Neighbors In The News



Although a formal graduation ceremony has currently been postponed until Aug. 8, the Mineola Union Free School District has been doing all it can to honor this year’s graduating class in nontraditional ways. 

The week of June 8 marked Senior Week and held many fun virtual and socially distanced events for students and their families to commemorate their final weeks at the high school. In addition, the district held a drive-through graduation for seniors, where they could drive up to the school building at designated times, receive their diploma from Superintendent of Schools Michael Nagler and take a picture in front of the mustang with Principal Whittney Smith. 

Along the drive-through, families were encouraged to jump out and take pictures along several designated photo areas which provided photo opportunities, and a staff member to snap for them.


Commissioner Kenneth Jackson regretfully announces the passing of Teresita (Terry) Vafeas on June 6. Vafeas was a former longtime Garden City resident who was a volunteer member of the Special Police for 20 years, having joined the department in 1999. 

Vafeas attained the rank of sergeant with the Garden City Special Police and also served as their secretary. She was devoted to providing service to the residents of the village and spent many hours on traffic details for holidays and special events, and patrolling fairs.

“She was a fixture every year at the Garden City Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Day, as well as the Belmont Fair, Homecoming Fair and Memorial Day Fair,” Jackson said. “Terry was a cherished member of the department and we are praying for her family and loved ones during these difficult times.”

SPO Captain David Carpentier added, “Terry was a beloved member of the Special Police. She enjoyed conducting traffic details, most especially at St. Anne’s Sunday Mass where she made many friends.”


President Laura Ferone of the Floral Park Bellerose Board of Education read three Distinguished Service Resolutions for the following staff members who will be retiring: Joanne Neligan, Maria Bennett and Maryanne King. Ferone announced that the district will be hiring a new music teacher, David Elyaho, and welcomed him to the community. Ferone announced the following tenure appointments and thanked them for the amazing job they have done for the district: Alyssa D’Amato (music); Christina Saunders (elementary teacher); Melissa Soldati (elementary teacher) and Alyson Parla (school psychologist). 

For more on the board of education’s recent meeting, visit 


The Eighth Squad reports the arrest of two males from Hicksville for a robbery that occurred on Friday, June 26, at 6:05 p.m. in Hicksville. According to detectives, two male victims, 19 and 20, were in front of 151 Levittown Pkwy. when they were approached by two male subjects that were known to them. The two male subjects began threatening the victims. The threats escalated and both subjects began punching and kicking the victims. During the scuffle a victim’s cell phone fell on the ground. One of the subjects picked up the phone and fled northbound towards Blueberry Lane. The other subject entered the Long Island Deli and threatened an employee if he told the police what happened before fleeing towards Blueberry Lane as well. Officers responded and after an investigation they located the defendants Jonathan Ramirez and Nikolaos Safetis and placed them into custody without further incident. Both victims suffered significant pain to their heads and face but refused medical attention. The 22-year-old Ramirez has been charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and third-degree coercion. The 21-year-old Safetis has been charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and petit larceny. They were both arraigned on Saturday, June 27, in Mineola.


Mayor Teresa Spinosa and trustee Tina Schiaffino congratulated Keith Wilson as he was installed as president of the Massapequa Chamber of Commerce and thanked outgoing president Jamie Bogenshutz for her service at their annual Installation of Officers. 


The arson bomb squad is investigating a house fire that occurred Sunday, June 28, at 7:39 p.m. in Farmingdale. According to detectives, Eighth Precinct officers responded to 35 North Maple St. for a fire. Upon arrival, officers observed flames coming from the building. The Farmingdale Fire Department responded to extinguish the flames with the assistance of South Farmingdale and Bethpage fire departments. The Nassau County Fire Marshall also responded to investigate. The fire caused extensive damage to the building. The building was empty prior to police arrival and no injuries were reported. The fire investigation is ongoing.


