Pride of Senior Lions Celebrated at Commencement

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Beneath sunny skies, the 362 graduating seniors of the high school’s Class of 2019 marched onto the Lions football field on the morning of June 29, ready to celebrate their commencement with pride and a shared sense of accomplishment as they walked through the gazebo to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” played by the school’s graduation ensemble, directed by James Krais.

As family and friends looked on, members of the American Legion Post No. 1738 presented the colors. Student Senate president Catherine Fregosi led the salute to the flag, followed by the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” performed by National School Choral Award winner Lauren Leonardi.

“Let it be said that you are leaving this high school a better place, due to your forceful ideas and meaningful contributions,” said Dr. Anthony Bridgeman, the school’s principal, in his welcoming address.

“Today I am proud to announce that as high school graduates, we have spent a total of approximately 338,400 minutes in West Islip High School,” valedictorian Madison Esposito noted in her address focused on the concept and perception of time. “Don’t let time pass you by blindly,” she told her classmates in conclusion. “Take charge of the memories that you create.”

Using the school’s mascot for an overarching theme, salutatorian Douglas Dillman said, “Let me tell you about our jungle, where the Lion is king of all. At first sight it was vast and overwhelming, but the jungle became our habitat, a second home for us all. Once fearful, we now lead by example. In crowded classrooms, under bright stage lights, on sweltering sports fields, we have demonstrated the way a Lion moves – with courage and diligence. I choose to refer to us as one fierce Lion pride.”

“Class of 2019, you leave high school in particularly interesting times,” Superintendent Bernadette Burns said. “Yet despite the challenges and hardships, these are exciting times to be heading off to college or a career or both. Today you meet on this field to say goodbye to West Islip High School, but you begin a very new and personal journey.”

Board of Education President Steve Gellar highlighted the seniors’ accomplishment and told them, “From the first day of kindergarten until the last day of high school, you have shown talent, determination and character. I have every confidence that you will continue to exemplify those traits and make us proud by doing great things.”

Diplomas were presented, the colors retired, tassels turned and caps thrown high into the air before the new graduates walked out to the sound of the alma mater recessional, ready to celebrate their terrific achievement with the families.