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Basketball tournament for late teacher tips off in Plainview

Students and faculty at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F.

Students and faculty at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School participate in the first-ever Michael Secko Memorial Basketball Tournament to honor a longtime business teacher who died from cancer in 2012. (Jan. 15, 2014) Credit: Tara Conry

The gymnasium at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School was buzzing with activity Wednesday afternoon as teams of students and faculty members competed simultaneously on six different basketball courts in honor of a longtime business teacher at the high school who died in 2012 from cancer.

The sounds of the players, bouncing balls and the occasional timing buzzer filled the room. But only moments before, it was much quieter.

Before the start of the tournament, senior Taylor Schwide asked the contestants to observe a moment of silence.

“The second I started talking, there was dead silence,” said Schwide, 17, of Plainview, one of three students who organized the Michael Secko Memorial Basketball Tournament. “It felt like the entire building was quiet.”

Schwide had Secko as a business teacher during her sophomore year. She said his passion for the subject inspired her, and she now plans to pursue a double major in management and entrepreneurship in college.

Secko also mentored Schwide through the DECA business club, which competes each year in the New York State DECA Conference and Business Competition. This year, Schwide and her teammates devised a project for the competition that would honor Secko’s memory.

They came up with the “Rejoice, Remember” campaign, through which they held fundraisers for a memorial scholarship created in Secko’s name. The tournament was their biggest benefit, bringing in about $1,000 through player entree fees.

Assistant principal Sharon Lasher, who worked for 10 years with Secko in the school’s business department, said he also loved sports. Lasher participated in the tourney with two other school administrators on a team called “Two and a Half Admin.” They made it to the playoffs, but were knocked out by a team of science teachers.

Schwide said she hopes future students will continue the Michael Secko Memorial Basketball Tournament.

“This a teacher they might not have known, but who impacted so many students who came before them,” she said. “He became a memory and a legacy at our school now.”

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