Since March, high school seniors had no inkling of what to expect for a graduation ceremony. East Islip’s Class of 2020 is the district’s 93rd graduating class, despite a question …
Since March, high school seniors had no inkling of what to expect for a graduation ceremony. East Islip’s Class of 2020 is the district’s 93rd graduating class, despite a question mark for months on whether a physical event would mark the finish line. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Long Island school districts can hold ceremonies with social-distancing restrictions last Friday, June 26, East Islip broke the class into five sections, and scheduled five graduations from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Principal Mark Bernard began the speeches by recognizing the difficult circumstances leading up to commencement.
“Unexpectedly, we were thrust into a new normal,” Bernard said to the assembled seniors. “My hope is that you will be making choices with compassion and sincerity in the face of adversity. Class of 2020, please keep accepting these challenges, and always keep your vision clear because your future is bright.”
Salutatorian Justine Rizzo supplied the next address.
“I am grateful that despite the fact that the world is in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, we are able to be here together to share this important milestone in our lives. The important thing is that we all made it here as united as one graduating Class of 2020. We are ready to bring our unique talents and EI Pride to the next stop on our journey.”
Valedictorian Caroline Meehan followed Rizzo, and she brought up this year’s inevitable theme of facing a challenge, especially an unprecedented challenge. Meehan shared a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt.
“‘You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.’ I think that we can all agree that this year was far from what we expected,” she said. “But we showed strength when everything around us felt like it was crumbling. We have lived through this horror, and I wish for all of us to recognize that we are fortunate enough to have made it out the other side, hopefully gaining the confidence that we are stronger than we thought, as well as a deeper appreciation for things we may have taken for granted.”
Superintendent John Dolan made particular note of the class’ perseverance while trudging through the gloom of the pandemic and the unknown of how the year would be wrapped up.
“When you were faced with what is undoubtedly the longest, toughest fight we’ve had to face in my 35 years in public education, you never gave up,” Dolan said. “You kept going and working. That’s what makes us so proud of you, and that’s what EI Pride is.”
Following the presentation of diplomas, class president Kayla Cappe gave the farewell address and led her classmates to turn their tassels.
“Having been a part of this distinguished class for the past 12 years, I know there is no obstacle we cannot overcome,” Cappe said to East Islip’s newest alumni. “As we pursue our goals and dreams, using all the talents, skills, and knowledge we have acquired throughout these years, I know the world will be a better place.”