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.