Coalition Spotlight: Peer Leadership Senior Class


This quarter, we’re spotlighting the CAP Peer Leadership senior class. The Class of 2024 consists of 15 outstanding peer leaders, each making remarkable and positive impacts within the Riverhead community.

Since 1983, Riverhead Community Awareness Program has provided drug and alcohol prevention, education, and counseling programs for the Riverhead Central School District. One program, the Pulaski Street School prevention program, also known as Too Good For Drugs, is presented by trained 8th-grade and high school students, alongside community volunteers. The students who participate in this program are known as peer leaders. They assist adult presenters and serve as role models for their peers and younger students. The peer leaders dedicate their time to attending weekly training during lunch. The training provides essential information and public speaking skills, which allows for effective classroom presentations. Students demonstrating dedication to the program progress to become classroom presenters and mentors to newer members.

Working together as Peer Leadership advisors are Erin Adams, CAP HS social worker, Karen Keller, CAP MS social worker, and Isabella Marcucci, Riverhead Community Coalition coordinator. Together, they recently engaged in discussions with the senior class, delving into their invaluable experiences within the program.


The decision to join the Peer Leadership program is unique to every student. Many students join because they like teaching younger students about the dangers of substance misuse. Others join to earn community service hours or to strengthen their public speaking skills.

“I joined Peer Leadership to teach young kids about the effects of drugs and alcohol and to help them learn techniques to become good young adults,” said Marieline Amaya . “In my personal life, I have seen how drugs and alcohol can affect an individual and those around them, so I joined Peer Leadership to help young kids know about these dangers and to hopefully steer them away from it.”

Other students remember receiving the program while attending Pulaski and were eager to take part once old enough. Alexandra Santoro shared, “I joined Peer Leadership because when I was in 5th and 6th grade I looked up to my peer leaders. I thought they were the coolest ever and I wanted to be exactly like them.”


CAP Peer Leadership is a unique program where older peers teach younger students the dangers and consequences of underage substance use. Peer leaders present a series of lessons throughout the school year that focus on decision-making, effective communication, self-esteem, and preventing substance use. Peer leaders dedicate themselves to the curriculum through weekly training. Throughout the school year, they work diligently to gain public speaking and classroom management skills. During each presentation, they work with Pulaski students to give them the knowledge and skills to make healthy choices.

For many peer leaders, working with the younger students is the best part. “I like teaching the kids the lessons. We work hard so it’s fun to see the kids participating and learning,” Andrea Abreu said.

“I really love being able to connect with the Pulaski students and being able to learn about them and help them make decisions they can use for the rest of their lives.” Lorelei Hoenig reflected.

Every year, the Pulaski program culminates with the Say NO To Drugs March, a celebration for over 750 Pulaski students. This event celebrates the students’ efforts throughout the program and fosters a healthy and safe community. Every year, an honoree is chosen to lead the march, which takes place in downtown Riverhead. Peer leaders Bailey Tonn and Tiana Atkins especially love this day as they get to celebrate their younger peers. The 37th Annual CAP March just took place on Friday, June 7th.  Basketball Hall-of-Famer Sue Wicks was this year’s honoree and keynote speaker.


Each senior brings a distinct perspective and skill set to the Peer Leadership program. From hopeful teachers to passionate advocates of substance misuse prevention, each member’s contribution reveals the depth of talent and commitment within the group. We asked members of the Peer Leadership senior class to describe themselves in three words.

Andrea Abreu: “Kind, Fun, Loveable”
Jasmine Alvarado: “Patient, Honest, Open-minded”
Marieline Amaya: “Quiet, Dedicated, Kind”
Isaac Lopez Amaya: “Ambitious, Passionate, Considerate”
Tiana Atkins: “Kindhearted, Ambitious, Reliable”
Amaya Byrd: “Kind, Motivated, Compassionate”
Ethan Caskie: “Passionate, Hardworking, Adaptable”
Bailey Godsey: “Funny, Caring, Motivated”
Hiranya Gunasingha: “Artistic, Shy, Talkative (once I get comfortable with you)”
Lorelei Hoenig: “Hard-working, Friendly, Outgoing”
Tessa Khlar: “Empathetic, Fun, Committed”
Simon Lucarelli-Senft: “Funny Bird Man.”
Tifany Perez: “Ambitious, Determined, Selfless”
Alexandra Santoro: “Determined, Adventurous, Driven”
Bailey Tonn: “Funny, Competitive, Compassionate”


Most peer leaders are involved in many other school activities. These students balanced sports, music, Key Club, WISE, after-school jobs, and their academic responsibilities while participating in the program. They have shown how dedication, compassion, and teamwork can make a lasting positive impact on their community.

Erin Adams, CAP HS social worker, spoke about the senior class. “It was a privilege to have these students as our senior peer leaders this year. Each one of our graduating seniors made a wonderful impact on our program. They all have the ability, drive, and dedication to achieve any goals they set for themselves. I always appreciated having them in our program not only because of how much they contributed to it but also because of the people they are.

“This group is not only driven and hard-working but they are also kind and compassionate. They understand what it takes to face challenges, to contribute to our schools and community, and to also better themselves. They take on a huge task by joining Peer Leadership. In addition, they not only look to help and teach others, but they also open themselves up to learning and growing, and this group achieved it all wonderfully! They are the true definition of leaders and they are going to keep doing amazing things as they take their next steps on their journeys!”


To learn more contact Isabella Marcucci, coalition coordinator, at (631) 727-3722 ext. 106, or 

To join Riverhead CAP’s Peer Leadership Program contact Erin Adams, CAP HS social worker, at (631) 369-6738, or