Greatness awaits the West Islip Class of 2024

Congratulations to the graduating Lions


As the first of 316 graduates passed under the trellis, loud cheers erupted from packed bleachers on both sides of the turf field. Proud family members and friends continued to laud West Islip High School’s Class of 2024 as they processed across the field to their seats on the sunny evening.

The moment was the culmination of a journey that began 13 years ago at four elementary schools. When the class finally came together in 2020 from two middle schools, it was at the height of the pandemic and it took a little extra time for them to get the true high school experience.

Being able to adapt to that sort of change was the theme of principal Dr. Anthony Bridgeman’s address to graduates. All of their life experiences to date and the changes they have navigated have shaped them into the individuals they are today.

“Remember,” Dr. Bridgeman said, “change is not just about the big, transformative moments but also the small, everyday adjustments that lead to personal and collective growth.”

Superintendent Dr. Paul Romanelli encouraged graduates to be proactive with their thinking and their actions to shape the futures they want, whether 10 minutes ahead or many years later.

“Your actions matter, and we know that you will do what it takes to make your world, and all of our worlds, something to be proud of,” he told the seniors. “To me, that is what makes this class particularly special—the way you think is innovative and future focused.”

Academic leaders Emerson Ammirata and Jake Guttman addressed their fellow graduates. Emerson reflected on the “incredible amount of opportunities” offered to students in West Islip, and spoke of two experiences that were particularly meaningful to her: cheerleading and Vocal Motion. In recounting her desire to succeed academically, she highlighted her transformation from relying on validation as a motivator, to embracing a love of learning.

“It is imperative to understand that learning should only be done to expand your horizons,” she said. “By learning, you are improving your own quality of life and understanding the functionality of the world around you.”

Jake, whose speech began with an enthusiastic, “What’s up, West Islip,” said, “Graduation is a beautiful day that symbolizes a future filled with potential.” He noted that they will face struggles along the way, but it is important to find light in the darkness and persevere.

“You have the potential for greatness,” he told his classmates. “It’s locked inside of you, and understand that you are holding the key. It’s up to you to decide whether you keep it hidden or show the world what you’re made of.”

In his congratulatory remarks, board of education president Anthony Tussie reminded students to live a balanced life in today’s fast-paced and demanding world to “make time for the things that truly matter,” while vice president Pete McCann reminded students that even as they move on, they will always have the support of their hometown.

The graduation ceremony also included multiple tributes to student Kyle Dilegame, who tragically died during his senior year. An empty seat was left in his honor, and his name was called during the diploma presentation. At the end of the ceremony, four friends came to the podium to share their reflections. Tussie also honored John Thomas Gaffney, who died while at Oquenock Elementary School and would have graduated this year.

After the diplomas were handed out, senior class president Amy McCann asked her classmates to move their tassels. Shortly after, blue-and-white caps were tossed into the air and the seniors were officially West Islip alumni. 


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