St. Patrick’s Parade Steps Off Sunday

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The 85th annual Huntington St. Patrick’s Parade steps off at 2 p.m. this Sunday, March 10 with Timothy Rossiter leading the way as Grand Marshal.

The parade is Long Island’s oldest and largest St. Patrick’s parade. It is sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Div. 4, Huntington, whose members march in traditional gray morning suits. You may see a top hat and even a shillelagh or two among the formally dressed brothers as they lead a parade of community groups down New York Avenue to Main Street and past the reviewing stand near St. Patrick’s Church.

The sound of bagpipes will fill the air as this year’s parade features an even dozen pipe and drum bands. The schools, scouts, fire departments and other community groups will be joined by 100 Alaskan Huskies and their handlers from Empire Snow Dogs.

Take a look at this year’s St. Patrick’s Parade journal here.

Apartments Going Up In Village

Building owner Anthony Zambratto has received planning board approval to go add a third story and convert second-floor office space to apartments at his property on New York Avenue and Elm Street in Huntington Village. Above are the existing building at left; and a rendering of the proposed addition at right.

Building owner Anthony Zambratto has received planning board approval to go add a third story and convert second-floor office space to apartments at his property on New York Avenue and Elm Street in Huntington Village. Above are the existing building at left; and a rendering of the proposed addition at right.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com 

Plans to add a third story and nine apartments to a building on the corner of New York Avenue and Elm Street in Huntington village are moving forward.

The Huntington Planning Board last week weighed in on the proposed architecture of the building on 356 New York Avenue, which currently houses a Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union on the first floor and offices on the second.

Planning Board Chairman Paul Ehrlich said during the meeting the architecture of the proposed third story appeared “consistent with the rest of the building and the general area.”

Building owner Andrew Zambratto’s planned conversion of the second-story office space into apartments and the construction of a third story was previously approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals in 2017. The plan required a variance from the ZBA for the “increase of gross square footage,” according to town documents.

There was no parking variance required for the project because the building’s current office space requires 40 parking stalls under town code, while the planned apartments require only 34 stalls.

Plans submitted to the town show the NEFCU would continue to occupy the commercial space in the first floor of the building. The existing 4,000 square-foot second floor and proposed 4,000 square-foot third floor would be converted into nine apartments. Planning officials said there would be four one-bedroom and five two-bedroom apartments divided between the top two floors.

Several members of the planning board expressed at last weeks meeting some concern about the design of the exterior of the building’s first floor, saying the brick from the second and third stories should remain consistent across all three floors.

Ehrlich said at the meet the board did not reach a consensus on the architecture, and planning officials said they would notify the building owner to “make some revisions.”

Last week’s meeting was Ehrlich’s first at the helm of the planning board. He was appointed by the town board last month to replace longtime planning board chairman Paul Mandelik. Mandelik led the planning board for around 15 years. Ehrlich, a relative newcomer to the planning board, was first appointed to the seven-person board last February.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union.

American Legion Celebrates A Century Of Service

Members of American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244, Huntington Post 360 and Northport Post 694 receive proclamations at Tuesday’s town board meeting in recognition of the national organization’s 100th anniversary.  Photo/Town of Huntington

Members of American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244, Huntington Post 360 and Northport Post 694 receive proclamations at Tuesday’s town board meeting in recognition of the national organization’s 100th anniversary. Photo/Town of Huntington

By Connor Beach

cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Members from Huntington’s three American Legion posts were recognized by the town board on Tuesday in celebration of the organization’s 100th anniversary.

Veterans from American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244, Huntington Post 360 and Northport Post 694 accepted proclamations from Councilwoman Joan Cergol to acknowledge each post’s contributions to the community.

“You do so much to help make Huntington a great place to live, a community that thanks and respects those who served our country in times of war and in times of peace,” Cergol said. “Each one of the posts has supported the pillars established by the American Legion a century ago. You have done the American Legion proud, but just as important, you have done Huntington proud.”

The American Legion was first convened in 1919 by World War I combat troops in Paris, France, and officially chartered by Congress later that year. American Legion Huntington Post 360 was established soon after in 1921, and American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244 followed in 1943.

