Jake and Mary Jagoda were central figures in the Huntington community, growing up, carrying on active friendships and attending school here. The siblings developed many close relationships with folks of all ages over the years.
When the brother and sister both lost their lives in the most tragic of circumstances it was not only devastating for their family, but for their friends, classmates, teammates, teachers and coaches, too.
Following the twin tragedies, the Jagoda family created a scholarship that is awarded annually at Huntington High School in memory of Jake and Mary, who shared a special passion for living, learning and history.
Scholarship applicants must demonstrate academic excellence with an emphasis on history courses; indicate an intention to declare a college major in history or a related field; obtain the recommendation of a social studies teacher and submit a “History Is My Passion” essay.
This year’s recipient of the Jagoda scholarship is Amanda LoScalzo a member of Huntington High School’s Class of 2017. The teenager is headed to Gettysburg University in Pennsylvania in the fall.
“I can honestly say I have enjoyed every history class I have taken throughout my school years,” Ms. LoScalzo said. “Each has given me a better understanding of the historical impact, thus the why and how, relative to the topic being studied. I feel that what I learned in Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics helped to narrow my college choices.”
Gettysburg College’s Eisenhower Institute “prepares undergraduates to assume their responsibility as global citizens in public, private, and nonprofit sectors,” according to a program profile. “Students learn how to lead with integrity, build capital to garner influence, and translate knowledge into action.” It seems to be perfect for the new Huntington alum.
“Here I can enroll in programs that ‘strive to embody President Dwight David Eisenhower’s model of public policy formation and leadership, along with dynamic programs that engage scholars, policy-makers, students, and citizens,’” Ms. LoScalzo said. “These include programs such as Inside Politics, Strategy & Leadership in Transformational Times (SALTT) and Women in Leadership. Enrolling in these will allow me to further broaden my knowledge of historical significance of varied topics, and better my leadership skills.”
What “further intrigued” Ms. LoScalzo about the Eisenhower Institute is that it’s chairman is the former president’s granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower, who teaches the SALTT seminar, which culminates in her taking her students to Normandy.
“Hopefully, I will have the chance to go to Normandy with Susan Eisenhower to, as she says, ‘see leadership in its most dramatic form; that is [see] there is a set of objectives that have to be met and there is no margin for error,’” Ms. LoScalzo said. “This once in a lifetime opportunity would be a way to experience history firsthand.”
Huntington social studies teacher Camille Tedeschi presented the Jagoda scholarship to Ms. LoScalzo during the high school’s senior academic awards night in June. The award carried with it a $1,000 stipend. Joseph Leavy, the school district’s chairman of humanities for grades 7-12 was also on hand for the scholarship presentation.
“Amanda takes her talent very seriously and works hard to be a success,” Ms. Tedeschi said. “She is always open to suggestions and constructive criticism on how to improve. Amanda LoScalzo is an innovative young woman. She takes pride in her learning and values the knowledge that she acquires. The time and effort she allots to her studies is impressive. She has a lot of talent and creativity. Her work is always of a high caliber and the capacity she has to maintain her studies is tremendous. She has a passion for history that I have not seen in any other student I have ever taught. She loves to learn and is always up for a challenge.”
Ms. LoScalzo served as president of Huntington High School’s Interact Club chapter. She helped spearhead several community service based initiatives, both near and far. “Amanda exceled in her position,” said Ms. Tedeschi, who was the group’s faculty advisor. “She is diligent and hard working with the club and motivates the other members to stay involved.”
There will be plenty of opportunities at Gettysburg College for Ms. LoScalzo to further expand her knowledge and understanding of history. “History not only teaches one how to apply lessons of the past to help solve problems of the present, but it also teaches one how to research and interpret as well as communicate and it requires analytical, problem solving and critical thinking skills,” she said. “I am confident that furthering my passion for history will help me to become a more informed global citizen.”
