Coalition Spotlight: RYC Senior Class


This quarter’s coalition spotlight is on the Riverhead Youth Coalition (RYC) senior class. The RYC senior class consists of 12 students, who have each made unique and positive contributions to the Riverhead community.

RYC plays a key role in the larger Riverhead Community Coalition. To change conditions that contribute to underage drinking and drug use, RYC primarily focuses on community-based environmental strategies. This entails working with law enforcement, businesses, and the government to reduce youth access to and the availability of these substances. In addition, RYC members offer a distinctive voice to increase community awareness of these concerns. They use social media and radio public service announcements (PSAs) to achieve this.

Isabella Marcucci, Riverhead Community Coalition coordinator, and Cynthia Redmond, Prevention Supervisor, are the RYC co-coordinators. They met with the seniors to discuss their experiences with the coalition.


Each student had specific reasons for joining. These include wanting to make a positive change in their community, being passionate about reducing youth substance use, and participating in community service. Regardless of why they joined, each member has shown themselves to be an integral part of the coalition.

“I joined RYC because I believe in the power of young voices and the ability to create change,” said Isaac Lopez Amaya. “I also joined because it’s important to stand up for what you believe in. It’s nice to work with others who share the same passion for making a difference in the community,”

Simon Lucarelli-Senft said, “I joined at first because of the community service hours provided. But as the years went on, I grew to love the work I did with RYC. The people I have met through the program are wonderful, and I met some of my closest friends there.”

Some students initially came for the pizza but stayed because the passion of other members was contagious. “I joined CAP originally because I was told there would be free pizza, which there was,” said Connor Bobinski. “But as the first couple of meetings and events began, I found out how much of an impact we had on our peers with underage drug use, as well as our importance within the community. When I realized this, I began to accept this role of leadership, spreading awareness and volunteering within my community to aid in preventing this ongoing issue.”


With a keen understanding of the challenges facing their generation, these students spearheaded various initiatives, from organizing awareness campaigns to writing and recording Public Service Announcements on local radio stations. The students reflected on their favorite activities over the years.

Jack McCormick noted his favorite event,I enjoyed the annual Meet and Greet because I got to interview adults in the community about drug-related problems.” At the Meet and Greet, the adult and youth coalitions bring key Riverhead stakeholders together to highlight accomplishments during the past year.

Hiranya Gunasingha, Ethan Caskie, and Daniella Flores Hernandez all agreed that their favorite activities are Medication Take Back events. RYC participates during Riverhead Town’s STOP Days along with the Riverhead Police Department. They collect unused, unwanted, and expired medication. These efforts reduce the availability of drugs in the community and help protect the environment through proper disposal. As part of this initiative, the coalition placed a permanent Drop Box in the lobby of the Riverhead Police Department in 2014. Since then, over 12,500 pounds of medication have been collected.

For Alexandra Santoro and Tifany Perez, their favorite activity was Samantha Skunk, which teaches young children medication safety in a fun, engaging, and age-appropriate way. The goal is to prevent accidental ingestion of medication by children. “Samantha Skunk was hands down my favorite activity,” said Tifany. “It’s a comedic skit that was so much fun to act in front of the young children,”


RYC’s impact extends beyond individual achievements. Together, these seniors have fostered a culture of collaboration, inclusivity, and empowerment within the Riverhead community. They partner with local businesses, the Riverhead Police Department, the Riverhead Recreation Department, local radio stations, and PBMC to raise awareness about substance use issues in the community.

One example includes Sticker Shock initiatives. RYC members visit local pizza places, like Roadhouse or Carlos’, or beer distributors (under adult supervision), and place brightly colored stickers that warn about the consequences of providing alcohol to minors. RYC has also partnered with the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island to increase awareness of the dangers of menthol cigarettes.

Annual Beach Clean Ups are a favorite for Aidan Reynolds, Jackson Redmond, and Michael Zdanowicz. These take place every September as part of Coastal Clean Up Month. This activity also allows RYC members to collect data about youth substance use. In 2023, they collected over 50 pounds of garbage from Jamesport and Reeves Beach. Members found evidence of underage drinking at certain spots on the beach. This data helps shape the coalition’s needs assessment and annual action plan.

For members like Aiden Reynolds, participating helped them make changes within their school community. He reflected on his time with RYC and appreciated it because it “helped me with helping friends quit (vaping).”


Each senior brings a unique perspective and skill set to the coalition, contributing to its success in diverse ways. From passionate public speakers to behind-the-scenes organizers, getting to know each member reveals the depth of talent and dedication within the group. We asked members of the RYC senior class to describe themselves in three words.

Isaac Lopez Amaya: “Ambitious, Passionate, & Considerate”
Connor Bobinski: “Disciplined, Athletic, Positive”
Ethan Caskie: “Passionate, Hardworking, Adaptable”
Daniella Flores Hernandez: “Opinionated, Loud, Determined”
Hiranya Gunasingha: “Artistic, Shy, Talkative (once I get comfortable with you)”
Jack McCormick: “Caring, Conscientious, and Athletic”
Simon Lucarelli-Senft: “Funny Bird Man.”
Tifany Perez: “Ambitious, Determined, Selfless”
Jackson Redmond: “Motivated, Positive, Athletic”
Aidan Reynolds: “Disciplined, Funny, Caring”
Alexandra Santoro: “Determined, Adventurous, Driven”
Michael Zdanowicz: “Athletic, Positive, Motivated”

Reflecting on Challenges and Growth

Most of the RYC senior class have been members since 7th grade. Through the years Cynthia Redmond has watched them grow into the leaders they are today. “What I appreciate so much about the Class of 2024 is their resilience and clear focus on what is important to them,” she said.

“They faced challenging academic demands, balanced multiple activities including sports, music, art, and other community service clubs, and faced personal triumphs and adversity. They started high school at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and amid a school budget failure that had a deep impact on their lives. Despite it all, I have witnessed their positive spirit, their tremendous work ethic, and their willingness to put themselves out there as advocates for living a substance-free lifestyle which isn’t always easy when you’re a teenager. These are young people who know who they are. They accept others without reservation, and will undoubtedly move on to very successful and purposeful lives.”

Ethan Caskie shares his gratitude for the youth coalition by encouraging other Riverhead students to join. “I am extremely grateful for the experiences I have had and the friends I have made while in RYC,” he said. “If you are a middle or high school student in Riverhead I strongly recommend joining!” 

For more information

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