Valley Stream Central seniors Daniel Toy and Lucas Camacho have spent the past year helping honor veterans who walked the same high school halls.
Now, the duo are following in their footsteps.
After graduating from Valley Stream Central, Toy and Camacho will share a unique journey — becoming United States Marines. Camacho will head to Parris Island, South Carolina, for basic training on July 9, and Toy will join his classmate on July 16.
Although they are gearing up for deployment, they put dancing shoes before combat boots Thursday night for Central’s prom at the Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park.
“I always wanted to be involved with the military ever since I was a kid,” Camacho said. “My grandfather served in the Philippine army and he really inspired me. He, being an immigrant and coming to this country and appreciating what he has here, motivated me to do the same.”
“I joined because I really wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and I love being a team player,” Toy added. “I enjoy being with all of the other men and women who will be Marines and being able to eventually call them my brothers and sisters.”
Before deciding to enlist in the Marine Corps, Toy and Camacho said they wanted to do something to promote patriotism in their school. So, with the help of social studies teacher Chris Critchley, the pair formed the Patriot Club last year.
“Our club leader is very keen on remembering the fallen soldiers of Central High School and that’s a big point he likes to drive home — recognition for them,” Camacho said.
Toy said that the club — which has about 30 members — helps to raise money for various senior scholarships. They also participate in events such as lining the school grounds with American flags on Memorial Day and other days of honor. Toy was awarded a $500 scholarship on Thursday in honor of a veteran that graduated from Central.
“It’s only fitting that Daniel — someone who is going to serve and someone who is dedicated to the club — received that type of award,” said Jack Gorman, an AP government teacher at Central for 18 years. “Daniel is an astounding student-athlete and an amazing volleyball player. He’s always respectful, laid back and has always expressed the desire to be a Marine. He’s very excited about it and we are all very proud that he is willing to serve our country.”
Challenging times surely await the duo, making Thursday night that much more special.
“This has been the best experience,” Camacho said of the prom. “I’m glad I’ll be leaving with such happy memories.”