Six Huntington High School students were among a group of spectacular teenagers honored at the town’s 25th annual Hispanic heritage celebration at Adam Spector Memorial Auditorium at Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School last Friday night.
Sponsored by the town’s Hispanic Task Force, the evening included several well-received performances as well as remarks by local elected officials and a keynote address by counselor, educator and community activist Veronica Melgar.
Huntington High School students Sulma Campos, Niurca Chabla Leon, Erlyn Flores Reyes, Caitlyn Palermo, Jorge Parada-Cisneros and Jose Suarez were all presented with coveted Student Achievement Awards.
Superintendent James W. Polansky, Principal Brenden Cusack and Huntington School Board President Jennifer Hebert and Trustee Xavier Palacios were on hand for the celebration.
Following the ceremony the crowd went across the hallway and enjoyed a full dinner in the gymnasium, sitting at numerous tables that were arranged in the large space. The Triple M Fiesta Band kept things lively with upbeat music.
“Congratulations to the six outstanding Huntington students who continue to thrive and set incredibly positive examples within the school district community,” Mr. Polansky said. “From work ethic to compassion, they have truly raised the bar in so many regards. They continue to make their marks and are poised to make a significant difference as they enter the world beyond high school.”
The Huntington High School award winning students were joined in the spotlight by a group of fellow outstanding teenagers from area high schools. A crowd of several hundred filled the auditorium.
Born and raised in El Salvador, Sulma Campos came to the United States three years ago and has impressed everyone with her work ethic. She has compiled a 93 academic grade average and challenged herself with Advanced Placement courses.
The award-winning senior has been a volunteer at Huntington Hospital. Ms. Campos learned the English language within a year of immigrating to America. She reads as much as possible to advance her mastery of English, to increase her knowledge and for her overall enjoyment.
A member of the Spanish Honor Society, Ms. Campos has been a mentor to students new to the United States.
Niurca Chabla Leon
Regarded as a polite and friendly teenager, Niurca Chabla Leon is proud of her Ecuadorian heritage. A member of the Art Honor Society, she especially enjoys drawing in her spare time. The hardworking young woman boasts a 94 academic grade average.
The recipient of several math awards, Ms. Leon has shined across every academic discipline. The junior takes delight in helping children learn how to read and write and has also helped parents and even teachers translate English and Spanish.
Ms. Leon has several career interests ranging from art teacher to immigration lawyer.
Erlyn Flores Reyes
Erlyn Flores Reyes immigrated to the United States from El Salvador. In the three short years that he has been in America, the senior has excelled, compiling a 91 academic grade average and winning many awards.
Mr. Reyes was selected to participate in the Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute in Albany last winter. “The Institute affords Hispanic youth greater insight into the dynamic nature of state government, provides a forum for students to share ideas and concerns impacting the Hispanic community and offers participants the opportunity to develop leadership skills,” according to a program profile.
Mr. Reyes met with Assemblyman Steve Stern and participated in a debate on a series of mock bills on the floor of the New York State Assembly.
The teenager enjoys reading, writing, listening to music, dancing and playing baseball and badminton in his free time. Mr. Reyes hopes to eventually obtain a master’s degree in civil engineering.
Caitlyn Palmero is one of the best young filmmakers in the state. She has excelled in Huntington High School’s video arts program and has participated in advanced filmmaking studies, winning awards for her work.
Mr. Palermo’s academic schedule has been filled with honors and Advanced Placement classes. She has compiled a 98 academic grade average. An active member of the National Honor Society as well as the Spanish Honor Society and Art Honor Society, she is on the Huntington Foundation’s youth board.
Proud of her Puerto Rican heritage, the senior regularly visits relatives on the island, which has helped develop her appreciation for its culture, food and music. One of Huntington’s best varsity tennis players, Ms. Palermo also enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai.
A New York State Scholar-Athlete Award recipient, Ms. Palermo intends to pursue a film studies major in college in preparation for a career in the film industry.
Born and raised in El Salvador, Jorge Parada-Cisneros has mastered English over the past five years and excelled in his studies at Huntington High School, compiling a 92 academic grade average. He has taken many challenging classes on the honors and Advanced Placement levels.
Mr. Parada-Cisneros is a contributor to the high school’s literary magazine, Et Cetera. A member of several academic honor societies, the senior also participates in the student government, drama club, marching band and Natural Helpers, assisting classmates as they work through personal and family issues.
A youth member of the Huntington Tri-CYA’s board of directors, Mr. Parada-Cisneros has been a homework helper with the organization. He completed the highly regarded Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program. Passionate about art and music, he plays flute and writes and listens to music. He intends to study medicine at Adelphi University and continue to explore his love of music.
Jose Suarez will graduate next June with Mastery in Math and Mastery in Science seals on his diploma. He can boast an overall academic grade average of 96. A member of the National Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society, he participates in the high school robotics club.
Proud of his Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian heritage, Mr. Suarez is a Blue Devil marching band member. He participates in the Face the Music and Nassau-Suffolk Performing Arts programs. He even found time to play high school tennis.
Mr. Suarez intends to study music education in college in preparation for an anticipated career as a school music teacher.