No’s will help you grow, News 12 anchor tells Nassau County valedictorians

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Herricks High School Principal James Ruck, left, and Superintendent Fino Celano, right, with the school's valedictorian and salutatorian, sitting, and the students' families. (Photos courtesy of Herricks Public Schools)

It’s hard to grow in a world filled with “yes’s,” News 12 anchor Elizabeth Hashagen told a room filled with some of Nassau County’s brightest young minds on Friday.

A world where “you’re always right”  – and have the perfect Instagram page – leaves little space for improvement, Hashagen added.

Luckily, the real world is not so kind  – and the “no’s” the soon-to-be graduates will hear will make them stronger, Hashagen said.

“I’m the perfect example that no can feel like sunshine,” Hashagen said. “The no’s in my life have made me a fighter, made me stand up for what I believe in.”

Hahsagen, a Long Island native, was the keynote speakers at the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents Celebrating Excellence and the Legacy of Dr. James Tolle event on Friday that honored the valedictorians an salutatorians across the county.

Each district had a table at the Crest Hollow Country Club for superintendents, high school principals and the honored students as well as the students’ family members.

Herricks High School’s valedictorian is Esme Chen; Janet Hsu is the salutatorian.

Wheatley Principal Sean Feeney, left, Assistant Superintendent Danielle Gately, second from left, with two honored students and their families.
(Photo courtesy of East Williston school district)

East Williston School District, which does not pick a valedictorian and salutatorian, recognized two honor students from the Wheatley School, Sana Haroon and Saman Suleman, at Friday’s event.

Great Neck Superintendent Teresa Prendergast, center, with the Great Neck North and South principals, the students, and their families.
(Photo courtesy of Great Neck Public Schools)

Great Neck North High School’s valedictorian is Amy Shteyman; Natasha Dilamani is the salutatorian.

Great Neck South High School’s valedictorian is Kimberly Lu; Weiting Hong is is the salutatorian.

Port Washington Superintendent Kathleen Mooney with the students and the students’ families.
(Photo courtesy of Port Washington schools)

Port Washington’s Paul D. Schreiber High School’s valedictorian is Julia Ruskin; Julia Kim and Rebecca Muratore are the salutatorians.

Manhasset Superintendent Vincent Butera, center, standing, and Principal Dean Schlanger, to his right, with the students and the students’ families.
(Photo courtesy of Manhasset school district)

Manhasset High School’s valedictorian is Ryan Chung; Alexander Mazer is the salutatorian.

Roslyn Superintendent Allison Brown with the students and their families.
(Photo courtesy of Roslyn school district)

Roslyn High School’s valedictorian is Adam Robbins; Ella Eisenberg is the salutatorian.

New Hyde Park Memorial Principal Richard Faccio, left, and Sewanhaka Superintendent Ralph Ferrie, right, with the valedictorian, salutatorian, and the students’ families.
(Photo courtesy of Sewanhaka Central High School District)

New Hyde Park Memorial High School’s valedictorian is Arianna Ragusa’ Saumya Sharma is the salutatorian.

Floral Park High School’s valedictorian is Sammy Huang; Italia Gorski is the salutatorian.

Mineola High School Principal Whittney Smith, standing, second from left, and Superintendent Michael Nagler, to his right, with the high school’s valedictorian, salutatorian and the students’ families.
(Photo courtesy of the Mineola school district)

Mineola High School’s valedictorian is Anisha Shah; Anmol Patel is the salutatorian.

Hashagen told the sea of students that they are strong smart and determined – which is how they rose to the top of their classes.

“Right now that seed is planted,” Hashagen said. “And it’s going to get a lot of sunshine in the form of no’s.”

David Flatley, president of the Nassau county Council of School Superintendents and Carle Place superintendent, quoted President John F. Kennedy in his address to the students.

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and enemy of growth,” Flatley said.

Flatley said that while may seem counterintuitive for a superintendent to call conformity bad, he believed the late president’s words.

“My expectation of the valedictorians an salutatorians is to question everything,” Flately said. “Ask the toughest questions, resist the status quo, dream the most audacious dreams, and then use those amazing gifts to make those dreams a reality.”

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