Nassau County Legislator Arnold Drucker (D—Plainview) celebrated Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School’s Class of 2020 during a graduation parade on June 25. The unique celebration provided an opportunity for the community to celebrate the graduating class while adhering to physical distancing protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“During a senior year that presented unprecedented obstacles, the Class of 2020 has exhibited tremendous perseverance, adaptability and compassion. These traits will serve all of us well as they begin the next chapter of their lives,” Drucker said. “Franny and I are proud to celebrate the Class of 2020 and wish these young trailblazers and their families the best of luck as they embark upon building a brighter future filled with prosperity, joy and equality.”


Glen Cove High School graduate Angela Alvarado was recently awarded a $1,000 scholarship from Glen Cove Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, which is part of the Community Scholarship of Glen Cove program. The scholarships are given out to college-bound graduates. Alvarado intends to pursue nursing.

Madeline Mortiz, administrator for Glen Cove Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, joined Alvarado in Morgan Park, where the ceremonious check was awarded.


In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Levittown eighth graders from Jonas E. Salk Middle School and Wisdom Lane Middle School recently marked the end of their middle school careers in a unique way. Each school hosted a virtual moving up ceremony on the Levittown Public Schools’ website and building administrators and staff found special ways to celebrate the graduates in-person while practicing social distancing.

Graduates from Jonas E. Salk Middle School, along with their families, watched the school’s prerecorded virtual moving up ceremony from the comfort and safety of their homes. Orchestra, band and choir members performed, staff members presented the award winners and eighth grade president Grace Huggard addressed her class with an uplifting video message. In addition, the virtual ceremony featured congratulatory remarks from Assistant Principal Amy O’Grady, board of education members, central administrators and Principal John Zampaglione. 

“Never has a graduating class been called to step into the future with more purpose, vision, passion, energy and hope,” Zampaglione said. “During these trying times, it forces us to pause and reflect on what matters to us the most and what we aspire to be and to accomplish in our future. I see that hope, strength, determination and resilience in each and every one of you and know that your future will be bright no matter what the landscape looks like ahead.”


Residents Forward wants the Port Washington community to grow back stronger than ever. Join Residents Forward and we will give you a tree of your choice to plant at home. Why trees? From their strong roots to their beautiful foliage, trees are a symbol of strength, endurance and hope. A tree is a living tribute to a graduate, a loved one, a new home or a fresh start. For our natural world, trees are our superpower in the fight against climate change and the shift towards a renewable ecosystem. Choose either an American Dogwood or a Redbud Tree as recommended by the Cornell Cooperative Extension for their ability to thrive in our town. Trees are sourced by Port Washington’s Bayles Garden Center. To have one delivered to your home, click “become a member” at


Inspired by the nationwide Front Porch Project, local photographer Stephanie Faust, Fine Photography by Stephanie, decided to participate in the movement locally to benefit Sid Jacobson JCC’s Community Needs Bank. The outpouring of community support and donations she received was more than the photographer could have ever anticipated. In a matter of two months, Faust photographed 100 families across Long Island, raising $18,000 for SJJCC’s Community Needs Bank.

“I have been so grateful for the opportunity to give back to a community that has given so much to me and my family,” Faust said. “Even more, I am especially proud of the entire community and every family that supported this amazing cause with me.” To learn more about Sid Jacobson JCC’s Community Needs Bank and how you can donate, contact Susan Berman, Director of the Center for Community Engagement at 516-484-1545 ext. 202.


Kendall Halpern did the unthinkable when it comes to varsity sports. For six years, Halpern became a leader for the Syosset Braves.

As a seven-time captain, Halpern played on the girls varsity soccer, basketball and lacrosse squads. She is an All-County recipient in each sport, and that’s why Syosset chose her as the school’s Female Athlete of the Year.
The All-American lacrosse star also earned the Long Island Player of the Week award, as well as participating on the Long Island Under Armour championship team. In basketball, she is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner, Conference Player of the Year and a three-time conference champion. In soccer, Halpern won the MVP in the Nassau County championship battle, helping the Lady Braves win it all.

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