The Westhampton Beach Junior Fire Department has earned the state's top honor for its dedication to fire safety and community service.
The 28-member junior program, which consists of area students ages 12 to 18, has been named the 2020 Youth Group of the Year by the Firemen's Association of the State of New York. Three students attend Westhampton Beach Middle School, while the rest attend Westhampton Beach High School.
This is the fifth consecutive year the honor has gone to a junior fire department on Long Island. The previous four winners came from Mineola, Mastic, Hicksville and Great Neck.
"The juniors deserve the credit for their commitment to the program and their community," said Paul Hoyle, head adviser for the Westhampton Beach Junior Fire Department. "They truly embody the meaning of giving back."
Westhampton Beach's junior program allows youth the opportunity to gain technical skills they can apply toward a future career, or as a volunteer, in the fire and emergency services.
Members also accumulated over 1,000 hours of community service this past year through events ranging from a beach cleanup to a fundraiser in which they rolled in the mud at the middle school to benefit childhood cancer research.
Eric Contreras has been appointed principal of North Shore High School. He replaced Albert Cousins, now superintendent of the Rhinebeck School District.
Contreras had been principal of Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan since 2016. He also has been the executive director of social studies at the New York City Department of Education and was a founding member of the Queens High School of Teaching.
"I join the North Shore High School family excited to work with a community that shares the same values that have driven my work as an educator for nearly a quarter century," Contreras said. "These values include our shared focus on the whole child and their natural delight in learning and the powers of the mind and body, a devotion to quality arts programming, and purposeful and thoughtful community collaboration in support of students, staff and families."
Kenneth Graham has been appointed superintendent of the Locust Valley Central School District, and Kurt Simon has been named principal of Locust Valley Elementary School, which includes Ann MacArthur Primary School and Locust Valley Intermediate School. Graham replaced Thomas Dolan, who held the position on an interim basis, and Simon replaced Sophia Gary, who retired.
Graham had been superintendent of the Sachem Central School District since 2016, and before that was assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Long Beach School District. Simon was previously an assistant principal, principal then assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Cold Spring Harbor School District over 17 years.
"I look forward to meeting with the members of the school community and developing common goals that the entire Locust Valley School District can work toward," Graham said. "These goals will provide the direction to delivering results for our students' academic and social and emotional advancement."
Paul Guzzone is the new principal of Wantagh High School. He replaced Carolyn Breivogel, who retired.
Guzzone most recently served as an associate principal and director of school counseling for the Oceanside School District.
"I am excited and humbled to have the opportunity to be a partner in leading learning at Wantagh High School," Guzzone said. "To be part of a community that recognizes that social-emotional growth runs alongside intellectual and academic skill development is refreshing and motivating."