Examples of the bricks people can purchase as part of...

Examples of the bricks people can purchase as part of beautification efforts by the alumni association at John F. Kennedy High School Bellmore. Credit: JFK Bellmore

Alumni of John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore are joining forces to beautify their school for years to come. By piecing together personal messages engraved on customizable bricks, past and present students, teachers, and local businesses are contributing to a new walkway in an effort to beautify the area around the high school’s sports fields.

Headed by JFK Alumni Inc., the high school's alumni association, the "Buy a Brick" project is part of an ongoing beautification of the 48-year-old high school's sports fields, dubbed the "Cougar Walk of Recognition." The walkway will serve as a visual representation of the bond between past and present JFK students.

"I could not imagine not having a connection to classmates or the community," said Eileen Connolly, an assistant principal at JFK for the past 18 years and a founder of JFK Alumni Inc.

Connolly considers the beautification project a way to highlight community support for the school and the achievements of past and present JFK students.

"We are looking to celebrate all the good that is part of what we call ‘Cougar Nation," Connolly said. "There is a tremendous sense of pride in the school, whose graduates have gone on to do amazing things."

The alumni association hopes their graduates can reach another amazing feat -- raising $15,000 for their Cougar Walk of Recognition. If JFK Alumni Inc. can reach that goal by Aug. 1, the first phase of the project, the walkway, can be completed by September. Participants have already purchased bricks to remember a loved one, congratulate a graduate or recognize a club or sports team.

Participants include alumni Susan Director, 58, of Merrick, who graduated in 1974 and married her high school sweetheart two years later. Director and her late husband, Jimmy Director, have two sons: Jason, 34, a 1998 graduate, and Scott, 32, a 2000 graduate.

"I recently got married after being a widow for seven years," explained Director.  "I donated a large portion of my wedding gifts to the JFK Alumni for the beautification project."

The alumni association also allows contributors to purchase benches for the beautification project. The benches will sit on the sidelines of the sports fields. Director's bench is engraved with the message: "In Loving Memory of Jimmy Director."

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