Manhasset Secondary School holds 99th annual commencement ceremony

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Manhasset Secondary School class of 2019 Co-Presidents Cara Kurkjian and Colin Holdreith ring the bell, per tradition, at the school's 99th commencement ceremony Friday. (Photo courtesy of the Manhasset school district)

Though elementary school is now more distant, memories from those years are clearer than those from middle school, Manhasset Secondary School valedictorian Sophie Vincoff told her graduating class Friday.

Middle school is when a cellphone and social media entered her life, and ever since then, moments and memories have been warped between the digital and lived versions.

“In the heat of an amazing moment, if your focus is on the camera angle, what do you really end up remembering? Yourself experiencing that moment or yourself taking a picture of it?” Vincoff asked her classmates in a speech at the school’s commencement ceremony. “I finally understood moments are passing us by while we’re trying to prove that we’ve had them.”

Vincoff shared advice about living in the moment on the front lawn of Manhasset Secondary School, where the weather cooperated for a warm and sunny 99th annual graduation ceremony. 

Class of 2019 co-President Colin Holdreith also encouraged the students to take a deep breath and embrace the present.

“In this moment, you are surrounded by people who love you more dearly than you will ever know, friends who will cry over your leaving for college and the family of faculty and staff who have made you the person you are today,” he said.

As per tradition, the class presidents rang a bell three times in honor of this year’s 279 graduates, those of the past and those of the future.

The class gift will be two signs in the school, one designating the senior spa and one outside the auditorium. Board of Education President Regina Rule thanked the class for the gift and all that the students taught the board and administration.

“Know that your voices do matter,” Rule said. “What you say is critically important to the well-being of the world.”

Six students were announced as inductees to the Silver M Society, which honors individuals who had a wide breadth of involvement in school activities and participated for the sake of being leaders, the society’s president, Richard Bennett, said. The students are Benedict Reilly, John Whelan, Adam Xiao, Erasmo Troia, Cara Kurkjian and Richard Thompson Lee.

“I went on to have many other educational experiences and I tell you none of them were as profound as my time at Manhasset High School,” Bennett told the graduating class. “I congratulate all of you and wish you well.”

Select senior vocalists performed the song “Seasons of Love” from the musical “Rent.”

Graduates headed to the school gymnasium Friday night, which parent volunteers transformed into New York City for the annual Frolic event, a party with music, dancing and food offered as a safe space where students are encouraged to celebrate. The theme is always kept secret from the students until the day the party is held.

Photos courtesy of the Manhasset school district

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