Supt. Jim Polansky and Principal Brenden Cusack
flank the Student Achievement Award winners.

Hispanic Heritage Celebration Honors HHS Quintet

Supt. Jim Polansky and Principal Brenden Cusack
flank the Student Achievement Award winners.

September 18, 2017

Five Huntington High School students were among an exclusive group of exceptional teenagers honored at the town’s 23rd annual Hispanic heritage celebration at Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School last Friday night.

Huntington High School juniors Yadelis Acevedo and Emely Lopez and seniors Jose Alfaro, Michelle Castillo-Lopez and Brenda Viera-Pereira were each presented with the coveted Student Achievement Award. The Huntington chamber choir sang the national anthem.

Suffolk Legislator Monica Martinez was the celebration’s keynote speaker. Veronica Melgar and Guillermo Perez were presented with a Community Service Award. Members of the Huntington Town Board were also in attendance as were Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky and Principal Brenden Cusack and Huntington School Board members Xavier Palacios and Emily Rogan.

The Huntington High School chamber choir sang at the Hispanic heritage celebration.
The Huntington High School chamber choir sang at the Hispanic heritage celebration.

Sponsored by the town’s Hispanic Task Force, the evening included several performances as well as remarks by local and state elected officials. “It was a particularly enjoyable night in so many regards; a chance to celebrate many who contribute significantly to our town and a great opportunity to honor several terrific students who contribute so much to our school district,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said.

Following the ceremony in the auditorium, the crowd went across the hallway and enjoyed a full dinner in the gymnasium, sitting at dozens of tables that were arranged in the large space. The Triple M Fiesta Band kept things lively with upbeat music.

“Friday evening’s event was a wonderful celebration of our students’ achievement as well as our community spirit, diversity and unity,” Mr. Cusack said. “I am so proud of each of our students recognized this evening and I am always so grateful to be a part of this amazing community.”

Huntington High School’s award winning quintet was joined in the spotlight by a small group of outstanding students from area high schools. A crowd of several hundred attended the event.

Yadelis Acevedo

Yadelis Acevedo is one of the top students in Huntington’s Class of 2019. She’s compiled an academic grade average of 96 while completing a string of Advanced Placement and honors classes. A member of the Spanish Honor Society, the teenager has captured several academic awards in multiple disciplines.

A Huntington Hospital volunteer, Ms. Acevedo is a student teacher at Laura’s Dance and Fitness Studio. She has also worked at a summer camp.

Ms. Acevedo is of Puerto Rican descent. She enjoys playing soccer, exercising, reading and conducting research. The remarkable young woman plans to study law in college.

Joel Alfaro

Known throughout the high school as kind, focused, respectful and hardworking, Joel Alfaro has enjoyed a well-balanced education. He has a 96 academic grade average and has taken many Advanced Placement and honor courses.

A member of the National Honor Society and three other academic honor societies, Mr. Alfaro has held executive board positions with the Key Club, choir and student government. One of Huntington’s top vocalists, the teenager has embraced the high school extracurricular activities program.

Mr. Alfaro’s parents are from El Salvador. The senior plans to study education in college and become a history and economics teacher. He’d also like to teach English as a new language to students.

Michelle Castillo-Lopez

Since transferring to Huntington High School for her junior year, Ms. Castillo-Lopez has distinguished herself on a daily basis. She’s earned stellar grades, volunteered at the Old First Presbyterian Church fall fair and with its Thanksgiving basket program and also given her time to the soup kitchen at the Moose Lodge.

Ms. Castillo-Lopez is a member of several academic honor societies and has also participated in the Key Club, Habitat for Humanity, Gay-Straight Alliance, Interact and other school organizations. She enjoys reading and sketching in her free time and loves learning more about science related topics and current events.

The senior’s 96 academic grade average has been compiled while taking Advanced Placement and honors courses. Proud of her Mexican and Salvadorian heritage, she plans to pursue a pre-med track in college while majoring in biology.

Emely Lopez

Emely Lopez likes to challenge herself. So the teenager has been registering for Advanced Placement and honors courses for many years. Her academic record speaks for itself. The junior has compiled an overall academic grade average of 95 and has excelled across all disciplines.

Known throughout the school community as a “sweet young lady,” Ms. Lopez has volunteered at the Huntington Public Library to help younger students with their homework. One of the Blue Devil marching band’s most essential members, she even reached the semifinals of Stony Brook University’s Japan Center essay contest for high school students.

Ms. Lopez is proud of her Guatemalan heritage. She’s earned induction into several academic honor societies and is sketching out plans for college and a career. She’d like to study sociology and then go into human services or social work.

Brenda Viera-Pereira

Senior Brenda Viera-Pereira is a Huntington success story. After excelling in the district’s dual language program, she has gone on to earn a very distinguished record while taking Advanced Placement and honors courses.

Ms. Viera-Pereira plans to study history in college. Her parents came to the United States from El Salvador and she’s proud of her heritage. She’s volunteered her time with the Spanish Honor Society and worked with English language learners, mentoring them and helping them improve their skills. Her participation in the United Amigos club has been especially rewarding as she engaged in social activities with the ELL students.

The proud owner of a 94 academic grade average, Ms. Viera-Periera has enjoyed a sensational run through Huntington High School, but she has never forgotten how hard it is to learn a new language. So she does whatever she can to assist others who are having a similar experience.