Floral Park Memorial High School’s Class of 2018 entered the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex at Hofstra University on June 23 with pride, as the students eagerly anticipated receiving their high school diplomas during the school’s 61st annual commencement exercises.
The milestone ceremony included words of encouragement and advice from New York State Senator Elaine Phillips, Principal Jason Martin and Sewanhaka Central High School District Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie, who reflected on the importance of perseverance, citing the number of failures Dr. Seuss, Michael Jordan, Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney and others endured before achieving success.
“I hope that each of you perseveres to accomplish whatever goal that you have set for your future,” Dr. Ferrie said. “Please accept my best wishes for continued achievement, happiness and health in the future.”
Salutatorian Italia Gorksi told classmates there is always room for hope.
“As the Prince of Denmark says, ‘There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’ In the grand scheme of things, we have the power to choose to see the good in people and in things. And while I don’t believe that happiness is a choice, despair is. Or at least giving in to it. I have the most ardent hopes that no one here does,” she said.
Meanwhile, valedictorian Sammy Huang told his fellow graduates about the first time he missed his bus stop as a child and encouraged them to “get lost.”
“I eventually got home. But I was lost. But it’s OK to be lost. If being lost leads to self-discovery, then it’s OK to be lost. It’s OK to lose yourself in something about which you are passionate – an artistic passion, an ambitious goal, a grandiose obsession. Do not be afraid of deviating from the norm,” he said.
Also highlighting the ceremony were musical performances by the school’s band, under the direction of John Smykowski, and senior choral members and the L.I. Sounds choir group, led by teacher Samantha Koch. Students also heard from Class of 2004 alumna Dr. Sarah Cerrone prior to being awarded their diplomas and tossing their caps in celebration.