Gracia Renkewitz is having a great senior year at Huntington High School despite the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s determined to make each day count. While there have been many changes to daily life, the teenager is striving to remain optimistic and make the best of the situation.
“I was very excited to be working more with Mrs. [Danielle] Raguzin as her intern this year,” Ms. Renkewitz said. “It isn’t the internship I or anyone expected, but it is what it is and we are all figuring out ways to make it interesting. I was also excited to be working with Mrs. [Lauren’ Desiderio as my first year psychology teacher because I liked the idea of the class so I have become extremely interested in psychology, maybe even as a career path.”
The senior plays on the Blue Devil volleyball team and has participated in pre-season conditioning workouts during the period the competitive season has been on hold. “Coach [Todd] Donaghy and Mrs. [Carrie] Postel have generously been there to supervise us and it certainly isn’t as much fun as what it could be without COVID being a worry, but at least we are doing something and it’s nice to get out and see the team,” Ms. Renkewitz said.
A member of the National Honor Society, Science Honor Society and Latin Honor Society, Ms. Renkewitz volunteers with the high school’s Key Club and Habitat for Humanity chapters, participates in the Yearbook Club and is a Natural Helper, assisting classmates as they work through difficult personal challenges. She has even written for The Dispatch student newspaper.
“Some of my closest friends, other than my sister, are Alana Wallace, Ryan Aguirre, Mackenzie Madison and Daniella Fazin because I hang out with them frequently,” Ms. Renkewitz said.
The senior has worked well with her teachers and she’s very highly regarded by high school faculty members.
“Ms. [Maria] Canino has been really supportive and fun over the past four years of high school for me, even when I didn’t have her as a teacher,” Ms. Renkewitz said. “Mr. [Michael] Schwendemann has been an amazing teacher as well, having him freshman year and we have maintained a solid close friendship throughout my four years.”
Ms. Renkewitz has been fortunate to develop productive relationships with all of her teachers over the years.
“There hasn’t really been a teacher I had where I haven’t been able to make a connection with them,” the teenager said. “Mr. [Fred] Bisogno, Mr. [Kenneth] Donovan, Mrs. [Paige] Tyree, Mrs. [Kristin] Fortunato, Mr. [Robert] Gilmor, Mr. [Jason] Giachetti, Mr. [Michael] Corcoran, Mrs. [Suzie] Biagi, Mrs. [Lauren] Desiderio, Mr. [Brian] Stellato, Mr. [Joseph] Ruggiero, Mrs. [Lori] Kenny, Mrs. [Kristina] Morell, Mr. [Bienvenido Franco, Mr. [Michael] Graziano Mrs. [Danielle] Raguzin and Mr. [Christopher] Taylor have all been amazing teachers that I have had and I’m excited to continue to experience class with the teachers I have my last year of high school.”
Huntington High School science teacher Joseph Cohen is a standout faculty member in Ms. Renkewitz’s experience.
“Now I didn’t have the opportunity to have Mr. Cohen as a teacher, but we connected through Natural Helpers,” Ms. Renkewitz said. “You always have those meaningless ‘Hi, how are you?’ exchanges as you walk past a teacher or as a teacher walks past you and you exchange that greeting and question with an answer and the same question in return, but what stood out to me about Mr. Cohen is even though I didn’t have him as a teacher, when we would be passing each other in the hall during school he actually stopped and stood there asking for a real response or would check up on me and not in a nonchalant way. For some reason, the way he didn’t blow off the small ‘hello, how are you?’ conversation just resonated with me. That kind of showed me that it doesn’t always have to be that strict teacher/student relationship, where no real conversation happens.”
Ms. Renkewitz has some valuable advice for incoming high school freshmen. “Don’t be a follower; be your own person,” she said. “Try to think of every class you take, even if you don’t like it, as an advantage point because knowledge is power. Do not continuously anticipate everything, just go with the flow and live and appreciate what’s around you. It really really, really doesn’t matter what people think, but just be respectful and stand up for yourself and if you get overwhelmed with school work take one step at a time, get one thing out of the way at once otherwise you don’t get anything done efficiently.”
The teenager has many plans for the future. Just reading about them all gets a person’s heart racing. Ms. Renkewitz has a good idea of who she is, what interests her and where she wants to go with her life.
“I will be attending community college my first two years, most likely Nassau Community College and then my plan is to transfer into New York City for the rest of my college career,” Ms. Renkewitz said. “I have been super interested in chemistry my past two years so that’s definitely a career option, but I recently have been interested in psychology and was thinking about maybe majoring in it in college, studying how people think and why and studying psychological disorders. I plan on getting my real estate license and buying and renting buildings out, as well as volunteering at any places that help abandoned and abused animals and seriously getting into photography as maybe a side job or just a hobby.”
Ms. Renkewitz is always using her daily experiences to further her growth as a person. A confident young woman, she is well prepared to go out into the world and pursue her hopes and dreams with enthusiasm.
“My experience in Huntington has left me with so many memories, good and bad, however every single one of them has affected me in a positive way making me the person I am today,” Ms. Renkewitz said. “I’m glad to have experienced so many amazing teachers, I appreciate all the bonds I have created with students and teachers and I will hate and love to see it all go at the same time. Change is painful, but it’s the only way to progress.”