The morning after Central High School’s graduation, Principal Dr. Joseph Pompilio said he was receiving nothing but positive feedback about the ceremony, the first one ever held outside Valley Stream.
After inclement weather forced the last two ceremonies into Memorial Junior High School’s gymnasium, district officials booked the Tilles Center at LIU Post this year. Despite its distance from Valley Stream, Pompilio deemed the experiment a success.
“It went beyond my expectations,” he said. “I’m getting calls from parents praising me for the ceremony and begging me to keep it there for next year.”
Board of Education Trustee Ken Cummings said he enjoyed it as well, and not just because he got to present diplomas to his twin daughters, Colleen and Julia. “I thought it was a great event, very different than we’ve had in the past,” Cummings said. “The students seemed to enjoy it. Hopefully we can do it again next year.”
The venue wasn’t the only change. Normally, ceremonies for all three high schools are held at 5:30 p.m. on the last Friday of the school year. But because district officials booked the Tilles Center late, the only time slot available was a Wednesday afternoon. Ultimately, Pompilio said, that change had little effect — no seniors had any remaining Regents exams that could have affected their graduation eligibility — though he would prefer going back to Friday night in the future.
North and South high schools still hosted graduation ceremonies last Friday evening at their respective buildings. Superintendent Dr. Bill Heidenreich said the change was necessary for Central, which has upward of 350 graduates each year. “Central has the most graduates, and when it rains, they don’t have the facility to do it at their school,” he explained. “North and South have fewer graduates but a larger space internal.”
Down the road from Central, Memorial Junior High’s gymnasium can accommodate the graduates and a limited number of family members, but it is not air-conditioned, and that has made for some memorably sweltering commencements in the past two years. There is also no room for the band to play.