By Julia Prigl
The Centereach High School graduation took place on Saturday the 25th of June, and was a ceremony filled with many emotions. This day being the last day for all of the seniors as high school students marked a big milestone in their lives. Following the great speeches made by the salutatorian and valedictorian, every senior received their diploma. This would finalize the seniors moving on to bigger and better things, and making the “future” into the present. Congratulations to the Class of 2016 of Centereach High School, and may you all find great success!
By Peter VanNostrand 2016 Valedictorian
Good afternoon parents, teachers, and fellow graduates. Today is a big day for all of us, it’s the culmination of twelve years of hard work and determination and I can honestly say that none of us could have gotten here alone. Firstly I want to say thank you to our teachers, for putting in the extra time and effort to make sure that we not only learned what we needed, but also had fun along the way. You could have easily taken long lunch breaks or gone home at two, but there was never a time that I can remember looking for help, academically or otherwise, and not finding it. Next I must say thank you to the administrators and staff here at Centereach. From helping to arrange events to fixing the roof so that ceiling tiles don’t collapse on our heads after the slightest drizzle, the hard work you do makes all of this possible. Lastly I must say thanks to my friends and family, I’ve learned so much from each of you and without your support I wouldn’t be where I am today.
To my fellow students, WE MADE IT. Twelve years of school is a long time. Most of us can’t even remember much before we started. All those years ago Mr.Nielsen was still new to teaching and the world didn’t even know what an iPhone was yet, but between then and now we’ve put in a lot of work, we learned to read, write, tie our shoes and eventually how to drive and fill out college applications. For most of us having a fancy piece of paper that says diploma won’t change our lives, but the people we’ve met and the things we’ve learned will leave a lasting impression.
To be honest when I sat down to write this speech I was at a loss for words, what could I say to my friends and classmates that they didn’t already know, or that couldn’t be said better by someone else? Who am I to tell you how to lead your lives? And then I remembered.
On December 2nd 2014, one of our fellow students Matt Lewis was pulled from this earth before his time. We as a community were left shocked by the things he would never be able to do, he’d never sit here at graduation like we are all so honored to be doing right now, he’d never have a wife or kids or a family to call his own, but Matt lived with cystic fibrosis and more than any of us he knew that life is fleeting. I won’t claim to have known Matt well, there were many people he was better friends with than me, but from what I knew of him he was determined to make his time here the best it could possibly be. Matt knew that life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey we take to get there.
For the longest time I didn’t appreciate how valuable that simple fact is, but in my freshman year it started to become clear to me. That year Matt and I had the same free period. I know that because every day Matt saw me and my friends sitting at our lunch table surrounded by stacks of paper, working on homework and at least twice a week he’d walk over and spend his time trying to talk to us, trying to get our noses out of our books, he even went as far as to add us all as friends on facebook. Back then I was annoyed at him, I was legitimately stressed over the work I was doing and he was making himself a distraction, but I realize now that Matt was trying to tell us that we were wasting our journey, wasting the time that we had together. Every day I sat down at a table with four friends and forty minutes to do whatever we wanted: talk, play games, learn about each other, but instead we squandered half of it slaving over geometry homework.
That’s what I want us to remind ourselves of, today we start the next step of our journey through life, and it’s not going to be easy, come september some of us will start working, others will start serving our country in the armed forces, but many of us will be starting college and taking the hardest classes of our lives alongside the smartest people we have ever known, and that can be daunting. But despite all that we must remember what Matt knew so well: pick a good and worthy destination, choose good people to travel with and take time to stop and smell the roses when you can, but most of all enjoy the ride. Thank you.
By Alissa Borrero 2016 Salutatorian
Good morning families, friends, faculty, and, most importantly, students. As our class’s salutatorian, I thank you for coming to celebrate the class of 2016s graduation. I am honored to share with you today what I have been graciously awarded for my hard work, an additional, glorified homework assignment. However, sitting down to write this speech I realized a few things. One, I slightly regretted not taking public speaking. And two, I had no idea what I was supposed to write about. All I knew was that I had to talk about the past, and after looking up some examples with the always trustworthy google I hope this sounds about right.
So, before we look to our much anticipated futures we should first look back on all that we have accomplished. In other words our legacy, a term I prefer to use because it makes what we did during high school sound more impressive than it actually is. Although, honestly there is a lot to be proud of in these last four years. To our athletes, I admit I do not know much about sports, but I do know that a lot of time and dedication is needed to do what you do and you should take pride in that and the wins you brought home. To our music kids, all of the awards you have received and your lit concerts I think speak for themselves. To our artists, you have made the school a more visually appealing place to walk in with your artwork hanging up on the walls that even the next generation of students will be able to appreciate. To our student officials, you have done well leading these students and organizing our events to make our last years truly memorable. And while I can unfortunately not touch upon every group of students in this short speech, I would like every student to be proud of standing right here, right now for making it through four grueling years of school and graduating. It is truly an achievement.
However, we didn’t get to this point without our fair share of struggles as well. Sleepless
nights staying up until three A.M. to finish assignments, writing essays that consist of nonsense that you hope sounds good, preparing for the numerous standardized tests and AP tests, the stress, fighting against procrastination, it wasn’t easy. And not just the schoolwork but social issues too. If the gossip I have heard throughout these years is even half accurate it seems that many people have had to struggle with their friends, relationships, and themselves. But we have survived that and are here now. Throughout these experiences we have grown much as individuals and as a group and have learned many skills and life lessons to take with us as we transition into adulthood. Regardless of whether our personal experiences were happy or sad, they are memories of our times at this school. Memories of some of the most important moments of our adolescence. It’ll be hard to start anew after getting used to the schedule we’ve had these last four years, but we’ll make it through like we always have.
While I have this opportunity where everyone is forced to listen to me I’d like to personally thank some people in my life. Thank you to my family who has always supported me, thank you to my friends who made school fun and kept me sane throughout all of the work and tests, thank you to my teachers for-well- teaching me and always helping out when I needed a hand, and thank you to the rest of you students for providing me with an irreplaceable high school experience. While I would love to end this speech by just dropping the mic and walking off stage, I don’t think that would be acceptable by the school, so I will end with a few words instead: I encourage you all to pursue what makes you happy because that will always make you successful, and once again, thank you.