By Andrea Paldy
The Harry Potter-themed façade in front of Ward Melville High School proclaimed, “Let the Magic Begin.” And at 11 a.m. on June 30 it did.
Led by valedictorian Elizabeth Wang and salutatorian Kelsey Ge, 546 seniors in green and gold emerged from the high school as students for the last time.
Sunday’s commencement exercises for Three Village’s 50th anniversary class were punctuated by a series of firsts.
William Bernhard, who gave his first commencement address as Ward Melville principal, officially recognized the district’s first graduating class — known as the “forgotten class” because it didn’t graduate on Ward Melville grounds. Bernhard awarded proclamations and honorary diplomas to class of 1969 graduates Joellen Fehrs McNamara, Cathy Haenlein and Elizabeth Toye Aktas.
The class of 2019 also left its mark on the festivities. By bestowing bells for Ward Melville’s iconic clock tower, the graduating class gave a gift that would be “heard loud and clear” and that said, “We were here. We were important,” student government president Lauren Walters said during the presentation. The bells chimed for the first (and second) time during the graduation ceremony, bridging the past, the present and the future.
Bernhard’s wish for the graduating seniors was a touching one. He said that he hopes that after going on to the military or to college and eventually into the workforce that the graduates will someday rejoin the Three Village community and raise their families here.
And when they hear the bells again, Bernhard hopes they’ll say, “That’s Ward Melville High School. That’s where my roots are. That’s where I made my lifelong friends. That’s where I got my wings — ready to soar and succeed in life.”