School superintendents, administrators and parents acknowledged and honored the highest achieving students of Suffolk County’s Class of 2015 during the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association’s 21st annual Valedictorian Luncheon, held at the Hyatt Regency Wind Watch Hotel in Hauppauge.
Brian Righter from Smithtown High School East and Rebecca Cheng from Smithtown High School West represented Smithtown Central School District at the luncheon. While the Smithtown CSD does not name valedictorians for their respective high schools, class speakers are chosen to represent each building. The top academic students (with a 4.0 GPA) in each of the two schools vote on whom amongst their peers they would like to see represent them at graduation.
The celebratory event was punctuated with music provided by the Islip High School Jazz Ensemble, who performed under the direction of Steve Campanella.
Congratulating all of the valedictorians and student representatives on their hard work and academic achievements were Roberta A. Gerold, SCSSA president and Middle Country school district superintendent of schools; Susan A. Schnebel, SCSSA president-elect and Islip school district superintendent of schools; Charles T. Russo, SCSSA vice president and East Moriches school district superintendent of schools; and Lars Clemensen, SCSSA secretary and Hampton Bays school district superintendent of schools.
Keynote speaker Roger Tilles, a member of the New York State Board of Regents, encouraged the valedictorians to always put things in perspective, develop a backbone, become proactive and involved, use imagination and creativity to propel forward, and find a job that matters.
“Love what you do, and feel that it matters,” Tilles said. “There is no greater fun than that.”
Each valedictorian was called to the stage to receive a certificate and gift of recognition. During their acknowledgment, the universities they plan on attending were announced, along with their intended majors.
The impressive and prestigious list of schools included Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Duke University, Fordham University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Villanova University and Yale University. The SCSSA and its corporate partners also awarded 10 scholarships to graduates planning to pursue a career in education or social services.