Tags Posts tagged with "Class of 2015"

Class of 2015

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Despite the rainy evening, Mount Sinai seniors’ spirits were still high at their graduation on Saturday night.

More than 200 graduates received their diplomas and were treated to speeches by Salutatorian Brendan Zoto, who will attend Stony Brook University in the fall, and Valedictorian Seth Brand, who heads off to Harvard University. Brand told his fellow grads and the audience to remember the importance of saying thank you and laughing, and received a standing ovation for his remarks.

Victor Labozzetta III leads Newfield High School’s senior class at graduation. Photo from Middle Country school district

Newfield High School seniors will say goodbye to their school this Saturday as they prepare for life beyond Newfield.

Victor Labozzetta III and Wasie Karim will lead their graduating class as Newfield High School’s 2015 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

Labozzetta, who is wrapping up his high school career with a 97.33 GPA, plans to attend Eastman School of Music in Rochester this coming fall. What was once a hobby for Labozzetta is now a career choice, as he is majoring in percussion performance.

“I’ve always had an interest in percussion and in music in general,” he said. “Even when I was little, I would drum on furniture in the house.”

His knack for drumming on the furniture lead to his mother purchasing his first drum set. At the age of 4, Labozzetta III started percussion lessons with drum teacher Justin Gallo, one of his inspirations. Four years ago the duo co-authored “A Practical Approach to Understanding Time Signatures,” a music book which teaches musicians the ins and outs of time signatures.

But Labozzetta is not simply a percussionist. He is also a composer. He has composed several pieces including  “Concerto in Eb,” “The Third Minute” and his most recent “Urban Streetlamp.” Newfield’s jazz ensemble, including Labozzetta, performed his piece on June 4 for a school concert. In addition to composing music and playing the drums, Labozzetta juggled eight Advanced Placement courses and several extracurricular activities during his four years at Newfield. He was an active member of the jazz band, Tri-M Music Honor Society and Thespian Honor Society where he served as president and secretary, respectively.

Two years ago, the music enthusiast attended The Julliard School Summer Intensive. He also was the substitute percussionist for Atlantic Wind Symphony and Sound Symphony Orchestra.

Going forward, Labozzetta is most excited to learn alongside like-minded peers and from faculty members like Eastman’s Chair of the Percussion Department Professor Michael Burritt, among others.

Karim is ending his high school career with a 96.18 GPA. The graduating senior is attending Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College in the fall. Although he is caught between majoring in neuroscience or biochemistry, Karim is set on pursuing a career in the medical field.

He is one of several in his family to pursue a career in the sciences.

Wasie Karim leads Newfield High School’s senior class at graduation. Photo from Middle Country school district
Wasie Karim leads Newfield High School’s senior class at graduation. Photo from Middle Country school district

Karim cited his late grandfather as one of his biggest inspirations for his personal and professional life. His maternal grandfather taught him how to appreciate what he had and about his faith during his childhood. He also encouraged Karim to pursue and advance in the sciences like his uncles.

Although his grandfather died when Karim was 7-years-old, Karim never strayed from his passion for the sciences. The salutatorian does not only want to heal people, but he also hopes entering fields like Pediatric Neurology will help patients receive faster medical care.

“One of my guidance counselors had to go to a pediatric neurologist for one of her sons and she had to wait three months because they were in such high demand,” Karim said. “If I could help fill that field within Long Island and New York City it would be a pretty noble thing to do.”

While attending Newfield, Karim took approximately 10 AP classes. He was also involved in the LOTE Honor Society and the National Honor Society. He served as the president of the LOTE Honor Society, where he helped orchestrate events like fundraisers and attempted to increase club membership.

For Karim, the LOTE Honor Society’s International Night event was a highlight of his high school career. The club, as well as the event, aimed to promote cultural diversity. When he was 14-years-old, Karim became a volunteer at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Karim said he is eager to leave the quiet suburbs of Long Island for New York City.

“Being in the middle of all that hustle and bustle, it seems pretty cool, especially coming from a really quiet suburb where there are literally no children on my block,” Karim said. “It’s going to be a big transition for sure, but I think it’s one that I’m going to like.”

He aspires to work at  Columbia University Medical Center in the Pediatrics department, although he said this might change. This summer he is not only preparing for life beyond high school, but also nurturing his interest in computers and cars. With his growing interest in technology, Karim said that if the medical career does not work in his favor, he would pursue a career in computer science.

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Comsewogue High School’s week was jam-packed, with the senior prom on Wednesday and the Class of 2015 graduation ceremony on Thursday.

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Kings Park High School said goodbye to its 2015 graduating class on Thursday night as students flanked the football field in the company of flocks of excited family members.

The men were donned in red caps and gowns while their women counterparts sported white and they sat in alternating order, properly decorating the school field in Kingsmen colors before their final sendoff. Class valedictorian Zachary Marcone and salutatorian Justin Barish were two of several students to step up and deliver encouraging remarks before the students shook hands and grasped their high school diplomas.

“You must strike a balance in life,” said Marcone, who had his speech flown in via air drone to symbolize the possibilities the future holds. “Everything you do in life must be balanced.”

Principal Lino E. Bracco said 91 percent of Kings Park High School grads were off to college next year and wished the graduating class well before the two-hour ceremony concluded.

Valedictorian Seth Brand. Photo from Mount Sinai school district

They volunteered countless hours, participated in numerous activities and have taken more than 40 Advanced Placement courses combined, so it should come as no surprise that Seth Brand, Brendan Zotto and Tiffany Ong are at the top of Mount Sinai High School’s 2015 graduating class.

