Herricks High School Commencement Ceremony

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Herricks Grad CHerricks High School’s 57th Annual Commencement Ceremony honored the Class of 2016, their many past accomplishments and new beginnings ahead. The skies were bright on the evening of June 23 as the graduates experienced the moment they had awaited and worked toward for many years.
Led by members of the Administration, Board of Education and high school faculty, the seniors made their way onto their school’s field as the band performed “Pomp and Circumstance.” Students Stephen Chacko and Rachel Mathew led their fellow graduates and guests in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, which they followed with an outstanding vocal presentation of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Principal Dr. Samuel Thompson welcomed all in attendance at this significant event, and in continuation of a special tradition, a number of seniors shared greetings in a range of languages representative of the diversity and unity that come together in Herricks. Board of Education President Nancy Feinstein addressed the graduating seniors – her son, Zachary Sarf, among them.
“If there is ever a time to dare to make a difference, to embark on something, it is now,” Feinstein said. “You owe it to yourself to make your days count. With an idea, determination and the right tools, you can do great things.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Fino Celano reflected on the seniors’ many highlights and shared words of inspiration. “Always remain true to your convictions and the values you’ve come to embrace,” he said. He then read a quote by Teddy Roosevelt, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing,” which he followed with advice. “As you move forward, continue to explore the world, searching for who you are and what your life’s passion may be,” Celano said. “Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone; stay confident, be brave and reach high.”
Herricks High School PTSA Co-Presidents Nanette Marchelos and Brenda Tannenbaum presented farewell remarks to the graduates, followed by the Salutatory Address provided by Ranzhuonan Chen and the Student Government Address led by Ashwin Viswanathan. “It is clear to see that the teachers made more than just an academic impact on us,” Chen said.
Valedictorian Matthew Cohen noted that “Our success is shared,” and thanked family members and friends for their support. “It is here that I learned the value of working hard,” he said of his experience in Herricks. “With an insatiable appetite for success, anything is possible.”
Each year, a faculty member is selected to provide comments to the graduates. Seniors Sandhya Ganesan, Simone Khalifa, Daniel Levine and Fatima Mossolem introduced English teacher Stephanie Nelson as this year’s speaker.
“Without you, Herricks wouldn’t be the place it’s been these past four years,” Nelson told the seniors. As she reflected on memories, old and recent, involving the students, her speech was infused with examples of literary characters and the life lessons they left. “We can’t wait to see what you’ll do, because it will most definitely be great.”
The Senior Chamber Choir Singers performed two musical numbers, which were followed by Dr. Thompson’s presentation of the Class of 2016. As a new member of the school administration this year, he shared his observation that these students possess a willingness to accept change. “You welcomed me with open arms and invited me to dance,” he said. “The Class of 2016 has kept our school in step this entire year, and younger classes followed your rhythm.”
As the highlight of the ceremony, diplomas were presented by Board of Education members and each graduate received applause and cheers from guests. Before the evening commenced, Thompson led members of the Class of 2016 in turning their tassels and marking their new designation as graduates. Caps flew upward as the results of diligence, effort, teamwork and determination were celebrated, with new ventures awaiting.

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Joe Scotchie is the editor of both The Roslyn News and New Hyde Park Illustrated News. In 2009, he won a New York State Press Association (NYPA) award for a sports feature. Joseph Scotchie’s past publications include biographies of Thomas Wolfe and Richard Weaver and a comprehensive history of the city of Asheville, North Carolina.

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