Mild weather, plenty of sunshine and a surprise visit from Senator Charles Schumer helped make a picture perfect graduation day for Sayville High School’s Class of 2012 on Saturday.
From the opening processional march to the obligatory cap-tossing finale, students, staff and guests savored the moment, celebrated the past, and looked toward a bright future for its newest crop of young men and women.
“We’re proud of you and your accomplishments,” said Dr. Walter Schartner, superintendent of Sayville Schools. “I remember you as wide-eyed kids in 2005. I encouraged you to get involved in the opportunities that were available to you. You exceeded our expectations. In 2008 once again I urged you to take advantage of opportunity, and once again you exceeded our expectations. As a graduating class you’ve helped set a new standard for and added to the excellence that is the Sayville schools. Now, make the next chapter of your life a little more successful.”
The morning ceremony was a roundrobin festival of commendations. School Board President Raymond Nelson led a round of applause for parents and grandparents. Students bound for college or for military service were recognized.
Valedictorian Erica Weinberg, Jacqueline Kalomiris and Class President Derek Hartnett praised teachers who had made a positive impact on their school careers. A total of 49 teachers were named to the class’ 'Teachers Who Made A Difference’ list.
Hartnett noted some of the many accomplishments of the past year -- a wind ensemble played Carnegie Hall, a softball team named NYS champs, and a football team that was Long Island champions and won the Rutgers Cup.
Sayville High School principal Ronald Hoffer noted with pride that 94 percent of the class had earned regents diplomas, 97 percent were planning on further education, and that for the fourth year in a row, all 26 varsity athletic teams had been named to the state Scholar Athlete roster.
The day also included a traditional ‘Alumni Walk,’ with representatives of classes going back to 1938 participating.
Among the honors and awards, said Hoffer, more than $3.1 million in scholarships was won by the class.
The main event of the morning -- handing out of diplomas -- was interrupted mid-stream by the unannounced appearance of Senator Charles Schumer, who told graduating seniors to “reach down deep, see what you’re made of. My advice is simple: go for it!”
“I have a vision -- I see the next Steve Jobs, the young men and women who will protect our nation, the teachers that will teach us, and even the plumber that’ll finally fix my sink,” said BOE Vice President John Verdone.
In his formal ‘Response For The Class,’ Hartnett also set his sight clearly on the future.
“Next year will be different -- we’ll face pressures not as a class but as individuals,” said the 2012 Class President. “But as Mr. Shaw said in English class, ‘millions have done this before us, and we can too.’