Ally Arleo has always enjoyed good relationships with her teachers. The Huntington High School senior is naturally bubbly and while she’s hit it off well with everyone, two faculty members really stand out in her experience. Wherever life takes the teenager she will always remember Michael Schwendemann and Paige Tyree and she’ll always be grateful to both of them.
Ms. Arleo is headed to LaSalle University in Philadelphia in the fall. She plans to pursue an academic major in counseling/social work with a minor in management and leadership. The senior hopes to return to Huntington and work as a guidance counselor or social worker.
While she’s bonded in some way with every teacher she’s had, Ms. Arleo has developed special relationships with Mr. Schwendemann, who teaches English and serves as the drama club advisor and Mrs. Tyree, a business teacher and coach of the Highsteppers competitive dance team.
Ally Arleo is headed to LaSalle University in Philadelphia
“Schwend is a one of a kind teacher,” Ms. Arleo said. “He has this way of teaching that keeps you entertained and not bored, which is great to have when working with high schoolers. In my past four years of high school, I’ve been lucky enough to have him three times out of the four. Each year our bond grows stronger and stronger and I don’t think I would have made it through high school without him. He’s amazing in every way and the thought of leaving him makes me so sad, but I know even when I’m in college he will always be someone to lean on.”
A graduate of John Adams High School in Ozone Park, Queens, Mr. Schwendemann, or “Schwendy” as most students know him, earned a BA at CUNY-Queens College in communication arts and sciences and drama, theatre and dance. He obtained a master of fine arts from the University of Alabama.
Mr. Schwendemann worked as an adjunct faculty member at Long Island University-C.W. Post College in the department of theatre, dance and film from 1996 to 2001. He was in Huntington during parts of 2001-2003 performing outreach for the National Shakespeare Company, but he never envisioned himself as a Huntington teacher. He took additional courses at Long Island University in 2002, securing his English teaching certification.
“It was luck that landed me at Huntington High School,” Mr. Schwendemann said. “I was actually offered a job at Bay Shore High School, where I was student teaching, but the teacher I was to replace changed his mind about leaving. Nina Wolfe, the chair of the English department felt terrible and secured me an interview at Huntington. The rest, as they say, is history!” He began working full-time at Huntington High School in January 2003.
Ms. Arleo is the manager of the Highsteppers dance team. She has worked closely in the post with Mrs. Tyree, who serves as the team’s coach. The teenager has also studied business with the teacher and the two have grown close.
A 2000 graduate of Smithtown High School, Mrs. Tyree went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She worked in marketing for Chanel and Louis Vuitton before returning to college and obtaining a graduate degree at Hofstra University in 2010. She joined the Huntington faculty in 2010.
“Mrs. Tyree has been my role model from the first day of high school,” Ms. Arleo said. “Being her intern has taught me many things, from the behind the scenes of a business to creating a whole Shark Tank presentation. She has this thing about her where she lights up a room when she walks in. Mrs. Tyree is so lovable, kind and has cared for me every year I’ve been in this school. I have been lucky enough to go to Florida with her and the Highsteppers and I can’t thank her enough for all she’s done for me. She’s my role model and I look up to her every day.”
As her days at Huntington High School grow shorter, Ms. Arleo has come to realize just how much she will miss its friendly confines.
“I’ll always remember the positive home-like vibe,” Ms. Arleo said. “Every school has its ups and downs, but Huntington High School gives you this reminder that the whole ‘Once a Blue Devil, always a Blue Devil’ is a real thing. The high school is something special. We’re a family. We’ve had some pretty eventful things happen where we’ve had to come together and be there and it’s an amazing thing.”
Ms. Arleo is happy with your experience during the past four years and she wouldn’t trade it for anything. She couldn’t see herself attending any other high school or enjoying this experience with any other group of classmates, teachers, coaches and club advisors.
“Huntington High School is different than any other school I’ve heard of or have been to,” Ms. Arleo said. “No other school that I know has so many teachers who care for students the way they do here. They give you the support you need. Not every school is perfect, but Huntington High School is another home to me. I know when I’m home from college I’ll be welcomed back. There is so much to offer from clubs, trips to different places, sports and music programs; you are bound to find something for you. There is something for everyone if you truly search.”