Islip, NY – During the April Town Board meeting, Town officials traditionally celebrate the many wonderful Islip students and their achievements at the annual Student Achievement Awards. Due to COVID, the last in-person Student Achievement Award ceremony hadn’t occurred since 2019. On Tuesday, April 18th, students from school districts throughout the Town came together with their families and friends to celebrate student accomplishments in person at Islip Town Hall.
“The Town of Islip is so fortunate to have some of the finest schools, filled with tremendously talented students,” said Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “Tonight, we celebrate 15 future leaders, recognize their many achievements, and pay tribute to their accomplishments across academic disciplines and community service initiatives with the return of the Town of Islip Student Achievement Awards,” said Supervisor Carpenter.
The return of the meeting was highlighted with a performance by the immensely talented young men and women of East Islip High School’s A Capella group, Fermata Nowhere, led by director Bethany Affelt.
The following students were recognized:
Raquel Acosta has dedicated herself to helping those in need. She is a member of the Interact Club, Recycling Club, and National Honor Society. She has aided in the collection of food and hygiene products for the Brentwood Sonderling High School Food Pantry. She also visits and distributes Christmas gifts to the elementary schools around the holidays and is an active volunteer of the First Christian Church of Brentwood Food Bank.
Brentwood Sonderling High School Senior Hailey Ramos is a member of three National Honor Societies and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Among the many community service projects she participates in, Hailey also helps Northwell Health distribute food donations to Brentwood families for Thanksgiving. Hailey also helps prepare the younger generation at the start of their academic journeys by mentoring elementary students.
10th grader Andres Rodriguez, from Brentwood Ross High, has for the last 4 years helped the community through the My Brother’s Keeper Program, and as a member of the Leaders of the Future and Student Advocates of Long Island, helps organize community parades and street clean-ups, among other projects. Through his involvement with the Suffolk County Youth Council Leaders of Tomorrow, he continues to advocate for ways to better the community… all at just 15 years of age.
Senior Estrella Rivera Rosales from Brentwood Ross High School consistently volunteers throughout the school and community. Estrella is the current President of the MUNDOS, a student activity club that spearheads volunteer activities. She has also helped the Recycling Club with collections, organized food and decor for school-hosted events, and even provided free donuts to the community during the Brentwood School District’s Tree Lighting Ceremony. Outside of her high school extracurriculars, Estrella has helped Good Samaritan University Hospital by organizing Christmas boxes and food for those most in need in our community.
Knoe’le Pettus, from Brentwood Freshmen Center, remains dedicated to helping her classmates. She has helped organize school dances and the STEAM Fair and helps to design many holiday-themed events. Knoe’le has participated in the Breast Cancer Walk-a-Thon, donated food and personal care items to the school’s donation drive, and written letters to active military members and veterans. In January, Knoe’le was featured in Newsday for her artwork honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and impact.
Chelsea Guevara, just 14 years old, is a dedicated volunteer of the Brentwood Public Library, where she helps staff and patrons disinfect toys after use, makes bookmarks for visitors, assists in creating the library’s mural, and serves as a bilingual translator. In addition to her dedicated service to the Brentwood Public Library, Chelsea has volunteered to help her school collect donations for food drives and breast Cancer Awareness. She has made toys for animals awaiting adoption in local shelters.
Senior Michael Beirne surprised school officials when he received an award from the United Nations Association for his volunteerism and contributions towards the UN’s sustainable development goals and his efforts in the Zero Hunger and Zero Wastes Campaigns. At Bay Shore High School, Michael is the Secretary of the Future Business Leaders of America Club and Student Council Vice-President and serves on the Executive Board of the Interact Club. He could not join us in person tonight, but we will make sure he gets this award.
Valerie Espinoza, a Senior at Bay Shore High School, is passionate about helping others in our community and has served as a Youth Squad member of the Exchange Ambulance of the Islips since the 9th grade. As she works toward her EMT certification, Valerie shadows EMTs and her pediatrician and volunteers with Good Samaritan University Hospital in the emergency department. In school, Valerie is a member of the Junior Leadership Council, Science Olympiads, Women’s Empowerment Club, Math Team, Drama Club, Environmental Club, and Interact Club.
Cheila Bonilla, a Central Islip High School Senior, has dedicated countless hours to creating school pride through her artwork. Cheila created eye-catching displays for graduates and senior athletes. She has used her talents and creativity to create Disney Cars-themed box vehicles for children to race for prizes during the Trunk-or-Treat Community event. In addition to lending her immense artistic talents, Cheila also serves as a member of the Action Committee at the High School.
Central Islip High School Senior Ashley Argote Manrique also uses her artistic abilities to add vibrancy and joy to the hallways and events at Central Islip High School. She specializes in re-creating Disney characters as paintings and’s featured her artwork in the school’s Halloween and Christmas bulletin boards. Outside of volunteering her art and time to the school, Ashely is an active member of the High School’s Action Committee.
Allison Ingrassia, from East Islip High School, is a dedicated volunteer to her school and community, helping to organize fundraisers and activities. She assists the Islip Food for Hope Foundation,creating Thanksgiving “Boxes of Love” distributed to needy families. She also volunteers with the AutisMile Autism Run and the Gavin’s Got Heart organization. On top of all her volunteerism, Allison also serves as a Girl Scout!
Jesse Najera, East Islip High School junior, has been involved in community service since sixth grade. Jesse continually promotes and donates to various school and community fundraisers, volunteers during spirit week, and has provided gifts for underprivileged students during the holidays. A natural leader, Jesse has held an impressive 11 leadership positions that have helped his mission to give back to the community.
Sayville High School Junior Michael Keehner is a dedicated member of the Anchor Club, Peer Leadership Program, SWEEP, History Club, and World Language Honor Society. As if that wasn’t enough, Michael created his club: the Need a Friend, Be a Friend Club, which serves to help socially struggling students create and build new and lasting friendships. His compassion and devotion to the students and community have truly had an impact.
Senior Angelina Bonanno has accrued over 115 community service hours through her involvement with the Girl Scouts and is a dedicated volunteer of the NYPD Columbia Association. She has joined West Islip High School’s in-house early childhood education program with her passion for giving back to her community and interest in teaching. Through the program, she volunteers with the in-house Little Lions preschool during the school day and travels to local elementary schools, where she volunteers every weekday afternoon.
West Islip High School Senior Brendan Conroy is a dedicated member of the Boy Scouts, where he is completing the process of becoming his troop’s next Eagle Scout. Michael’s community service project involved building and implementing a drying rack for children’s rain gear at the Yaphank Learning Farm. The project involved over 150 hours, of which he served as the project manager, planning, overseeing, and guiding his colleagues through the construction and completion process.