Robert Buchanan Memorial Award recipient Haileigh Smith with guidance counselor Daphne Marcelin
Robert Buchanan Memorial Award recipient Haileigh Smith with guidance counselor Daphne Marcelin 

Haileigh Smith Presented Robert Buchanan Award

August 9, 2023

Huntington Class of 2023 salutatorian Haileigh Smith is this year’s recipient of the Robert Buchanan Award. She plans to study biology at Dartmouth College and pursue a career in dermatology.

Ms. Smith won varsity letters with the Blue Devil volleyball, fencing and softball teams. She captured a long list of awards in the National History Day contest, including first place on Long Island and third place in the state.

An Advanced Placement Scholar with Honor, Ms. Smith was also named a Distinguished Senior. She was inducted into five separate academic honor societies.

The teenager credits her success to her time management and organizational skills. Ms. Smith pointed to the “unwavering support from my teachers and classmates, who have been an essential part of this endeavor.”

Captain of the volleyball and fencing teams, Ms. Smith was a county runner-up in fencing. She’s been a standout in every possible way since beginning her trek through Huntington UFSD as a Washington Primary School kindergartener.

Even after 64 years, Mr. Buchanan’s fellow Class of 1959 members remain fiercely loyal and devoted to their fallen classmate. An award in his memory is presented annually to the salutatorian of the graduating class.

A resident of Halesite, Mr. Buchanan was one of three senior boys who was riding in a small foreign sports car that crashed into a large tree on the east side of Oakwood Road late in the afternoon on Monday, April 13, 1959 not far from what was then a brand new Huntington High School.

Riding in the passenger seat, Mr. Buchanan was the most seriously injured of the three boys as he sustained a fractured skull, broken leg and internal injuries. The driver of the car was the school newspaper editor. He suffered two broken legs and was also listed in critical condition. The third student was in the back seat of the car. He suffered multiple contusions.

The car went into a skid, leaving marks on the roadway that stretched 188 feet. Mr. Buchanan never regained consciousness and passed away on Saturday, May 2, 1959. A funeral service was held at Central Presbyterian Church on Main Street. Interment was at Wallkill Valley Cemetery in Wallkill, New York.