The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

Charles Vessalico and Danielle Longo Recognized at Founder’s Day ‘24

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Vessalico snaps a photo with his former science research students. Photo courtesy of @sarosy_lhs Instagram page.

Members of the Lynbrook community gathered in the LHS auditorium for the annual Founder’s Day award ceremony on the evening of Monday, Feb. 12. Organized by the Council of PTAs, the event honors and congratulates outstanding individuals for their contributions to the school district. Two individuals, a parent and teacher, are chosen by each school to accept this prestigious honor. This year’s Honorary Life Membership honorees on behalf of LHS were science teacher Charles Vessalico and parent Dr. Danielle Longo. 

  Vessalico has been an educator for 18 years; he spent his first nine years at Malverne High School, and the following nine at LHS. After graduating from Stony Brook University with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, he studied cancer research at the Sloan Kettering Institute prior to switching his focus to science education. He currently teaches AP Biology and has taught the Science Research program. Vessalico recalled being “surprised and extremely honored” to be recognized for this honor. When asked to recount what inspired him to follow the career path of a science teacher, he recalled two pivotal events. “The first was a genetics lab in college where I isolated and visualized my own DNA for the first time. That inspired me to pursue science. Next was becoming a teaching assistant in my senior year at Stony Brook.  That’s when I found my love of teaching and working with students.” He also serves an active role in Science Olympiad, Science Bow, and Robotics. 

 Vessalico’s award was presented by none other than his former science research students with whom he has developed very close relationships. Juniors Evie Dellacona, Erick Diaz, Eric Reilly, Kelsey Roth, and Simon Yu took to the front of the auditorium to deliver a heartfelt speech, along with freshmen Aiden Michaels and Jack Murray who worked with Vessalico this school year for their winning LIFTOFF project. The students expressed how Vessalico has continuously motivated and supported their academic journeys. Roth conveyed, “Mr. Vessalico is extremely supportive, and he cares about his students significantly and is always by our side and continues to be there for us in the face of any hardships. Even though he is not currently teaching our science research class, Mr. Vessalico ensures that he is at every science fair cheering us on and being our biggest supporter. Not only is he an excellent teacher, but also an amazing person and an awesome mentor.” 

(L-R) Franklin and Longo pose for a photo. The two have a 12-year long standing friendship. Photo courtesy of @lynbrookhspta Instagram page.

Longo’s award was presented by longtime friend and Lynbrook parent Dana Franklin. Franklin spoke on their close families and the major contributions she has made to the community. Residing in the district for over 20 years, Longo has raised two children here: Anthony (Class of 2018) and Gianna (Class of 2025). She is currently the treasurer of the Friends of Lynbrook Music and coordinator of the Music Awards Dinner as well as a member of the PTA Council. Longo shared, “I feel it is important to volunteer and give back to the community in any way possible. I have chosen to dedicate the majority of my time to supporting activities centered around the performing arts, as this is a passion of both of my children.” She went on to express what “an incredible honor” it was to receive this award and be among the many other well-deserving recipients. 

Aside from her duties as a PTA parent, Longo is currently the Executive Medical Science Liaison for the Cardiometabolic division at AstraZeneca, where she plays a critical role in educating healthcare providers on medicine. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the College of Pharmacy at St. John’s University and went on to pursue a pharmacy degree at the University of Florida. Her active involvement in the district has greatly impacted Lynbrook Schools. 

Apart from LHS’s recipients, other honorees of the night included Andrea Michielini (Lynbrook Council PTA), Maria Raynor and Anne Marie Brandsetter (South Middle School), Deidre Haunss and Zachary Rifkind (North Middle School), Sharmin Hakim and William Toscano (Marion Street), Erica Ruvolo and Susan Deery (West End), Dawn Sahakian and Melinda Raynor (Waverly Park), Elizabeth Famiglietti and Alyssa Aksionoff (Lynbrook SEPTA), and Patricia Schroder for the first-ever Kindergarten Center Foundations Award.

The ceremony went by smoothly with many laughs and hugs exchanged, making it a memorable evening for the celebrated individuals. After closing remarks, the event was concluded with light refreshments served in the cafeteria for all attendees. Each honoree had a table set up dedicated to their recognition. The Lynbrook community is beyond proud and  grateful for the endless dedication and affection parents and teachers bestow on the students and schools. 

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About the Contributor
Miranda Mangru, Online Editor-in-Chief
Hi! My name is Miranda N. Mangru. I am a member of the Class of 2025 and am delighted to write for our school's newspaper, Horizon. Other extracurriculars I partake in include Student Diversity Council, ASL Club, Speech & Debate, and National History Day '24. Outside of school I take pleasure in listening to music, watching films, and spending quality time with my family. I hope you are enjoying all of Horizon’s great content!