With sun in the sky above and pride in their hearts, the high school’s Class of 2019 walked together into the athletic field on June 26 for a remarkable and exciting commencement marking their last moments together as seniors before the next phase of their life begins.
Senior and All-State vocalist Deja Boucher Weiss not only sang the national anthem but performed a special rendition of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” while the school’s wind ensemble and concert band, directed by Steven Campanella, provided the processional and recessional music.
“Today we collectively share the excitement of our graduating seniors, the tremendous pride of their families and friends, and the deep satisfaction of the entire school district staff,” said Board of Education trustee Paul Austin, whose daughter Taylor was among the graduates.
Austin took the students down memory lane, remembering numerous good times and accomplishments, from field trips to concerts. Said Austin, “I challenge you to take the best of what you have learned from each and every experience with you into the real world and make the most of it.”
“Tonight, the tenor of my words will those of fond memories and gratitude at the honor of being part of your journey,” said Michael Mosca in his final address as outgoing principal. After thanking his colleagues and the community, he turned to the seniors.
“You make my job the greatest job on the planet,” Mosca told them. “Thank you for the lessons that you have taught me. Graduates, when you leave our campus today, set out to do good. Be good to others, and most of all, be good to yourselves, and you will never walk alone.”
Superintendent Ellen Semel told stories demonstrating the power of kindness and forgiveness, and thanked Mosca for his dedication to the students of Islip, before offering words of wisdom.
“Graduates, you have one precious and remarkable life,” Dr. Semel said. “Don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, as they somehow already know what you truly want to become. My fondest wish for all of you is that you each discover some magic in this world, what you are passionate about that makes you want to get up in the morning. I hope you find that and harness it into your career, because then, if you are truly lucky as I am, you will never work a day in your life. Your work will be the best part of your day.”
In a message of optimistic change, salutatorian Matthew Southard noted both the presence of looming global problems as well as the power of community.
“It is time to mobilize our education,” Southard said. “It is time to charge ahead in regard to progress, and it is time to utilize the lessons of our past to empower change in the future. Run for office, start your own company, lobby for a cause. Now is the time for change.”
Valedictorian Victoria Arthus began by recalling Commack Road’s Flag Day ceremony seven years ago, when she first decided that being valedictorian one day was her goal.
“This right here, this was my dream, the first of many,” Arthus said. “All of you sitting in this graduating class have your own dreams. I believe it is the paths you take and the sacrifices you make in pursuit of that moment, that dream, which define and make that goal worthwhile. Yes, people may remember the title you one day earn, but even more so, they will remember how you earned it. Class of 2019, it is time to make our dreams a reality.”
Diplomas were then conferred, tassels turned, and purple and white caps filled the air before the evening came to a celebratory close.