Herricks urges Class of 2019 at commencement to dream big

Hats off to the Herricks High School’s Class of 2019. (Photo Courtesy of Herricks Public Schools)

At the district’s 60th commencement ceremony, Herricks High School said goodbye to its class of 2019 graduates. 

After a rendition of  “The Star-Spangled Banner” by students Shifa Ali and Shazmin Lakhani, Principal Joan Keegan opened up the commencement. Keegan has officially finished her first year as the high school’s principal after years of serving as principal for the middle school. 

“As the proud principal of Herricks High School it is my honor to officially welcome you to our commencement ceremony honoring the Class of 2019,” Keegan said.

Students from the graduating class all came forward to the podium microphone, saying greetings in various languages to represent the diverse backgrounds of the graduates.

Keeping up with commencement tradition, Board of Education members Brian Hassan and Henry R. Zanetti, who both had children in the graduating classcame up to the podium to make some remarks on behalf of the Class of 2019.

“ I don’t know if it was science or art or instinct or just luck, but somehow we brought these kids to this great day,” Zanetti said. 

After Hassan and Zanetti spoke, Superintendent Fino Celano addressed the graduates. He did hold back, encouraging the class by telling them to “dream big.”

“As you move forward, continue to explore the world searching for who you are and what your life’s passion may be,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Be confident, be brave and dream big. Embrace lifelong learning and always persevere.” 

Celano urged the students to remember “you are Herricks.” 

The ceremony’s farewell remarks were provided by Herricks High School PTSA Co-Presidents Maria Bono and Margaret Bosco followed by class salutatorian Sahith Vadada. 

Vadada, who is going to Columbia University to study for an eventual career in medicine, thanked the faculty: “Your dedication is instrumental in creating a support system for every student at Herricks.” 

Class President Kaitlyn Louie followed Vadada, telling her classmates, “I truly would like to thank each and every one of you for impacting my life in ways you can’t imagine,”

Valedictorian Eish Maheshwari, who is going to Stanford University for human biology, reflected on the journey through high school. “Over the coming years, we may forget some science facts or calculus formulas we learned, but we won’t forget the timeless moments we had with our friends.” 

A Herricks custom for graduation ceremonies is the students’ selection of a faculty member to speak at commencement. This year’s honoree was teacher Pascale Gabriel, who was introduced by students Pooja Solaymann and Bhavesh Patel. 

Noting the class of 2019’s affinity for social media, Gabriel said, “Your challenge in the future will be to post things that move people in profound and unexpected ways. As citizen activists, I encourage you to use your skills to inspire, to awe and to excite. I have no doubt you will energize your peers and build enthusiasm around meaningful causes.” 

The class Graduation choir performed “Omnia Sol” by Z. Randall Stroope. The choir included seniors Vineeta Abraham, Shifta Ali, Udita Bhuniya, Sitara Cherian, Justin Cheung, Achsa Geevarghese, Austin Kim, Shazim Lakhani, David Levasseur, Angie Lee, Austin Park, Anjana Menghrajani, Marika Reynolds, Aakriti Sharma, and Kyla Surajbali.

Afterwards, the class alma mater was performed in song by the choir and was conducted by senior Kyla Surajbali. 

The performances were followed by Keegan’s presentation of the Class of 2019. Afterward, diplomas were presented by the Board of Education members to each graduate. 

“Herricks will always be your home,” Keegan said to the graduates. “You will always have a home here. Now go out and prosper!” 


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