Jake and Mary Jagoda were part and parcel of the very fabric that comprises the Huntington community; growing up, carrying on rewarding friendships and attending school here. The siblings developed many close relationships with those of all ages over the years.
When both brother and sister lost their lives in the most unreal and tragic of circumstances it not only devastated their family, but 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 studying 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 Matthew Colavecchio, a member of Huntington High School’s Class of 2021. The teenager is headed to SUNY College at Geneseo in the fall. He plans to study political science in preparation for a career as a social studies teacher.
Huntington Chairman of Humanities Joseph Leavy presented the Jagoda scholarship to Mr. Colavecchio during Huntington’s departmental awards ceremony. The scholarship carries a $500 stipend. This marked the 18th year the Jagoda Scholarship Award has been presented to a Huntington High School senior.
An Advanced Placement Scholar, Mr. Colavecchio graduated as a member of four different academic honor societies. The teenager said that “determination” is what helped him achieve the best grades possible. Named a Distinguished Senior in recognition of his great performance in high school classrooms, he played a role in a long list of student government initiatives from Safe Halloween and Float Night to the Stuff the Bus initiative that collects food items to feed the hungry and homeless.
Mr. Colavecchio said that developing life skills over the past four years has helped teach him to take responsibility for his work and enabled him to help others in school and the community.
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 frequently dry sense of humor as well as a 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 water and fishing 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 Joseph on weekends. When he saw the need to work a more “regular” job, a friend helped him land a 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 high grades and was deeply involved in the extracurricular club and athletic 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 still 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
2021 Matthew Colavecchio
2020 Daniela Weihskopf Escobar
2019 Thomas Holly
2018 Gaia D’Anna
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