The organization was founded to help veterans dealing with the physical and emotional toll of war work their way back into civilian life, and now has over 2 million members in more than 13,000 posts worldwide.

Over the last century, the American Legion has developed into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States. The organization’s lobbying on behalf of veterans has led to the creation of the Veterans Administration, passage of the GI Bill of Rights and spurred research to help veterans deal with PTSD and the effects of Agent Orange, atomic radiation and Gulf War illness.

American Legion posts around the world donate more than 3.7 million hours of volunteer service, assist on more than 181,000 VA benefits claims and cases and award more than $4 million in college scholarships.

Members of the local American Legion posts also help locate, identify and bury the remains of veterans and their spouses, as well as organizing burial services for deceased veterans who died without family.

Cergol, a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, called the town’s American Legion posts “integral parts of the community.”

The American Legion posts sponsor local Boy and Girl Scouts, organize Memorial Day parades, and provide food cards to needy veterans and support local food pantries.

Explosion, Fire Rips Ripley Drive Home

A ladder truck from Commack Fire Department gets into position at the scene of a house fire and explosion on Ripley Drive in Northport.  Long islander News photos/Sophia Ricco

A ladder truck from Commack Fire Department gets into position at the scene of a house fire and explosion on Ripley Drive in Northport. Long islander News photos/Sophia Ricco

Firefighters in East Northport battled raging flames and a propane explosion last week during a house fire that left one person injured.

The East Northport Fire Department received reports of a fire on Ripley Drive at approximately 12:30 p.m., Feb. 28, fire officials said. Chief John Jacobsen from the Northport Fire Department was the first on scene and confirmed the house was on fire.

Fire officials said the first responding crews were met with intense flames in the back of the house, followed by an explosion after the fire ignited gas from a 30-pound propane cylinder.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the back of the house despite the propane explosion sending flames 30 feet above the roof, according to fire officials.

Firefighters cut holes in the roof of a home in Northport to help put out a blaze that left one person injured last week.

Firefighters cut holes in the roof of a home in Northport to help put out a blaze that left one person injured last week.

Fire officials said it took about 60 firefighters from East Northport, Northport, Greenlawn and Commack, under the command of Chief Dan Flanagan, an hour and a half to bring the flames under control.

One female resident of the home was taken to Huntington Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, according to fire officials. The fire is under investigation by the Suffolk Police Arson Squad and Town of Huntington Fire Marshal.

Students For 60,000 Takes Up A New Cause

Students for 60,000 gave their time to paint the homes of three families, who had all been impacted by the opioid epidemic.

Students for 60,000 gave their time to paint the homes of three families, who had all been impacted by the opioid epidemic.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Northport High School’s Students for 60,000 took their first ever service trip to West Virginia, the “ground zero of the opioid epidemic,” and came back with a cause to spread.

Twenty-four Northport high shcoolers embarked on the week-long trip during February break to give their time to food pantries and youth programs, connecting with the local high school and community members struggling with addiction along the way.

Students for 60,000 was originally founded in 1987 as a club dedicated to helping the homeless. It taks its name from the 60,000 homeless in New York City at the time, and has evolved to raise money and awareness for many causes.

“The mission of the program is pretty simple, it is to help those in need,” club adviser Darryl St. George said.

Student members are exposed to local and global issues alike through education and service. Since 1992, the club has taken service trips to the village of Chacraseca, Nicaragua. They also have anonymously assisted local families in need.

“That’s one of the values to Students for 60,000, we take our students outside of the bubble of Northport,” St. George said. “We take them to parts of the world, country and locally in the community that ordinarily they wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to.”

As Nicaragua grew more unstable, St. George was tasked with selecting a new location for the club’s biannual service trip. He felt West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the country, was a good choice.

“I came up with the trip to West Virginia, understanding the need that exists there,” St. George said. “But also recognizing that on a personal level, I had lost a sibling to an overdose and the opioid epidemic is a major piece of it.”

The students took an educational hike with Keeper of the Mountains, an environmental activist organization led by Paul Corbit.

The students took an educational hike with Keeper of the Mountains, an environmental activist organization led by Paul Corbit.

Students directly interacted with those impacted by opioid addiction in the town of Kermit, West Virginia. Hawkie, the town’s fire chief, recounted the story of finding his younger brother dead from an overdose at a potluck dinner. His message to the club: this is an issue that is only going to get worse if nothing is done.

