As the Manhasset High School Orchestra, led by Eileen Murphy, played Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, last Friday evening, families, friends and faculty rose to their feet to honor the Class of 1998. The seniors marched into the junior high school gym with a triumphant glow that was not a result of the sweltering conditions outside. Despite the extremely warm temperature in the gym, where the ceremony was held due to threatening thunderstorms, the spirits of the audience were high.
The 78th annual Manhasset High School commencement program began with the salute to the flag followed by the "Star Spangled Banner." Guests were welcomed by Jenna Silverman, the class vice president, who expressed words of thanks to all who had helped this class on its way with wisdom and created unforgettable memories. The class gift to the school was then presented by the class treasurer, Kristin Valentino , to Dr. Vincent Calluzzo, president of the board of education. She noted that the school's mascot, the Indian, had always represented "courage, strength, wisdom, dedication and pride" that every class tried to emulate. Artwork, in the form of an Indian, was dedicated to be affixed to the gym floor. Next the graduating class sang the popular Green Day song, Time of Your Life, which they had chosen to symbolize their class.
The commencement address was given by Brian Clemency. His words rang with the theme that if you give of your time, talent and love, you will achieve success. He left the class with the stirring conclusion: "Continue to aim for more. Even if you miss, you'll be among the stars." Next, Melanie Linn, the class historian, gave a brief review of the graduating class' experiences at MHS. Highlights included winning Spirit Week with the Snapple float in sophomore year, showing that they were made of "the best stuff on earth ," and winning the field hockey championship in senior year. The most important results of the four years were the friendships that were made.
There were more than $10,000 in scholarships as well as other awards given this year to the graduates of Manhasset High School. Silver "M" Awards were presented to students who participated in at least three extra-curricular activities, including community service, while exhibiting leadership and enriching the lives of others. They were bestowed, this year, in memory of Jonathan Levin, 1984 MHS graduate and teacher at Taft High School in the Bronx. He was a well loved friend and compassionate educator who was brutally murdered last year. This year's Silver "M"s were awarded to Stephanie Carlucci, Brian Michael Clemency, Kevin Barry Connolly, Kelly Ann Lemerise, Kristin Lea Valentino, Anne-Marie Juliet Vignola and Mary Florence Zito.
Congratulatory remarks were given by Dr. Ranier Mellucci, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. Then Principal Michael Keany gave an inspiring keynote address. He began by saying that twilight was a fitting time to hold the graduation ceremony because that is when one can begin to see the stars in the heavens. He went on to say that there was no need to wait for the stars because the stars are the students who were graduating. Mr. Keany said there are many types of stars--shooting stars, stars that give off warmth as well as light, stars that motivate others to shine. Overall, he said, the class is made up of stars who he urged to "shine on in wisdom and goodness." He concluded by presenting the students in the graduating class with a star named after them--"Manhasset Class of 1998," which can be found near the upraised arm of Orion.
Finally came the presentation of diplomas when the class valedictorians, asked Mr. Keany to "please graduate our class." The ceremony ended with the symbol of graduation, the "turning of the tassel."
The farewell was given by Laura Baker, class president for the past three years. She thanked all "who guided us and cared for us," with special thanks to the senior class guidance counselors, Joan Kazin and Noreen Cambria, and Arlene Razukas, senior class advisor. Laura gave some useful advice of her own. "Never look back, you're not going that way."
After the singing of the alma mater and the recessional of the new graduates, friends and family visited the gym to see the Senior Frolic. This year's theme was "Paris" and featured an immense Eiffel Tower and charming Parisian shops such as La Boulangerie, Le Cafe and L'Epicerie. The orchestra played from a "Moulin Rouge" bandstand. All in all, a memorable evening.