A Picture-Perfect June Evening for the Sayville Class of 2022 Commencement


Friday, June 24, 2022

  • Beneath a gloriously sunny sky, fanned by steady breezes, approximately 234 members of the Sayville Class of 2022 celebrated their Commencement at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 24, 2022. For the last time as Sayville High School students, they exited the building and marched, not just toward the football field but into their futures as well.

    Families and friends roared, whistled, and cheered from the bleachers.  The Sayville High School Band, directed by Mrs. VanBoxel, flawlessly played the traditional musical accompaniment Pomp and Circumstance until all the graduates took their seats. Also, in the processional led by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Christine Criscione, there were more than 100 Sayville Alumni participating in the annual Alumni Walk, their graduation-year banners flapping above their heads. Following the Alumni were the faculty representing the “Teachers Who Made a Difference.” They joined the Alumni under the white tents on the football field to watch the Commencement proceedings.CLASS OF 2022




    The ceremonies opened with the National Anthem, sung by the Senior members of the Sayville High School Chorale: Kyle Finn, Caroline Gozaloff, Jessica Harclerode, Ayla Kaczmarek, Katrina Kranzle, Alyssa LaFroscia, Maggie Mongiello, Kerry O’Donoghue, Alayna Pavao, Jude Ramsaywak, Olivia Reiss, Angelina Sagginario, and Dylan Schneider.

    Sayville High School Principal Ron Hoffer thanked the chorale before he introduced the first Commencement speaker: “the dedicated leader behind the success of our programs throughout our district.  He has served the community and students of Sayville Public Schools for 19 years in the capacity of Cherry Avenue Principal, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and Superintendent.  A true gentleman, a true child-advocate, our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. John Stimmel.”



    Superintendent Dr. Stimmel began his address by congratulating and offering best wishes to the Class of 2022. “In my nearly 40 years of education, I have had the privilege of working with many fine students but, I can tell our audience today that the class sitting in front of us is truly extraordinary.’ Dr. Stimmel recalled watching this class grow up and reflected his great pride in how they consistently lived according to the “golden rule through all your school years.” 

    “It has been said how sad that the class of 2022 had their educational experience disrupted by the pandemic,” Dr. Stimmel continued.  “To this sentiment I reply, yes; there certainly were disappointments, interruptions and frustrations over the past two and a half school years, but, in the final analysis, how lucky we all were to have such resilient and resourceful students (and staff) with which to face this crisis.  During what was the one of the biggest challenges in the history of American education, it would have been easy to give into self-pity and despair.  This, however, was never going to happen with the class of 2022.  Your spirit and your passion energized our High School and our District.  Working with your teachers and principals, you somehow found a way to make the most of whatever was thrown at you.  Over these past two years you, the SHS class of 2022, helped us all to discover what deep down we always knew: the best education is the education that takes place when teachers and students forge relationships, work elbow to elbow, learn in-person from each other and learn in-person with each other.”

    In defining the meaning of hero, Dr. Stimmel referenced philosopher Joseph Campbell. “’A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.’ In many ways both great and small, you have lived up to this principle. This has been especially true during the past two years of the pandemic. You faced great challenges and reached out beyond your individual needs to help others. Where many retreated, not only did you persevere, you excelled. Where others withdrew, you found ways to extend yourselves; when there were those who cried, ‘why is this happening to me?’ You asked: ‘what can I do for others?’ For all these reasons, I can say to you that the members of the Class of 2022 are all my heroes.  This is especially true for those young men and women from this class who are going on to defend our country in the United States Armed Services.”

    In closing, Dr. Stimmel expressed his gratitude for the “privilege of working with you, your classmates, the educators of Sayville, the families, our incredible Board of Education in the most supportive community on earth,” and acknowledged retiring BOE trustee Norm deVenau for his total of 54 years of service in various volunteer organizations, 18 of which was in the Sayville Board of Education. Finally, Sayville Superintendent Dr. Stimmel, speaking to the last graduating class before he retires in the fall, shared the lyrics of country singer Tim McGraw with the graduating Class of 2022: "'I know that you got mountains to climb, dreams that your dreaming, and that one day the work you put in will be realized. Let yourself feel the pride but…/Always stay (as you have always been) humble and kind.’ May God bless you, your families, our town, and our nation.”


  • The Patricia Ann Kubelle Memorial Award Winner Katrina Kranzle gave an outstanding performance of “Climb Every Mountain” (Rogers and Hammerstein, Sound of Music) that moved the entire audience. She chose the inspirational piece to remind the Class of 2022 of the value of persistence— an attribute well understood by this generation of COVID-impacted students—to attain their dreams.

    KatrinakatrinaClimb Every Mountain


  • “Before I introduce the President of our Board of Education,” Principal Hoffer said, “I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our Alumni, which represent graduating classes from our high school from 1948 through 2021.  As alumni, your attendance is greatly appreciated and it clearly reflects your pride, your enthusiasm, and your respect for your educational experience in our district.  We thank you for joining us this morning, and we encourage you to join us each and every year at this ceremony.”

