Photo from Three Village Central School District

This year’s graduation ceremonies were worthy of more celebration than ever before.

The Class of 2021 has been through an unbelievable two years of academics.

As the school year of 2019 began, everything was the same as usual, and then March of 2020 saw drastic changes. One minute, students were studying in school, attending clubs, practicing for plays or out on the fields, the next they were home learning remotely with no extracurricular activities. 

Proms were canceled, graduation commencements were put on hold until July where seniors graduated with just a fraction of their class at a time, as ceremonies needed to be spread out over a few days.

The beginning of the 2020-21 school year varied depending on what school district a child attended. For some there was a hybrid schedule, others fully remote and for a few in-person instruction five days a week, if they chose to do so.

Then things began to change slowly but surely as the calendar flipped to 2021. Students were given the green light to return to their classrooms every day as the year progressed. Activities after studies resumed and the fields were filled once again with football, field hockey, baseball, lacrosse and so much more.

While masks were still worn and plastic dividers remained, students began to emerge from their cocoons like butterflies ready to take on the world. Proms were held and graduations were celebrated with the whole class.

Last year school administrators, faculty members, students and parents banded together to come up with resourceful ideas such as car parades and staggered ceremonies to commemorate the momentous occasion of completing high school. This year after weathering the storm, students witnessed that a light at the end of the tunnel can exist no matter how dark that tunnel may seem at times.

They have emerged strong and resilient which can be seen in the sports championship wins across the North Shore and the smiles on the graduates’ faces.

Education is a valuable resource but, in the last two years, teenagers have stepped away from their desks with more important lessons than any high school class can provide. Life has taught them that with some flexibility, resourcefulness, resilience and optimism they increase their odds of making it over any hurdle to achieve success.

Graduates, take the lessons you gained in your cocoon and take flight as a butterfly would. A whole new world awaits all of you, and we look forward to hearing all about the wonderful things you accomplish.

The Elwood-John H. Glenn High School Class of 2021 celebrated the culmination of four years of hard work at their graduation ceremony June 25. On a beautiful Friday evening, seniors received their diplomas and concluded their time as high school students.

Valedictorian Rithika Narayan reflected on the resiliency of the Class of 2021 and shared inspiring messages for the future.

“I urge you to turn your departures into arrivals. Cherish who and what you’ve loved and learned at John Glenn, both academically and personally, and tuck them into your luggage for the next stop on your journey,” she said. 

Salutatorian Daniel Rourke and Class of 2021 Secretary Kerri Giambruno also spoke, offering words of encouragement to their fellow peers.


The Harborfields High School Class of 2021 were celebrated by family, friends, community members, faulty, staff and administrators at the school’s graduation ceremony on June 26. As the graduates processed on the field in the classic Harborfields green and white, joined by Principal Timothy Russo, Superintendent of Schools Rory Manning and members of the board of education, the crowd cheered enthusiastically.

“Much in the same way your family has cared for you, we have also,” Manning said. “The staff of Harborfields has been your second family for the last 13 years and we selfishly don’t want you to go, and why would we? You proved to the world that you were capable of the unimageable, and despite countless odds against you, you thrived.”

Principal Timothy Russo initiated a special tribute to Gabby Cava, a beloved member of the Class of 2021 who passed away in January 2020 from cancer. Gabby’s family was in attendance to accept the first diploma from Russo. 

Before continuing presenting diplomas to the graduates, Russo took some time to commend the Class of 2021 for their perseverance and ability to succeed in the face of huge challenges. 

“You are an incredible group who will be missed by many as you go onto achieve whatever greatness is coming your way,” he said. “Your enthusiasm, kindness and respect for Harborfields has led us through a challenging year, and I thank you for being the young men and women you are.”

Photos from Comsewogue School District

This year, Comsewogue High School held their commencement at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium on Wednesday, June 23.

Speakers at the ceremony included High School Principal Michael Mosca, Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Quinn, Valedictorian Sydney Carter, Salutatorian Anthony Lin, Board of Education President John Swenning, Vice President Alexandra Gordon and Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini.

Photo from PJSD

With proud parents, siblings, friends, teachers, administrators, and members of the board of education, the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School Class of 2021 received their diplomas during the 127th annual commencement exercises on June 25.

