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Manhasset High School 90th Annual Commencement

On Friday, June 25, Manhasset High School celebrated its 90th annual commencement. As family, friends, teachers, and staff took their seats in front of the tower of the high school, the class of 2010 shuffled onto the bleachers as the Symphony Orchestra played Processional of the Meistersingers  and Pomp and Circumstances. Principal Dr. Schlanger began the ceremony by asking the officers of the class of 2010 to ring the bell three times, honoring graduates of the past, present, and future.

After class president Amit Vora led the flag salute, a vocalist and member of the class of 2010, Sarah Welsh, sang the Star Spangled Banner to initiate the commencement. Amit Vora then returned to deliver his greeting to all who attended the commencement ceremony. Then discussed how diverse the Class of 2010 really was, a notion that would be repeated throughout the night. “Our class is filled with people who are incredibly hard workers and the success of our class members shows that. We have geniuses, people who have won amazing academic awards, great athletes, great musicians, great actors, and simply all around good people.” He also cited the class’ reputation as fun-loving when he mentioned that the members of the class of 2010 are “diligent, hardworking students who know when to have a good time.” He then went on to thank teachers, especially Mr. Novak, class advisor to the graduating class, custodians, and family members for all the time and help they had devoted to the class of 2010 over the years. In a memorable side note, Amit Vora, Demitri Dedousis, class secretary, and Jonathan Gillis, created their own twist to the introduction of Superintendent Charles Cardillo by unveiling a picture of him when he was in college.

As Mr. Cardillo presented his speech, it became very obvious that the Class of 2010 would miss their time at Manhasset. He quoted the students as they talked about the teachers they loved so much, including Mr. Sansone, art teacher, Ms. McGrory, science teacher, and Mrs. Rogers, a sixth-grade teacher who had passed away. In addition to mentioning how the Class of 2010 would miss Manhasset, Mr. Cardillo noted how greatly they would be missed as a class who had demonstrated excellence both in and out of the classroom. He cited the spirit of the class full of leaders and exemplary models. He ended by quoting a page in the yearbook, written by the Gold family, to their son John. “Dear John, every day you distinguish yourself as a great brother, son, and friend. Keep setting that bar high and keep trying to leap over it…” Mr. Cardillo linked it to his advice for the graduating class by saying, “Class of 2010, bless each of you and everyone of you, set the bar high and go for it.”

After Andrew B. Choi, Nitasha Gupta, Celline Kim, and Moriah Son played Andante from the Divertimento I by W.A. Mozart, salutatorians Natalie Cybriwsky and Gabrielle Salvaterra spoke. They presented a retrospective view of their time in Manhasset from: the first day of school; being in eighth grade watching the incoming seventh-graders shuffled to find their classes; homecoming in ninth grade; tenth grade health; and finally, Friday nights spent home studying for Saturday standardized testing in 11th grade. They demonstrated, how, in each situation, the members of the class of 2010 had always been able to lean on each other for support. They cited the unwavering pride and enthusiasm, hardworking nature and determination of the members of the class of 2010 and ended by saying that they would always find a home within the hallways of the high school, as they had done for the last four years.

Then, Mr. Bennett, Silver M President, presented the Silver M awards for the Class of 2010. The award is presented to “members of the student body who have raised the bar, that inspire their peers with their selfless dedication to all of their pursuits, to the Manhasset community, and to challenging others.” This year, the award was presented to seven students as well as one faculty member. As Mr. Bennett read off the activities and accomplishments of each of the students, it was obvious what others meant when they said that the Class of 2010 displayed excellence both in and out of the classroom. In addition to the multitude of rigorous classes many of the recipients had taken, they had gone on to join various clubs, sports teams, and performing groups and display leadership within those groups. This year’s recipients were Andrew Choi, Jonathan Gillis, Patrick Love, Amit Vora, Anastasia Barnes, Stephanie Chin, Katherine Leavy, and Coach Bill Cherry.

The Tower Foundation’s Alumni Director, Joseph Janik, then presented his congratulations and advice to the class of 2010. In addition to applauding those who had helped the class along the way, he quoted Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You are on your own, and you know what you know, you are the person who will decide where you go.”

He was followed by the valedictorians of the class of 2010 as they presented their speeches. Nitasha Gupta began as she cited the various accomplishments of the members of 2010, supporting the thesis that “nothing comes without tremendous time, effort, commitment, and sacrifice.” She presented her advice to the class by stating that although they seem small in a world that is so large, it is important to look for the good in others, despite how easy it may be to point out the bad.

