Schools: Huntington’s 2 Top Students; New Scholarship


Laurel Bonn has been named valedictorian of Huntington High School’s Class of 2023 while Haileigh Smith is this year’s salutatorian.

They will each give addresses at Huntington’s 162nd commencement exercises on June 23 at 6 p.m. in Blue Devil Stadium.

“Laurel and Haileigh are extraordinary young people whose academic and extracurricular accomplishments are exceeded only by their character and leadership within our school district community,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “Their work ethic and commitment to every endeavor continue to set an outstanding example and will surely serve them well as they take the next steps in their educational, professional and personal lives. Congratulations to them and to their families.”

Huntington High School’s valedictorians and salutatorians since 2000 include:

2023Laurel BonnHaileigh Smith
2022Erin YeLuke Rinaldi
2021Alexander Bellissimo & Grace WildermuthNone
2020Andrew KnowlesJulien Rentsch
2019Hadley ClaytonRyan Hoffmann
2018Aidan ForbesSebastian Stamatatos
2017Steve YehMiranda Nykolyn
2016Rachel CarpenterOlivia Stamatatos
2015Caitlin KnowlesJoseph Saginaw
2014Brian GilbertMarc Feldman
2013Todd ColvinMolly Prep
2012Juliana CoraorJustin LoScalzo
2011Carolyn FanteMichelle Byrne
2010Rebecca SilvermanAlanna Tieman
2009Christopher LauDylan Payne
2008Madeleine JensenShannon Connors
2007Matthew RienzoHannah Payne
2006Katy Ann LyonsAriel Olson
2005Albert LiKyle Whitehead
2004Chelsea KocisSarah McGullam
2003Jacqueline BoganAllison Barone
2002Daniel EllmanBrian Prior
2001Tal ZamirClaudia Schmitz
2000Daniel BikoffNesa Wasarhaley

Brianna Lieneck Scholarship

The Odierno Law Firm has announced the Brianna Lieneck Memorial Scholarship,  a $15,000 annual award to a female student-athlete currently in her senior year of high school in either Suffolk or Nassau County who is planning to attend college.

In 2005, 11-year-old Brianna Lieneck, from Deer Park was killed in a boating accident. That accident was the inspiration and impetus for Brianna’s Law, a comprehensive boater education law that now requires all power boaters in New York State to complete an eight-hour boating safety course.

Interested, qualified candidates may apply for the memorial scholarship by submitting a 500-word essay
to [email protected] The essay must portray how the candidate exhibits Brianna’s qualities and
describe a hardship or disadvantage the candidate has faced.

Brianna enjoyed several sports. She particularly enjoyed softball. Brianna was known to embody the core values of hard work, teamwork, and dedication and was a diligent student who worked hard on and off the field, the Melville  law firm said.

The application process is open until June 15.

Elwood Selection for Boys/Girls State

Elwood-John H. Glenn High School students Christopher Sanelli and Addison Perinchief were recently selected for this summer’s Boys/Girls State program run by the American Legion. Sanelli will attend Boys State College from June 25 to July 2 at the SUNY Morrisville campus, while Perinchief will attend Girls State College from July 2-8 at the SUNY Brockport campus.

American Legion Auxiliary Boys/Girls State is a nonpartisan hands-on program that teaches young Americans about responsible citizenship, the governmental process and the Constitution. During the weeklong program, students build the government of a mythical 51st state, from the local level up to the state level, participating in campaigns, rallies, speeches, legislative committees, bill creation and a community service project.

Indigenous Language Certification

The State Education Department has proposed the creation of the Indigenous Culture and Language Studies  certificate for teachers, Commissioner Betty A. Rosa announced.

If established, the new certification area would increase the capacity and number of teachers who can teach indigenous cultures and languages while increasing the awareness, knowledge, and appreciation for indigenous peoples. The Department will accept public comment on the proposal through May 1 and is conducting ongoing consultation with Indigenous Nations regarding these proposed regulations. This past month, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Newsletter said, “[i]t is a shared goal with the NYSED to create tenured teaching positions for Indigenous language instructors in public schools across the State.”

Currently, individuals who would like to teach an indigenous language in New York State public schools can obtain a permit. Although a permit authorizes an individual to teach in public schools, it is not equivalent to a teaching certificate.

Teachers who hold a certificate demonstrate their content, pedagogical knowledge, and skills through the certification process and may be eligible for tenure in a school district.

Public comments may be submitted via email to [email protected].

Northport Grad Honored as Scholar-Athlete
Northport High School grad Chloe Stepank  was named the SEC Women’s Swimming & Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year, She is a junior at Texas A&M.
Stepanek has a 4.0 grade point average in biomedical sciences, while ranking among the best in the nation in the 100 and 200 free. She is a CSCAA Scholar All-American and a six-time CSCAA All-American. She has also been named to the Athletics Director Honor Roll, Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll and First-Year SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Stepanek holds the NHS record in the 200 free (1:42.40), as well as the fourth-fastest time in program history in the 100 free (47.78) and the fifth-fastest time in the 50 free (22.09).
She has recorded a qualifying time for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials and previously competed at the 2021 Trials.


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