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Students celebrate William Floyd’s birthday

Diana Davies, a historian, dressed up as William

Diana Davies, a historian, dressed up as William Floyd's wife at his birthday celebration at William Floyd Elementary School. (Dec. 17, 2012) Credit: Erin Geismar

In difficult times, the William Floyd School District asks its students to think of its namesake to conjure the same inner strength it took for Gen. William Floyd to sign the Declaration of Independence.

“Floyd Strong,” as it was coined by Superintendent Paul Casciano, also ended up as a central theme to the birthday celebration held at William Floyd Elementary School on Monday, in honor of what would have been Floyd’s 278th birthday.

In honor of the occasion, local historians James and Diana Davies dressed up as Mr. and Mrs. Floyd, who lived at the estate that still stands in Mastic Beach, and shared facts with the students about the Floyds’ lives.

“I was very scared when my husband signed the Declaration of Independence,” Diana Davies said as Mrs. Floyd. “I didn’t know what would happen to our country.”

William Floyd, who died in 1821, was a state senator and a congressman in post-Revolutionary America. So school Principal Keith Fasciana invited locally elected politicians U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop and state Sen. Lee Zeldin, who represent the area, to speak to the students about their jobs.

“My job is to be your representative when we consider issues that are important to the whole country,” Bishop told the group. “William Floyd had that job 224 years before I had it.”

Fasciana said the students studied William Floyd throughout the past week in preparation for the birthday celebration.

“We had activities planned in each classroom from kindergarten through fifth to commemorate his life and to have his students learn more about William Floyd and what he’s done, not only for this area but for this country,” he said.

Students made birthday cards and more elaborate posters with facts about Floyd’s life, and older students wrote essays. All the material was on display during the celebration.

At the event, kindergarten students recited a poem about Floyd and sang him “Happy Birthday,” and fifth-grade students showed off more knowledge of Floyd and also shared essays about ways they have been “Floyd Strong.”

Sebastian Furchel, 10, of Shirley, said that for him, to be “Floyd Strong” is to fight through your own emotions when something bad happens and keep your spirits high. He read an essay about recovering from the death of his dog.

Furchel said Floyd is always an important topic of conversation at the school, as is his estate in Mastic Beach, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public for tours.

“I find that cool,” he said. “It’s like living right next to an estate, you can just go there pretty much every day.”

Fasciana said he finds it important to educate his students on their school’s namesake and what an important man he was for the country.

“This is rich community with history,” he said. “It’s important that when you say ‘William Floyd’ the kids know who he was and what he stands for. Not many districts or school communities or places in the country can say they had a signer of the Declaration of Independence right in their backyard.”

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