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William Floyd prom made sweeter after students overcome struggles

Anthony Piragnoli hangs out with social worker Emilie

Anthony Piragnoli hangs out with social worker Emilie Larson at the William Floyd High School prom at West Lake Inn in Patchogue on June 23, 2016. Photo Credit: John Dundon

For three William Floyd High School students, senior prom is more than just a celebration of their work in the classroom.

It represents a triumph over some pretty daunting obstacles.

Seniors Allison Wakefield, Anthony Piragnoli and Melisa Bademci each overcame some difficult situations en route to Thursday night’s prom at the West Lake Inn in Patchogue.

For Wakefield, a Shirley native who has seen her family affected by drug addiction, school took a backseat to problems at home.

“I had to move around a couple of times to try and find the right fit for me,” Wakefield said.

But she added that her school was there for her throughout these moves.  

“[William] Floyd was great. They sent buses to Medford, all over the Island, no matter where I was,” soccer player Wakefield said with tears in her eyes.

She made the most of the opportunity, and in the fall will attend upstate SUNY Canton to play on the women’s soccer team.

In Piragnoli’s case, a troubled childhood saw him constantly getting kicked out of his house, he said. He stopped attending classes while enrolled at William Floyd.

“I wasn’t going down the right path,” Piragnola said. “I was forced to live on my own and get a job to support myself. You can’t go anywhere in life without an education, so I went back to school.”

That’s when William Floyd’s faculty stepped in and helped Piragnola get his young life back on track.

“I wouldn’t be standing at this prom if not for my teachers,” he said. “...I had a lot of good teachers, lots of resources to show me the way and point me in the right direction.”

Piragnoli will graduate and plans on going into the Army soon after.

Bademci, whose father hasn’t been in her life since she was a toddler, had to deal with the death of her mother during her freshman year and find a way to make it through.

“I focused a lot on school and music,” Bademci said.

Bademci is graduating a year early. The reason? William Floyd school district’s social worker Emilie Larson calls it “busting her butt” in the classroom.

“For me, I’m here to help kids through the tough transitions they go through,” Larson said. “Just making sure we are able to provide students with things to remove any obstacles from academic success.”

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