Lakeland High School and
Walter Panas High School
Lakeland Central School District graduates can be found in a wide variety of occupations throughout multiple geographic areas. On this page, we will be highlighting some of those graduates while providing a glimpse into their lives after graduating from Walter Panas or Lakeland high school.
Visit our Alumni in Action Digital Magazine, it highlights more Alumni and their stories. If you are a Lakeland High School or Walter Panas graduate, please share your story with us.
Matt Beachak, Class of 1985 Walter Panas High School (R)
Co-President Signs Ink
Tim Beachak, Class of 1987 Walter Panas High School (M)
Co-President Signs Ink
Jim Polinsky, Class of 2000 Walter Panas High School (L)
Service Manager Signs Ink
Signs Ink (Established 1989)Yorktown, NY
Who knew that an art class at Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School would help two graduates on their path to becoming owners and of a well-known area company. For Matt and Tim, that was just one of the factors that lead them on their journey after graduating from Walter Panas to co-owning their own company. Jim Polinsky, Service Manager and graduate, is an integral member of the team and Tim and Matt’s right-hand man.
The journey began when co-owner Matt began working part-time at Ray Presley’s Signs during college. Then after attending Delhi University, Matt brought the business in 1989, and Signs Ink was established. The young entrepreneur was promised by the previous owner he would stay on and teach him the business. Much to his surprise, after just two weeks, the former owner left after, but that did not stop Matt with his brother Tim by his side from making Signs Ink into a successful local business of 29 years. Before Tim became co-owner in 1991, he was busy racing motorcycles throughout the country and saving for a ‘78 red Corvette, but his mom had another plan - Tim would join Matt as a partner in the business.
Jim Polinsky, a 2000 Panas grad, joined Signs Ink full-time after working part-time for the company while in college. After attending Westchester Community College and Pace University, Jim graduated with a degree in teaching. With aspirations to be a Physical Education teacher (he admired his Physical Education teacher John Martin), but realized quickly that he loved creating and building things more and that led him back to Signs Ink.
It was in Howie Nisgor’s art class at Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School, Matt, Tim, and Jim that the spark was lit. They recalled their excitement at learning to be creative in working with wood and glass to create art. Many years later they saw Nisgor’s work outside of the school and were amazed, “We had no idea in art class how talented he is and that he is a legend in the art of pinstriping. We were grateful to have been one of his students.”
Matt and Tim thank their parents for the growth and success of the business. They always told us, chase your dreams and you can be whatever you want to be with hard work, dedication and strong values to your craft. Mom and Dad were our biggest cheerleaders even when things didn’t work out.
Their work ethic is “teamwork makes the best product” Matt and Tim rely on their employees’ contributions to keep the business fresh and expanding. “We treat everyone equally and value everyone equally which is evident in their extremely love attrition rate,” said Tim.
Who knew that a middle school art class would encourage us to be creative and learn to think outside the box, would lead us to a career we love, added Matt.
Frankie Zegarelli, Class of 2004 Lakeland High School
Owner/Manager Frankie & Augie'Z and Vittoria'Z
Augie Zegarelli, Class of 2008 Lakeland High School
Owner/Pizza MakerFrankie & Augie'Z
Frankie & Augie'Z Ristorante and Pizzeria (Established 2008) Jefferson Valley, NY
Vittoria’Z on the Lake Osceola (Established 2017)
Jefferson Valley, NY
For Frankie Zegarelli, it has come full circle. As a member of Lakeland High School’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) he was introduced to the world of business. Now the co-owner of his own businesses, one of his joys is being able to give back to the FBLA and Lakeland in general.
“I have good memories of my experiences and opportunities as a Lakeland student that I know helps me in my businesses today, commented, Frankie.”
Frankie and his brother, Augie, both Lakeland High School graduates, are owners of a favorite local eatery, Frankie & Augie’Z Ristorante in Jefferson Valley, where patrons enjoy everything from pizza to Pork Chops Camagnola.
Their journey began as Lakeland High School students, where Frankie and Augie worked at Christina’s as a busboy, server to making delivery orders for the restaurant that now bears their names. Both learned the business from the ground up and with guidance from their parents. Today, they continue to pass it forward employing Lakeland High School students at both Frankie & Augie’s and Vittoria’Z.
In high school, Frankie was a member of Lakeland’s FBLA and today gives back by donating food to their many events. Also, to support organizations at local fundraising events Frankie and Augie give back 20% of their revenue. The brothers are residents of the Lakeland community, and Frankie is a board member of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce.
In 2008, Frankie graduated from Iona College with a degree in Business Management, and Augie graduated from Lakeland High School, the brothers started their careers as restauranteurs. For the past 11 years, you can find Augie making the pizzas and Frankie managing the restaurant and now their latest acquisition (December 2017), Vittoria’Z on the Lake (formerly Ceola Manor). It was named after their sister, Vittoria, and has been given a fresh look and style. Frankie said the restaurant could not accommodate the numerous requests for large parties so to meet the needs of the community Ceola Manor was purchased.
Their father, Joe, began making pizza in the Bronx before moving his family to Lakeland. He can still be found making pizzas and helps out in the kitchen. Meanwhile, mom, Joanne, works with Frankie managing Vittoria’Z. Vittoria is a student at Savannah College of Art and Design majoring in Film and TV Production. This summer, she will produce a commercial about the businesses for her senior thesis. Each member of the family works hard to build and sustain their successes.