Great Neck Road); Louise Gravina, elementary teacher (23 years, Great Neck Road Elementary); Linda Herbst, special education teacher (34 years, Middle School); Michael Kelly, elementary principal (14 years, Deauville Gardens West Elementary); Robert Pasqualone (12 years, HS); Maria Riviello, foreign language teacher (32 years, HS); Marie Salvia, senior clerk typist (23 years, Deauville Gardens West Elementary); and Karen Swenson, music teacher (34 years, Susan E. Wiley Elementary).
Thirteen Copiague School District administrators and teachers – Jeanette Altruda, Natalie Aviles, Kristina Biamonte, Karla Cangelosi, Ashley Cuffaro, Crystal Dicioccio, Heidi Fehring, Deysi Garcia, Alyssa Marino, Danya Plochochi, Vanessa Soto, Jennifer Spizuco and Katie Zecha – who were recently granted tenure, were also celebrated prior to the board of education meeting.
Eighth-grade students in Travis White’s Studio in Art class recently
displayed their talents in a collaborative street art project that
celebrates their skills and talents through the pop culture medium.
Bethel AME Church – Kingz Kidz
June 25-August 17
Breakfast: 8:30-9:45 a.m.
Lunch: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
20 Simmons St., Copiague
Christian Life Center Church
July 9-August 17
Lunch: 12-1 p.m.
450 Bayview Avenue
Copiague Memorial Public Library
July 9-August 24
Breakfast: Mondays and Thursdays Only
Lunch: Tuesdays and Fridays
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
50 Deauville Blvd., Copiague
North Amityville Pool
July 9-August 17
Lunch: 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.
Albany Avenue, North Amityville
To honor the accomplishments of its student-athletes both on and off the field, Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School held its 18th annual Spring Sports Awards in the school’s cafeteria on May 22. Sponsored by the Copiague Booster Club, the event brought together invited guests, coaches, administrators and board of education members to celebrate the accolades of its athletes in varsity softball, boys lacrosse, girls track, girls lacrosse, baseball and boys track.
Coaches called athletes up front to be recognized and celebrated both their individual and team achievements during the season. They also distributed individual awards, including the Coaches’ Award, Most Improved and the MVP award, to worthy receipients.
Six Golden Eagle Awards were presented to students from each team with the highest cumulative grade point average. This year’s receipients were: Nicole Hernandez (girls track); Christopher Canenguez (boys track); Victor Gamarra (boys lacrosse); Justin Taveras (baseball); Kriyal Patel (girls lacrosse); and Samantha Sanchez (softball).
Three special memorial awards were presented to student-athletes for boys lacrosse and baseball. The Jared J. Pennington Memorial Lacrosse Award was given to Keenon White, Jonathan Angel was the recipient of the Sean Ryan Noonan Memorial Lacrosse Award, and Matthew Collins received the Daniel O’Connell Memorial Baseball Award.
Seven student-athletes were named Gold Key winners. The Gold Key Award is the highest honor in the section that an athlete can receive for sports participation. It is awarded to student-athletes who letter in eight junior varsity or varsity seasons in grades 10-12. Copiague School District Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Bannon presented each winner with a special pin. Winners were: Akajia Atkins (soccer, winter track, spring track); Joseph Gomez (football, winter track, spring track); Ashley Jean-Raymond (cross-country, winter track, spring track); Antoine Moore (cross-country, basketball, winter track, spring track); Kyria Moore (volleyball, winter track, spring track); Wilmer Reyes (soccer, football, wrestling, spring track); and Telisa Washington (soccer, winter track, spring track).
The fourth annual Science Research Symposium at Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School on May 17 celebrated the outstanding accomplishments of the high school’s science students.
Joined by district administrators, board of education members, representatives from the Town of Babylon, members of the science department and invited guests, the students in the independent science research program, the advanced science research program and the introduction to science research program showed off their award-winning works.
“These powerhouses have worked tirelessly – after school, before school and on weekends – to present their best work,” said science teacher Tracy Wenzler. “The teachers and the mentors have lent their time – their most valuable resource – to these students and they have worked tirelessly to present their hard work. They are helping to bring our science program to new heights each year.”
Fourteen science research students presented a brief overview of eight different projects, many of which have garnered notable awards throughout the school year. Projects were on display for a poster presentation walk following the ceremony, giving attendees an opportunity to speak with the students firsthand about their research.
Zachary Wilson, a Copiague alumnus and one of the first students to participate in the science research, was the keynote speaker. He presented his senior thesis to the audience.
Each student in the program was presented a certificate by science Chairperson Renee Locker in recognition of his or her accomplishments this school year. “I am very humbled at the success and dedication of our students,” Locker said. “I am very happy with all of the new partnerships we have made and the fact that we are producing some of the top STEM students here in Copiague.”
Students at Great Neck Road Elementary School had a special visit from members of the Drama Club from Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School on May 18. During two performances, the high school students improvised different scenes for the younger students based on social issues they may encounter. The students played out scenes that involve bullying, being left out, anxiety about moving to a new school and how to deal with different/changing friendships over the years. The goal was to give the elementary students the tools to learn how to react in these different scenarios.
Click here to see what these electrical students are doing.
Fifth-grade student council members at Susan E. Wiley Elementary School shared their appreciation for the special mentors at their school during an Honor a Teacher celebration on May 21.
The fifth-graders chose a person who has inspired them during their time at Susan E. Wiley. Joining the teachers were administrators, assistants, aides and cafeteria workers. The students presented them with a plaque, and wrote about why they have been inspirational to them. They connected one on one with their mentors and asked them questions about what inspired them.
