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Bellmore-Merrick Graduates Class of 2020

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The graduating class of 2020 was celebrated at 18 ceremonies on the Mepham, Calhoun and Kennedy High School football fields, spread out across three days in order to maintain mandated social distancing protocols.

While attendance at each of the ceremonies was limited, the pomp and circumstance was thriving; including school color embellishments, commemorative speeches, diploma handouts, and in some cases, face masks denoting future collegiate plans.

Valedictorians Alyssa Dioguardi from Mepham, Marc Edayadi from Calhoun and Katherine St George from Kennedy, and salutatorians Spencer Mattes from Mepham, Adam Gokcan from Calhoun and Madeline Jutsen from Kennedy all addressed the crowds.

Edayadi spoke about his generation being exposed to transformative change.

“It has been sewn into the very fabric of our existence,” he added. “No matter what the future holds for us, I am optimistic because we have looked life straight in the eyes and have emerged stronger, freer and wiser.”

Mattes stated that “we must not let this moment in history define our futures.”

“It will, however, always be a part of who we are and where we come from, and it will serve to motivate and remind us to look towards the future while simultaneously embracing the past.”

St George spoke about life maps and utilizing life tools that Kennedy provided to propel into future plans.

“What else have we gained, if not rigorous and critical empathy,” she said. “We know we have the resilience and knowledge of the human experience to face whatever lies down the line. We’re not just going to be okay; we are going to thrive.”

Principals Eric Gomez of Mepham, Nicole Hollings of Calhoun and Gerard Owenburg of Kennedy, school officers and various board members also addressed the class and their families.

“During this next phase, please take time to self-reflect and see how you can make this world a better place,” encouraged Gomez. “Remember that if something doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”

Owenburg reminded graduates of how much they already achieved and acknowledged how students mobilized to help others with food and supply drives, etc.

“This senior class responded to the crisis the way they always do, they put others first,” he said.

“Your lives are different than anyone who has come before,” she said. “You have had a series of life lessons in these past few months, that could be the biggest, most important events in your life and help send you to the next level and become world-changers.”

Superintendent John DeTommaso addressed the district’s collective class of 2020 in a pre-recorded speech about ‘grit and resilience’ helping students’ to address ‘future adversity’ they may face.

“They were heartbroken and they rose,” he said. “Things were taken away from them and they adjusted. I am certain that from the class of 2020, we will see future leaders. I cannot wait to see you flourish.”

MAP Celebrates Seniors at Graduation

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The Meadowbrook Alternative Program pulled off a socially distanced graduation ceremony on June 25 in the parking lot of the Brookside building.

Seventeen graduates are moving up from the program.

“COVID has certainly changed things, but I would like to think it has also made us stronger,” said Principal Susan Ellinghaus. “We have been reminded of what is important. “Learn from mistakes and failures,” added Ellinghaus. “And don’t be afraid to fail again.”

In lieu of the usual farewell bar-be-cue, Ellinghaus and health teacher Karin McMachon rode bicycles to each senior’s house on June 1-2 to deliver graduation invitations and a grad bag. Special Education teacher John Boyle was also on hand to photograph each student in front of a MAP banner.

Construction Updates


 Please Click Here for the Mepham Construction Update

Special Video Message to the Class of 2020 from Superintendent, Mr. John DeTommaso

To the Class of 2020, please see the special video message from Superintendent, Mr. John DeTommaso

Click here to watch the video message

Middle School Grad Wins Contest for Bus Driver

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Preston Bowman, a recent eighth grade graduate from Grand Avenue Middle School, submitted to a video contest during the COVID-19 quarantine to help out someone in need and won.

The company, V!, had raised $250,000 and was seeking teens to create a video explaining who they would choose to gift $1,000 in tax free money to. Bowman first learned about the contest via Instagram and quickly began filming.
Bowman chose his school bus driver, Augustine Val, and V! provided the monetary award.

“I knew he was out of work due to COVID closures and might be facing financial hardships, like many other adults who were in the same situation,” he explained. “He is such an amazing person and doesn’t deserve to struggle.”

On June 22, he surprised the driver with a check and speech. Val thought he is returning to the school for a brief end of school year farewell.

Val, who has been a bus driver for 15 years, said this is the first time anything like this has ever happened to him.

“My good buddy Preston, you do this for me?” Val asked in disbelief as the check was presented. “I have no words to express how much I appreciate this.”
Val added that he hopes to return to work soon because the children ‘keep him going.’

“For a kid to take this all upon himself is amazing and such a good example of the kind of students we have here,” added Principal Carlo Conte.

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