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Graduates

Stony Brook University hosted its commencement ceremony on Friday, May 19, for all 2023 graduates. The ceremony conferred more than 7,830 degrees, including 4,895 bachelor’s degrees, 2,115 master’s degrees, 580 doctoral and professional degrees and 240 certificates.

“Over one third of our graduates are the first in their families to attend college,” SBU President Maurie McInnis, pictured below right, told the 2023 graduating class. “These students are making a significant step not only towards their own future, but the future of their families and their communities.”

McInnis welcomed guest speakers, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Merryl Tisch, board of trustees chair for the State University of New York system.

Schumer encouraged graduates to be bold and seize the opportunities before them.

“Sitting in your seats, you may not be sure of what’s coming next with so much of the world changing so fast around you,” he said. “The key is not to fear the unknown. Embrace it. Relish it. Soak up every possibility it has to offer. Cast aside your fears and your doubts. So, my advice to the class of ‘23 is simple: go for it.”

Elected officials also in attendance included New York State Senator Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk); New York State Assembly members Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson) and Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead); and Suffolk County Legislators Sam Gonzalez (D-Brentwood), Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Jason Richberg (D-West Babylon).

Members of the Stony Brook Council were also in attendance, including Kevin Law; Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant; Chris Hahn; Reverend Michael Smith; and Frank Trotta.

Rocky Point High School. File photo by Giselle Barkley

Since Rocky Point High School was built in 1971, its graduates have gone on to become musicians, scientists, college athletes and more; but many also have gone into the armed services.

Now, the Rocky Point school district is looking to show its appreciation for those graduates turned veterans by creating a new Wall of Honor featuring the faces of close to 60 men and women who made the choice to serve after high school.

“We recognize the students for so many different things throughout the school year, whether it be academics, sports-related accomplishments, clubs — and this is just one thing that it’s nice to recognize these students for all they’ve done for our country,” Rocky Point High School Principal Susan Crossan said.

Crossan had seen similar walls in other school districts such as Longwood and Comsewogue and said she figured it was time her school also honored its homegrown veterans. She originally pitched the idea to a number of history teachers at the high school, including Jamie Mancini and Heather Laughlin-Cotter, who came to appreciate the idea very quickly she said, though it was high school social studies teacher Richard Acritelli, himself a nine-year army reservist veteran, who truly picked up the idea and ran with it.

“Rocky Point is a blue-collar area with a lot of men and women in the service community, a lot of policemen, firemen and many who served in the armed services,” Acritelli said. “We have strong ties to the defense of this country.”

Since spring, many Rocky Point teachers and students worked together in an effort to find and contact the district’s veterans. Acritelli said it was a balancing act, doing their best to get students who attended Rocky Point High School many years ago in addition to ones who only graduated recently.

“We have a variety of veterans up on the wall, such as those in military academies, those who served in the Cold War, those in the War on Terror, young people in ROTC programs, and those who literally just left the school,” Acritelli said. “In a short period of time — with the number of names we were able to get compiled — it’s going to be really tastefully done.”

Acritelli said almost all funding was provided by local sponsors, including the Rocky Point Teachers Association, the Rocky Point Athletic Booster Club, the Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 and the nonprofit Feal Good Foundation.

The wall is being constructed by Ronkonkoma-based Fricke Memorials, and each plaque will include a picture of the veteran, their name, rank and branch of armed service. Along with the plaques the wall will include black granite etchings and bronze emblems representing each military branch.

Some of the Rocky Point graduates named on the upcoming wall go back more than 50 years, before Rocky Point High School even existed, when students who graduated from the middle school instead traveled all the way to Port Jefferson to finish their education. Crossan said she expects more names to be added to the wall as the news of it in the community spreads.

“It’s very important that we show loyalty to the students who have served, that they know that their school has recognized their services at home and abroad,” Acritelli said.

The Wall of Honor will be located just to the right of the main entrance to the high school past the main auditorium entrance.

Crossan said the wall will be installed this coming weekend, and all plaques will be put up on the wall Nov. 12. The school will be hosting a school assembly celebrating Veterans Day Nov. 16, which will be followed by an unveiling of the wall.

By Karen Forman

More than 550 Commack High School graduates looked to their future Friday night. 

Commack High School held its annual commencement exercises June 22 on the athletic fields.

“Be present in your daily lives,” Commack High School Principal Leslie Boritz told the Class of 2018. “Be here now for yourself and for others. Living in the present is how we can make a difference.”

After the students tossed their caps in the air, Master of Ceremonies and English teacher James Desmond told the graduating seniors, “While the flight of your caps is limited, may your future never be.”

 

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Port Jefferson school district held its 57th annual senior prom on Monday night. Parents had worked tirelessly to transform Earl L. Vandermeulen High School into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for the event, secretly painting sets and making dummies to surprise the Class of 2015.

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More than 400 Newfield High School students received their diplomas on Saturday, June 27, at the school’s annual commencement ceremony.

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The rain couldn’t put a damper on the Harborfields Tornadoes last weekend, as the Class of 2015 celebrated the 56th annual commencement on Saturday, June 27.

Gowns of green and white could be spotted, and seniors were greeted with cheers from the stands and triumphant sounds delivered by the high school band.

Salutatorian Jamie Letourneau, Class President Katherine Ryan and Valedictorian Eli Slamowitz spoke fondly of their classmates and provided words of encouragement for the future.

The ceremony also featured speeches by Superintendent Diana Todaro, Principal Rory Manning and English teacher Kristen Gavin.

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On Sunday, June 14, Cold Spring Harbor High School held its 52nd commencement honoring the Class of 2015.

High School Principal Jay Matuk congratulated the class, and following tradition at the school district, there were three reflection speakers this year: David May, Gabrielle Bailenson and Allison Grey. The ceremony also featured a performance by senior Christine Collins, who joined the wind ensemble on the flute. Senior Emily Gallagher led the audience in the national anthem.

Commencement also featured comments from Superintendent Judith A. Wilansky and school board President Anthony Paolano.

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The Class of 2015 celebrated their graduation in Port Jefferson on Friday, remembering their pasts as they looked toward their bright futures.

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Huntington High School marked its 154th annual commencement on Friday, June 26.

The Blue Devils celebrated in style, marking the occasion with a processional, speeches by a number of students and school officials, words of wisdom from Valedictorian Caitlin Knowles and Salutatorian Joe Saginaw and much cheer from excited parents. It was also longtime Principal Carmela Leonardi’s last graduation, as she celebrates retirement this year.

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The Northport High School Class of 2015 graduated on Saturday, June 27. The bleachers were filled to capacity as speakers U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) congratulated the students and offered some advice.

Principal Irene McLaughlin, as well as other Northport High School staff members and members of the Northport-East Northport school board handed out diplomas and cheered on the students. Valedictorian Joseph Wetzel and Salutatorian Ana Chisholm gave poignant speeches, and the Northport High School Choir sang “Fields of Gold.”