After hearing the speeches from administrators and teachers at Valley Stream South High School’s graduation ceremony on June 21, there is no doubt that the class of 2013 is going to be missed.
Principal Maureen Henry says the class has a special place in her heart. They arrived at South together in 2007, learning how to navigate the hallways and about the school’s traditions.
Over the next six years, she watched them perform numerous acts of kindness, whether it was raising money for an ailing classmate, or for teachers battling breast cancer. “I have had the privilege of watching these students grow into caring young adults,” she said. “I am very proud of them.”
Salutatorian Jeanne Powell said community service was very important to the class. Students participated in Toys for Tots, blood drives and helped clean up Long Beach after Hurricane Sandy. “We have lived by our school motto that small acts of kindness make a big difference,” she said.
Henry highlighted the academic accomplishments of the class, noting some of the prestigious colleges graduates will be attending including Harvard, Cornell, Duke and New York University. She also pointed out that combined they have received more than $2 million in scholarship money.
Class Advisors Nicole Sweeney and Emily Bojsa noted the persistence, compassion, spirit and enthusiasm of the group.
“Some people believe that it is teachers who change the lives of their students,” Bojsa told the graduates, “but we cannot tell you how much you have changed our lives for the better. You are a special group of individuals and South will not be the same without you.”
Valedictorian Andrew Hess encouraged his fellow graduates to work hard, challenge themselves and avoid the easy route. “It is rarely the case that a road without obstacles will end at our desired endpoint,” he said, citing John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as some of those who have taken the long road to success.
“We’ll be capable of great things in this world,” Hess added. “If we set a goal, and we’re willing to work hard to achieve it, nothing will ever be able to hold us back.”