Amit Vora followed saying throughout his last semester of high school, as everyone was tying up loose ends and completing projects for various teachers, he had been doing research for who he would cast into various roles should there be a movie made about Manhasset High School. He spoke to many and had compiled a full list of teachers and the actors who would play them. He completed his speech saying, “In this hypothetical movie about our high school, it is really the different characters who contribute to our valuable experiences.” He concluded by mentioning that their time in Manhasset would be remembered, not by the activities they participated in, but by the people who they had come in contact with along the way.

Taryn Wassmer began by speaking of a company, postsecret.com, where homemade cards are sent to a woman anonymously enclosed with a secret the sender has never told anyone before. She cited that the most important success of the company was in what it was able to uncover about humanity; the ability of society to empathize and sympathize with each in spite of their uniqueness. She concluded by saying that the members of the class of 2010 undoubtedly have their own individual identities, but are united by their experiences.

Angelo Tannuzzo recounted the story of John Augustus, a boot maker in Boston during the early 1840s, who inadvertently created probation as part of the legal system. He shared how the story of this seemingly small man had created such a spark that entirely changed the American legal system. He concluded that each person, no matter how insignificant he may seem, has the power to make a difference, which the members of the class of 2010 should certainly cherish. His final thought came in the form of a quote by Horace Mann, “be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

In the final valedictorian speech, Rachel Giovanniello created a metaphor using string. She invited everyone to imagine that a string was created between every person who had come in contact with another, whether it had been for only a passing moment, or for a lasting high school friendship. She mentioned that these strings would be between every member of the class of 2010 along with various members of the community. “This moment is yours. Own it. The future can be slippery and hard to imagine but the sky above you, and the ground below you, and the people beside you are real. Sit here with them and breathe. Take in the pieces of dust and carbon dioxide that used to be theirs and when you leave, there will be thousands of pieces of other beings in you and it may or may not mean anything to you. These words mean nothing, but these breaths will be there.”

After Caroline Connolly and Alexander Scaramucci performed Time of Say Goodbye by F. Sartori and L. Quarantotto, Cindy Cardinal, president of the board of education, Robert Novak, class advisor to the Class of 2010; and Patrick Love, treasurer for the Class of 2010, came up to present the class gift. The members of the class of 2010 had decided they would refurbish the wooden Indian that stands in the main hallway as its paint had faded and a crack had formed over the years. Patrick Love had discussed how this was chosen because the Indian stands above the students, watching them shuffle in between classes and the three words on the book the Indian holds, “Courage, Honor, and Wisdom” were words that had held a special place in the hearts of the Class of 2010. Cindy Cardinal thanked the class of 2010 and explained how much the class gift represented them in that it demonstrated the class as overachievers as they had already refurbished the Indian, their devotion to tradition, and their desire to be remembered. She also stated each student wore multiple hats throughout their time in Manhasset and their devotion to excellence was readily apparent. Robert Novak then imparted his advice to the class of 2010. In addition to stating how proud he was and thanking those who had helped them along the way, he told the story of how his father told him to learn something new every morning before he went to school. He stated that taking this statement to heart is to consider life your greatest education and that each person needs to be open as we are a collection of our experiences, both good and bad. He concluded with a quote, “I am learning all the time, the tombstone will be my diploma,” a phrase he asked the class to remember as they continue on their journeys.

After a performance by Raffi Froundjian of My Hero by Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters, Principal Dr. Dean Schlanger gave his advice to the Class of 2010 before the principal’s bestowal. He stated that one should look back to reflect on mistakes, look down, to see what is right in front of you, to realize the connections one holds with those who surround us, and to look ahead. He concluded by mentioning that each person should live each day fully. “Life is precious, see its beauty, and appreciate its essence.”

Members of the board of education then presented diplomas to the members of the Class of 2010, giving honorary diplomas to members of the Manhasset High School community who were retiring this year, Lynne Borah, special education teacher, and Arlene Razukas, computer specialist. After all of the diplomas were distributed, the members of the class of 2010 turned their tassels from the right, as high school seniors, to the left, as Manhasset High School alumni.

The Class of 2010 was certainly a memorable class for those who had the privilege of going to high school with them and undoubtedly left a mark on the school. Along with their various accomplishments both in and out of the classroom they are genuinely good people and, although their presence will clearly be missed, all wish them the best in their future endeavors.