Live. Laugh. Give. Repeat. That seems to be the life course of Extraordinary Seniors in the Class of 2016.
Each year, Newsday receives nominations from principals, teachers and guidance counselors in Nassau and Suffolk counties about students who exemplify the best of qualities: Kindness, perseverance, humility, thoughtfulness, determination, altruism. Those traits and more shine among the 16 seniors selected this year.
Some have weathered the lows and ailments and surgeries that come with cerebral palsy or cancer or brain tumors. One endured a four-year separation when his parents left India to lay the groundwork for a life of education and opportunity in America.
Others seem to have not a care in the world except to care about helping others, sick or healthy, on Long Island or across the country or the globe.
“This kid is just selfless. It’s all about other people and their needs.”
That’s Mount Sinai High School’s principal, Robert Grable, gushing about Ross DiBetta, who raised $10,000 to send a boy with a rare disorder to Legoland in California and collected eyeglasses for those in need in Ecuador.
Thankfully, there are others like him:
- Marie Albanese seems stuck on the letter h, as in help. She bakes and cooks at the Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park, helps autistic students after school, assists the speech pathologist at H. Frank Carey High School and created a club at school that participates in community service projects;
- Kyle Kratzke has had eight surgeries and still has a brain tumor. Pity? No. Humor? Yes. The Comsewogue High School student has created a laugh track around his medical condition that has spawned stand-up comedy routines in New York City and on Long Island and a nonprofit to raise money for groups that help children with serious medical conditions;
- Danielle Fauteux has missed pep rallies at Greenport High School and left dinner behind with the family to respond to an emergency call. She is a certified Emergency Medical Technician and volunteer with the East Marion Fire Department. She “puts herself to the side so she can help others,” said Brandi Hopkins, Fauteux’s guidance counselor.
And for that, she’s in good company.
Newsday congratulates this year’s Extraordinary Seniors:
Quentin Akwasi Owusu-Adjei Thomson