More than 250 graduates marched into Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports Complex to “Pomp and Circumstance” last Friday, as South Side High School’s class of 2019 gathered for perhaps the last time.
The event’s speakers highlighted the class’s successes, and tribulations. Salutatorian Katarina Mazzanobile wished her fellow seniors another four years of incredible memories.
“No dream is too big, no challenge is too great,” she said. “Nothing we want from our future is beyond our reach.”
Valedictorian Samantha Ying’s address focused on the importance of connecting with people. She noted that for a while she was buried in her schoolwork, but learned that her priorities were out of order.
“Make sure to keep in touch,” Ying said, “because though high school may be over, you should never forget about the people who made us who we are.”
Bobbi Edelson, of the Alumni Association, presented the Centennial Award for School and Community to Anthony DeFalco and Emma Wills-Umdenstock. Superintendent Dr. William Johnson gave the Laurel Award, for the male and female seniors most involved in extracurricular activities, to Connor Giovanniello and Megan Sullivan. And Principal John Murphy presented the Dr. Richard S. Byers School and Community Service Award to Matteo Romanello, president of the Student Government Association.
“I have absolutely no advice for you, nor do I have recommendations,” Murphy said, noting that he wanted the graduates to know what impact they have had, so they can continue positively influencing others in the future.
The class of 2019’s parting gift, he said, was a $1,000 donation to the Ryan Patrick O’Shea Foundation, established in memory of a South Side alumnus to provide education about mental health and to prevent the spread of suicide.
“Through it all,” Murphy added, “through the ups and downs, the joy and sadness, in a world that has never been more challenging to navigate, you will be known forever as a graduating class whose collective strength, compassion and kindness was stronger in the face of adversity.”
After students filed to the stage to receive their diplomas, senior members of the school’s Chamber Singers performed “Somewhere,” from “West Side Story,” and a video highlighting senior memories played on the venue’s two large screens. Then, Lauren Thomas, president of the class of 2019, left her classmates with final words, sprinkled with references to music, which she noted was a big part of her life at South Side.
“We truly are becoming architects of our society,” Thomas said. “Kurt Cobain said, ‘The duty of youth is to challenge corruption,’ and you have all already tried to do so, and for that I commend you.
“. . . This is not a goodbye speech, this is a welcome speech,” Thomas continued. “Welcome to this brand new soundtrack of your life. We are the lyricists. What’s the chorus? That’s for us to decide.”