To the joyous cheers of family, friends and faculty, the Eastport-South Manor Junior-Senior High School Class of 2022 processed onto the football field on June 24 for the annual commencement ceremony, honoring their collective accomplishments and one of the most important milestones of their lives.
After the graduates took their places, class president Rishi Shah led the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a splendid performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Julianna Gargiulo.
The ceremony continued with a welcoming address by board of education president Michael Byrnes, who congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments and their preparedness to continue their life journey.
Class president Avi Mehta reminisced with the class about their experiences as students and the bad choices they made that helped them grow into fine young adults. He also addressed the important topic of mental health and how everyone sufferers from mental health issues at some time in their lives. “Life is going to be difficult at times, but just remember that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and for every bad, there is a good,” he said.
Salutatorian Joseph Thomas Morello and valedictorian Sofia Pfeffer took the stage to address their peers, proffering last words of advice. After reminiscing about his time as a student from kindergarten to grade 12, Morello noted that the Eastport-South Manor community has given them an opportunity for greatness. “Every single day, wake up with the purpose of bettering yourself, because you are the only person who should have control over your life,” he said.
Pfeffer took a different tone in her valedictory speech, saying that it is important not to worry so much about the future. “I learned that we cannot be so focused on what is next in our lives that we forget to appreciate what is right in front of us,” she said. “So, when you set a future goal for yourself… always remember to keep yourself grounded in the present.”
Prior to congratulating the graduates, high school principal Salvatore Alaimo first recognized students Logan Buscemi and Jason Trinca, who both lost their lives, and pointed to two open seats that symbolized their presence, dedicating the ceremony in their honor. In his address to the class, Alaimo said that every graduate had to persevere, demonstrate true grit and determination, and learn the consequences of procrastination. “Although it has been a difficult journey, the circumstances presented to you over the past few years have taught you key skills that will transcend your entire lifetime,” Alaimo said.
The top 10 students of the Class of 2022 and students entering a branch of the armed forces were then recognized, and superintendent of schools Joseph Steimel shared a heartfelt message with the graduates and congratulated them for their character. Steimel encouraged the graduates to follow six pieces of advice to continue building their character, which included, “Your character is defined by what you do, not what you say or believe,” and “Every choice you make helps define the kind of person you are choosing to be.” He also said, “The payoff for having good character is that it makes you a better person and it makes the world a better place.”
Alaimo then certified that the Class of 2022 has met the requirements for graduation set for by New York State, and Mehta then took center stage to lead his peers in the tradition of changing the tassels from right to left.
As the final diplomas were received, the new graduates threw their caps towards the sunset and exited the field as new alumni of the Eastport-South Manor Central School District. The district congratulates the Class of 2022 on this milestone accomplishment and extends best wishes for success as the class embarks on a new life journey.
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