    John Verdone

    In his brief address, Board of Education President John Verdone noted that their thirteen years of hard work and dedication— “even through the difficulties”—is what contributed to the Class of 2022’s success. “Today—live, in front of your families—sitting shoulder to shoulder, with friends and classmates, we celebrate and recognize your accomplishments.”  Mr. Verdone asked the eight students (Keira Collins, Colin Gover, Vincent Palumbo, Jack Quinlan, Jillian Rastello, Yirdaw Rivera, Nicholas Romano, and Allison Reilly) who were entering military service to stand for special recognition. As the proud parent of a son who served our country in the US COAST GUARD, I applaud “these young men and women, who have chosen to serve our country in the US Military—to protect our country and our freedoms.”  After the students were recognized with applause, Mr. Verdone continued with “the four words that grab everyone’s attention: Once upon a time.  Those words begin a story… Once upon a time we rode horses, now we have electric cars! …Your ‘once upon a time’ will be your moments you can reflect back on, to learn from and build from… So what I’m asking each of you is to make your once upon a time find a cure for cancer, stop world hunger, unite people and find peace the world, but most of all … Thank you for being the individuals who can and MOST definitely will shape our future. …Give the world the best of yourselves. Fill your lives with the bounty of what the world has to offer. The Class of 2022 is simply the best!”



    After the ceremonial Awarding of Diplomas, The President of the Senior Class, “a young woman who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Class of 2022, a remarkable role model, and a very special person in our high school,” Shayla Smith delivered her response entitled, “Unlikely Inspiration.”

    The President began by conveying her thanks on behalf of the entire Class of 2022, “Our success as a class, however, could never have happened, especially given all that has happened in the past few years, without the help of this community,” Shayla said. “Thank you to Dr. Stimmel, Members of the Board of Education, Dr. Criscione, Mr. Hoffer and members of the Sayville Schools administration and faculty for everything that you do and for making all of this possible. A special thanks to Ms. Ferremi and Ms. Morrell for keeping us busy and entertained throughout all 4 years of high school and dealing with all of us, I’m sure it wasn’t easy.”

    Shayla admitted that while preparing her Response for the Class, she had considered certain classmates known for their bravery, originality, cleverness, even humor, to help her, but in the end, she chose the one person “I couldn't imagine being where I am today without… my twin sister, Isabelle. We’ve been standing beside each other our entire lives. I don't think I could've made it this far in life without her standing right beside me, and I can’t imagine doing this without her.  Isabelle, please come up here and stand with me.”

    With her twin beside her, Shayla examined what defined the past few years.  “We survived masks, lockdowns, and never ending google meets. People could also characterize this period of time by technological advances…. While all of those things are true, when I look back on my years in Sayville schools, this period is defined by all of the people in this community who taught us so many valuable lessons.” Citing memorable attributes of particular teachers; Mr. Durnin’s “sarcasm and ability to make every situation funny;” Mr. Bannon, who showed “that there are multiple ways to go about solving problems;” Mrs. Anderson, who taught “how important it is to take care of the world we live in;” and Señora Bricker, who demonstrated “how important it is to manage your time efficiently,” Shayla noted, “We have something that not everyone has. We belong to a tight-knit community and this community would not exist without the people within it.”

    After acknowledging the valuable lessons and inspiration she derived from “Sarah Newman, you pushed yourself past your limits...; Gavin Venezia, you are never afraid to ask a question; …Jillian Rastello …not here tonight because … she is currently a cadet at the US Air Force Academy and part of their swimming and diving team; …from each and every one of you,” Shayla concluded. “We all should be grateful for where we came from and to those who helped us get here. We would not be where we are without our parents….In other districts, parents seem to always be in conflict with their schools. In Sayville, our parents and our teachers work together to ensure that we get the very best.  We may not always agree how to get there, but we all work towards the same goal. In comparison with other districts, we have a smaller class size, but it turns out 234 is the perfect number!”

    WITH TWINJillJillian Rastello


    "Fifty-four years ago, I became active in the Sayville Parent Teacher Association.  I am very proud of all that our school district has accomplished during that time. I attended my first Board of Education meeting at Old 88 and I was there when ground was broken for Sayville Middle School. In 2003, I was appointed to the Board of Education, where I have served ever since. An important part of my role has been to work with my fellow Board of Education trustees and school leaders to get our politicians to do the right things for our schools.  As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, I had the privilege of working with many members of our community, including our Sayville school and businesses.To our students, I say: “You are the leaders of tomorrow.”  The most important job we have as a school community is to help our students learn and grow. As a former Marine, I am especially proud of the students who will serve our great country in the United States armed services. In closing, I feel very lucky to have worked with so many special students and teachers over the years.  I am very proud of your unbelievable accomplishments.  Sayville is a very special place and we are lucky to be part of one big family.God Bless!"


