Congressman Steve Israel recently honored Long Island high school students and groups for making a difference in their communities.
The local "High School Heroes" were lauded at a June 6 ceremony at LIU Post in Brookville by Israel (D-Huntington), who presented proclamations to seven local high school clubs and three student leaders who've raised money, volunteered their time and practiced acts of kindness for people in New York and around the world, according to a news release.
"It's inspiring to see so many young people in our own community taking action and organizing to make a positive impact in the lives of others," Israel said. "I'm honored to represent these talented, brave and generous young leaders and hope their good deeds will be an example for their peers to get involved in helping to make a difference."
The student leaders who were honored included:
Sydney Levine of Half Hollow Hills High School East: Sydney founded the "Stand Up and Be Counted Challenge" to find a cure for focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and nephrotic syndrome. FSGS is the leading cause of kidney failure in children, and it afflicts her brother Matthew.
Rhea Manjrekar of Hicksville High School: Rhea was awarded by the South Asian-American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) with the "Leaders of Tomorrow" recognition. Rhea was recognized for her work with her charity, Children's Hope India, along with five other young people. Both Rhea and her friends raised enough funds to send three underprivileged children to camp for the entire 2014 summer camp season.
Antonia Bentel of Portledge High School: Antonia planned a nonpartisan consciousness-raising event at her school on "Equal Pay Day" for faculty and fellow students. Antonia designed the "Get En-waged!" bake sale, which charged boys 75 cents and girls $1 for the same pastries to illustrate the need to end the existing wage gap between men and women.
The school clubs honored included:
Syosset High School: The Interact Club's 7 in 7 Campaign for raising more than $35,000 to save seven children in seven continents.
Manhasset Secondary School: The Interact Club for helping to raise $5,000 to sponsor lifesaving heart surgery for a young Russian girl.
Manhasset Secondary School: Rachel's Challenge Club, which formed to spread tolerance, altruism, anti-bullying and forgiveness, in the name of Rachel Scott, who died at Columbine High School. The Rachel's Challenge Club inspires students at Manhasset Secondary School to stand up and make a positive impact.
Manhasset Secondary School: Best Buddies Club, which focuses on fostering one-on-one friendships between students and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Members have volunteered and dedicated their time to raise awareness for various Best Buddies events, such as the Best Buddies Prom, Light it Up Blue Autism Awareness Day and the upcoming Friendship Walk.
Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School: Best Buddies Club, which brings students together with other students who have intellectual disabilities to create friendships with their "buddy." They share in-school events and activities and get together after school as well.
Hicksville High School: Hicksville National Art Honor Society, which serves the Hicksville community at large by painting murals on local establishments and by dedicating time to the Nassau County Department of Social Services children's playroom.
Northport High School: National Honor Society's "A Midwinter Night's Dream" annual charity fundraiser dedicated itself to raising funds and awareness for ALS as well as teaching students to use their passion to create change. They've raised $3.4 million to date.