Seth Brand
With a GPA of 102.399, Seth Brand graduates as this year’s valedictorian and will head to Harvard University in the fall.

The varsity soccer and basketball player said he plans on studying biology, but is still undecided as he wants to explore and see what he is most interested in.

“I think I’m going to find what I really want to do upon going to Harvard,” he said.

Brand added that he knows whatever he ends up doing, it will involve making a difference in others’ lives.
Over the course of his four years at Mount Sinai, Brand took a total of 24 AP classes and exams — 13 of which he self-studied for — and passed every single one.

In addition to playing sports, Brand served as class president in 10th and 11th grades, and as president of the National Honor Society. He was also vice president of the school’s Environmental Out Reach club, coordinating beach cleanups and collecting recyclables.

Brand reflected fondly on his time as a Mustang and said he benefited from being in small school. He also gave a shutout to his teachers and the friends he has made.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better place to go.”

Brendan Zotto

Salutatorian Brendan Zotto. Photo from Mount Sinai school district
Salutatorian Brendan Zotto. Photo from Mount Sinai school district

In addition to being the Mustang’s senior class president, Brendan Zotto is also this year’s salutatorian, graduating with a 101.213 GPA. He heads off to Stony Brook University in the fall and will major in computer engineering.

Zotto said a programming class he took as a freshman spurred his interest in the subject. After taking the AP Physics C exam, which he self-studied for, Zotto said he realized he was interested in computer hardware as he learned about circuitry, and electricity and magnetism.

“I’m hoping college is an experience like that, where I learn one thing and it leads me to something else,” he said.

In his spare time, Zotto, a member of the cross country track team, said he enjoys running.

His favorite memory from high school, he said, was participating in the National Honor Society’s Video Game Tournament, where students played Super Smash Brothers Melee and raised money for the group.

Zotto, who is also vice president of the Computer Club and treasurer of the Science Club, said he hopes to one day make and improve on current computer hardware.

The salutatorian said college would offer him the “experience to learn more about myself and about what I’m studying.”

Tiffany Ong
Tiffany Ong rounds out the top trio and is this year’s senior class poet. Ong is graduating with a 101.146 GPA and will head to New York University in the fall, where she’ll major in nutrition and dietetics.

Senior class poet Tiffany Ong. Photo from Mount Sinai school district
Senior class poet Tiffany Ong. Photo from Mount Sinai school district

Ong said she picked the major because she has a passion for the sciences, health and food.

“I just love how we can take care of our bodies and be athletic and still have a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

The student government secretary said she stays active in a few different ways. She played varsity tennis until her junior year and currently spends much of her time dancing at Backstage Studio of Dance.

While Ong’s dream job would be to dance for a living, she said she understands how challenging that is and will explore creating a major at NYU that combines her passions for dance and nutrition.

“Hopefully, I can help dancers in the future, or any other athletes.”

The senior also has a love of art and music. She is an accomplished violin player, having served as concertmistress of the high school’s orchestra, ensemble leader of the chamber orchestra and a section leader in the Long Island String Festival Association.

Ong said she enjoyed attending Mount Sinai because it is a small school where you get to know everyone, but she is also excited for new experiences college will bring.

“I’m looking forward to seeing new people, being on my own, growing up really fast, especially being in the city.”

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Billy Joel will receive an honorary degree at next month’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony, slated for May 22 at LaValle Stadium. Photo from SBU

Billy Joel is coming to Stony Brook University.

Billy Joel will receive an honorary degree at next month’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony, slated for May 22 at LaValle Stadium. Photo from SBU
Billy Joel will receive an honorary degree at next month’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony, slated for May 22 at LaValle Stadium. Photo from SBU

The iconic singer and songwriter was named one of three luminaries who will receive honorary degrees at this year’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony on May 22, along with renowned computer scientist Ben Shneiderman and Long Island businessman and philanthropist Charles Wang.

“This is a remarkable distinction for the Class of 2015, to be joined in their celebration by such a highly accomplished trio,” said Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. “It shows our new alumni how much can be achieved with vision, dedication and perseverance. These three individuals personify the relentless pursuit of excellence that Stony Brook embraces.”

Stony Brook University will be conferring honorary degrees to all three visitors, who will don academic regalia along with more than 6,000 students at the 55th annual commencement ceremony, slated for 11 a.m. at LaValle Stadium. Both Joel and Wang will speak at the ceremony, Stony Brook University said.

“I look forward to this commencement, as I’m sure does the entire Class of 2015, as they prepare to celebrate the culmination of their dedication, hard work, and their vision for what lies ahead,” Stanley said.

Joel, who was raised in Hicksville, is a singer-songwriter pianist and composer who has earned 23 Grammy Award nominations, six Grammy Awards, and an additional Grammy Legend Award to name only a few of his achievements.

Shneiderman, a two-time Stony Brook University alumnus and distinguished university professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, is a world-renowned computer scientist who has transformed his chosen field. Shneiderman will be speaking at a prestigious doctoral hooding ceremony the previous day, May 21, at 1 p.m. in the Island Federal Credit Union Arena.

Wang is co-founder of Computer Associates International — now CA Technologies — and owner of the New York Islanders ice hockey team. Born in Shanghai, China, he moved to Queens when he was 8 years old, and attended Brooklyn Technical High School. The Charles B. Wang Center at SBU was named in his honor.