“Something we always strive for with Students for 60,000 is the educational component, which as a teacher I have the responsibility to meet,” St. George said. “But on the other hand, there is action taking place and projects that the students are taking part in. It’s an experience that makes the learning more meaningful.”

The students had a full agenda of informational and impactful activities on the trip. They visited the Williamson Drug Treatment Center to learn about the center’s efforts, stigmas and benefits of treatment from healthcare professionals. The students then met with five women who shared personal experiences about addiction and recovery. The club then volunteered their time playing with children at an after school program, some of whom came from “heartbreaking backgrounds” and lost either one or both parents to overdoses.

“It was both inspiring and encouraging to witness the students ability to take on so many necessary tasks while simultaneously learning and quickly appreciating the need for their presence in this part of our country,” St. George said.

Students Liv Caufield and Tim DeTolla helped at the Mana Meal Soup Kitchen in West Virginia.

Students Liv Caufield and Tim DeTolla helped at the Mana Meal Soup Kitchen in West Virginia.

Returning from West Virginia, St. George reflected on the deeply poignant trip.

“My experience in West Virginia had a profound impact on my understanding of what it is to be an American,” St. George said. “We as a country right now are in a very precarious place. I think a lot of that has to do with the division in the country. If we’re gonna heal, I truly believe the answer is in this poor state, ground zero of the opioid epidemic, a place that is dismissed by both sides of the political spectrum.”

Even St. George, a military veteran who has experienced the world and personal tragedy, said he was not prepared for what he saw in West Virginia. The trip has given Students for 60,000 a “sense of urgency” to aid and raise awareness for the state.

“I can tell you with confidence, that coming home students and chaperones alike felt like we did a lot of good,” St. George said. “There was no question of why we needed to go down there, so much so that the students want to go back again.”

The community of Kermit is eager to have the club come back as well. Students for 60,000 plan to share their experiences in West Virginia at a Community Forum at the Northport Library on March 27 at 7 p.m. Club members will lead the presentation aimed at educating the community on a topic relevant to Long Island’s own substance abuse epidemic.

“We will help the community better understand what we learned and experienced there,” St. George said. “If they’re interested, we will provide them opportunities to support our mission of working in West Virginia.”

Raia To Retire At End Of Year

Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia will retire at the end of the year after 38 years in office. Raia, pictured in the Town Records Center and Archives, counts the preservation of important town documents and artifacts archived there as one of her greatest accomplishments.

Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia will retire at the end of the year after 38 years in office. Raia, pictured in the Town Records Center and Archives, counts the preservation of important town documents and artifacts archived there as one of her greatest accomplishments.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Huntington Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia is ready to retire.

Raia said Wednesday she has decided not to seek reelection in November after serving 38 years in the position.

Raia said in a recent interview she still has her enthusiasm for the job, but thinks “it’s probably time to retire.”

“My mind, my brain and my enthusiasm is still there, but it’s tiring because I give my all to the job,” Raia said. “I want to have some time for myself.”

There is a chance the Raia dynasty will continue in the town clerk’s office. The Huntington Republican Committee this week tapped Andrew Raia, Jo-Ann’s son, as the party’s candidate for the job, according to committee chairman Toni Tepe.

Huntington Republican Committee tapped Assemblyman Andrew Raia as their nominee to run for Town Clerk in November.

Huntington Republican Committee tapped Assemblyman Andrew Raia as their nominee to run for Town Clerk in November.

“Andrew has had an interest in the position for a number of years, and the committee felt he was deserving on it,” Tepe said. “His mother would certainly like to hand the torch over to him.”

Andrew Raia, who currently represents the 12th district in the New York State Assembly, said his mother’s retirement and his nomination to replace her “is bittersweet for her and me.”

“As much as I enjoy being an assemblyman, I want to be a caretaker of the work she’s done, and I’m looking forward to carrying on her tradition of public service,” he said.

As the son of Huntington’s longest serving town clerk, the younger Raia said he remembers discussing his mother’s job with her over the family dinner table.

“I literally have been exposed to every aspect of the town clerk’s office for 38 years,” he said.

