Graduations

The night of Friday, June 24, found Huntington High School seniors filing into the Blue Devil Stadium for the last time as students.

The high school commencement ceremony celebrated 355 seniors who were awarded diplomas, and it was the 161st for the district.

Seniors Quincy Chery (University at Albany) and Naysa Escobar (New York University) served as masters of ceremony. The duo led the huge crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance before the chamber choir sang the national anthem.

Class of 2022 President Theadora Carnesi, who is headed to the US Military Academy at West Point, addressed her classmates with an upbeat message and told the seniors how proud she has been to serve as their elected leader.

Class Vice President Ashley Genao, who will be attending St. John’s University, followed and announced the Class of 2022 would be gifting all the remaining monies in its coffers to the Class of 2023 to help underwrite its prom next June.

Superintendent James Polansky also addressed the graduates.

“During your time in Huntington, I hope you’ve recognized the importance of your voices, that you’ve felt respected as learners and as people, that it’s okay to agree to disagree and that, above all else, respect, understanding, empathy and kindness are critical elements of any conversation,” Polansky said. “I’ll leave you with words from American fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger: ‘We are in the new age where change is the only constant. I encourage you to embrace it, to be inspired to push the boundaries, innovate and find your own unique ways to set the norms.’”

John H. Glenn High School celebrated the Class of 2022 on June 24 at the school’s 60th commencement ceremony.

The seniors marched on to the football field, clad in blue and white caps and gowns, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Senior Class President Maya Polese, and the national anthem, performed by the high school’s band under the direction of Vicki Henson.

The ceremony also served as a farewell and salute to retiring Assistant Principal Leroy Cole.

“Mr. Cole, your mark on the Elwood School District will last for decades,” Superintendent Kenneth Bossert said. “We will fill your position but sir, you can never be replaced.”

Bossert and Principal Carisa Burzynski both offered congratulatory remarks, praising the seniors for their achievements. Burzynski noted that the class had the highest ever number of students collectively earning cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude since the school adopted the system.

— Photos from Elwood School District

The Northport High School Class of 2022 celebrated their commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 25, alongside their peers and families at Tiger Stadium.

The sunny ceremony follows their years of hard work and growth and began with senior class representative Lisa Kovacs leading the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Principal Rob Dennis reflected on how this class has endured many challenges and will undoubtedly shape the questions and answers of our future.

“In your time at Northport High School, I know that you have developed the tools to be thoughtful communicators, empathetic analyzers, deliberate thinkers and open-minded collaborators,” he said as he addressed the new alumni. “We are proud of the people you have become. We are proud of the questions you have had to grapple with. Proud of the resiliency you have shown, and proud of the answers you have given us.”

— Photos from Northport-East Northport School District

It was a hot evening but that didn’t stop Commack High School seniors from celebrating their graduation day with family and friends on June 24.

During the ceremony, student speakers Daniel Figueroa and Robert Acebedo addressed the crowd, and senior class president Allison Spalding presented the Class of 2022 gift. 

Interim Superintendent of Schools David Flatley and high school principal Carrie Lipenholtz also addressed the crowd. 

— Photos  by Rita J. Egan

Last Friday, June 24, Hauppauge High School seniors walked onto the field for the last time as students.

During the graduation ceremony, students and attendees were joined by Distinguished Alumni Speaker Paul Monusky from the Class of 1997, bottom left.

Monusky is an 11-time Emmy-winning senior producer/director for NFL Films. He got his start in broadcasting at the high school when he began taking TV production classes with Mr. Fran DePetris. He was also the editor-in-chief for the school newspaper during his time as a Hauppauge Eagle.

As the proud seniors of the Harborfields High School Class of 2022 walked out on to the football field on the morning of June 25 for the school’s 63rd commencement ceremony, the warm summer sunshine perfectly matched the warmth in their hearts.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the choir saluted the school with the singing of the Harborfields alma mater.

Superintendent Rory Manning began by recognizing outgoing Principal Timothy Russo for his dedicated 25 years of service.

“Harborfields High School is in a better place because of your leadership,” he said, before presenting Russo with his own honorary diploma.

In an emotional final address to the students he nurtured for four years, Russo lauded them for embracing change and taking risks. “Throughout the years, your enthusiasm, kindness and respect for Harborfields has led us through some really challenging times, and I thank you for simply being the young men and women that you are,” he said.

— Photos from Harborfields Central School District

Submitted by Three Village Central School District

The Ward Melville Class of 2022 came together for a final time on June 26 to celebrate their graduation. Graduates marched through balloon arches onto the front lawn of the school to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance,” as family and friends cheered them on.

Commencement exercises began with the Pledge of Allegiance led by student government president Riley Meckley, followed by a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by student-musicians. Ward Melville Principal William Bernhard welcomed the crowd, as Board of Education President Deanna Bavlnka gave opening remarks.

