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Kicking Through the Ceiling?

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Senior East Meadow varsity girls soccer player Stephanie Sparkowski is extending herself further than ever before, or at least her leg is! As if establishing herself as one of the best high school goalkeepers in the country weren’t enough, Stephanie is taking her game to the gridiron this fall. The All-American soccer star is now the placekicker for the East Meadow Jets varsity football team.

Also named a Newsday All-Long Island girls soccer player last year, Stephanie is off to a strong start in both sports. On Saturday, Sept. 14, she went 4-for-4 on extra point attempts and successfully made numerous kickoffs in East Meadow’s 28-6 win over Manhasset.

“I was really nervous for that first kick, hoping to get it through,” Stephanie said. “It felt really good to do it.”

Two days later, she was back on the soccer field with the girls varsity Jets, assisting on the winning goal with a 56-yard booming free kick while also shutting out Farmingdale 1-0.

Stephanie said there are similarities and differences between the two sports but feels that so far she has successfully balanced her obligations to both squads along with her responsibilities in the classroom. She’s attending practices with both and thanks the coaches and her teammates for their support.

She can also draw inspiration from her brother, Dan, who also played soccer and kicked for the Jets football team. The varsity football coaches remembered this and approached her about kicking for the team. She worked out during the summer, participated in tryouts and won the job!

Despite the attention given to her newfound passion for football, Stephanie’s priority is soccer. She has committed to play soccer at the University of Michigan next year and is still exploring a major. She is leaning towards engineering.

Last December, while attending a varsity boys basketball game, Stephanie received the good news that she had been selected an Allstate All-American in soccer. She was lending her support to the boys team in between her own games as a member of the girls varsity basketball team as well. FIFA women’s world cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Julie Foudy made the official announcement through a video message delivered during halftime – a surprise to Stephanie. This past summer, Foudy coached her in the inaugural Allstate All-America Cup in Orlando, Florida.

Stephanie is hoping for a return trip to the county finals with the varsity girls team in her final year at East Meadow. “I’d like to leave a good foundation for the soccer program for years to come,” she said.

Could there be another surprise message in Stephanie’s future? Perhaps regarding her placekicking prowess? So far, so good. 

Sending a Powerful Message

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Seventh graders at Woodland Middle School welcomed nationally recognized youth speaker Rohan Murphy for an inspiring assembly on Sept. 18.

Murphy, who lost his legs at birth, spoke to students about overcoming obstacles and embracing challenges. He also delivered powerful words for the audience to take forward with them as they move towards high school, college and beyond.

“Remember to always be inclusive, not exclusive,” Murphy exclaimed.

Upon entering high school, Murphy joined the wrestling team thanks to encouragement from his coach. He progressed from a beginner to an All-League and All-County athlete prior to graduating. The next challenge he overcame was becoming a three-time letter winner for the Penn State wrestling team and graduating from the university. 

One of the stories Murphy shared to demonstrate his willingness to prove doubters wrong came from his experience at the University of Minnesota wrestling camp with Brock Lesnar, current World Wrestling Entertainment star and a former Ultimate Fighting Champion competitor. As Murphy’s coach, Lesnar put forth a physical challenge that made Murphy question his ability. However, with grit and determination, he conquered the feat. Murphy demonstrated some of the maneuvers, including a pushup pyramid, that highly impressed the audience. 

“Thank you to Mr. Murphy for demonstrating no dream is too big and anyone can overcome obstacles and challenges with the right mindset,” said Principal James Lethbridge.  

Summer Read-A-Palooza in East Meadow

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Elementary school students in the District recorded a staggering 1.6 million minutes of reading this past summer during the Scholastic Read-A-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge.
Parkway Elementary accumulated the most minutes in the district and second highest number among 130 schools in the state as students reported 693,690 minutes. Bowling Green ranked fifth in the state at 367,696 minutes while Barnum Woods and McVey finished back-to-back in 10th and 11th place with 250,491 and 213,493 minutes, respectively. Meadowbrook students registered 115,481 minutes, coming in 16th on the state list.
The district congratulates all of the students for turning in such impressive reading minutes this summer!

W.T. Clarke Honors Coach Boyle

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The East Meadow School District and W.T. Clarke High School community gathered on Sept. 14 for the John Boyle Memorial Ceremony and Memorial Game as the varsity football team played East Rockaway.

Members of Coach Boyle’s Family, the Board of Education, the Coach John Boyle Memorial Fund, Inc. Committee and both teams gathered on the field for a full presentation ceremony. Committee chairman Tony Caiazza, a 1976 graduate of W.T. Clarke, opened the proceedings by thanking all of those that assisted in bringing this ceremony together before handing off to Bob Gorman, former teacher and coach.

“Thousands of Clarke students benefitted from this wonderful man,” said Mr. Gorman.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Coach Boyle’s daughter, Fallon, and sisters Nancy, Eileen and Jane rang the Boyle victory bell. Coach Boyle’s wife, Gina, and current varsity football coach, Tim O’Malley, unveiled a Ram statue dedicated to the memory of Coach Boyle. The statue was created through an alumnus driven fundraising campaign. 

The district thanks the committee and everyone that helped to create a special ceremony to honor Coach Boyle. 

Four Named National Merit Semifinalists

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The District was proud to learn that four seniors were named National Merit Semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The district congratulates Emma Passariello of W.T. Clarke High School and East Meadow High School students Viashnavi Adupa, Alyssa Fong and Alexa Wiencek.

The four are among approximately 16,000 semifinalists who qualified following last year’s PSAT/NMSQT test. All students will now contend for finalist titles with the prospect of eventually earning one of the 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million. 

Emma is hoping to attend the Webb Institute while exploring a career in engineering next fall. At W.T. Clarke, she is a two-year secretary for the Key Club while also being an active member of the robotics and quiz bowl teams. She is also a member of the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center where she helps teach younger children about fire and water safety as well as distracted driving safety for teenagers.

A member of the East Meadow swim team, Alexa is also a member of the color guard for the marching band and a member of the theatre guild and numerous honor societies. She aspires to major in engineering next fall with the goal of attending MIT.

Viashnavi is preparing for a career in medicine as she explores potential majors and colleges. At East Meadow, she is a member of the key club and cultural club and also performs in the annual culture show. 

Alyssa is the president of the math honor society at East Meadow in addition to being a member of the ethnic awareness club and world hunger action club. She also assists with the school drama productions by working with the tech crew. She currently plans to study molecular anthropology in college.

Over 90 percent of semifinalists are expected to attain finalists standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship. Winners will be announced this spring.