Senator John J. Flanagan visited on October 28, 2019 to discuss issues, such as vaping and school security, and to tour numerous programs.
Flanagan has represented the Second District of the NYS Senate for thirty-three years as both the majority leader for nineteen years and the minority leader for fourteen years. He also served as the Chair for the Educational Committee for five years.
Flanagan graduated from Harborfields High School and then received an economics degree at William and Mary College. Afterwards, he attended Touro College for additional studies.
Students from grades 10-12 sat down with Senator Flanagan to discuss prominent issues within the school and community.
“We are grateful for Senator Flanagan visiting Commack High School to tour some of our classes: Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Science Research, IB Dance, and CISCO: Introduction to Networks. Additionally, the student members of our District Legislative Advocacy Committee were able to meet with Senator Flanagan to discuss important issues and share the voice of our students,” said principal Leslie Boritz.
One topic discussed was the vaping epidemic and the effect it has on students’ lives, particularly the increasing number of vape-related deaths. He made the point that almost a decade ago, vaping was practically non-existent among young adults and its purpose was to help adults wean off the use of cigarettes. However, he agrees that legislation or limits should be established regarding the age limit required to purchasing vaping products. Leaders like himself are frequently faced with the question whether the government is at liberty to intervene. Apart from purchasing goods in-person, there is a large e-commerce shop, which raises the question of who is responsible, the United States or International Corporations.
Another issue addressed was the stigma around mental illness. He understands that mental illness is harder to identify than a physical sickness such as a broken leg. Flanagan stated that if he could have one wish, it would be to instill self-esteem and confidence in all students. To amend the issue, students brought up the idea of peer mentorship and professional guidance from adults trained in the field.
Apart from meeting student advocates, Flanagan followed students on a tour around the school, while visiting some of the school’s most popular electives.
Flanagan, students and school administration visited a Technology classroom. Tech teacher, Thomas Shea, explained how students learned the importance of component parts, in which separate parts come together and create a holistic invention.
Later, the group ventured to the science research room, under the mentorship of Science Research teacher Jeanette Collette. Some areas of study included the effect essential oils have on fruit flies associated with the Alzheimer gene, and the effect of pollution on the population of honeybees.
Flanagan was then invited to see an IB Dance performance choreographed by students with the help of IB Dance teacher, Kimberly Cisek. The dance held a message about violence and destruction in the modern world, such as the battle on climate change and Cuban Migration. Flanagan, father of three musically-talented children, was captivated by the dance and “appreciated talents he could never possess.”
Lastly, the updated CISCO room was introduced. The classroom had updated wipe board desks, monitors and a larger computer main frame than previous years. Networking classes teach students the basics of Internet connection and a behind the scenes look at the Internet.
The visit overall, prompted wide discussion among students and school officials. 🔳