Clad in the Buccaneers’ colors of purple and white, Islip High School’s proud graduating Class of 2022 walked onto the football field on the evening of June 24 to resounding applause as the students, their families and friends celebrated the high school’s 97th annual commencement.
Seniors Richie Castronova and Desiree Pagan served as emcees for the ceremony, which was highlighted by a majestic version of “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen” performed by the high school’s senior choral ensemble.
For his speech, Board of Education President Philip Dineen retold an inspiring story he had first mentioned at Islip’s 2016 graduation ceremony of his souvenir purchase of the book “Failure Is Not an Option” during a tour of the NASA space facility in Houston, and his resulting discovery of the guiding principles of NASA’s Foundations of Mission Control.
“You’re all about to begin a very important time in your life,” Dineen said. “Pursue your passion. Remember those Foundations of Mission Control – discipline, competence, confidence, responsibility, toughness, teamwork and vigilance – and apply them to your passion, as you will be challenged, just like the NASA team.”
After thanking his family in Spanish, salutatorian Anthony Lopez talked about how his class overcame the obstacles of the pandemic, but still have challenges ahead. “As we stand unified one last time, I would like to remind you to trust your gut and don’t be afraid of change,” Lopez said. “When any opportunity comes our way, we must remember to always seize it, because if not us, who? Don’t spend your days pondering what could’ve been, instead, ponder what can be. We are the future, and we start building our legacy now.”
Principal Jon LaRochester provided what he called “pearls of wisdom” for the seniors leaving his charge. “The key to finding personal success and the achievement of whatever goals you set for yourself throughout your life is rooted in the ability of each of you to find passion and to build momentum throughout your journey,” LaRochester said.
“As of now, when I’m looking into the crowd, I see my classmates, my friends and my teachers, but in a few moments, I’ll see something completely different,” valedictorian Timothy Mak said. “I’ll see the new generation of doctors, lawyers, educators, servicemen, businessmen, construction workers, actors, tradesmen and much more. Islip has acted as a sanctuary for us, and as we start to leave this town, we’ll be able to expand our identities and explore what the world has in store for us, bringing with us the persistent drive and passion that we’ve always emphasized.”
In his first graduation address as Islip’s superintendent, Dr. Dennis P. O’Hara asked everyone in attendance – students, parents, family members, friends, faculty and administration – to stand together with the graduates one last time, taking a deep breath in unison and exhaling all of the anxiety, uncertainty, stress and frustration of the last few years, and replacing it by inhaling the warmth of family and friends, the joy of the evening’s special event and a feeling of accomplishment.
“Class of 2022, you should all be proud of the effort that has gotten you to this milestone,” Dr. O’Hara said. “As you prepare to take your place in the long purple line of Islip High School graduates, your responsibility from this point forward is to use your agile minds, your bold ideas and your unlimited potential to show the world what right looks like, and what it means to be from Islip.”
Members of the Board of Education presented each new graduate with their diploma, before tassels were turned and their caps were tossed high into the twilight sky.