The sun came through and the rain cleared just in time for the graduation of the almost 400 students in Schreiber High School’s class of 2019 on Tuesday night.
And it seemed as if the theme of the commencement was to remind students to be themselves, because as retiring Board of Education President Karen Sloan said, “everyone else is taken.”
Schreiber High School Principal Ira Pernick opened the ceremony by sharing his fascination with superheroes and their origin stories.
“We all have an origin story, those stories that become part of our histories,” he said. “That help shape us, drive us and motivate us.”
Pernick shared his own origin story with the graduating class, which was a story of him sitting at his own high school graduation “worried about his own uncertain future.”
“I had managed to not secure a single college acceptance,” he said. “I was nervous, embarrassed, frustrated and angry at myself for allowing it to happen.”
He said while he can’t say that was the moment he decided to become a high school principal, he can say he found a way to make that moment a driving force for his future.
Pernick told the students that he thinks “we all have superpowers,” and sharing one’s origin stories will bring those superpowers out.
And just like the students, Pernick said his origin story is still being written.
“Congratulations to the class of 2019, you are a special group of young people,” he concluded. “I am the luckiest.”
Graduating senior Dylan Forman was selected by his fellow classmates to give the commencement address.
He said when he was in middle school in Port Washington, he could often be found in costume.
“Back then, I thought I was a kid who was born to stand out,” he said. “And couldn’t care less what anyone else thought of me.”
“The thing is, I’d be lying if I said that was true,” he said.
When he first entered Schreiber as a freshman, each day felt like Halloween, and “a different version of me to try on,” he said.
And over his time at Schreiber, he grew tired of the costumes and said he realized he didn’t want to be somebody else, he just wanted to be himself.
“We all know Schreiber is a special place, it’s where hundreds of people find their niche every year,” Forman said. “Where different is celebrated, and where we can all be comfortable in our costumes and our own skin.”
Forman thanked all the parents who supported their children throughout the course of their education, and all of the teachers because every single one of them made a difference in the lives of their students, he said.
Board of Education member Emily Beys presented the Bogart Scholarship, which was created when a Port Washington physician left a large sum of money to the school district as part of his will.
The scholarship is offered to a student who has excelled academically and shown leadership in their school and the surrounding community.
Beys said the committee, consisting of her, Larry Greenstein and board Vice President Nora Johnson, was brought an impressive slate of candidates who were in the top 5 percent of their class and had served their community.
“They all and should all be commended,” Beys said.
Though it was hard to make a decision, Becky Han was chosen as the recipient of the scholarship.
Han has been recognized as a national merit finalist, received perfect scores on her AP exams and earned AP Scholar distinction.
“What stood out for the committee, however, was the student’s genuine depth of concern for the welfare of the school and problems of the larger community,” Beys said.
From ninth grade, Han played an integral part in the success of Schreiber’s award-winning newspaper, Beys said.
“And when not editing and writing for the paper, this student has devoted time to the United Nations working on human rights issues, looking for ways to bridge cultural gaps,” she said.
Han was also the recipient of a Gold U.S. Congressional Award for her leadership in creating an organization that arranges field trips and activities while providing academic assistance to elementary school students, Beys said.
Han was not in attendance to receive her award.
Superintendent Kathleen Mooney provided the salutation to the class of 2019, which she said she is graduating with as she retires from her post of almost seven years.
“In just a few minutes, you will be the proud graduates of a public school education from one of the finest educational systems in our country,” Mooney told the class.
She also revealed that the graduating class had been collectively awarded $3 million in scholarships and continues the standard set by the graduating class before it.
“May you and your families experience the blessings of the joy and gratitude this graduation brings, may the diploma you receive bring good fortune and prosperity always, and may you make a positive difference and change the world through defining moments and a long and happy life,” the superintendent concluded.