This year, the West Hempstead Community Support Association recognized three local high school students for their outstanding scholarship and active involvement in the community by presenting them with a Community Service Award. Seniors Steven Trezza, Devin Rockensies and Christopher McAvoy were selected to receive this honor – which offered a $500 cash prize to each of the recipients – as a result of their pursuits in mounting commendable service projects.
As one of these three honorees, McAvoy became eligible for this prestigious award in his tireless endeavor to preserve West Hempstead’s history for the last three years. With the help of West Hempstead Historical Society President John Shaud and Town of Hempstead Historian Thomas Saltzman, McAvoy administered various public events at the West Hempstead Public Library – which featured multimedia presentations entitled “West Hempstead Then and Now” and “Helen Duryea Remembers…”, complete with archived maps and photos – informing residents about the rich timeline buried below their feet.
“I noticed how neighboring towns seemed more sophisticated in preserving their histories and I wanted to improve the status of our own historical society,” said McAvoy, who will be attending Fordham University in the fall to major in engineering and physics.
Aside from preserving countless artifacts and photos from West Hempstead’s past with poster board displays and PowerPoint presentations, McAvoy has also striven to tap into digital media sources on film and on the web so that he may effectively broadcast this venture to the public. Boosting the online presence of his efforts with the West Hempstead Historical Society, McAvoy launched a Facebook page for the organization and worked with a local blogger to promote its mission in the blogosphere. In addition, McAvoy recently produced a short film that chronicles the centennial of Chestnut Street School and is currently seeking to develop a film about Lakeview Public Library.
McAvoy’s mother Lesley remembers how her son discovered this passion for history preservation when they visited a local historian during a fourth grade field trip. Lesley noted how her son turned to her after sifting through archives and said: “I want to make sure that everyone knows about this [history].”
When he’s not busy informing residents about historical treasures around town, McAvoy still contributes to his community as Vice President of the National Honor Society, President of the West Hempstead High School Math team, Captain of the Volleyball team, a Red Cross lifeguard for Nassau Country Swimming and a member of several other organizations, such as Model Congress and Athletes Helping Athletes. McAvoy has also earned other accolades for his achievements in science and engineering – including a gold medal for his biomimetic research project at the International Sustainable World Project Olympiad last year and the title of annual sponsor for the Long Island Science Congress Award.
“I really do value community service,” McAvoy said. “I am just trying to better the community by helping my neighbors become more inclined to recognize the history of West Hempstead.”
After he ventures off to college next year, McAvoy hopes that this project will continue to thrive among the West Hempstead community in such a way that will garner greater participation from the public.
Honorees Trezza and Rockensies were not available to comment.