Rockville Centre students fundraise to save a life


The students, staff and faculty of the Rockville Centre School District have banded together to raise money to help save the life of the mother of a popular South Side High School teacher.

Barbara Falivene, the mother of Vinnie Falivene, a history teacher at the high school, is currently suffering from a burst gall bladder, and because she does not have insurance, she can only be admitted to Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York if her family can raise $200,00.

When the students at the high school learned of the plight of their teacher and his mother, they immediately began brainstorming ideas to raise money. At first, a link to make a donation,, had spread around Facebook and then an email was sent out to each club in the school detailing the situation, and the response was strong.

“It kind of spread around organically,” said senior Evan Chernack, one of the leaders of the fundraiser, “and then out of that, a lot of the different clubs wanted to become involved.”

As of Dec. 12, the students had raised approximately $40,000, with the help of teachers who were agreeable to adding incentives to the fundraiser.

The students set up a paper thermometer at the entrance to the school that displays the current amount raised and keeps track of the incentives at each goal.

At approximately $70,000 raised, the students and teachers will have a “PJ Day,” while at $140,000, the students will be allowed to listen to their iPods in the hallways. Raising approximately $170,000 will allow a no homework day. The students have not yet announced what the $200,000 incentive is.

A walk-a-thon was hosted at the school track on Saturday morning, and the students raised $3,000.

“We had a good turn out and all members were very enthusiastic,” said senior William Landi. “We were even visited by close family friends of the Falivenes. It meant a lot to all of us at the walk.”

The students and faculty also held a fundraiser at the school Wednesday morning, in which for every $200 received, a teacher would have his head shaved on camera for the students to see.

Keith Gamache, an art teacher at the school, was the first to have his head shaved and originally introduced the idea of Principal Dr. Carol Burris.

“Oh, it’s fine, I’ve done it before,” Gamache said. “I was impressed with how many people stepped up to do it.”