Commack 9/11 Memorial Nears Completion

New installation at Commack High School to be unveiled after district's annual candlelight memorial service on Sept. 11.


The Commack school district and community's efforts to commemorate the fallen heros of Sept. 11 is nearly complete after months of hard work. 

Commack school officials announced at their Thursday board meeting that the 9/11 memorial is nearing completion at Commack High School. The memorial will be unveiled following the district's annual candlelight ceremony on Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. 

Debbie Virga, who has overseen the organization and building of the memorial, said the pieces have finally come together over the summer and only a few minor details of the 9/11 memorial remain unfinished. 

"The other night while I was checking on the lighting... I saw a woman with her 6-year-old daughter, explaining to her daughter why it was being built. In watching this mother and child, I knew the vision we had was complete," Virga said. 

A central focus of Commack's 9/11 memorial will be a piece of steel the district received from the fallen World Trade Towers. 

"The receiving of that piece of steel from the towers was not happenstance. We were recognized for all the hard work and effort we put in over the past decade of putting together that 9/11 service and bringing the community together," said Mary Joe Masciello, the Board of Education president. 

Commack School District is one of a few districts to actually receive a piece of World Trade Center steel, more often pieces have gone to township or counties for memorials, according to Masciello. 

"When they looked at a list of what Commack as a community does, they thought that's what qualified us," the board of education president said. "We were part of something that has lasted for 10 plus years." 

The finished memorial will have the names of Commack residents and district alumni who perished in the Sept. 11 attacks. 

Gappsi, a Smithtown-based custom landscaping, masonry and natural stone workers, volunteered the materials and labor to build the memorial. Paving stones with the names of Commack residents and non-profit organizations will make the pathway that leads around the memorial. 

"It's truly amazing, it's a work of art. It's something to behold and it belongs to Commack," Virga said. 

