Community members, family and faculty gathered in south gym on Thursday evening to celebrate the unveiling of two new scoreboards in honor of former alumna Shana Kay.
Kay, 2004 graduate of Commack High School, tragically died on July 3, 2005, as a result of encephalitis, a virus that causes inflammation of the brain. Doctors also attributed her death to a case of mononucleosis, which weakened her immune system while fighting off the viral infection.
The ceremony began with several heartfelt speeches given by those who were close to Shana. Recognition of her achievements as an athlete, student, daughter, sister and friend echoed throughout the gymnasium. Close friend and fellow captain of the CHS Girls Varsity Lacrosse team Melissa Reggio advised the large gathering to live their life in honor of Kay's spirit. “Live your lives the way Shana wanted to live hers," she said. "Live for today. This minute. This second. And enjoy it. Tell your friends and family how much you appreciate them.”
The IB Dance program followed up with a dance to the song “Come Home” by One Republic featuring Sara Bareilles.
The scoreboards were donated to the school by The Shana Kay Memorial Foundation, an organization dedicated to keeping Shana's legacy alive while giving back to the community. Although this has been the first donation made to the high school, there have been several others given to Commack: a climbing wall at Indian Hollow, a track at Burr Intermediate and a bronze statue at the Commack Public library.
“It took about a year to get the scoreboards into the high school” said Jane Kay, Shana's mother. “We wanted to make a donation and were informed that the current scoreboards were about 30 years old and that there wasn’t enough money in the budget to replace them.”
Shana's father Randy Kay was ecstatic about the idea. "It serves as a visual reminder of Shana's dedication in athletics," he said, adding that his daughter was an active member of the school's varsity lacrosse team, and played basketball in middle school.
The donations in Kay's honor aim to serve the community, just as she did during her brief life. At age nine up until her death in 2005, she attended Camp Kinder Ring in Hopewell Junction, N.Y. where she later served as camp counselor. Upon graduation from Commack High School, she received a certification of perfect attendance, was selected as sign language interpreter for the class of 2004 and had served all four of her years on student council, even serving as vice president during her sophomore and junior years. Shana was accepted to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she pursued a degree in speech pathology and joined as a sister in the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority.
In addition to her academic and athletic achievements, Shana was a gentle soul towards those around her. "She included everyone among her friends and never discriminated," said randy Kay. “She had a big heart and was very forgiving of everyone, never held any grudges," said her mother. "As a child she once told me that life is too short to be angry, can you imagine someone that young saying something so far beyond their years?”
Reggio commends the Kay family. "They are doing a great job at keeping the bright spirit of Shana Kay alive all over our town.”
Donations to The Shana Kay Memorial Foundation can be sent to:
The Shana Kay Memorial Foundation
c/o Jeff Spiegel
119 Paddington Circle
Smithtown, NY 11787