Herricks Public Schools leaders, families and members of the Herricks High School Class of 2021 were thrilled to come together in-person for the 62nd annual commencement, held on June 16 at Hofstra University. The event was especially meaningful to those involved, as it represented progress and perseverance after a challenging year marked by the global pandemic.
Principal Joan Keegan opened the ceremony and seniors Alyssa Samuels and Allison Yu performed the National Anthem. The graduating class continued the high school’s time-honored tradition of greeting the audiences in various world languages. Band members and the Senior Graduation Choir provided musical entertainment to complement the festive ambiance.
“Graduates, never take for granted the significance of your Herricks experience and what it took for you to get here today,” Ms. Keegan said. “Remember to draw upon it as you begin to navigate the next stage of your life.”
Board of Education President Henry Zanetti and Trustee Juleigh Chin presented inspiring comments and encouraged the graduates to embrace the changes and challenges ahead.
“As times change, we go through cycles in our lives – we go through times when we know nothing at all to when we know everything,” Ms. Chin said. “It’s not at the times when you feel you know everything that you’re maturing and growing the most, it’s when you feel like you know nothing.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Fino Celano drew upon words from John F. Kennedy prior to the first moon landing in 1969, and also shared inspiration from Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Accomplishments are so much sweeter when we work hard to achieve them, and you have worked hard this year, overcome challenges and achieved success beyond everyone’s expectations,” Dr. Celano said. “After getting through this tough year, know in your heart that you can accomplish anything. As President Kennedy did 60 years ago, be bold and dream big.”
Salutatorian Kyle Pinzon expressed his thoughts, and Valedictorian Rhea Rasquinha then shared remarks.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that no matter how much the world around us changes, if we want to grow with it, we have to start with ourselves,” Kyle said. “It’s important that we find our own happiness because once we do, we will truly be able to share with others and continue the impact that we started here at home.”
“We are conditioned to move vertically, always looking toward the next thing above us,” Rhea said. “Success is often defined by how far up we move, and we often forget to look sideways at everything else there. We made it through this year, and I call that a success.”
Herricks High School PTSA President Madeline Svitak also praised the graduates, and Senior Class President Akshal Shah introduced six faculty members who were selected as guest speakers. Suzanne Faeth, Karim Gangli, Trisha Ho, John McManus, Stephanie Nelson and Liam O’Brien each shared reflections and words of wisdom.
The stadium rang with applause and cheers as each graduate walked across the stage to accept a diploma. Class advisors then led students in the tassel turn, which signified their transition from students to graduates, and caps were tossed into the sky as a new chapter began.