Joe Micheels, a senior at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip, was recently named one of two state winners in the Wendy's High School Heisman competition, which recognizes students for excellence in academics, athletics and community leadership.
Micheels said his standout community service project among the many in which he participated was the recent reconstruction of a sandlot at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church of East Islip into a garden area with the help of 50 volunteers.
The project was an idea from his grandmother, who died of pancreatic cancer in May.
"She'd been pushing me to do it a while," said Micheels, a Boy Scout, noting that the project was for his Eagle Scout Award. "When she passed away, the reality hit me."
Micheels is his class valedictorian with a weighted average of 102.93. He is also a member of the National, Math and English honor societies, as well as the state Spanish and Science honor societies, and was one of 53 Long Island seniors named semifinalists this fall by the Coca-Cola Scholars Program.
Micheels, 17, is a member of his school's cross-country team and holds the Catholic school freshman state record for the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 58.77 seconds.
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Five other Long Island seniors were among 20 state finalists this fall in the Wendy's Heisman competition. Nearly 54,000 students applied for the honor. With Micheels, other finalists were Alyssa Leonard of Bay Shore High School, Melissa Rohr of Bethpage High School, Max Cutler of Long Beach Senior High School, Jessica Rosen of Lynbrook Senior High School and Brett Cohen of South Side High School in Rockville Centre.