For the eighth consecutive year, Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School hosted the Urban & Walsh Memorial Invitational track meet on May 14. The event, organized by varsity track coaches George Schroeder and John Sack, honors the memory of two former track members, Christopher Urban and Brittany Walsh.
Eighteen boys track teams and 16 girls track teams from across Long Island competed in this year’s meet. The invitational featured 17 events including pole vaulting, the 2,000/3,000 steeplechase, high jump, shot put and discus jump throw. Copiague’s boys and girls track teams took first place in the competition for the first time.
In addition to the standard track and field events, fifth-graders from Copiague’s four elementary schools – Deauville Gardens East, Deauville Gardens West, Great Neck Road and Susan E. Wiley – participated in a special boys and girls 4x100 relay, with each participant receiving a medal.
Some of the highlights of the event for the Copiague girls track team members included: Akajia Atkins, first place and new meet record in the 200-meter dash, second place in the 100-meter dash, and third place in long jump; Ashley Jeanne-Raymond, third place in 1500-meter run, and second place in 800-meter run; Halle Moore, third place in 400-meter run; Samelia Roberts, second place in high jump; and Kyria Moore, first place in shot put.
The Copiague boys track team members also took home some of the top awards including James Holland, first place in long jump; Edgar Tineo, second place in long jump; Joe Gomez, third place in 400-meter hurdles; John Jerrick, third place in 100-meter dash; and Aryes Garrett, second place in 110-meter hurdles and third place in high jump.
The second-grade classes at Great Neck Road Elementary School went on a hands-on, exploratory field trip to the Riverhead Aquarium on May 15. The classes watched the sea lion show in the outdoor arena, observed ocean creatures in the different exhibits and searched for different marine life that matched the clues during a scavenger hunt. Brave students reached into the touch tank to feel sea creatures and feed the stingrays. They also had the opportunity to explore the butterfly, bird and insect room.
To celebrate the special women in their life, kindergartners at Great Neck Road Elementary School held Mother’s Day festivities in their respective classrooms on May 11.
Special guests were welcomed to Jeanne DeMott’s kindergarten class, where the students shared snacks and special gifts. Students presented the special women with handmade flowers, a photo album and songs about how much they mean to them.
In Natalia Brite’s kindergarten class, the students used their literacy skills to rewrite the book “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” to “If You Give a Mom a Muffin.” They presented their books, along with handmade vases, to their guests during a Muffins with Mom tea party.
Select fourth- and fifth-grade students from Deauville Gardens East Elementary School participated in the Suffolk Zone Fit Club competition on May 8 at Lincoln Avenue Elementary School in Sayville.
The students competed against 24 schools from across Suffolk County. The Suffolk Zone Fit Club is designed to teach skills, tools, training and confidence to live a healthier lifestyle while participating in difficult physical challenges. “The students feel part of a team by offering support, encouragement and inspiration to their teammates while helping them achieve their highest level of fitness,” said John Sack, physical education teacher.
The Suffolk Zone of the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance sponsored the annual Physical Education Student Leadership Awards Ceremony at Bay Shore High School on May 2. Students who qualify for the award are recognized for their achievements in physical education, leadership, character and academics.
Honored at the ceremony was Copiague Middle School eighth-graders Emma Nuzzi and Werly Cormier; Deauville Gardens East Elementary School fifth-graders Chloe Allen Jackson and Taki Mason; Deauville Gardens West Elementary School fifth-graders Jailene Solomon and William Daley; Susan E. Wiley Elementary School fifth-grade students Samantha Fuentes and Alex Juszczak; and Great Neck Road Elementary School fifth-grade students Keila Corona and Anthony Armando Diaz.
Kindergarten students in Caren Steiger’s class at Great Neck Road Elementary had the chance to show off all their favorite parts of their elementary school on May 1. Flat Stanley, who arrived recently from a school in Moravia, New York, was given a guided tour of the building by the kindergartners.
After connecting with the school in upstate New York, the Great Neck Road students sent their Flat Stanley to their partner school and received the other school’s Flat Stanley in return. Flat Stanley, who is the title character in a series of books, met and toured the principal’s office, cafeteria, and nurse’s office and even had the chance to have some fun on the playground. In the upcoming weeks, the class will have a video conference with the partner school and explore the similarities and differences between the schools and communities.
In an effort to help female students find their inspiration and voice, Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School held its second annual voice to voice empowerment session in the school’s library on April 25. The mission of the initiative is to motivate and empower one another through teamwork and conversation. It was developed to provide opportunities for young women to gain awareness of their individual and collection skills, experiences and professional goals.
Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School assistant principal Tamika Eason welcomed the attendees and introduced the school’s Women’s Madrigal Choir, who performed “Rise Up.” This year’s guest speaker, a fitting choice on Administrative Professionals Day, was Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School administrative assistant Jeanette Tobar-Garcia. Ms. Tobar-Garcia spoke to the students about her upbringing, her struggles in a new country and the importance of hard work, education and family.
“You will always make mistakes,” she said. “Knowledge is power and the most important thing you can do is educate yourself.” Following her speech, Ms. Tobar-Garcia answered questions from the audience as part of the voice to voice dialogue. Working together in teams, the students reflected on the lessons learned and shared their thoughts in a brief presentation with their peers.
Great Neck Road Elementary School is coming together for a schoolwide recycled art project. During the first weeks in April, students are painting a rock to resemble a fish during their respective art classes. Inspired by the book “Only One You” by Linda Kranz, Great Neck Road art teacher Meghan Haughney tasked each of the students with creating their own fish-look rocks. In the coming weeks, all of the fish will be placed in rock garden outside of the school.