On Friday, June 23, Manhasset High School celebrated its 86th annual commencement. Seniors took their places on the bleachers, surrounded by the friends, family, and faculty that had supported them throughout their four years.
Principal Mr. William Stark welcomed students along with Superintendent Charles Cardillo, who said, "The doors of Manhasset High School will always be open to you."
Students chose former middle school principal Thomas Gilroy to give the graduation address. "You have no idea how touched I was," he said. Gilroy spoke of the class fondly. "I remember the kindness of this class," he said. He had seen them come together in support of one another in the wake of the tragedy of September 11th.
"We can be both competitive and compassionate," said salutatorian Michelle Sullivan of the spirit of her class. She left her classmates, who are leaving the comforts of family, friends, school, and community, with these words from Dr. Suess' Oh, the Places You'll Go! "Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!"
Richard Bennett, Silver M President, bestowed the honor of the Silver M Award to David Nebel, Elisabeth Avallone, and Jessica Nevitt. In order to be inducted into this society, students must take on three leadership roles throughout their high school careers. Bennett listed the recipients many accomplishments, which included involvement in student government, music, and varsity sports. This year's Silver M Award also went to teacher Virginia Bornholdt. A teacher at MHS for 28 years, she played an active role in students' lives. Her many activities included involvement with the Shared Decision Making committee, American Association of Teachers of French, and National Honor Society. In response to her retirement in 2005, Bennett said, "I know she's dearly missed in the halls of Manhasset High School."
Valedictorian Marisol Ryu expressed words of gratitude to parents, teachers, guidance counselors, custodians, and librarians, who all played a part in leading them to this day. To the parents in the audience, she said, "One day we will be able to invest in you all you've invested in us." She went on to thank teachers, who, she said, "nurtured and prepared us for our futures."
The next presentation came from John Hong, class vice president, Nancy Conetta, class advisor, and Cindy Cardinal, president of the board of education, who bestowed upon the school an oak bulletin board for the senior hallway as the class' parting gift.
Jessica Nevitt and Matt Cornachio honored Robyn Mandor, assistant superintendent for personnel. According to Nevitt, it was through Mandor's presence that students would not only step into straight lines, but learned how to respect one another. Cornachio added his praises, speaking passionately of Mandor's deep commitment to leading Shelter Rock after principal Richard Koeble passed away. He noted that she learned all their names, making her students feel safe and secure. Mandor's admiration for the soon-to-be alumni could be heard as she accepted her honor. "You got caught doing a lot of things right. You are an extremely unforgettable class."
"One cannot mistake his love for the students," said Samantha Baard, as she and Ashish Bakshi presented William Stark with an honorary diploma. They commended him with maintaining the school's commitment to both tradition and academic excellence. Receiving his diploma, Stark praised the compassionate nature of the class, which raised $30,000 in Katrina relief efforts. He went on to advise students to assume responsibility for their failures as well as their successes. "Remember rules keep on changing, but your level of integrity should not," said Stark.
Joseph Janik, past president of the Tower Foundation, invoked the Tower Foundation Invitation, thanking the community for its continued support, especially for raising money for the foreign language program. "Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail," Janik concluded.
In his address, Senior Class President Matthew Cornachio noted his classmates many accomplishments both in and outside the classroom. "There's something about this grade that just makes us special," he said.