Principal Eric Haruthunian welcomed everyone to the momentous ceremony. Grace Keegan led in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the National Anthem, which was performed by valedictorian Peggy Yin.

Photo from PJSD

Words of wisdom and congratulatory remarks on the accomplishments of the students were offered by Superintendent of Schools Jessica Schmettan, Haruthunian, and parent speaker Stephen Rabeno, father of twin graduates Mattea and Michela Rabeno. 

He shared an inspiring story of his daughters’ growing up in Port Jefferson and referred to Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” as a reflection of the kindness and acceptance of students in the school community.

Yin and salutatorian Massimo Cipriano shared memories with their fellow classmates and thanked family members and teachers for the continued encouragement for all students to succeed in the small school community.

Haruthunian then presented the class of 2021 to Schmettan and Board of Education President Ellen Boehm before inviting each student to the podium and highlighting their high school careers and future plans. 

He was assisted by Assistant Principal Kevin Bernier in handing out the diplomas. The students then stood and tossed their caps in the air in celebration of becoming the newest graduates of the high school.

The Northport High School class of 2021 celebrated their graduation on Saturday, June 26, alongside their peers and families at Tiger Stadium. Seniors gathered to be recognized for their accomplishments and receive their diplomas following four years of hard work. 

Principal Daniel Danbusky reflected on the unique circumstances that students were working under this year and emphasized that he hopes this experience will teach students about how to rethink what they have learned and adapt to the situations that lie in front of them. 

“As we have moved through the last four years, I hope your dreams have been realized and have come alive,” Danbusky said. “As you leave us, I charge you to find problems that need to be solved, rethink their solutions and allow pursuit to help shape you as you mature.”

 Salutatorian Griffin Crafa and valedictorian Ian Kaish spoke to their classmates as well, providing words of encouragement and reflection, both on their time at Northport High School and looking ahead into the future.

“The unknown can be terrifying, but it can also be exhilarating,” Kaish said. “We have learned this from our time in Northport High School.”

He added, “It’s very easy to get caught up in wanting to succeed, but the only real way to succeed is by learning to embrace the journey and discovery.”

Performances by the Northport High School choir ensued as students tossed their caps to commemorate their last moments as high schoolers and celebrated the beginning of their next chapter.

Commack seniors and their families headed to the Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium Stadium at Stony Brook University June 25 for their graduation ceremony.

The Commack School District left words of advice for the graduates on the district’s. website.

“Take advantage of all the opportunities that life presents you; push yourself out of your comfort zone every once in awhile; continue to surround yourself with a strong support system while never hesitating to lift others up when they need it; and be sure to utilize these very important words every single day — please, thank you, and I’m sorry. Stay curious, stay humble, stay grounded, and most importantly — stay true to yourself!”

The Hauppauge Eagles celebrated their graduation on the school’s football field June 25. 

Among the speakers were Principal Chris Cook, board of education member Michael Buscarino, Superintendent Dennis O’ Hara, valedictorian Melody Chang and salutatorian Alexander Vasilakopoulos.

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Photo from SWRSD

Graduating from Shoreham-Wading River High School, Mika Misawa will be leaving with the honor of being named valedictorian and a 103.7 weighted GPA. 

She will be part of the incoming freshman class at Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences this fall. 

As a member of the varsity girls tennis team, Journalism Club, President of the Global Awareness club, editor-in-chief of the Global Awareness Club’s monthly newsletter, co-president of Women in Science and Engineering, Mathletes and the Tri-M Music honor society, Mika has always had an immense involvement in her school and community.

In her high school career, Mika took 13 AP courses, four honors courses and a college level course through Stony Brook University. 

Photo from SWRSD

As a brilliant mathematics student, Mika was also named a Long Island Young Scholar of Mathematics by the Institute of Creative Problem Solving for Gifted and Talented Students.

Her enthusiasm for succeeding in school translated into her music career as well, as she was selected for the National Association for Music Education All-Eastern Honors Ensemble Orchestra and the New York State School Music Association All-State Festival. 

Alongside Mika, valedictorian Owen Beran will be graduating also with a weighted GPA of 103.7.

As the team captain of the golf team and a member of the lacrosse team, Owen was able to be successful in all realms of his high school career. He has taken nine AP courses, four honors courses, and is the vice president of the National Honor Society.