ksep September 01, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Annmarie that is my name I am korean now how about you
GLENN September 01, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Hey GM, did Gappsi do all the brick work? Was that free? I didn't know they did that, I see the signs they did for the schools. Was this a bid, free or donation? I wonder if anyone got any FREE brick work from Gappsi out of this!
John Gruber September 01, 2012 at 06:17 PM
if someone like you ran the PTA, that explains a lot about our current school district
John Gruber September 01, 2012 at 06:20 PM
even if paid workers were involved, this is something worth putting a little money into. The district wastes millions on so many other things and all of a sudden THIS is an issue? the term "pick your battles" applies pretty strongly here
GLENN September 01, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I am a tax payer. ....AnnMarie the tax payer. Debbie will give you a big pat on the head for defending her. All you care about is finding out who people are, get a life...... If people wanted to put there last name they would have....with all the crazy people out there would you like my SS# too.
GLENN September 01, 2012 at 06:26 PM
hey john, blue Ribbon......see I laid the ground work me and all my volunteer friends that ran the PTA for FREE. Commack BLUE RIBBON not because of Debbie, because of PTA and community FREE!
GLENN September 01, 2012 at 06:29 PM
GLENN September 01, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Call Debbie on the phone the Commack tax payers let her use in the Commack building we let her use. Why should anyone volunteer we all want to get a contract like Debbie!
MarineVeteran September 01, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Sorry Lisa, another uninformed person. The memorial was done with paid workers, yes, but their salaries were donated by their employer, the Gappsi Group. that was a donation obtained by Mrs Virga. Let's see the PTA do that! So there are no extra companies on the payroll and no teachers were cut because of it!
Brody September 01, 2012 at 07:16 PM
ohh so annmarie you were on the PTA, Now i know why very little got done through the PTA while i was in High school, you ran it. That was Commacks first problem.....you! Out with the old, in with the New and now look at what the community has done. You guys get pushed to the side, debbie Virga's in charge and making things happen. Nothing is stopping you and your PTA friends, so lets see what you got and what you can do better. WE ALL CHALLENGE YOU to show us and the communuty what you and your PTA friends can do that is any better then what debbie Virga does. lets see what you got big shot!!!!! good luck, you will need it.
John Gruber September 01, 2012 at 07:26 PM
I believe the "blue ribbon" status is the students hard work. you seem to take and deny credit only when it's convenient for you
John Gruber September 01, 2012 at 07:37 PM
you do realize she does other than that most people DO get paid for. based upon the logic of your posts, I really hope you weren't running that PTA for long
Commack321 September 01, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Annmarie you are so rude! Debbie Virga does alot for this community and you should thank her! The memorial was a donation it will not raise taxes..you need to get your facts straight. I'm sure you wouldn't do half as much as she did for free. Debbie is an amazing person and she deserves every penny she gets.
jenni fret September 01, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Since you claim to have RAN THE PTA should we blame you for the Marion Carll farm issue of never being used properly. I don't recall your name as being on a ballot aver for school board. you have alot to say behid a computer ! You are a very angry woman!
Randi LaRosa September 01, 2012 at 10:01 PM
All this controversy has taken away from the point that this is a beautiful memorial dedicated to the lives lost on 9-11 and to the brave men and women who gave so much of themselves for their fellow man. The fact that this memorial was conceived and implemented by Mrs Virga and did not cost the school district or taxpayers any money is a testimony to the abilities of Mrs Virga whether you think she is overpaid or not. Thank you for this beautiful tribute.
Arthur Vandalay September 01, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I'm with randi, this memorial cost nothing to the taxpayers and yet Annemarie has been nonstop complaining. She must be some sort of terrorist..
Sal F September 01, 2012 at 10:34 PM
wow, i read an article about a monument being erected to honor all those that we lost in 9/11 and the pride i felt in knowing it would be right here in our backyard with a real piece of steel from the Trade Center has turned to disgust at the sniping and bad mouthing. I understand the need for fiscal restraint during these veryu tough times and I also understand the concerns of tax payers (as I am) over wasted money. But what I dont understand is how a great story on a memorial turned into a bad mouthing session over one individual?? Why attack this woman whom I've never even met? She has a job and is doing what any hard working American should be doing... making a living!!! She chose a profession that allows her to be involved in community projects, good for her. It seems Annemarie, your anger is misguided and at the wrong person. The school administration approves and spends the money!! I'm sure the salary Ms. Virga makes is nominal compared to the huge costs of the administration and all the Superintendents!!! Long Island is the highest taxed area and most of it goes to our schools where we have redundency in management. and as a side note, free is not always better!! A monument of this scale required skilled workers and supervision. Lets celebrate a wonderful event and thank the School and Ms. Virga for making it happen. let's also thank Gappsi for the donation.
Randi LaRosa September 01, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Well said. I hope everyone has said their piece and will now focus on the reason for this memorial. So many are already forgetting why it is even necessary to erect something like this and for the many who are still living the nightmare, please don't let these comments take away from the fact that the American people still mourn the loss of so many on 9/11/2001. They will always be in my prayers and thoughts.
GLENN September 01, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Randi, Thank you for the refocus!
GLENN September 02, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Yes, you can blame what ever you want on me, just know FREE is FREE the PTA did many things without asking for money, debbie's contract should not be renewed our Dist. cannot afford it. If you dont like what I have to say behind a computer then don't read my post..simple as that!
Lisa September 02, 2012 at 12:16 AM
I think people should be able to criticize someone, when they pay there share and yet many people here don't want to hear any other side, we can get the services DV offers for free from PTA, students, parents so why pay when we can keep the teachers. I dont think this contract should be renewed.
Lisa September 02, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Like you Arthur, she has the right to express her opnion , unfortunately it seems DV friends have logged on so no real debate can take place. If you can honestly say you think having a community organizer is worth more to Comamck then having a teachers job saved, that is your choice! I don't agree but name calling I will not do..just facts!
Commack 18 September 02, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Lisa - I beg to differ - When ever there are events going up at school, hardly anyone volunteers. You almost have to beg people to get involved. Count how many parents go to the PTA meetings. It's always the same people that volunteer.
Commack 23 September 02, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Debbie is one person and no one gives more of themselves than Debbie. In a school where there are hundreds of kids you are lucky if you get 20 people involved in the PTA and if you do they are the same 20 doing everything.
Commack 23 September 02, 2012 at 01:49 AM
I agree with you Randi Debbie does so much more than anyone really knows. She approaches everything with such a passion she doesn't do it to get recognized but a lot of what she does is from her heart. It's Debbie who picks up the senior citizens if they don't have a way to get to the school, it;s Debbie who is the one attending meetings and reaches out to try and get speakers to talk to our kids about the drugs that are happening to our blue ribbon school kids. Don't know how many hours a day the normal person works but I do know that Debbie works a lot more hours than most people and her heart is always in the right place she wants what is best for this community and for anyone to say otherwise you will always be a miserable person always seeing the glass as half full.
Commack 23 September 02, 2012 at 01:51 AM
GM September 02, 2012 at 02:48 AM
It is a shame to witness all this bad feeling over a memorial for 9/11. You're right Sal. The BOE is to blame for creating this climate of mistrust within the community. Unfortunately, many recent "conversations" on Patch are not admirable. Take a deep breath folks, exhale, and remember how for a few months after 9/11, we were all a little kinder. There's a time and place for everything.
Concerned Comamck Citizen September 02, 2012 at 03:37 PM
I just looked at the agenda for last weeks meeting and see nothing about contract agreements with Admin Staff or Teachers. Where did you get this info? You are correct that the bids were published in some arcane newspaper that no one reads: Newsday!!
susan r September 04, 2012 at 12:51 PM
How does she teach them about networking and planning events? She post what community service is available on the website and the kids send her and email and say they are interested and she sends their name to whoever needs community service done. The kids are required by the school to do community service to graduate - so how is she preparing them for life experience???
TS September 08, 2012 at 02:15 AM
I'm glad the comments finally got back to the reason for this article and this beautiful memorial. I'm glad our school district made this memorial and is recognizing those who were lost. It was devastating! And I'm sure none of the complainers bothered to buy a brick to be inscribed at the site of the memorial. By the way, the proceeds are going to the family's of those who were lost. I am a tax payer. I have children who are in Wood Park and Sawmill Intermediate, and although my children were not born when this tragedy happened, all of our names will be on a brick at the memorial vowing to never forget. My children have learned what happened and they will become a part of a tribute in their community, on the grounds of their future high school to never forget the loved ones of their friends and the many others who died needlessly. Compassion not complaining...


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