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Helping others, Alexander Perlak aims to do work that matters

Alexander Perlak at the food pantry he helped

Alexander Perlak at the food pantry he helped create at West Hempstead High School. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa


Alexander Perlak likes to say he is motivated by a “service heart.”

He works tirelessly to give back to his community, and thanks to his leadership, more families in the school district had a little more for the holiday season.

As co-president of the school’s Key Club and student council, Perlak, 17, is instrumental in coordinating events that bring together students, parents and faculty to raise money for needy families. Through a Family Feud game show-style event to raffles to organizing the school’s food pantry, Perlak started many initiatives in the district that will continue after he graduates.

“It was really nice to see that my hard work starts a tradition,” said Perlak, of West Hempstead. “I think you always have to give back to your community and your school. They’ve done so much for you and you have to return the favor.”

A trip with his church last July left a lasting impression on him and better cemented his commitment to community service. Perlak was on a team traveling with the St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in West Hempstead that participated in various projects in Detroit, including helping rebuild houses and painting pictures for the residents of the economically depressed area.

“It made me see that people have different lives outside of Long Island,” Perlak said. “They are living in poverty and sometimes their standard of living is low. It made me want to help that community as well as my community.”

Perlak was able to maintain a 97.07 weighted grade-point average. In line with his desire to do work that matters, he said he would like to become a high school mathematics teacher. He intends to pursue his studies at Mount Saint Mary College, in upstate Newburgh.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and discovering new hobbies and interests that I’ll pursue throughout my life,” he said.

Perlak has honed his skills through teaching Sunday school and vacation Bible school to the younger members in his congregation.

Donna Seeberger, Perlak’s school counselor, said his dedication to community service brings different corners of the district together and inspires other students.

“He’s upbeat and happy and polite,” Seeberger said. “He’s got great people skills and everybody loves him. It helps a population in our school district that we care about and it’s important to our kids. Families really come together for these events, and he basically runs it all.”

Another lasting mark Perlak leaves on his high school is the new and improved school news updates and announcements. He took material that used to be for the public announcement system and improved it through his writing, producing and reporting.

His morning news show is available weekly on the school’s website, and administrators have said it will continue over the next school year thanks to younger students who have agreed to continue the production.

WHAT MAKES YOU EXTRAORDINARY: “My determination and dedication in all that I do. I like to take a vision and see it come through, like raising money for our food pantry.”

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