The Herricks Public Schools celebrated the Class of 2020 in a meaningful way on the evening of June 25, when cars assembled, drive-in movie style, at North Hempstead Beach Park.
It may not have been the traditional ceremony that was anticipated prior to the pandemic, but the event honored 325 seniors brightly and boldly while keeping the Herricks spirit strong. Decorated cars filed in as the sunset and cheers resonated throughout the venue.
Members of the board of education, administration, faculty, and staff greeted attendees as they parked. Principal Joan Keegan opened the ceremony and senior Sarah Winkler performed the National Anthem.
Students and their families watched a commencement video from their cars, where they tuned in to a radio channel that provided audio. They shared pride and excitement together as a community as they listened to the traditional greetings in various world languages and speeches from district leaders and students.
Ms. Keegan noted that this was not typical graduation, but left students with the notion that “you are stronger, smarter and braver than you think.”
Next, the Board of Education President Juleigh Chin presented inspiring comments.
“We hope that you will look back with fondness, but that you will look forward with optimism and strength because you are a Herricks student and we expect nothing less,” she said. “Have fun, smile, and find joy in every single day.”
Superintendent of schools Fino Celano highlighted the seniors’ accomplishments and addressed the group.
“We will always remember you,” Celano said. “You have endured disappointments, have lived through uniquely challenging past few months and you have learned to be strong and resilient through this experience.”
Salutatorian Nicholas Newsome shared his reflections and thoughts.
“We leave here with more grit and determination than we could possibly imagine,” Newsome said. “I know that equipped with our unique skills and spirit we are ready to take on our ever-complicated world and I cannot wait to see the great things ahead of us.”
“It would be easy for us to dwell on all the senior experiences gone wrong, but I feel it is much more important to focus on what has gone right,” said Emily Tucker, student government president. “We can’t look at where we are going if we don’t look at where we came from. Our time in Herricks has given us an education that spans beyond anything we could have ever learned in a classroom.”
Valedictorian Derek Chen also addressed the class.
“We’ve come a long way together and that itself is an accomplishment,” Chen said. “By engaging in our community, by being preset here together, day in and day out, we shape Herricks into what we want it to be. I want to thank everyone for all the ways we’ve built Herricks, big or small.”
Teacher Steven Barell was selected to speak on behalf of the faculty this year. He shared his own story about perseverance and reflected on the challenges that everyone has overcome these past few months.
“Remember the lessons you’ve learned and always cultivate a grateful heart,” Barell said.
A slideshow spotlighted each graduate and their successful milestone.
The full graduation video is available online at https://youtu.be/s262g7TzUXA. Congratulations to all!
Submitted by the Herricks Public Schools