At Freeport High School’s 126th annual commencement last Saturday, 576 Red Devils graduated in the class of 2019 at Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex. Family members and friends cheered as graduates marched in their red and white gowns to “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Valedictorian Leah Hochman delivered her address, reminiscing with her classmates about their last four years at the high school. “No one knows how hard you’ve worked for this,” Hochman said, “so your pride should come from within.”
“As you enter the next phase of your life,” she continued, “don’t be afraid to speak louder than those that try to silence you.
“Esto es solo el comienzo,” she added in Spanish — This is only the beginning.
Hochman admitted that she is so accustomed to her hometown of Freeport that she is nervous about the transition to Medford, Mass., this fall, where she will attend Tufts University.
“I’m super-excited that graduation finally happened,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming. Part of me doesn’t know how to feel, and I’m just super-nervous.”
Salutatorian Laura Chumpitaz also reminisced about their school days and wondered how time had passed so quickly. She reminded her classmates that grades don’t define who they are.
“These past four years have shaped me into the person that I never thought I’d become,” Chumpitaz said. “It was just yesterday when we were entering kindergarten with dreams of becoming a singer . . . a doctor or veterinarian.”
The co-presidents of the class of 2019, Gabriel Alvarado and Yasmin Kadir, addressed their classmates with heartfelt speeches. “Having the privilege to grow up in Freeport,” Alvarado remarked, “is something that I will never take for granted. This village is, and will always be, more than just a pin on the map.”
Alvarado spoke of the community’s hardworking residents, including immigrant families such as his own, who came seeking a better education for their children and a better life. He expressed his gratitude for his family’s sacrifices, which gave him the chance to be the first in his family to attend college.
“Freeport is a special place because of the people and opportunities presented here, especially at the high school,” Alvarado said. “No matter where I go, I will always be a Red Devil, and Freeport will be my home.”
Roaring applause preceded Kadir’s speech. “Many of you have faced an abundance of challenges during our last four years at Freeport High School,” he said. “Despite these hardships, each of us has been able to overcome them and reach this chapter — graduation.
“To the teachers that have spent countless hours of review, lesson planning and teaching,” Kadir said, “we appreciate you for not only allowing us to grow in the classroom, but as a person.”
Before diplomas were awarded, Dr. Kishore Kuncham, superintendent of Freeport Public Schools presented the class. “We are fabulously proud of your accomplishments, and, most notably, who you have become today,” he said.
“I know you’re excited and a bit nervous to take that next giant leap,” Kuncham said. “Become more and more of who you want to be inside and out, a journey leading to the best part of yourself, and be all that you can be.”
“The bonds that we have created can never be broken, and the memories will last a lifetime,” Principal Joseph Mille added. “Having the privilege to see another group of high school seniors exit Freeport High School filled with dreams, hopes and senses of accomplishment truly warms my heart.”