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Football player, cheerleader find love at Copiague reunion

Bradley and Shakira Lewis brought daughter, Makenzie, and

Bradley and Shakira Lewis brought daughter, Makenzie, and son, Payton, to Copiague High School homecoming parade festivities on Saturday. Credit: Rachel Weiss

Bradley and Shakira Lewis graduated from Copiague High School in 1998. He played football; she was a cheerleader. They’re now married with two children, ages 6 and 3. The family celebrated the Class of ’98 reunion at the district’s homecoming festivities on Saturday.

But as the couple rallied their classmates and prepared for the windy parade route, they explained that they weren’t exactly high school sweethearts.

“We were really good friends,” Bradley said with a grin. “I was always trying to hit on her but she was always taken, so it never worked out.”

After earning their diplomas at Copiague, Shakira went on to Virginia State University and didn’t really keep in touch with Bradley. It wasn’t until the 10-year reunion in 2008 that they saw each other again.

At the time, Shakira was working as a school counselor in Washington, D.C., and she suggested that Bradley visit her sometime. They talked on the phone here and there but he said he finally took her up on that offer the following year.

Now, it’s January 2009 in D.C. What is there to do?

“I ended up going out there for the inauguration of President Obama,” Bradley said. “It was a magical weekend, a historic weekend, and we were together through it all.”

Weekend after weekend, Bradley said he would travel from New York to visit Shakira. She finally moved back in 2010, and the couple married in 2011.

Now, Shakira is an active member of the Copiague community. She’s a counselor at Copiague Middle School, the coach of the step team and a student council adviser.

She also organizes all of her class reunion events. Homecoming weekend included a 1998 mixer on Friday night, a march in Saturday’s parade with a “Class of 1998” banner, the football game and a formal banquet to close out the festivities on Saturday night.

Shakira said about 90 alumni would be attending the banquet, out of a class of about 350.

“With social media, you have Facebook now that keeps you together, but it’s a fake sense of a reunion,” she said. “Actually giving your classmate a hug and finding out how they’re doing is beyond what social media can do.”

Working in the district now, Shakira values the relationships in her community.

“I think just the strong sense of family that the district brings together really encouraged me to give back to my community, and be a part of the children’s lives moving forward,” she said.

The class whooped and cheered as the parade took off down Great Neck Road. The participants wore matching T-shirts, designed by alumna Jennifer Hunter and her husband.

All the alumni said they were most looking forward to the banquet, taking place at Bella Verde in Brentwood.

“We always knew how to have a party,” said Hunter with a laugh. “I feel like everyone in the class always got along. It didn’t matter what group you belonged to, when we got together to party, we all had fun.”

The alumni at the parade unanimously agreed that they hope Shakira continues to plan their reunions for many years to come.

Said Shakira, “Reunions are special to me because it reunites people and it brings people closer together, and you never know what happens! For me, a marriage came out of it, and two kids.”

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