This marks the 14th year the Jagoda Scholarship Award has been presented to a Huntington High School senior. “I am honored to receive such an award in the names of Jake and Mary Jagoda,” Ms. LoScalzo said. “Both had a passion for learning about the past and I hope that I can do the same. Attending such a historical college, due to it being situated near the [Civil War] battlefields, is just perfect to continue my passion for learning about the past.”
Killed at WTC on 9/11
A huge fan of the History Channel, Jake Denis Jagoda attended elementary school in the Huntington School District and starred on the tennis team at J. Taylor Finley Junior High School before graduating from Chaminade High School in 1995.
Mr. Jagoda was killed in the terrorist attack on One World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 when hijackers flew an airplane into the north tower. He was 24 years old.
The ebullient Mr. Jagoda, who always seemed to have a twinkle in his eye, was in his second month of working as a trader on the 105th floor for TradeSpark, a subsidiary of Cantor Fitzgerald, one of the world’s premier financial services firms.
Known for his sometimes dry sense of humor and sensitive side, Mr. Jagoda loved the sea. He started fishing when he was four years old and was given his first boat when he was 12. He mastered all aspects of the sport and began working on the James Joseph, a charter boat that sailed out of Huntington, when he was 13. When fishing season ended, he worked on a lobster boat. He could fly-fish, ice fish, deep-sea fish and trap lobsters. Classmates nicknamed him “Captain Jake.”
Following a stint studying at Jacksonville College, the articulate Mr. Jagoda earned his undergraduate degree in historical studies at SUNY Empire State College. After obtaining his college degree he worked as a tackle salesman during the week and on the James Jospeh on the weekends. When he saw the need to work a more “regular” job, a friend helped him land the position with Cantor Fitzgerald.
Fateful Kayaking Excursion
The Jagoda family was devastated again just two years later when Mary Jagoda presumably drowned while kayaking in the fog with a friend off Cape Cod in October 2003. She was 20 years old and in her junior year at Brandeis University, where she was studying American history and journalism. She had plans to study abroad in Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland.
A member of Huntington’s Class of 2001, the shy, dark-eyed Ms. Jagoda was initially on the Brandeis swimming and diving team before later deciding to play on the university’s field hockey squad.
During her years at Huntington High School, Ms. Jagoda earned strong grades and was very involved in the extracurricular club and athletics programs. She was a member of the National Honor Society and the National French Honor Society.
Jake and Mary Jagoda were very close. When Jake was killed on September 11, 2001 it hit Mary hard, but while she struggled to go on, she was able to earn fine grades at Brandeis. She intended to dedicate her senior thesis to her brother. Following her freshman and sophomore years of college she enjoyed working during the summer months for an advertising agency in Manhattan
“Jake was my hero,” Mary Jagoda said in an online tribute. “He gave me my strength and my sense of humor. No one could tell a story like Jake. He had his timing perfected. He would hold out smiling until the perfect moment. There was always a punch line, but you never knew when it was coming, so I learned to listen carefully and constantly anticipate the joke. Often I would laugh too early, Jake would wait for the perfect moment and then slowly a sly grin would creep across his face. Usually I was on the floor laughing by then. I never could have imagined that such a gentle soul would die so early. Jake I miss you very much. I can only promise you that I won’t let your spirit or your laugh die with you. I’m working on the sly smile.”
Incredibly, a third Jagoda sibling also passed away tragically. Louis Jagoda lived only 19 days in 1982. Parents Louis and Anna May Jagoda brought their second child home from the hospital in what they thought was good health, but a previously unknown kidney blockage claimed his life.
Jagoda Scholarship recipients through the years
- 2017 Amanda LoScalzo
- 2016 Nancy Fallon
- 2015 Carlos Viera-Pereira and Marina Siegel
- 2014 Hannah Lomele
- 2013 James Ferraiolo
- 2012 Justin LoScalzo and Erin Marcinik
- 2011 Cody Jacobs
- 2010 Erin McGoldrick
- 2009 Jeffrey Bishop
- 2008 Laura Dabrowski
- 2007 Ryan Jacobs
- 2006 John Lee and Jason Wirchin
- 2005 Tanya Holland
- 2004 Blake Wind and Johanna Pape