Jo-Ann Raia said she is happy her son decided to run for her position.

“I know I can’t be here forever,” she said with a laugh. She had to make her retirement decision sooner than she would have liked because recent changes in New York State election law moved up the time for candidates to file nominating petitions from summer to the beginning of April.

In her nearly four decades as town clerk, Jo-Ann Raia said one of her proudest accomplishments has been the establishment of the record center and archives at town hall. She suggested she might even volunteer to help out with the archives after she retires.

“It took a tremendous amount of effort, and as a result we have a state-of-the-art facility that has received numerous honors,” she said. “It’s been my passion to preserve the town’s history.”

The town clerk also praised the skill of her staff and hoped her successor would look to them to help expand on what she has accomplished.

Jo-Ann Raia said she is “very melancholy” about her impending retirement and will miss the town board meetings, fire department instillation dinners and other community events; although, she has 38 years worth of keepsakes to remind her of the impact she’s had on the Huntington community.

“I love serving the residents of Huntington,” she said. “Based on all the thank you letters I’ve received over the years I feel that I’m doing a good job.”

GOP Names Candidates For Local Election

Councilman Ed Smyth, Andre Sorrentino, Councilman Eugene Cook, Cheryl Helfer, Hector Gavilla, Garrett Chelius, Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia and Huntington Republican Committee Chairman Toni Tepe gather for the announcement for the GOP’s candidates for town elections.  Photo/Huntington Republican Committee

Councilman Ed Smyth, Andre Sorrentino, Councilman Eugene Cook, Cheryl Helfer, Hector Gavilla, Garrett Chelius, Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia and Huntington Republican Committee Chairman Toni Tepe gather for the announcement for the GOP’s candidates for town elections. Photo/Huntington Republican Committee

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The Huntington Republican Committee announced earlier this week the slate of GOP candidates for local elections in November.

Chairman Toni Tepe confirmed Wednesday the committee had named candidates for Suffolk Legislature, Town Board and Town Clerk.

Legislator Robert Trotta, of Fort Salonga, was tapped to run for reelection in the 13th Legislative District, which includes the eastern portion of the Town of Huntington. Trotta has served in the position since 2014.

Trotta had expressed interest in running for County Executiveagainst Democratic incumbent Steve Bellone, but Tepe said the committee has endorsed Republican John Kennedy. Kennedy has served as Suffolk Comptroller since 2015.

The Republicans have chosen Hector Gavilla to challenge Democratic incumbent Susan Berland in the 16th District. Gavilla, of Dix Hills, ran an unsuccessful campaign against Berland for the seat in 2017.

Garrett Chelius, of Lloyd Harbor, was selected to run against Democratic incumbent and veteran legislator William “Doc” Spencer in the 18th District.

The GOP’s candidates for Huntington Town Board include incumbent Gene Cook and first-time candidate Andre Sorrentino.

Cook, of Greenlawn, an Independence Party member, was first elected to the town board in 2011, and also ran on the Republican line in his previous two campaigns for town board.

Sorrentino, of Huntington, currently serves as the town’s director of general services. He was appointed to the position in February 2018. Sorrentino is also the co-owner of Huntington-based PAS Professional Automotive Services.

Sorrentino and Cook will face Democratic incumbent Joan Cergol. Cergol was first appointed to the town board in December 2017, ran a successful campaign for a one-year term last November.

Tepe said the committee has not decided on a candidate to run for Huntington Receiver of Taxes against Democratic incumbent Jillian Guthman. A Republican candidate for the position will be named in the coming days, according to Tepe.

Tepe also said Assemblyman Andrew Raia has been tapped to run for town clerk against Democratic candidate Simon Saks. Raia’s mother and currently Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia decided recently she would not seek reelection after 38 years in the position.

The Republicans have also tapped Cheryl Helfer to run for District Court Judge.

Marathoner Runs For A Cause

Jorge Jimenez completes another race in preparation for the Boston Marathon, with the support of his wife, Leanne, and children, Tomas and Karina.

Jorge Jimenez completes another race in preparation for the Boston Marathon, with the support of his wife, Leanne, and children, Tomas and Karina.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

This April, Northport resident Jorge Jimenez will race for a cause close to his heart at the Boston Marathon.