However, his involvement doesn’t stop there. He was also the class of 2021 treasurer and a member of the Mathletes, Natural Helpers, the Robotics Club and the Student Advisory group. 

Not only was Owen heavily involved with his school, but his community as well. His community involvement includes volunteering for St. John’s Church Gathering Inn, Thomas Cutinella Memorial Patriot Run, Lax Out Cancer, Spirit’s Promise Equine Rescue, and Nexus-Animal Outreach.

With a passion for helping his community and furthering himself academically, Owen plans to attend the United States Naval Academy, where he will be majoring in nuclear engineering. 

Daniel Julian has been named salutatorian, graduating with a weighted GPA of 103.4. 

Photo from SWRSD

Discovering his passion for science and mathematics in tenth grade after taking an AP chemistry course, Daniel knew Stony Brook University’s STEM program would be his first-choice college.

“I chose chemistry as my major as a result of my love and ability for the subject and my love for science and mathematics as a whole,” he said. 

In the near future, Julian aspires to become an educator or researcher in the field of nuclear science and plans on pursuing graduate work in the sciences or science education. 

Additionally, the high school gave Daniel an opportunity to pursue his other passion, music. As a skilled jazz player, Julian played in the high school instrumental jazz ensemble in grades 9-12 for SCMEA All-County.

He was also selected as the baritone sax player and an alternate alto sax player with the NYSSMA All-State Instrumental Jazz Ensemble.

“For me, school concerts and other musical performances were special to me as playing in the Shoreham-Wading River High School’s bands gave me opportunities to contribute to my community through music and express myself artistically,” Daniel said. 

Photo from SWRSD

Some of his special experiences At Shoreham-Wading River included working on a research project involving epigenetics with one of his most influential AP biology teachers, Dr. Neff. 

Looking forward to his fall semester in Stony Brook to study chemistry, he is excited to focus on the subjects he is most passionate about on a more advanced level. 

“I enjoyed my time in high school taking multiple classes in various subjects, but I am looking forward to having a more specific focus on math and science as they are where my passion lies,” Daniel said.

File photo

Rocky Point High School announced that Ashlynne Xavier and Fiona McEvoy have been named the class of 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

Valedictorian Ashlynne Xavier has made the most out of her high school career. She has taken part in Stony Brook University’s Women in Science and Engineering program and the high school’s science research program. She plays viola in the pit orchestra, is a member of the Human Rights Club and has played soccer and lacrosse at both the junior varsity and varsity levels.

Photo from RPSD

Ashlynne is a National Merit Scholarship recipient. She is also a member of the National Honor Society, the National English Honor Society and the New York State Mathematics Honor Society and is on the Principals Honor Roll. She has received a Long Island Science Congress Merit Award and an East End Arts Teeny Award. She has been honored with a Research and Innovation Grant and a Rush Rhees Scholarship through the University of Rochester.

Ashlynne’s interests in the community include playing lacrosse with the Long Island Yellow Jackets, being a mission team member and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity through her church and holding a job as a veterinary assistant and a store associate.

Salutatorian Fiona McEvoy also has an impressive high school résumé as a National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and New York State Mathematics Honor Society member. She is the Class of 2021 Student Government treasurer. She was also a participant in the Women in Science and Engineering program at Stony Brook University in addition to the university’s iSTEM program. 

Photo from RPSD

Fiona participated in the high school’s Debate Club, Human Rights Club, Mock Trial and Student Government. She was a member of the varsity track team and junior varsity soccer team. She has held positions in the local community and has received various honors and certificates for her volunteer service, including a Long Island Science Congress Achievement Award. Fiona attended the SPARK Research Program at Brookhaven National Laboratory, was a student facilitator at the Human Rights Institute at Iona College and was a presenter at the high school’s annual Science Research Symposium. She also attended the Adelphi University Pre-College Program for Science Medicine and Health and the Lebanon Valley College Health and Biomedical Sciences Summer Camp.

Following graduation, Ashlynne is bound for the University of Rochester where she plans to major in biomedical engineering with possible minors in American Sign Language, music or political science. Fiona is headed to Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she plans to major in chemistry on the pre-med track.