Graduates Start a New Chapter

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At the high school’s commencement ceremony on June 25, skies were cloudy but hearts were clear and full of joy as the 271 members of the Class of 2015 celebrated starting a new chapter in their lives.

This was the first class to graduate at the new, state-of-the-art stadium, which began construction a year ago and was completed just in time for homecoming last October. Close to 1,800 seats were filled with proud families as the seniors walked out through the stadium gates, led by flag bearers, while the high school’s wind ensemble and concert band played “Pomp and Circumstance.”

To begin the ceremony, the school’s Swing ensemble provided a sublime choral rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” leading into a speech by salutatorian Kody Miller.

“I am the author of my own tale now,” declared Miller, who touched on his longtime battle with social anxiety and how the senior trip to Spain this year renewed his confidence. “The past is written in pen, but who’s to say we can’t change our future?” he asked. “As we head into the next chapter, remember it is you who are in control of your own life.”

Continuing the literary theme, retiring Board President Mary M. Dennis told each senior to picture his or her life as a book, with a page now being closed. “You are about to write the next chapter,” she said. “But don’t forget you have a chapter deeply rooted here in Islip.”

In his first graduation ceremony as principal, Michael Mosca talked of his yearlong discovery of the Islip school community, dealing with setbacks such last year’s flooding. “I have now learned what it means to be a Buccaneer,” he said, citing numerous positive traits found in this year’s seniors, noting, “This is a group that has persevered and overcome every obstacle.” Graduation marks a time to usher in new beginnings, he told his charges, saying, “Trust in everything you have learned so far, and most of all, trust in yourself.” Before leaving the podium, Mosca called up senior Alana Singh to take a selfie photo, to the delight of the audience.

Valedictorian Ethan Fields began his speech with a well-deserved list of thanks, expressing gratitude to the teachers, administrators, counselors, Board of Education, and his friends and family. Referencing author David Foster Wallace, Fields challenged his classmates to change their life perspective to a less subjective, more rational and positive outlook that will help them better adapt to adversity. In closing, he told them, “My fellow seniors, I would like to thank you for an incredible four years here at Islip High School. I will never forget the time spent here, and I know we will all go on to do amazing, incredible things.”

Pumping up the energy level even higher, the high school’s senior choral ensemble were backed by a rock trio for an exultant rendition of Van Halen’s “Right Now,” preceding one final address, from Superintendent of Schools Susan A. Schnebel.

“This is an excellent point to begin fashioning new goals for your future,” Schnebel told the seniors, whom she described as talented, dedicated, fun-loving and respectful. “Today is your moment,” she said. “Capture it, celebrate it – you’ve earned it.” Fighting back tears of emotion, Schnebel closed by saying, “Class of 2015, thank you for letting me be a part of your life for so many years. We are so proud of who you have become. Congratulations and I love you.”

Diplomas were then handed out to each student, tassels were turned and caps were tossed. As the wind ensemble and concert band played Sousa’s “Fairest of the Fair,” the beaming graduates strode out of the stadium in a proud procession.

“It took a really long time, but we finally did it,” said one of the newest Islip alumni, Steve Calderon, as he celebrated with his friends, all of whom were now ready to turn the page and begin the next part of their life story.

Click here to view the graduation video.