Jiminez will take on the world’s oldest annual marathon with the YMCA of Greater Boston’s team on Apr. 15.

Throughout his life, Jimenez has been involved with the Y, utilizing their services as child, and later donating time and financial contributions. After moving to Northport five years ago, Jimenez joined the YMCA of Long Island’s Board of Directors and ran in two New York City Marathons to support the organization.

“I’m a Y kid, I grew up at the Y,” Jimenez said. “I spent a lot of time at the YMCA when I lived in Miami and volunteered for the YMCA when I was in college. It was a really great place for me growing up, so now that I serve on the board, I can give back.”

A seasoned distance runner, Jimenez was drawn to the Boston Marathon’s magnitude and grandeur. By joining team YMCA of Greater Boston, he has committed to raise $7,500 for their cause, that will support the charity’s teen programs.

“The Y is just a great, safe place for kids to play, exercise and learn about healthy living,” Jimenez said. “These are programs I probably participated in as a kid, but didn’t know it.”

Last summer, the YMCA of Greater Boston offered free three-month memberships to 17,000 teens at the Y’s 13 branches, giving them access to summer programming, swim classes, and camp. Teens were empower and engaged at events focused on safe dating, volunteerism and leadership.

“This past summer was our busiest to date with each of our branches creating programming to fit the needs of the youth in their neighborhoods, which would not be possible without funds raised by our runners,” YMCA of Greater Boston president and CEO James Morton said.

To prepare for Boston’s 26.2-mile course, Jimenez is in the middle of a 16-week training program that focuses on speed during weekdays and distance on the weekends.

“I like for my kids to see me set a very ambitious goal and work towards it, they see me checking days off my list,” Jimenez said. “It shows them that hard work pays off, because the plan starts with a 4 mile run on Sunday, then a 6 mile and so on, it builds up and they see for themselves that if you do the work, you will get better.”

To prep himself for Boston, Jimenez recently ran the Prospect Park Half Marathon in Brooklyn and George Washington’s Birthday Marathon in Washington, D.C.

“You get to practice being in a race, running with other people, drinking water from the aid stations,” Jimenez said. “And you run with all your gear, what you’re gonna wear on race day, it’s like a dress rehearsal.”

Jimenez is looking forward to a 20 mile run this weekend, though he admits the last six weeks of training, when mileage is the highest, can be grueling. Before tapering down and giving his legs a rest, Jimenez plans to run 21 miles of the Boston Marathon’s course at the end of March, as preparation for the big day.

“It varies, some days you feel good and like you can run forever and some days you’re just not feeling it… It is a lot of time and a lot of running. But the good news is you can eat all the pizza you want,” Jimenez said with a laugh.

Anyoone wishing to support Jorge Jimenez and the YMCA of Greater Boston can donate at crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/ymca-boston-2019/jorgejimenez7.

Chamber Hosts Annual Media Forum

Newsday  beat reporter Deborah Morris, right, pitched questions to a panel of journalists including, from left, Kristin Thorne, Long Island correspondent for WABC Eyewitness News, Connor Beach, staff writer for  The Long-Islander , and Peter Sloggatt,  The Long-Islander ’s   publisher and managing editor.

Newsday beat reporter Deborah Morris, right, pitched questions to a panel of journalists including, from left, Kristin Thorne, Long Island correspondent for WABC Eyewitness News, Connor Beach, staff writer for The Long-Islander, and Peter Sloggatt, The Long-Islander’s publisher and managing editor.

Development projects and parking in Huntington village, gangs in Huntington High School and developments in social media were just a few of the topics that came hot off the press last week at the Huntington Chamber of Commerce’s Meet the Media breakfast.

 The annual networking event allowed Chamber members to hear from local news industry insiders about some of the juiciest stories of 2018, as well as possible headlines for the year to come.

 The event was moderated by Newsday beat reporter Deborah Morris, who pitched questions to a panel of journalist that featured Kristin Thorne, Long Island correspondent for WABC Eyewitness News, Connor Beach, staff writer for The Long-Islander, and Peter Sloggatt, The Long-Islander’s publisher and managing editor.

