Wall of Fame Honors FHS Alumni

We take every day, habitually roaming these hallways, for granted, crossing paths with familiar faces that almost seem to subconsciously blend into our surroundings. It is not very often that we consider our fellow classmates to be comprised of an amalgamation of unique experiences and aspirations. Seldom do we acknowledge the world others face beyond our high school days, and the lengths they go to better it. Such was a revelation I encountered this past April, at the Farmingdale School District’s “Wall of Fame” Ceremony.


Michael D. Russell
by Allie Jorge

I was graced with the opportunity to learn about alumnus and NYPD Police Officer Michael D. Russell during the event. I read his story aloud to the audience, and heard others speak on his behalf, as he unfortunately passed away during an off-duty shooting on a softball field, at a fairly young age, leaving behind a grieving wife and two small children – one of whom grew up to be a well-known teacher in our high school, Mr. Donald Russell. As he described it, ¨My father lives on through his children and grandchildren. We work in Farmingdale, and raise our children with the same mindset as he would have. ¨ Michael Russell had only attended Farmingdale for one year, that being his final year of high school; however, he fit right in as a fellow Daler. Mr. Russell explained, ¨Living in Farmingdale helped to encourage his sense of community. He was outgoing. Often after a day at the precinct, he would go to Allen Park for a pick-up game of basketball.¨ To have been a dependable person – the ¨go-to guy¨ – both within and beyond his high school days, even in the final moments he spent protecting his friends, made him more than deserving of this honor. And to be able to walk past his picture hanging among the others, carrying his account with me for probably the rest of my life, reminds me to have respect for those who’ve lived a fulfilling life. I’m happy to cherish all of this when I graduate next month.


Dr. Diane M. Wolk
by Rebecca Williamson

Dr. Diane M. Wolk graduated Farmingdale High School in 1968 and went to college to be an educator. She was an incredibly gifted teacher, and her excellence was rewarded when she received the Vermont Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award in 1984. After receiving the award, Dr. Wolk accomplished many more outstanding feats that helped further advance her already well-established career. She would become an elementary school principal, a professor at Castleton University, and later the Director of Student Teaching at the same university. While working on her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Vermont, she was appointed the position of Chairwoman of the Vermont State Board of Education from 1993-1999. However, tragedy struck in the form of a diagnosis: Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Her successful 34 year career in Education would come to an end, but it would be the beginning of a new chapter in Dr. Wolk’s life. She began her work to help find a cure for herself and the millions of other people who had the dreadful disease. Dr. Wolk bravely signed up for an experimental treatment, hoping that it could help discover new ways to treat the disease. She also raised over 10,000 dollars to help fund research for Alzheimer’s. Due to complications with her own diagnosis, Dr. Wolk sadly passed away at only 64 years old. Her hard work and dedication in everything she strived to achieve made her a perfect candidate for the Wall of Fame. The Wall is home to the faces of the most inspirational Dalers that have roamed these halls, so it is only fitting that Dr. Diane M. Wolk joined them this year.


Heather Parisi
by Alayna Camisa

Ms. Heather Parisi had a strenuous high school experience at Farmingdale High School. “ I never felt like I fit in and I was bullied and teased because my legs were two different lengths,” Parisi says. She felt like an outcast, which created a lack of self esteem and eventually turned into an eating disorder. However, her experiences did not stop her from being in all AP classes, on the Farmingdale High School swim team as a diver, and being in the top 5% of her class.

Parisi traveled to Kenya, Africa in 2008 and was completely engulfed with peace and ease. “There was a smell and a feeling that was just calming to me,” Parisi stated. At that moment, Ms. Parisi knew Africa was the right place for her. She traveled back to Africa and visited South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Ethiopia. In Uganda, she met a survivor of the Lord’s Resistance Army. He told Ms. Parisi his experience of being kidnapped and escaping. At that moment, she knew what she wanted to do with her life.

About 18 months after that visit, Heather Parisi founded the Fitness for Africa Organization, which led to the founding of the Pearl of Hope Nursery and Primary School, as well as the creation of Flip2BFit, a series of educational fitness games. The purpose of Flip2BFit is to reinforce healthy habits to the students. She was able to produce this game by visiting a factory in China, where it is produced. Her new project is creating a garden and feeding program that should come together in 2019. The purpose of this project is to plant and sell sustainable crops to raise money for the Pearl of Hope School. “Creating Flip2BFit and Fitness for Africa has truly brought out my inner self and strength. They have taught me resilience, determination, and confidence in going after something you believe in no matter what anyone says to you,” Ms. Parisi indicates.

Parisi has been able to travel to new countries, meet new people, and follow her dreams through her foundings of Fitness For Africa and Flip2BFit. Her Flip2BFit project has been awarded with the PTPA Award, Mom Choice Award, The Toy Man Review Award, Tillywig Award, Mindspring Award, and the Kidlutions Award. These are not the only awards her projects have won. Heather Parisi has had a huge impact on the world. “When someone else speaks about you and embraces your journey… it’s an amazing and very humbling feeling to be touched so purely by another,” she says. Ms. Parisi has truly earned her spot on our Hall of Fame.