Bernhard introduced this year’s keynote speaker, Superintendent of Schools Cheryl Pedisich. This marked Pedisich’s first and last graduation address, as she is retiring. She noted that she feels a special connection with the Class of 2022, as they are entering the next chapter of their lives together. Pedisich touted the graduates’ resiliency and strength as they navigated high school amidst a pandemic.

“We had much to learn from our students, as they did from us, and together we continue to prevail as a district that celebrates unity, respect and collective strength led by the motion, the message invoked and exemplified by the Class of 2022.”

Meckley returned to the podium to reflect on the graduates’ time at Ward Melville High School. She presented the school with a gift — a new, updated Mr. Patriot mascot costume.

Class of 2022 valedictorian Claire Yang and salutatorian Alexander Lin both delivered speeches, saying farewell to their high school careers while looking forward to the future.

“Today, as we end one chapter of our lives and prepare to embark on the next, I hope you will all continue to embody the ideals of resilience and understanding,” Lin said. “With our resolute determination, I’m confident that this class is well-equipped to tackle grander issues in the future.”

“I know how bright and driven our class is,” Yang said. “We are visionaries with big ideas. It goes without saying that the future is in phenomenal hands. But more than that, this is a class of people that can inspire change and goodness in others.”

Following their remarks, the graduates were called on stage by assistant principal Vince Cereola to receive their diplomas from Bernhard, alongside the board of education and district administrators. Class of 2022 President Alexa Moore led the turning of tassels, and students tossed their caps into the air as the Ward Melville High School bell rang, signifying the end of an era.

Seniors from Smithtown High School East and Smithtown High School West filled their schools’ football fields as students for the last time on Thursday, June 23.

Smithtown East’s commencement ceremony celebrated the graduation of 401 students and featured the district’s Assistant Superintendent Kevin Simmons, who was the principal at East for 3 1/2 years before moving to the district office, as the keynote speaker.

The two student speakers were Aman Mistry, who was voted by fellow seniors as the honor speaker, and Trishaulla Kanhai, who is president of the Class Council.

At Smithtown West, 358 students received their diplomas. Superintendent Mark Secaur addressed the students. National Honor Society President Tyler Nagosky was chosen by his classmates to speak at the ceremony and co-presidents Hunter Hayes and Madison Hilman also delivered speeches.

METRO photo

By Father Frank Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

June is the time of year when school ends and summer begins. It’s a time of year when our high school seniors graduate and prepare to transition into young adults. Some will go away to college; others will prepare to enter the workforce. All of our graduates will hopefully deal with all of the challenges of change and transition in a positive way.

The hard question to answer is are these graduates ready and prepared for the new challenges before them? The pandemic has definitely impaired many of these extraordinary young men and women.

However, despite the challenges and the lack of holistic services in the area of mental health and addiction services, many of these graduates have begun to navigate the difficult road before them with extraordinary character and integrity.

Despite the polarizing landscape they must navigate, the class of 2022 are genuinely beacons of hope. So many of them have courageously challenged the hypocrisy of our present age. They have reached out to the most vulnerable and marginalized among us.

A growing number of high school students who have graduated and have been victimized by the mass school shootings that have ripped at the soul of America have become prophetic voices in our midst. They have worked tirelessly to raise people’s awareness that sensible gun laws don’t infringe on our Second Amendment rights, but rather remind us that all life is sacred and we need to protect all!

Graduates of 2022, thank you for reminding all of us that hope lives in our midst and that your class is going to make a profound difference in our world! Thank you for reminding us that all people matter, no matter what their race, religion, sexual orientation, or economic status.

Class of 2022, may you always have the courage despite our social climate of divisiveness to build bridges instead of walls, to create a world where love, forgiveness and inclusiveness are foundational.

One of your classmates this graduation season did not walk with his fellow seniors because he was killed due to gun violence. His high school career was marked by compassion and service to others. He constantly talked to his mom about wanting to go into public service after college and trying to make a difference in the world. He won’t have that opportunity but many of you could choose that career path. We desperately need you; our democracy is moving towards autocracy; we need your help to reclaim the soul of our nation and protect our freedoms.

May you always remember hope does not abandon us, we abandon hope! Class of 2022 —  always be men and women of hope!

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

Proud family members and invited guests gathered at Cold Spring Harbor High School on June 12 to join in celebrating the 59th Commencement of the 145 graduating seniors of the Class of 2022. As the graduates processed into the field house for the final time, High School Principal Daniel Danbusky congratulated the class on their dedication and commitment to achieving their goal of academic success.

“We are all gathered here to recognize and celebrate your accomplishments,” he said.

—Photos from Cold Spring Harbor Central School District