Congratulations, Class of 2019!
The day was picture perfect as 116 Oyster Bay High School seniors transitioned to graduates in front of their school, June 30.
Steeped in tradition, the ceremony began at the stroke of noon as honorary flag bearers from the junior class led a procession of administrators, Board of Education members, faculty and graduating seniors in caps and gowns out of Oyster Bay High School. Circling around the audience on the front lawn, the procession marched up two isles and a flight of stairs to take their seats on a concrete “stage” in front of the school as the Oyster Bay High School Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble played “Pomp and Circumstance” under the baton of Mr. Matthew Sisia.
Graduating senior Maggie Ford led the audience in the "Pledge of Allegiance” and graduating members of the Chamber Singers sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” American Sign Language (ASL) graduating seniors signed the song under the guidance of ASL teacher Dr. Nicolle Sisia.
After welcoming remarks, Oyster Bay High School Principal Ms. Sharon Lasher spoke about the importance of personal relationships as a key to success, noting that she developed a special bond with members of the Class of 2019 by learning about them outside the classroom when she took them on her first 10th grade college trip. Punctuating her point, she shared a quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”
Salutatorian Michael Biggiani said, “The future looks bright for the Class of 2019,” and advised his classmates with a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “You can have anything you want if you want it bad enough; you can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold that desire with singleness of purpose.”
Michael thanked his family and teachers, and gave special acknowledgments to the teachers in the music department who have helped him hone his talent as a musician. He also thanked administrators and the Board of Education for “running our school district so smoothly and for giving unconditional support to a curriculum that supports success for all students.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Laura Seinfeld shared the qualities of human literacy — empathy, self-control, integrity, embracing differences and grit, or the ability to persevere — as essential elements for success. Beyond these five qualities, she reminded graduates to “always choose kind…At times, others may mistake your kindness for weakness, but they will be wrong. These qualities are not at odds with each other. You can and should be, both kind and strong. I truly hope that each of you will embrace and demonstrate both.”
Valedictorian Jason Hom noted that the Class of 2019 is comprised of collegiate-bound athletes, eclectic musicians, creative artists, science researchers, innovative gamers, and a figure skater.
“We are also made up of students who recently came to this country and worked hard to learn English and get their diplomas,” he said.
“Our community is more than my classmates and myself,” he continued. “It includes the teachers who taught us each day, our school counselors who held our hands through the college application process, our parents and families who supported us through school, administrators who helped us achieve our plans, the custodians who make the school beautiful and safe, and the Board of Education that puts the needs of students first.”
He concluded on a light-hearted note with a quote from comedian Ellen DeGeneres: “Never follow anyone else’s path, unless you are in the woods and you are lost and you see a path, then by all means, follow that path!”
After a musical performance by the graduating Chamber Singers, Board of Education President Mr. John McEvoy took the podium and advised students to enjoy the feeling of success when achieving your goals. “With hard work, in time the accomplishments will become bigger and more significant,” he said. “… As author Carlos Castaneda observed, ‘We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.’ Graduates, we know you will always make us proud, but, more importantly, always make yourselves proud.’”
Returning to the podium, Ms. Lasher presented the Beekman Medal — the highest honor bestowed on an Oyster Bay High School graduating senior — to Maggie Ford for demonstrating the outstanding qualities that the medal upholds. She also acknowledged Thomas Coor for being a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program, and Jason Hom and Rachel Sabatello for being Commended National Merit Scholars. Jason and Michael, as well as Jessica Layne and Kyra Tischler were recognized for earning the advanced 21st Century Diploma.
National Honor Society President Sarah Conway, on behalf of the seniors of National Honor Society, recognized social studies teacher Ms. Lauren Harnick as an extraordinary educator and as a National Honor Society Honorary Inductee. Sarah also thanked Assistant Principal Dr. Peter Rufa for his service and bid him farewell as he begins a new position in a neighboring district.
Then came the pinnacle moment: the issuing of diplomas. Ms. Lasher announced each student and Mr. McEvoy handed out each diploma. Once completed, the Student Council Executive Board President Jason Hom stood before his peers and directed them to move their tassel from right to left. As Ms. Lasher congratulated the new graduates, their mortarboards went flying in the air. The audience cheered and applauded. “Pomp and Circumstance” played once more as the graduates hugged and congratulated one another before joining their families and friends. Congratulations and best of luck, Class of 2019!