Editor’s Note: Over the next five hours, we’ll publish our People of the Year stories online. Check back at 3 p.m. for the Overall People of the Year or pick up a copy of this week’s The Suffolk Times, on newsstands now.
The Southold-Mattituck-Greenport Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps has been recognized with honors and awards every single year since Major William Grigonis took the reins as senior instructor in 2001.
In 2011, the corps was named the top unit in Area 4, which comprises 52 units in the Northeast from Maine to Delaware and out to Pittsburgh, Pa., and then best in the nation out of more than 600 units, including ones in Japan, Italy and Spain.
That didn’t happen just by chance.
For his strong leadership and undying dedication to the cadets who made it to the top, the Suffolk Times has named Maj. Grigonis Educator of the Year.
Petty Officer 1st Class Felicity Turner, one of the unit’s two instructors, said Maj. Grigonis is “top notch” and “makes it easy” for her and the other instructor, Senior Chief Petty Officer Charles Turner.
“[Maj. Grigonis] wants to make sure we bring out the best in the students and make sure they know everything about what it is to be a good citizen and display responsibility and leadership and how to get along with people and be the best person they can be,” Felicity Turner said.
In addition to the entire unit’s earning top honors, Kim Krupski, Billy Goggins, and Kevin Reyer, all 2011 Matittuck High School graduates, earned first, second and third place respectively as the top cadets in the state that year. Ms. Krupski and Mr. Goggins said Maj. Grigonis’ passion and support for his unit fuel the push for excellence.
“His absolute commitment to the unit and each individual cadet motivates each person to excel individually and as a unit,” Ms. Krupski said. “He gets to know every kid on an individual basis. He knows what they’re good at and what they enjoy doing and finds programs that interest them and where they can do well.”
Mr. Goggins, who was captain of his high school’s cross country team, said he used to consult Maj. Grigonis for leadership tips.
“He was a charismatic leader,” said Mr. Goggins. “If you ever had anything you needed to talk to him about, he was there.”
Felicity Turner said instructors and members of the three-school unit went “above and beyond” what was expected as they volunteered countless hours in the community under Maj. Grigonis’ direction.
“He never stops,” she said. “He’s always on the go.”