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Eight New Inductees Join Hall of Achievement

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Copiague School District celebrated its 24th annual Hall of Achievement induction ceremony by recognizing alumni who have made a positive impact on the school and community. Invited guests and honorees gathered in the Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School cafeteria following the homecoming festivities on Oct. 16.

Since there was no ceremony last year, the district inducted both the 2020 and 2021 members together. The eight new inductees – which brings the total number to 113 – are: Brenda Bryant, Class of 1980; Michael Hodgson, Class of 1979; Henry Jackson Jr., Class of 2007; Dominick Nuzzi, Class of 1992; Christopher O’Connell, Class of 1972; Dr. Jessica Royce, Class of 2009; Dennis Scully Jr., Class of 1989; and Dr. Ewa Stelmach, Class of 2005.

“This year’s inductees, like those before them, are outstanding individuals; each of them has many memories of growing up in Copiague and going through our school system,” said Board of Education President Brian J. Sales. “They have continued the tradition of Eagle pride throughout their lives and careers.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Bannon welcomed administrators, Board of Education members, guests and honorees to the ceremony. “In honoring successful past graduates of Copiague School District, the Hall of Achievement’s primary purpose is to introduce these alumni as positive and motivating role models to our entire school community,” she said. “We keep these role models connected in a variety of ways to our schools and students. By the nature of their accomplishments and service, the inductees of the Hall of Achievement inspire our students to reach for high goals. As students of the Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School pass through our main hallway and the Hall of Achievement every day, they can stop and read about the accomplishments of our inductees.”

Ms. Bryant became a New York City parole officer following her graduation from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. From December 1998 to 2021, Ms. Bryant worked as a security guard with the Copiague School District. She enjoyed speaking to students about her work history and her experiences in Copiague.

After graduation, Mr. Hodgson attended Hudson Valley Community College and eventually entered the U.S. Air Force, training to be a National Fire Protection Association-certified firefighter. After serving for 20 years, he retired as an active duty technical sergeant. He currently serves as an assistant/battalion fire chief at Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia.

Mr. Jackson attended SUNY Old Westbury, receiving a Bachelor of Science in mathematics. After spending time as an emergency medical services volunteer, he found a passion for dentistry. He was accepted into the New York University College of Dentistry and earned a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. He continued his postgraduate clinical training at the Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn.

Mr. Nuzzi continues to serve the Copiague community where he was raised. He attended college at both Farmingdale State College and New York Institute of Technology, where he studied advertising art and design and art education. His desire to serve humanity led him to volunteer with the Copiague Fire Department and eventually join the New York City Fire Department. He currently serves as the chief of the Copiague Fire Department.

Mr. O’Connell has remained closely tied to the Copiague community and has assisted at a variety of events in the community and the high school. After graduation, he went on to work at CBS TV in its engineering department for 35 years. He has served as a member and president of the Copiague Library’s board of directors since 2008. Mr. O’Connell also serves his church as an ordained deacon and youth group leader.

Dr. Royce attended the University of Saint Joseph where she majored in chemistry. With career aspirations of becoming a pharmacist, she was accepted into an accelerated program in 2015 to earn her Doctor of Pharmacy degree. In 2018, she passed her board and was offered a position as a pharmacist at Stop & Shop, where she was recently named pharmacy manager.

In May 1998, Mr. Scully enlisted in the U.S. Navy and is still serving on active duty after more than 22 years. He advanced from airman to chief petty officer in 10 years. He has held the rank of lieutenant commander since 2021. He received his Bachelor of Science in human services in 2008 and a Master of Science in education in 2017, both from Old Dominion University. He is attached to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 where he is serving as assistant maintenance officer.

Dr. Stelmach arrived in Copiague from Poland as a high school junior with only a rudimentary knowledge of the English language. After much encouragement from her teachers, she continued her education at Suffolk County Community College and then earned her Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Stony Brook University. She went on to earn her master’s degree in applied mathematics from Hofstra University and began teaching at Queensborough Community College. While continuing to work at Queensborough teaching mathematics, she went back to school to earn her Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy in mathematics education from Columbia University in 2019.