On Friday evening, Longwood High School students shared the same sentiment as the setting sun, living out the last moments of their high school careers with the promise of new horizons. It was their last day of senior year, and what better way to celebrate than together at their senior prom, held at The East Wind in Wading River.
The majority of the student body has known each other since before high school -- matriculating from elementary and middle schools throughout the district. During the Class of 2015's freshman year, they faced a tragedy together -- the death of fellow classmate Dominic Trionfo, who was killed when his Jet Ski crashed into an anchor on the Peconic Bay when he was only 14 years old.
This would have been Trionfo's prom day, too.
"We all grew up together with him," senior Eddie Heinrichs said. "The most important thing is to look back on who he was, and know that he is here in spirit."
The Longwood senior class has been proactive in celebrating the life of Trionfo during what would have been his senior year in high school. At the homecoming football game, Trionfo's family was invited onto the field to participate in the coin toss. And on senior scholarship night the Tuesday before prom, Trionfo was named "Everyone's Friend," a superlative that reflects on the unity of the senior class when honoring their fallen classmate.
"It was a very touching moment," Heinrichs said. "There wasn't a dry eye in the room."
On Thursday, Longwood senior Marquise Marshall was presented with the Dominic Trionfo Pride, Spirit and Heart Award -- a $1,000 athletic scholarship awarded to one outstanding senior each year. Marshall and Trionfo had been best friends since elementary school, playing football together after school when they were only 8 years old.
"When he passed, it was hard for me," Marshall said. "It's such an honor to be presented with this award, and I couldn't thank the Trionfo family enough."
In the fall, Marshall will attend SUNY Cortland, where he will play strong safety and linebacker on the football team.
The Trionfo family also donated two sets of prom tickets, which allowed students in financial need to attend prom. The students were chosen by a committee of Longwood teachers and their identities were kept anonymous.
Though high school has ended for Longwood seniors and they'll soon be heading separate ways, Marshall knows that Trionfo's memory will always live on.
"No matter where we go, I think everyone here will always cherish Dominic," Marshall said. "No one will ever forget Dom."