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MEET THE 2024 WALL OF FAME INDUCTEES thumbnail258044
MEET THE 2024 WALL OF FAME INDUCTEES thumbnail258114

The Farmingdale School District is delighted to extend its warm congratulations to the exceptional individuals selected as honorees for their remarkable accomplishments. Join us for the induction ceremony on Wednesday, May 29th, 2024, at 6:30 p.m. as we gather in the Lecture Hall at Farmingdale High School to celebrate and recognize these outstanding members of our community. We invite all family, friends, and colleagues to attend, share their joy, and celebrate their hard work and achievements.

Announcing the 2024 Wall of Fame Honorees:

Dr. John R. Balcuk - Class of 2000

Dr. Balcuk started his post-secondary career at Adelphi University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Physical and Health Education. In 2011 he started his pursuit of nursing studies at Farmingdale State College, then received his Master’s of Science in Nursing Education at Long Island University in 2015 and ultimately his Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Chamberlain University in 2023. Before becoming a nurse, Dr. Balcuk was a public school teacher and was a substitute teacher and coach within the Farmingdale School District. This background laid the foundation for a career in nursing focused on staff development, leadership, and advancing the nursing practice. Dr. Backup has held various positions during his nursing career. These positions have included being a Director of Nursing Recruitment and Retention, Nursing Supervisor, Educator, and clinical staff. Notably, Dr. Balcuk led the development and implementation of a New York State-approved hospital-based CNA program. This program allowed an entry point for people looking to enter the healthcare field. The program gained national attention as this program replenished CNAs who were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 Epidemic. He presented at the American Hospital Association in July 2023 and has written a research brief that is slated to be published in September 2024. As a former educator, his passion for teaching and supporting his “students” has carried over into the nursing field. He will be presenting his work, titled, “Stress First Aid: Management of New Graduate Nurse Stress'' at the National Nurse Educator Summit in Salt Lake City in April 2024. He is passionate about self-care and peer-supportive models to reduce stress for nurses which ultimately impacts patient care, nurse retention, and promotes a healthy work environment. Dr. Balciuk’s passion for hockey started when he was a Daler and he has continued to play and participate in multiple fundraising events. He is a co-creator of “Hockey Helps 24 Hour Marathon” which has raised over 4 million dollars for local charities to help individuals struggling with addiction, mental illness, and cancer and to provide support for children and youth facing economic disadvantages, illness, or related hardships. Currently, Dr. Balcuk is an adjunct Professor at SUNY Farmingdale and hopes to transition to full academia in order to continue his passion for education and to prepare future nurses for the pivotal role they play in the healthcare system. Based on his commitment to fundraising for local charities through sports, professional accomplishments, and valued impact on the healthcare system, our committee recommends Doctor John R. Balcuk for the 2024 Wall of Fame celebration.

Mr. Robert (Bob) Waligunda - Class of 1963

Mr. Robert Waligunda attended Springfield College where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree. Mr. Waligunda also pursued a Doctorate Degree in Guidance and Psychological Services through Springfield College. As a child, Mr. Waligunda became in awe of all things that fly. As he pursued his studies at Springfield College he saw his first hot air balloon and his life changed forever. Mr. Waligunda founded his own balloon business which would grow and become one of the nation’s largest balloon companies. Mr. Waligunda became a Master Pilot Balloonist and due to his leadership and achievements, Sports Illustrated magazine deemed him, “The Dean of American Balloonists” and “The most renowned Aerostatic Aviator in America”. On December 3, 1971, he was hailed on the floor of the House of Representatives for his courageous flight across the continental United States known as the “The Great American Balloon Adventure”. This was nationally televised in 1971. His hot air balloon named America, and other artifacts of his life have been on display at the Smithsonian Air Space Museum in Washington. Mr. Waligunda not only immersed himself in the practice of being a pilot and author but rendered his expertise to Hollywood, theme parks and museums. His philanthropic service has impacted organizations such as the Make a Wish Organization. He is the co-author of The Great American Balloon Book and has been featured in Life, Fortune, Popular Science, and Mechanix Illustrated. Considered by many, a National Treasure, he has never forgotten his Farmingdale and Long Island roots. Based on his professional accomplishments and remarkable impact on the world of aviation, our committee recommends Robert Waligunda for the 2024 Wall of Fame celebration.

Mr. Greg Warnokowski - Class of 1985

Mr. Warnokowski is currently Farmingdale’s Director of Fine and Performing Arts. His professional studies were completed at Ithaca College, Queens College, and Dowling College. As a middle school band director for 14 years and 16 years as a high school band director he has enriched the lives of thousands of students. He is an accomplished musician and pianist who regularly performs with many popular bands across Long Island. Mr. Warnokowski returned home in 2020 when he accepted the position of the Director of Fine and Performing Arts here in the Farmingdale School District. In the height of COVID, when education in its entirety was modified, his leadership and commitment to providing the best music and arts program available was exemplary. He is a past president of the Nassau Music Educators Association after serving many years as a chairperson and vice president for jazz education and various other divisions. He has been honored by WLNY TV where he was named NYS Lottery Educator of the Month, appeared on TV Channel 21 with host Laura Savini to discuss the NMEA All-County Jazz program, and a Lifetime Honorary Member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Additionally, Mr. Warnokowski is a leader amongst music and art educators in New York. In September 2023 the Farmingdale Community faced an insurmountable tragedy. Mr. Warnokowski was on the band trip that took the lives of two beloved members of our community and impacted the lives both physically and emotionally for so many of our students and staff. In this difficult time, he focused on supporting our community and ensuring that our music and arts programs continue to run with excellence.

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