The possibility of rain did not deter West Islip High School’s Class of 2018 from enjoying a marvelous moment of celebration on the morning of June 23, as the graduating seniors walked on to the Lions football field and through the gazebo decorated brightly in blue and gold, to the cheers of family and friends.
Members of the American Legion Post No. 1738 presented the colors, while Student Senate presidents Patricia Douglas and Liam Farrell led the salute to the flag and Lisa Esposito sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“As unique as your individual voice is, so too is your legacy,” said Dr. Anthony Bridgeman, the school’s principal, in his address. “You are literally leaving the halls of West Islip High School, but your impact, your footprint, your message…these will remain. Your voice will remain and it will ring loud to remind the underclassmen that we are in this together, and that together, we move forward in unity.”
“Class of 2018, you leave high school in particularly difficult times,” said Superintendent Bernadette Burns. “Our nation is confronting challenges that demand prudence, insight, wisdom and tolerance. As you leave us, try not to question the motives or character of those who differ with your point of view. Take time to listen and understand. You do not have to agree, but do be the voice of balance and reason.”
Board of Education President Steven Gellar told the students, “As newly minted high school graduates, you now get to shape your lives and the world we all live in. The only true failure would be complacency. Please make the most of your opportunity, and your prodigious talents, by daring to be great. Challenge yourselves and those around you, and remember that failure is just a roadmap for improvement.”
Paying tribute to her mother’s life story and urging her classmates to never be held back by labels, salutatorian Melodi Doganay said, “During our years here at West Islip High School, we have all been thrown challenge after challenge, whether academic, physical, domestic or personal, but the fact that we are sitting here today means we have successfully powered through and become better people because of those hardships. I believe we have only scratched the surface of our potential.”
Valedictorian Molly McLaughlin the value of high school’s day-to-day experiences and small details before looking ahead to college. “We are lucky,” said McLaughlin. “The fall promises a fresh start for all of us, the chance to fill in our story. Be sure to take advantage of that, because you never know what you might find. Maybe you will discover you have untapped hidden talents. So hold up your pens, and relish the opportunity to add new details to your story.”
After receiving their diplomas, one by one, the newest alumni turned their tassels, threw their caps to the sky and walked off to begin a new chapter.