Here's a look at Sachem Patch's 11 People of the Year for 2011:
*Note: The list of 11 individuals is in alphabetical order. Sachem Patch accepted nominations for this list for the last month.
: Through diligence and a passion to make a difference in society, Matthew J. Barbis has worked tirelessly this past year to bring national attention to The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation. He has achieved considerable recognition, while opening up education for children and their parents about stranger safety. Barbis, a Sachem alum and Holbrook resident, is the last to take credit for his foundation's success, but he is the driving force behind the nation's leader in stranger safety awareness. Look for more news and groundbreaking accomplishments from the foundation in 2012.
: Jessica Campo was presented with the American Red Cross Life Saving Award for Professional Responders for selfless and humane action in saving a life. That life was Al Scott's, the head swim coach at Sachem North. In November Campo helped perform CPR and used an AED to bring him back when Scott collapsed at the Sachem North pool. “When those things come up, our Sachem students know how to react,” said Sachem North Principal John Dolan.
: This year's recipient of the 52nd Annual Carl Hansen Award, presented to the top football player in Suffolk County, was Dalton Crossan, who put together one of the most outstanding seasons of any football player in Sachem and Long Island history. Crossan rushed for 2,186 yards and 35 touchdowns, both single-season records at Sachem. He twice ran for five touchdowns in a game and helped Sachem to a 19-3 record in two seasons as a varsity football player with the Flaming Arrows. Crossan was All-Division, All-County, All-Long Island, All-Metro and All-Patch this season. Earlier in the year he scored 59 goals for the Sachem lacrosse team as well.
A Sachem alum and former Flaming Arrows athlete, Jerry Figgiani is the co-owner and a lead instructor of East Coast Black Belt Academy in Middle Island, N.Y. For years Figgiani has instilled the values and lessons of martial arts in his students. Through the PAL Reach program, Figgiani has helped turn around the lives of many young adults who otherwise may have been headed down dark paths. With others like Robert Aliano, he has helped use his gift of martial arts to instill hope and perseverance. Figgiani is as passionate and heartfelt as they come about his craft and providing life lessons on a daily basis.
: From his fiscal steadiness to his progressive vision for growth and positive change, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko has been a strong leader and visionary in the Sachem community. The primary object of achievement in this area has been the Ronkonkoma Hub project, which Lesko has been a big proponent of for the last couple of years. The project would bring a facelift to the area near the Long Island Rail Road station in Ronkonkoma. Overall, since taking office as supervisor in 2009, Lesko has frozen taxes for three straight years, cut spending by more than 25 percent, and was in favor of a property tax cap and spending cap, all in decreased economic times.
: Alexa Maria Panebianco had just gotten certified in CPR two weeks earlier, but when it came time to use the material she learned at Seneca Middle School, she knew exactly what to do. While visiting a family member’s house in Bayport, a three-month-old baby named Jayden stopped breathing in his crib. Jayden had turned pale white and his lips were blue. Panebianco’s aunt and father began CPR and called 911. “They tried, but it wasn’t working,” she said. “I went and tried, was doing it for a little bit and the baby started breathing.” She said she was slightly nervous, but pleased with aiding in helping Jayden.
: Erin McNulty has had quite an impact on Sachem North girls athletics this year. In February she led the girl's basketball team to a playoff win for the first time since before the school district's split in 2004. In the spring she led the girls lacrosse squad to a playoff birth including a 26-save performance against Commack. She was named All-Division. This fall she led the girls soccer team to the Suffolk Class AA semifinals and was All-County. She was also named the fourth best lacrosse goalie in the nation for the Class of 2012 and the 37th best lacrosse player overall in the nation by ESPN. Her cooaches and teammates would agree that she's equally as impressive off the field and court as she is on it.
: Sachem alum Kevin Mincio took part in a cross-country bicycle ride, which started in California at friend and fallen hero Jesse Williams’ grave in June and ended at Ground Zero on Sunday, Sept. 11. Mincio, who graduated in 1989 from Sachem, spoke with students at Sachem North about his journey this fall and is a shining example of how people should honor soldiers, this country and be loyal to friends and family.
: Tina Moon, the head field hockey coach at Sachem High School East, led her program to the school's first state title this year. Playing with skill and class, the Arrows dominated the county, island and state en route to one of the most magical sports campaigns in Sachem history. Moon has one of the most respected reputations of all field hockey coaches on Long Island and has built one of the best programs on the island with plenty of winning still in store.
: James Nolan, the Superintendent of the Sachem Central School District, has led the school system with a vision and poise unlike many other individuals in his same capacity across the region. Understanding what the Sachem community is about - its past and future - Nolan has kept in mind his students, teachers, administrators and the taxpayers throughout one of the toughest years, financially, in district history. He's a strong leader and provides a much-needed calm and endearing prescence atop one of the biggest school district's in the tri-state area.
: Georgetown-bound Rachel Paul placed 26th at the Nike Cross Country Nationals in Portland, Ore. this fall. Among her many accomplishments across all seasons in 2011, she also placed seventh at the Eastern State Championships this fall and has been a perennial All-County, All-State and All-Patch runner. The entire 2011 year she emerged as one of the top running threats in the nation and will continue to make her mark throughout the rest of this school year and beyond. Paul is also a major reason why the Sachem East cross country team competed at the state federation meet this fall. Her cooaches and teammates would agree that she's equally as impressive off the track as she is on it.