A New York City police detective, an NFL administrator and distinguished entrepreneurs were just some of the alumni to be inducted recently into the John F. Kennedy High School Hall of Fame. This year’s induction of 13 alumni and two teachers coincided with another celebration — the school’s 50th anniversary. Both occasions were marked at a May 6 ceremony at the Coral House in Baldwin.
“I think much of who I am began here, on Long Island,” said inductee Thomas Buda, a 1978 graduate who went on to in the military and law enforcement. Buda added that his high school teachers inspired him to bring about change in every field he pursued. He kept this in mind throughout his career, including when he helped investigate the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as an NYPD detective — two of his proudest achievements, he said.
“My dream of making a difference came true,” Buda said.
Every two or three years the Bellmore JFK Alumni Association looks for individuals like Buda who have “become very successful in their field or made a big difference to society as a whole,” said Ron Steiger, a representative of the organization. “In other words,” he added, “they gave back.”
“To see who the other inductees are and what they’ve done … knowing that I’ve been ranked among them is incredible,” said Wayne Levinson, who graduated in 2006 and is the Hall of Fame’s youngest inductee. He founded and is now president of Bulk FR8, a company that specializes in the transportation of bulk liquids and chemicals.
Inductee Michael Greenberg graduated in 2003, and is now director of football administration for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has negotiated contract extensions for leading players such as Gerald McCoy and Levante Davis, which he said are his greatest professional achievements. He added, however, that Kennedy was the scene of an even more memorable moment in his life: meeting his prom date and future wife, Ilana Greenberg.
In addition to alumni, Shula Hirsch and Gregory Maushart, both former faculty members, were also recognized at the ceremony and added to the Cougar Nation Wall of Honor for their devotion and service to the school.
Eileen Connolly, a retired Kennedy assistant principal, told inductees that their success “validates that what [the Kennedy community] did mattered and what you received mattered even more.”