Celebrating our youth and their accomplishments


In celebration of Black History Month, The Long Island Advance decided to interview our local youth. After soliciting the very best students from local schools including Patchogue-Medford, South Country and William Floyd, the following students were selected as future leaders.

Patchogue-Medford Schools

Tamiya Williamson-Fraser: Tamiya, 17, is an 11th-grade student at Pat-Med High School who just celebrated her birthday earlier this week. She plays varsity basketball and JV softball; she also just joined the new girls flag football team. She is also a member of the Anchor and African American Caribbean Clubs. After college, she hopes to become a forensic detective. “I like finding out how crimes happen,” she said, also noting that her family mostly works in schools. “I hope to make a difference and have an impact on people, helping them in any way I can.”

Paityn Medley: Paityn, 11, is a sixth-grade student from South Ocean Middle School. She has two older brothers, not in the district, and lives with her grandmother and mother, who is a nurse. Paityn enjoys art and loves to draw as a member of the school’s art club. In her future, she hopes to become a famous artist or a volleyball player. “I like being a leader because you know that people can count on you,” she said. “Being a good leader is someone who understands people and other people’s problems.”

Nevaeh Rogers: Nevaeh, 11, is a fifth-grade student at River Elementary School in Patchogue. She plays the cello, enjoys math club, and is a member of Project Strive, a student empowerment and positivity club. Her favorite subject in school is science and she hopes to one day become a herbologist. She thinks plants are very interesting and plans on planting seeds this spring. Both her parents are proud of her accomplishments. As for being a leader, she said it is someone who helps people learn to be nice. Her hope for the future: “I hope that racism ends and everyone can be friends.”
Dutch Owens: Dutch, 10, is a fifth grader at Medford Elementary and a Patchogue resident with an older brother, two sisters, and a little brother on the way. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, who is a medical student, by one day becoming an orthopedic surgeon. “It fixes people’s bones and makes their bones bounce back from broken to fixed,” he said of his interest. He loves gym, music and art, and is also a member of Project Strive, I Ready Level Up, and plays floor hockey. He also played violin as a fourth grader. As for his leadership role, he is an honor guard captain in the first-grade wing, making sure everyone gets to and from class safely. Being a leader to him means making sure people are okay, he said, also noting that he is proud to be one. “I am the students of all students,” he said, laughing with principal Dr. Sharon Deland, who always tells him, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.”
Giahna Montaque-Jackson: Giahna, 10, is a fifth grader at Barton Elementary and a leader in her classroom. She hopes to one day become a lawyer and then a judge. But before then, her little sister and cousins hope to create a beauty-supply business. She enjoys gym class and plays on a basketball team. She also likes to do gymnastics and cheer, and one day hopes to run track and play football. In the classroom, she is the treasurer of the fifth-grade student government in charge of the classroom’s fake economy, which earns the students privileges. “I want to become famous one day,” she said of her future, but also noting she will always remember her favorite principal, Mr. Matthew Hanley.

Bellport High School

The Black History Month Committee at Bellport High School, composed of facility and staff, chose the following students as future leaders. The committee is in charge of planning activities and events associated with the month. This year’s celebration included bingo, afro-beats wellness and aerobics dance, HBCU fair, and resisting old thinking, an assembly with Khalik Allah and Wayne White.

Tyreik Booker: Tyreik, 17, a 12th grader at BHS, is also a BOCES HVAC student and the president of the Skills USA program. He is also a truck loader at the local Bellport Lighthouse Mission where he was a volunteer and a youth program member before that. Though he originally wanted to pursue a career in HVAC, he said he has since decided to go to college to become a teacher. He will be attending Suffolk County Community College, then transferring to St. Joseph’s University. He lives in Bellport with his mother, who is a medical tech. In his free time, he enjoys heading down to the water for fresh air and riding his bike. In his future, he said, he hopes to get a bachelor’s degree and eventually a master’s teaching elementary school, high school, and maybe one day, college.

