A sold-out crowd of 280 turned out for the 2022 Reach for the Stars gala on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at the newly renovated and exquisite Water’s Edge in Centerport. The Huntington Foundation for Excellence in Education (HFEE) presented longtime district Superintendent James W. Polansky and Huntington Class of 1995 member Dr. James Paci with the organization’s Spirit Award for their many years of service to the community.
The guests included many district administrators, teachers, parents and other community members including Huntington Town Supervisor Edmond Smyth and Councilman, Dr. Dave Bennardo. The evening raised nearly $50 thousand dollars. Proceeds will go toward replenishing funds for HFEE’s Star Grant program supporting Huntington School District.
Talented Huntington High School strings students, including harpist Mary Grace Rorke, entertained the crowd during the cocktail hour, which included various passed appetizers. A DJ provided music throughout the evening. Many took the opportunity to dance on the spacious floor.
The two honorees were surrounded by family members, friends and professional colleagues. A large number of alumni turned out for Dr. Paci, who played on the Blue Devil football, basketball and baseball teams before heading off to Yale University. “It is my honor and pleasure to give back to a school district that has done so much for me,” Dr. Paci said. “To stand here tonight with my family and friends is something very special.”
All seven members of the Huntington Board of Education were in attendance along with teachers, PTA members and parents.
“The gala was an absolutely beautiful and well-needed community celebration following the challenges all have faced during the past two years,” Mr. Polansky said. “I am humbled by the honor and particularly pleased to share it with Dr. James Paci. My sincerest thanks go out to the dedicated Huntington Foundation folks who made the event possible and who continue to provide the utmost support for our students, staff and schools every year.”
The Huntington Foundation is led by executive board members Jennifer Stevens (president), Kristine Colleluori (vice president of development), Laura Cheshire (vice president of grants/gala co-chair), Michele Sabatino (secretary), Meghan Knieriem (chief financial officer), Tara Poli (vice president of development), Jennifer Hebert (vice president of grants) and Jennifer Tullo (public relations/marketing officer).