Wantagh High School senior Hailey Orgass was crowned as Miss Wantagh 2012 this past summer and has wasted no time working to better her community.
In honor of National Bullying Month, Orgass teamed up with the National Bullying Prevention Center (NBPC) to host Unity Day in Wantagh last Wednesday. She and fellow 2012 Miss Wantagh contestants collected hundreds of signatures throughout the school district in a pledge against bullying.
"Bullying is not as abundant here as it is in other towns, but it does exist," Orgass said. "It was always an idea in my head for my project as Miss Wantagh, and after a lot of current events involving bullying, I figured now was the perfect time to do this."
Orgass hopes her efforts will encourage both students and adults in the Wantagh community to think twice about how their actions could effect someone.
"People need to realize that even if something hurtful is done indirectly, it's still hurtful to that person," she said. "I think that if they realized how it's hurting someone, they might stop."
At end of Wednesday's event, Orgass earned more than 1,000 signatures and raised $145 for NBPC.
"Most of the student signatures so far at the high school came from seniors," Orgass said Wednesday. "I feel like they're setting a good example and encouraging the younger grades to sign."
Miss Wantagh Pageant Coordinator Ella Stevens was impressed with Orgass' work and believes she has left a legendary mark in the Wantagh community.
"She really put Miss Wantagh on the map with this project," said Stevens, a longtime Wantagh resident. "It's a shame that so many young people, as well as adults, are subject to bullying. Because of her efforts, Wantagh is making Unity Day an annual event."