Before an audience of hundreds of parents, family, and friends, Great Neck South High School valedictorian Kimberly Lu spoke of the bold futures awaiting many of her peers: saving lives, exploring outer space, protecting human rights and creating new inventions – to name a few things.
But Lu also described the day as not only one to look forward, but to look back on how far her class had come and thank the teachers, administrators and family members who guided them.
“We have so much to contribute to the world and so much more to learn from it,” Lu said. “Class of 2018, we still have a long ways to go, but today we celebrate how far we have come.”
Lu was just one of the 312 students and handful of retiring teachers who “graduated” from Great Neck South High School at the Tilles Center on Thursday morning, in a ceremony filled with songs, speakers and applauding parents.
The first song, “For Good” from the musical “Wicked,” featured lyrics like, “You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart, and now whatever way our stories end, I know you have re-written mine by being my friend” and “I do believe I have been changed for the better, and because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
Featuring students on saxophone, bassoon, clarinet, flute, cello, violin, and piano, soprano Susan Fendt also sang “Con te partiró” – often translated as “Time to Say Goodbye,” but literally meaning “With you I will leave.”
Great Neck South High School Principal Gitz, a Great Neck South alum, advised students to work hard and pursue success.
He emphasized that “greatness is not an event,” but “combining your heart and your mind” and “the impact you have on the people around you.”
“You will always be remembered as a class that has demonstrated kindness, scholarship and compassion to better our school and to better our community,” Gitz said of the students.
Ultimately Teresa Prendergast, the superintendent of schools, offered a simple piece of advice before students would collect their diplomas: “be kind.”
“Be the reason someone believes in the good in humanity,” Prendergast said. “Be the influence you want to see more of.”