Top 10: School Stories of 2012

A look back at the year in Sachem schools news and profiles.

We've searched through our archives in 2012 to give you the Top 10 most significant school stories of the year. From the school budget vote to graduation and changes in personell, we bring you the year 2012 around the district.

Teacher's Aide Saves Choking Student

It was a harrowing ordeal to say the least, but one with a positive ending thanks to Elizabeth "Betsy" Burbige, a teacher's aide in the Sachem Central School District for 12 years. While walking between the tables of the cafeteria at Gatelot Elementary School, she noticed a boy was choking. With her quick thinking, she applied the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged the food that was blocking his breathing. A testament to the diligence of some Sachem school employees.

Sachem East Hosts Annual St. Baldrick's Event

This year, the school raised more than $26,000 at its annual St. Baldrick's head-shaving event. One team, the Squires of St. Baldrick, raised $9,296 by themselves. St. Baldrick's raises funds for cancer research while having a little classic fun, especially when high-profile faculty members, such as then-Principal Rory Manning sat down in the barber's chair.

School Board Adopts Tax Cap-Busting $291.4 Million Budget

In addition to the Board of Education's budget proposal to the community, the BOE voted 7-1 in favor of hiring Sachem Patch Editor Chris Vaccaro to handle the district's public relations efforts. Vaccaro resigned his post from the Sachem Patch on March 30 of this year, and now provides regular updates on all the goings on involving the Sachem School District. The lone dissent on the hiring was board member Douglas Duncan.

Mia's Medal: 7-Year-Old Who Saved Family From Fire Honored

It was a moment of happiness after a terrifying incident back in May, when Mia Wojciechowski, daughter of Sachem East football coach Mark Wojciechowski, received the Senate Liberty Medal at a Board of Education meeting for her heroic acts when her Farmingville home was destroyed in a fire. Mia, 7, ran into her parents' bedroom and alerted them about the fire in time for the entire family, including the dog, to escape unharmed.

Mosquito Repellent Project Wins Ruchi Shah a $25K Scholarship

Before delivering her Valedictorian speech at the Sachem North Graduation ceremony, Ruchi Shah spent 2012 racking up the scholarship awards and accolades, including a $25,000 scholarship from AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company for her work on developing an all-natural mosquito repellant. Shah attributed her interest in mosquito repellant after visiting her ailing uncle in India. The 2012 valedictorian is completing her first year at Stony Brook University.

In May, the Sachem Board of Education needed 60% of district voters to vote yes on its proposed budget because it exceeded the 2% tax cap initiative that is now in place across the state. They got their supermajority by just 18 votes on election night, much to the relief of board members and Superintendent James Nolan. On the same night, the district decided to hang on to its youngest Board of Education member, as Douglas Duncan secured re-election.

Sachem North Graduates Class of 2012

The rain-induced hurrying of the ceremony caused some controversy in the days that followed, but back on June 22, the rain didn't dampen the spirits of the more than 500 proud graduates of the Sachem North Class of 2012. Click the headline and browse our photo gallery for trip down memory lane.

Sachem East Graduates Class of 2012

Sachem East was a different story altogether, however, as the Class of 2012 enjoyed a sun-soaked, beautiful June 23 day on its football field in Farmingville. The ceremony included musical performances from the chorus, and Sachem East's own graduate performer, Al Calderon. The valedictorian of 2012 was Valerie Zeffiro. Our gallery of the event is here.

Sachem East High School Principal Leaving

At the Sachem East graduation ceremony, East Principal Rory Manning spoke to the audience about "dots" in life, but who knew he was referring to himself when he spoke those words. Just a few days after the ceremony, Dr. Manning announced his resignation from Sachem East to pursue an opportunity as the principal of Harborfields High School. His last official day at Sachem was July 15.

Antonetti Tapped as New Sachem East Principal

After interviewing 22 other candidates to replace Dr. Manning, the Board of Education decided on staying in-house for the new role, and tapped Assistant Principal Lou Antonetti to take over at Sachem East High School. Antonetti, a 1996 graduate of Sachem and former captain of the football and lacrosse teams, spent the fall of 2012 in his new role: a standard 3-year probationary period that continues. It was fitting for this list that 2012 ends with the beginning of the Antonetti era.








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