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Islip Board Of Education Honors Successful Students And Dedicated Retirees

The Islip School District recognized a remarkable array of dedicated students and staff members at its latest Night of Champions ceremony at the June 10 board of education meeting. Among them, the accomplishments of Islip High School’s terrific spring athletes, seniors moving on to vocational careers and dedicating themselves to military service, and retiring teachers and staff who who have put in decades of service to the students and the community of Islip.

Athletic Director John Sparacio and several of his coaches began the night with a presentation of sports recognitions for the spring 2024 season to high school student-athletes including boys spring track athletes Matthew Breslin (All-County) and Josiah Patterson (All-County); boys lacrosse players Jake DeGennaro (All-County Honorable Mention), Erik Heimlich (All-County) and Michael Vitale (All-County); girls spring track athletes Imani Hood (All-League), Sabrina Frazer (All-County) and Katalina Villalba (All-County); boys tennis players James Eifert (All-County), Anthony Pepe (All-County), Jacob Schifter (All-County) and Tyler Simonetti (All-County); and Unified basketball team members Chris Acevedo, Maximus Burns, Devon Carter, Claire Constantino, Chase Hansen, Giselle Martinez Lopez, Jossue Martinez Corea, Godwin Ojorketi, Mora Peterson, Alex Ruiz, Vincent Tyre, Andrew Wimmers, Sadie Wimmers and Donovan Zecchini.

“It really was just uplifting,” Sparacio said of the new Unified hoops team. “If you had an opportunity to see one of the games, it really put in perspective what sports are really about – the purity of competition. For me, in my 16 or 17 years as an athletic administrator, it’s probably the program I’m proudest to have ever brought into a school district, and I think coaches could attest to that as well.”

Next, seniors entering vocational careers were recognized, including Tyler Bell (heavy machine operation), Alyssa Cuellar (BOCES nursing), Luis Fuentes Velasquez (flight school), Eli Gonzalez (HVAC), Nicholas Sukhu (HVAC), Naomi Bobal (cosmetology) and Dominique DiJulio (cosmetology). DiJulio was also honored for her achievement as the winner of the Nassau/Suffolk Cosmetology Teachers Association annual competition.

“Not only are these young men and women providing great service to all of us, but they are setting themselves up for very rewarding, fulfilling and, in many cases, lucrative careers,” Dr. O’Hara said.

Six seniors were recognized for their decision to join military service, including Alexander Descalso (U.S. Marine Corps), Jacob Gordon-Lopez (U.S. Air Force), Alexander Gutierrez Santos (U.S. Army), David Hager (U.S. Marine Corps), Maxwell Haynes (U.S. Air Force) and Gavin Ullman (U.S. Marine Corps).

“As many of you know, I’m the father of four sons, three of them presently on active duty serving in our military, two in the Air Force and one in the Army National Guard,” Dr. O’Hara said. “So, it gives me great pleasure to recognize this group of students, because I have just a tiny insight into the sacrifices that they’re going to make, the challenges they are going to go through, and the places they will go all to protect us and preserve our way of life in the United States.”
“I think that the broad array of achievements that we recognized, and the various aspirations, dedication and sacrifices that we heard about tonight, are really a testament to the type of people that the Islip community produces,” Dr. O’Hara said. “Whether you’re a parent, teacher, board member or administrator here this evening, you should all be really proud of the type of students that are moving on from our high school.”

Finally, nine admired retirees were honored for their many years of dedicated service to the district’s students and community, introduced by Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Administrative Services and Operations Donna Brower. Those recognized were Wing Elementary School teacher Andrea Lopienski and school monitor Diane Grossman; Commack Road Elementary School teacher Susan Davis; Islip Middle School teachers Valerie Gallagher and Gina Pagliaro, and account clerk Susan Canale; Islip High School teachers Christopher Clehane and Susan Melaniff, and school monitor Christine Rottmund.

“Our staff are the reason why our students are succeeding,” Brower said. “They’re the support, the dedication and the commitment behind getting our students to where they need to be. So, it’s my great honor to present to you some of our incredible professionals who helped make Islip the very special place that it’s today. These individuals have dedicated many years of service to the Islip community and have contributed greatly to making a difference in the lives of so many. On behalf of the Islip School District, please accept our heartfelt gratitude. We wish you much happiness and success in your retirement and the next chapter of your lives. It is certainly well deserved.”
“Our school district has some pretty big shoes to fill, so we’ll be working pretty hard to pick up where this esteemed group left off,” Dr. O’Hara concluded. “To all the teachers tonight, congratulations. I wish you a very happy, healthy and long retirement.”

Islip Board Of Education Honors Successful Students And Dedicated Retirees

Islip Board Of Education Honors Successful Students And Dedicated Retirees

Photos courtesy of Islip School District

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