LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Despite the fact that this class had anything but a normal high school experience, there were shared feelings of hope, connection and gratitude in the air at the Sullivan …
LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Despite the fact that this class had anything but a normal high school experience, there were shared feelings of hope, connection and gratitude in the air at the Sullivan West High School graduation on June 25.
Kathleen Bressler, superintendent of schools, began the heartfelt speeches by thanking the Sullivan West Class of 2022 for being a class that cares. “What makes the Sullivan West community so great is that there are so many of you willing to give. Seeing your service-oriented class gives us hope for the future.”
The graduating seniors also recognized the impact of service through the presentation of their student gift. A plaque that will hang in the entry honors Ron Bauer, how much he meant as a Hall of Fame coach and—equally—a hall of fame mentor.
Mark Plescia, Sullivan West principal, encouraged the students to grow through life transitions by being open and accepting of change, “remember[ing] your past, keep[ing] an eye on your future, and your feet firmly planted in the present.” He also asked the graduating seniors to express gratitude for their parents and caregivers, stressing that “We don’t get anywhere alone, but with the support of others. Go out and build community, don’t lose touch with your roots, and trust that you have people to rely on.”
The Sullivan West High School choir sang “Friend Like Me” from Disney’s “Aladdin” to drive home the point that what helped these students succeed in their high school careers, amidst the worst pandemic the world has seen in a century, was their connection to each other and their high school community.
Valedictorian Dylan Sager highlighted many moments of this connection, friendship and fun. The students not only worked hard, supported each other, and pushed each other to greater achievement in both sports and academics, but also did their best to prioritze what really mattered in order to make the most of the unconventional time they had. Sager’s speech closed with a nod to continued integrity. “This is only the beginning of your stories. I challenge you to find who you are and stay true to your character.”
“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” The Rilke quote used by class salutatorian Sofia Seidl helped paint a picture of how and what to do to experience a life of substance and meaning. She encouraged her classmates, saying, “Quest to question. Find the answers to the questions in our minds. Read books with substance. Write. Find yourself in the words that pour out from your pen. Climb peaks. Wash your face with morning dew. Live with the goal to seek the things in life that bring you joy.” Seidl wished them all a life well lived. One of truth, goodness, beauty, laughter, love, true joy and even real sadness. “There’s great awe in feeling it all.”
Any transition comes with mixed emotions. While Charlie Lewis Jr. did an excited backflip before accepting his diploma, some of the students admitted they weren’t sure how to feel. But so many families were feeling definite pride for their graduates’ accomplishments. A handful of the school board members were even able to present their daughters, cousins, nieces and sons with their diplomas. School board president Rose Joyce-Turner presented her son, Ryan Joyce-Turner, with his diploma after a big hug; and Kathleen Meckle, school board vice president, was able to present a diploma to her grandson, James McElroy.
Caps decorated with creative self-expression flew into the air, and there were cheers in all directions when it was pronounced that the Sullivan West High School class of 2022 officially graduated.
Out of a graduating class of 81 students, 60 percent had a high GPA. That included 13 summa cum laude graduates, who had GPAs over 4.75; 13 magna cum laude graduates, with GPAs between 4.74 and 3.9; and 17 cum laude graduates, with GPAs of 3.5 to 3.74.
The students earned $1.2 million dollars in scholarship money for college—way to go Bulldogs!
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