A Show of Class - Graduation 2009


    By the Class of 2009


    Just in time for the Sayville Commencement Exercises, the glorious sun shoved aside the record-setting tempests that drenched most of June to beam warmly on the Class of 2009.


    Everyone seemed ready to rejoice in the dry weather. As the Sayville High School Band, directed by Mr. Pete DeSalvo, struck the first chord, the hoots and hollers of families and friends rose from the bleachers to welcome the processional led by Superintendent of Sayville Schools Dr. Rosemary Jones and Board of Education President John Verdone.


    The cheering spectators roared louder when the graduates—a shimmering ribbon of purple and gold—paraded to Pomp and Circumstance and took their seats on the football field. Following the class were approximately sixty Alumni who participated in the traditional Alumni Walk. The oldest, Myra Roland DeGraff representing the class of 1939, was assisted by Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Dr. Geraldine Sullivan Keck, and guided to the designated canopy nearby to observe the ceremony in shaded comfort.




    This graduation marked real moments of pride for Sayville. Not only did this high-achieving class exceed accomplishments in every arena of academics, athletics, and the arts, they showed real class —the first in a long while—by giving utmost respect to all their speakers. For their exceptional model behavior during commencement, the Class of 2009 has won acclaim, approval, and the greatest thanks for starting this new tradition.



    Class of 2009 Salutatorian

    Samantha Rosa: “The Progression of Dependence


       Class of 2009 Salutatorian Samantha Rosa first greeted the assembly with thanks to the parents and educators who “helped shape us into who we are today,” for their input and insight.


       Then, turning her attention to her classmates, whom she congratulated for their successful completion of High School, Samantha discussed their progression from dependence toward independence. She bypassed their recent memories “so near and dear to our hearts that I feel it is not necessary to revisit them today,” so as to offer her fellow graduates “something that will hold worth in the future.”


    Describing Middle School as the safe nest where they were cradled and nurtured, Samantha traced their path through the “transitional period” of High School which marked their growth from “codependent youths to independent adults. We have learned to value the opinions of others, and more importantly, to value diversity and our individuality.”


       Samantha projected a new landscape ahead, one that will not always have “our best interests at heart... no longer be surrounded by a community of peers where everyone is working together towards a common goal.” 


       Encouraging her classmates to determine their individual passions that will motivate and propel them past obstacles, she suggested that “any one of us could be the next president,… Nobel Prize winner,…celebrated recording artist…” by channeling “the energy within ourselves.”


       Drawing upon her personal successes as examples, Samantha concluded “it is time to light a fire … to create your own future. No one can affect our future except ourselves, for life is lived by us and us alone.” Wishing them the best of luck in the future, Samantha urged the Graduates of 2009 to “savor every minute of today, for we truly deserve it.”



    Class of 2009 Valedictorian

    Matthew Cowan: “Today’s Tomorrow”


       Soft-spoken Matthew Cowan felt honored to be the Class of 2009 Valedictorian and expressed his good wishes, particularly to those among his peers joining the military.

    Lightheartedly Matt opened by introducing himself to members of the sizeable class he had yet to meet, told all he aimed to accomplish the “lofty goal” of making them “laugh, cry, be motivated and just live a better life in general,” and assured them, despite dire Mayan forecasts, that humanity would live past the year 2012. “I know it’s pretty audacious challenging the ideas of the Mayans, but after some long, reflective thought, I have come to the conclusion that even if I am wrong, you won’t be able to tell me ‘I told you so.’”


       Surveying the capped heads seated before him, Matt launched into the substance of his ingenious and insightful message. “Each one of us stands to make a difference…” To prove his point, Matt invited his classmates both to listen and to stand when he named the fields or professions in which each may “plan to enter. So, hopefully, in a short time, I will have all of you on your feet.” 


     The following is a synopsis of Matt’s predictions about futures in the

    • Medical or Healthcare profession “Upon completion of your extended education, I think you will bring to our society: a cure for cancer; a cure for AIDS; a cure for the common cold; an increased lifespan; and generally, a happier, healthier, and longer life—and you will make a tremendous amount of money.”

    • Education “Your job is to educate the next generation to fix the problems of previous generations and to leave a legacy of improvement. Without people like you, we wouldn’t have doctors, healthcare professionals or any profession…”

    • Eclectic field consisting of lawyers, business persons, economists, bankers, and politicians. “You will be the captains of industry and the leaders of our nation.”

    • Science and mathematics “It is your job to clarify the way we see the world and to explain the currently unexplainable. Talk about a tough job, but I see some very intelligent people [standing, and]… able to rise to the challenge.”

    • The Arts (musicians, singers, actors, actresses, artists or anyone who will make an artistic contribution to society). “We rely on you to keep us happy when times are not looking too great and to entertain us when times are better, even to help us understand our lives... I do my best work listening to music—you are definitely a necessary part of the societal puzzle.”

    • Engineering (Matt’s personal favorite) including urban planners. “With you we entrust technological advancements and future infrastructure, all the gadgets, gizmos, building, bridges…your job is to make our lives more manageable.”