Bryelle Reid: Bryelle, 16, is an 11th grader at BHS and a member of the Multi-Cultural Club as well as the Math and Science Honor’s Society. She is also on the high school bowling team and has been bowling since she was 7 years old. After high school, she hopes to become a chemistry teacher. She also enjoys drawing and reading. Both her parents are retired cops and she has two siblings in the district. When asked what she hopes for the future, she said, “I want to establish a friendly environment for people of color.”
Sean Anthony Crooms: Sean, 17, is a senior at BHS and the captain of the varsity cross country, winter and spring track teams. He is also the president of the Multi-Cultural Club and a member of the student government and honor society. His father works in business contracting and mother is a system analyst; he also has two siblings in the district. He hopes to attend college for running, with SUNY Buffalo as his top choice. He will be majoring in finance with a minor in economics. He hopes to one day become a financial analyst working for the government in foreign trades. His ultimate goal is to help kids in urban areas and even social economic statuses.

Gianna Bowe: Gianna, 17, is also a senior at BHS. She is the captain of the varsity volleyball team and a member of the national honor society. Her mother works in the district as a lunch lady and she has a sibling that graduated from BHS last year. She also plays volleyball for Club Attack. As for her future, she wants to possibly attend Johnson and Whales for business administration, but ultimately, wants to see where life takes her. “I want to be happy and financially stable,” she said simply.

Autumn Gamble: Autumn, 18, also a senior at BHS, is a member of the national junior honor society, plays lacrosse and track. She also likes to draw. She has two siblings in the district and her mother is a nurse and her father works in construction. After college, she wants to work in behavioral genetics matching traits to people. Her goals for the future are to travel and be successful.
Gael Michel: Gael, 16, is an 11th grader at BHS and a member of the Compass Youth Coalition, which is an anti-drug and alcohol club, and the World Culinary Club. She has four siblings who graduated from BHS and are now a working on becoming a PA, pilot, businessman and teacher. Gael plans on studying pre-law at Howard University. Her future goals are to take care of her family and parents when they’re older. Both her parents are home health care workers.

Sanai Springer: Sanai, 16, is an 11th grader at BHS and a member of the track and lacrosse teams with plans to join the cross-country team next year. She is also a member of the Compass Youth Coalition and will be starting her own Animal Club, where students can help shelter animals by raising money for food and care. She has multiple siblings and her mother works for social security. In her future, she hopes to become a veterinary doctor with plans to attend either Albany or MSU. Her hopes for the future are to be successful at track, have money and a big SUV, with enough room for three kids in the back. Adv/Fuentes

William Floyd High School

The leaders of the William Floyd High School Black Student Union took their time to share their accomplishments and future goals. The union, which is relatively new and started last year, provides the opportunity for students to celebrate Black culture, lifestyle, and history. This month, the BSU, also highlighted Black History Heroes, which can be found on Instagram @wfbsu.

Bryanna Walker: Bryanna is an 18-year-old senior at William Floyd High School. She hopes to attend college as a psychology major while also being a part of cultural clubs. After college, she hopes to become a social worker and eventually a licensed therapist. The BSU, she explained, is in its first full year and becoming very successful. “This club is for all of our school, not just Black kids, to educate and learn more about Black/African culture,” she explained. “We also address different issues our members face in their everyday life. Our club is inclusive and judgment free for all to enjoy!” Her hope for the future: “I hope the future to be a more inclusive and accepting place where everyone has a voice and is heard.”

Shantique Smith: Shantique is a 17-year-old senior at William Floyd High School and is also one of the leaders the school’s Black Student Union. She also hopes to study psychology in college and someday become a therapist to help others. “In the future, I hope we all become more connected as people and learn to love ourselves,” she said. “BSU to me is not just a club but a family; this club truly means a lot to me and the other leaders. We use this club to educate others and ourselves about Black culture. This club is a safe space for Black students to express themselves, talk about their struggles, and share experiences.”

Imani Dendy: Imani is also a BSU leader and 18-year-old senior at William Floyd High School. She hopes attend college as a biology major headed to the medical field, to eventually become a doctor to help the diversity in the field. Her hopes for the future include seeing the club help spread awareness about not just the struggles of African Americans, but also the culture. Imani also loves to sing and plays tennis and track.