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What is Courage?

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Each year, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame presents Medals of Courage to wrestlers who have overcome insurmountable challenges. This year, the Upstate New York chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame honored Farmingdale high school social studies teacher Jim Hughes with this prestigious award.

“What is courage,” asked Farmingdale high school teacher Jim Hughes. “It’s facing life’s challenges, owning them and not letting them control you.”

Jim Hughes is a well-deserving recipient of this year’s Medal of Courage Award. From the age of three, Jim experienced visual impairment, but that didn’t deter him from being a leader among his peers in high school, winning matches, or becoming a nationally celebrated teacher who has inspired countless students. It also hasn’t prevented him from making countless contributions to his community. As vice president of the Farmingdale Federation of Teachers, a Lions Club member, a chaperone for wrestling tournaments, and moderator of numerous clubs at Farmingdale High School.

“Mr. Hughes is not only an incredible teacher but a role model for his students and our entire Daler family,” said Superintendent Paul Defendini. “We are blessed to have him as part of our team, and we are very proud of his induction to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.”

Hughes is an AP US History instructor at Farmingdale High School and is a highly decorated teacher. In 2006, the National Museum of Education recognized him as the Freida J. Reily Award winner, given to “an American teacher who overcomes adversity or makes an enormous sacrifice to impact students positively.” Two years later, the Harvard Club presented Hughes with the Distinguished Teacher Award. In addition, he was granted Honorary Lifetime PTA membership in 2016 and was featured in a CBS News special in 2012. Now, yet another honor has been added to his resume.

“When I found out I was being honored, I was giddy and proud,” said Jim Hughes. “I don’t wear my disability on my sleeve, but I set the example that life has challenges, and you can opt-out, or you can wrestle with those challenges. It’s all about how you deal with them, and I believe students see that.”

The Upstate New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame annual awards ceremony was held on September 19, 2021, at the DoubleTree Hotel in East Syracuse, New York.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame, America’s shrine to the sport of wrestling, opened in 1976 with a mission to preserve history, recognize excellence and inspire future generations.

For more information about the Farmingdale Union Free School District, please visit the district’s website at and like our Facebook page: @FarmingdaleSchoolDistrict.

By The Numbers


Students Enrolled


Honor Roll Students


Student Athletes


Student Artists


AP Courses Available


Students in After-School Activities