    • Trades and skilled labor (mechanics, plumbers, electricians, carpenters…) “You are the foundation of America. …you are the builders…the fixers…without you, our society would undoubtedly be in chaos.”

    • Civil service (police, fire, military). “Probably the single most noteworthy and important group, you will… continue to hold tightly to our freedom, protect us from harm, and save our lives…Thank you in advance!”

    • Undecided? “It is you that keep our future surprising. Some of you may create the next Google, Facebook,… Many of you will join others in professions I have already mentioned and do great things… Even if you have no idea, there is no rush. The appropriate career will come to you.”


       Noting finally that everyone was standing, Matt asked one more favor. “I want you to look around at everyone …what you see is a nearly limitless wealth of untapped brilliance.” Acknowledging they would be the promise of our future, Matt cited two quotes from his favorite alter ego Abraham Lincoln [earned by Matt’s striking likeness last Halloween], “Stand with anybody that stands RIGHT. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong;” and “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”




    Superintendent Dr. Rosemary Jones:

    “A True Beginning...”


       Introduced by Principal Joseph Buderman as “the force behind our success in Sayville,” Superintendent Dr. Rosemary Jones welcomed the assembly and thanked the High School faculty, staff, and administrators for their commitment, caring, and wisdom and for making the events of the day possible. While Dr. Jones also praised the parents, families, and community members for their support, she commended those who voiced concerns that challenged the entire district to accomplish the very best for the students.


       “Over the years,” Dr. Jones admitted to the Class of 2009, “I have seen many classes graduate, but you are especially dear to me. I came to Sayville when you were in Kindergarten. We have traveled the last 13 years together, and I know a lot about you.” The graduates laughed as Dr. Jones recollected their Barney backpacks, their Power Rangers Halloween costumes, their progression from the Playstation to the Wii, dancing the “cool” macarena, and of course, Sponge Bob.


       In a more serious vein, Dr. Jones praised them for exceeding the academic requirements. “I saw you as my kids. Let me tell you, my kids, you have not let me down. You have been asked to do more than any previous graduating class” and achieved “more than any other graduating class in Sayville.”

       Complimenting the class as a whole for their community involvement, Dr. Jones acknowledged the five students joining the military for their sacrifice and service to our nation.


       In addition, the Superintendent spoke with pride, when she noted, “The rigor of Sayville High School has provided you with the building blocks for going forward. When you are handed that diploma today, I know that diploma represents the best that public school has to offer. The rest is up to you.” 

       Dr. Jones advised, “Take this commencement as a true beginning. Try new things. Interact with new and diverse friends. Get out of the comfort zone. Some of the things that make us uncomfortable are in fact the very tools necessary to make us grow.” 


       “You are ready!” Dr. Jones stated with confidence, concluding with her signature statement, Go out there, do good and do well, Good luck and may God bless you!”



    BOE President Verdone

    Speaks from the Heart


       “The world is a lot different than when you first started kindergarten,” Board of Education President John Verdone remarked during his address. “Who would ever have thought that TWITTER would be something everyone could do? And to me, ‘my space’ was a spot you didn’t want anyone in.”


    R   eflecting on what he might share with the graduates today, his oldest son advised him to speak from the heart, to locate the “Aha moment.” So, rather than fill pages of his speech with events from his life or speak of heroes who influenced him, Mr. Verdone decided the focus should be on the graduates. “Today belongs to you. You start on your own journey, as tomorrow becomes your future, a future we have entrusted to you. You’ll be the ones who will have influence, determination, and drive to change the world, to bring peace to the world.”


       Praising the Class of 2009 for being the brightest, the best, our future leaders and stewards of change, Mr. Verdone commended them for their hard work and intelligence.


       “When you leave here today,” Mr. Verdone concluded, “treasure your memories of high school, the friendships you have made, the knowledge you have gained. Go with all your heart,” and closed with wishes for success and congratulations.



    Class President Brittany McMahon

    gave her Response for the Class

    following the Presentation of Diplomas to the Class of 2009.


       It was a simple, but deep question: “How long have you been alive?” With it, Class of 2009 President Brittany McMahon engaged her audience. She recounted how her life drastically changed in freshman year with two words—spread kindness— words that bespoke of a philosophy that helped her find herself, her mission, and her passion.


       Brittany’s journey of self-discovery collided with a question from Sociology Class: “What does it mean to be alive?” Sharing some answers drawn from her personal experiences, Brittany learned to be true to herself, love and cherish her family, and “embrace the moments that leave you breathless.” She also learned to find her passions and to focus on the fights worth fighting. “I love helping people and making them feel good about themselves. Bringing a smile to someone’s face melts my heart. It probably would have taken me a lot longer to figure this out if it weren’t for those two words.”


       With tears in her eyes and a trembly voice Brittany expressed her gratitude to Sayville High School friends and role models, teachers and peers, teammates and mentors who directly affected her life. “And never have I ever felt as alive as I do right now standing on this stage in front of you all. …there have been so many laughs, so many struggles, but in the end, so many victories have defined the past four years.”