 The panel fielded questions from the audience, which sparked a discussion about the role of social media in the new industry. Apartment-building and parking issues, two issues near and dear to Huntington business owners, also dominated the discussion.

Student Groups Still Shouting, 'Never Again'

Co-founders of March For Our Lives Long Island Avalon Fenster and Sara Frawley speak to students following a school walk-out organized after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, last year.    Photos/March For Our Lives Long Island

Co-founders of March For Our Lives Long Island Avalon Fenster and Sara Frawley speak to students following a school walk-out organized after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, last year.

Photos/March For Our Lives Long Island

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com

In the year since Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings in America, students have risen up to demand gun reform and better school safety.

Just days after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and staff members dead and as many injured, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas announced a demonstration for gun legislation called “March for Our Lives.” This has been a rallying cry to students across the country to stand up and demand gun control legislation.

Local students Avalon Fenster and Sara Frawley founded March For Our Lives Long Island last March. The group has hosted school walkouts, candlelight vigils and election parties to spread their message. Members also attended a street dedication ceremony for fallen teacher Scott Beigel, a native of Dix Hills.

“As March For Our Lives Long Island has grown bigger, we are creating our own smaller branches, to get more involved with local schools and communities,” New York State Political Director of March For Our Lives Nicholas Likos said.

Likos, a high school junior from Melville got involved with the organization after Fenster selected his essay —written from the perspective of a teacher about the effects of school shootings — for a competition. Even though Long Island has never experienced a mass school shooting MFOL-LI’s mission is to combat gun violence of any kind.

“Some people say ‘gun violence doesn’t pertain to me because I’ve never been in a school shooting.’ But if you live in an area where there is gun violence, it’s just as much your issue as it is mine,” Likos said.

MFOL-LI wants to ensure the youth have a voice in every community. They take a “grassroots” approach, working with students to outline goals that they then deliver to their own school administration.

“Some communities on Long Island are afraid to take the initiative and become involved because they don’t feel either group allies with their ideals, when in reality we just need to focus on everybody, every student, and try to see what will best suit their needs,” Likos said.

Dix Hills native Scott Beigel who lost his life trying to protect students during the Parkland shooting, was honored when the street he grew up on was dedicated to his memory. Members of March For Our Lives Long Island showed their support at the renaming ceremony.

Dix Hills native Scott Beigel who lost his life trying to protect students during the Parkland shooting, was honored when the street he grew up on was dedicated to his memory. Members of March For Our Lives Long Island showed their support at the renaming ceremony.

As they work to have more branches at schools, MFOL-LI hopes to bring two workshops to the local community. They want to break the negative connection between mental health and gun violence, by getting certified by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to educate and assist those struggling with mental health to find help.

The group also wants to teach educators and students how to triage crisis and deal with emergency situations with “Stop the Bleed.”

“The issue with ‘Stop the Bleed’ is you want students and faculty to be prepared. By the same token you don’t want students to be afraid by reinstating that fear,” Likos said, adding, “in a way, we kinda need to do that to provoke that this is real.”

In the days following the Parkland shooting, Likos admits he and his classmates were shaken, but took action by orchestrating the student walkout at his school. In response, his principal asked him to outline measures the school could take to improve safety.

“Now doors are locked at all times, everyone has to wear an ID, and in every classroom there is line of tape at every door that shows where the ‘line of sight’ is,” Likos said. “It’s the little things that count and it really shows that this wave the youth initiative has created is being respected by adults. They are having conversations with us.”

MFOL-LI also works to have open communication with government officials at all levels. During MFOL-LI’s recent general meeting, State Senator Jim Gaughran burst into the room to inform them that he was on his way to Albany where the governor was to sign the Red Flag Act. He made a pit stop to tell them the news.

The Red Flag Act gives educators a direct route to follow if a student poses a threat or makes others feel uncomfortable. Teachers work with students on a day-to-day basis and many at Marjory Stoneman Douglas revealed they had concerns about the shooter but didn’t know where to report it.

“This was essentially something we all were working towards, there was an uproar of cheers and everyone was so happy,” Likos said. “It was interesting and crazy to see we had a direct impact on that movement, we as individuals, who are all still in high school.”

Anyone interested in joining the cause is encouraged to email marchforourlivesli@gmail.com.