The bittersweet farewell of several school board members at their final board of education meeting Monday night was marked with an enormous honor - literally.
President Anne Marie Sorkin, who did not seek this year, was awarded a 4-foot-tall proclamation from Suffolk County Legis. Steve Stern, D-Dix Hills. He joked that the giant certificate was in keeping with a promise to make a “really big proclamation” for the trustee when she finished her presidency.
The good humor capped off an emotional evening for the outgoing president, as well as trustees Carole Catapano and Jay Marcucci, who also did not run for reelection.
The district is also saying goodbye to top administrators as Victor Manuel, assistant superintendent of finance and facilities, will resign June 30 for a similar position with Jericho schools, and Superintendent Sheldon Karnilow is at the end of the summer after 10 years in the position.
Heartfelt speeches from the board members at were received with warm words of gratitude and applause from staff, parents and community members.
“I know what you do is not easy, especially with parents like me,” Kesha Woodward said to Karnilow. “I think Half Hollow Hills is better for having you here...You gave students a voice that they thought they didn’t have previously.”
Alissa Taff, president of the Civic Association of Sweet Hollow, pointed to the work of each outgoing member, naming Sorkin for her “drive, intellect and stubbornness” to get the work done, Marcucci for his “open-mindedness and devotion” and Catapano for her “tenacity.”
“All of you will be missed and you each deserve a huge ‘thank you,’” she said.
As they turned over a new leaf, the outgoing trustees offered advice for the next board.
“We are in a difficult economic climate," Catapano said. "You have some very difficult decisions to be made...Search for ways to improve the bottom line."
In a special presentation, Karnilow was awarded with a Triple A Board of Education Award, named after the initiative he created in 2007, which intends to put equal focus on academics, athletics and the arts. He credited the honor with the work of the board and dedication of the school community.
“It has been a pleasure to spend the last 10 years in a place I love to be. I value each and every member of this school community,” he said. “Your efforts have made my tenure at Half Hollow Hills the best it could possibly be.”
Stepping into Karnilow’s shoes in the will be Deputy Superintendent Kelly Fallon. Also, Patrick Harrigan, who is currently assistant superintendent for secondary education will become assistant superintendent for districtwide administration.
Newly board trustees Betty DeSabato, Diana Acampora and Paul Peller will transition into their new roles over the next month.