        Asking her fellow graduates to consider the question “When will YOU embrace life…finally feel ALIVE,” Brittany recommended “Find your passion, live your dream, follow your heart. In time you will realize that Abe Lincoln said it best: ‘in the end, it’s not the years in your life; it’s the life in your years.’ Class of 2009, I urge you to BE ALIVE!”


    ABOUT the Class of 2009

    “Members of the Class of 2009 won significant honors both individually and collectively and have been tremendous representatives of our school.”


       During his final remarks, Principal Joseph Buderman thanked all for their support throughout the academic and cocurricular careers of the students. After the Jazz Chorus led the assembly in God Bless America, Mr. Buderman closed the Commencement program, emotions evident in his voice: “As the representative of our faculty, staff, and administration, it has been my pleasure to have worked with you for the past four years. Ladies and gentleman, I congratulate the Class of 2009, and wish you success, health, and happiness in all your future endeavors!” At that moment, the well-mannered Class of 2009 exploded with unrestrained joy, cheers and caps flying skyward!


    Enumerating (see below) the statistics of class accomplishments with a “great deal of pride and satisfaction,” Mr. Buderman also announced the Community Scholarship winners.


    • The graduates met and/or exceeded the academic standards: 96% of the students in the Class of 2009 will go on to further education; 96% earned a Regents Diploma this year. 


    • At the 35th Annual Scholastic Awards program, administrators, faculty, and staff presented 185 awards to 96 deserving students. Gold- or purple-ribboned medallions worn by the graduates indicated these awards. Special mention was given to the five students, Alex DeLuca, Jasmine DePompeo, Richard Marciano, Matthew Muller, and Eric Schreck who are entering the service.


    • Four students were recognized by the National Merit Scholarship foundation for academic excellence: Karl Hart , Jeremy Pomerantz, Samantha Rosa , and Garret Stephens


    • So far, 86 students received academic or community scholarships that value well over 2.2 million dollars.


    • Our Art students earned numerous awards and received great recognition at such exhibits as SAVA, SMBA, the BAFFA High School Student Invitational Art Exhibit, the Hecksher Juried Art Competition, and a number of works were entered at the 28th Annual Congressional Arts Competition.


    • Our Music Department held many outstanding concerts throughout the year and the Wind Ensemble, directed by Mr. Peter DeSalvo, received the highest award possible, Level 6 (Gold) Rating with Distinction at the New York State Festival. Sayville is again a Grammy-Award winning school and named one of the Top 100 schools. Our music students have been recognized locally and throughout the county, state, and nation with awards from NYSSMA, All-State Awards in Band, Orchestra, Chorus, and Jazz, National School Choral and Orchestra Awards, Long Island String Festival Awards, SCMEA All-County Awards, a NYSCAME scholarship, John Philip Sousa Band Award, Louis Armstrong Jazz Award, and Chopin Piano Award; and if an award were available, the music department would have earned one with their performance of Mozart’s Requiem. It was clearly an outstanding year for the Music Program.


    • Our Theatre Arts program, under the direction of Mr. Steven Hailey, successfully held the Fall Play (The Crucible), Winter Play (Simon’s Girls) and Senior-directed/written May One-Act Plays. In addition, the Music Department worked collaboratively with Sayville Theatre Arts and successfully produced this year’s outstanding musical BEAUTY & The BEAST.


    • In Interscholastic Athletics, 22 of our 26 varsity teams participated in postseason competitions and this year, we set another record: All 26 varsity teams are NYSPHSAA Scholar-Athlete Teams, earning our Athletic Program the Scholar-Athlete New York State School of Distinction Award. Sayville Varsity individuals and teams won championships in 10 sports; with DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS in Girls: Tennis, Soccer, Field Hockey, Winter Track, Swimming-Diving, Spring Track, and Lacrosse & Boys: Football, Swimming-Diving, Lacrosse; COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIPS in Football, Softball, Girls and Boys Lacrosse; LONG ISLAND CHAMPIONSHIP TITLES in Football, Boys Lacrosse, and Varsity Cheerleading. Our Cheerleading team represented Long Island and advanced to the semifinals at the Nationals in Disney World. COUNTY FINALISTS in Girls: Tennis, Swimming-Diving, Soccer, Field Hockey, Winter Track; Boys: Golf, Track, Swimming-Diving, Wrestling. An unprecedented number of our athletes were named to All-State and All-American teams in Football Boys and Girls Swimming-Diving, Boys Lacrosse, Girls Soccer. Eight student-athletes in the Class of 2009 earned Gold Key awards from Section XI this year.


    • High School Service Organizations provided volunteers, support, and raised money for The Special Olympics, The American Heart Association, The Lupus Foundation, The Salvation Army, The American Cancer Society, The March of Dimes, LI Blood Services, Relay for Life, The 7th Annual March to the Sea to Fight Leukemia, The Keith Nintzel 5K Memorial Event, Mitch Cangelosi Memorial Run and raised thousands of dollars and tons of food, clothing, and toys for the less fortunate on Long Island. Additionally, as a result of such service to our community, our Anchor Club was named Number One in the northeast region.



    To view video of the entire Class of 2009 Commencement, click on THIS LINK..


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