    Norm deVenau           

Principal Ron Hoffer Thanks Administrators, faculty, staff, and BOE

  • At this point in our program, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank some very special people who volunteer their time to make our school district so successful: Our Board of Education members: (PresidentMr. Verdone Vice President – Mr. Cooley, Board Members:  Dr. Bertsch, Mr. Cangelosi, Mr. deVenau, and Ms. Dolan and Ms. Sack.  Thank you very much for your support and leadership in addressing the needs of our school and community throughout the year.  I would also be remiss if I did not thank the people who make our visions and dreams come true... our Central Office administrators (Superintendent, Dr. Stimmel, Dr. Criscione, Dr. Gergis, Dr. Branscombe, Ms. Makris, Mr. Maloney, Ms. Gigante, Mr. Renahan and Mr. Castellano and, of course, the faculty, the staff, our technicians from IMC and the grounds crew of our district for their support, guidance, and leadership throughout the year.  Without their teamwork, their commitment and their cooperation, we would not be able to provide the quality of programs that we are able to provide for our school and community each year.  Once again, thank you for your support, for your assistance, and for your dedication in developing an excellent educational community.



    Principal Hoffer described the Class of 2022 Salutatorian as a gifted student, a leader of his peers and a tremendous person when he invited Mr. Chad Moccio to the podium to speak to the assembly.

    Clarifying that the Moccio name may have sounded familiar to some, because at last year’s Commencement, Class of 2021 President was his sister Nicole, Chad remarked. “I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s a pretty rare occurrence for two siblings to speak in consecutive years like this, so there is pretty much not a single person out there who can relate to the position I’m in here. And of course, Nicole gave me a really tough act to follow, but there’s no pressure, right? I’m sure some of my family members will let me know who the better speaker was later. I guess we’ll see.”

    Chad recounted how he spent his High School career “playing down” his ardor for music, by shrugging off his critical peers who asked: “’You still do band?’ I know, it’s crazy. Or maybe it's just something that I never made known about myself for the simple reason that I thought people would judge me for it. I used to reply back to this question by saying, ‘Yeah, I still do it, since I’m pretty good at it, I figured it will look good for college.’ I’m apologizing now to everyone who heard that answer from me.”

    Chad paused and smiled.  “I lied!” he confessed, which also happened to be the title of his address.  “I didn’t stick with music to list it as an activity on a college application, I kept doing it because I loved it. But for some reason until fairly recently, that felt like something I couldn’t tell people. Perhaps as I watched our time here at Sayville High School winding down to a close, it hit me. One of the most enjoyable and memorable parts of my four years here should not be treated as some extracurricular I did on the side.”

    The Class of 2022 Salutatorian admitted he “even worried about talking about this today... I could've chosen a number of different things other than band to discuss in my graduation speech… I had given it much thought and decided that if this speech is that last mark I can make on Sayville high school, I at least want to go out knowing that everyone here today knew the person I really was. And music is a big part of that, not something I want to hide.”

    Chad disclosed, “… Some of my closest friendships have come from seeing the same people every day 5th period. In fact, this year’s Valedictorian and I sat next to each other in the trombone section for our Senior year. Mrs. VanBoxel has always liked to say there’s a strong correlation between music and academics. Maybe she’s onto something there. She proudly calls us her smartest section ever. I’m sure Gene could tell you just how much fun I was having each and every day in class. Music will always be something that I can look back on and be thankful that I was a part of, and I want to encourage everyone graduating to get involved with things that they can enjoy and say the same, no matter what others may think about it.”

    After exchanging ideas about happiness with his Physics teacher, Mr. Nielson—who was away at his own wedding on the same day as commencement—Chad concluded, “It’s all part of the journey that is starting for us as soon as we leave this place, when we get the chance to create the life that we want to live. But what is life if we’re not doing what makes us happy? If we’re not being true to ourselves?  Go out and find a career that you enjoy, surround yourself with people who make you smile, laugh, and build you up. And as far as the people who want to bring you down, because there will always be those people, let them motivate you to keep moving forward.”

    Chad wished his classmates, “Thanks for a fantastic four years and for all the memories. Remember to pursue that happiness, and do you. Best of luck in your future. Let’s go change the world!”


  • Gene

    "The Valedictorian for the Class of 2022,” announced Principal Hoffer, “is an outstanding student whose humility is awe-inspiring.  A role model for all, it is my pleasure to introduce the Valedictorian of the Class of 2022, Mr. Gene Weng.”

    In his address entitled Endgame—borrowed from the Avengers, the Marvel Comics movie franchise—Gene Weng showed his humorous side. As he approached the podium, the band briefly played the Avengers Theme.  After first acknowledging and thanking the administrators, family and friends in the audience, Gene singled out the High School Band and Dr. Stimmel for special mention:

    “The band shows up to so many Sayville events and is a crucial part of the Sayville community. As you now know, Chad and I both played trombone in the band, and last year at graduation we sat next to each other in those very seats playing for the Class of 2021. I’d even be willing to bet that the next year’s valedictorian or salutatorian also comes from the band…. Lastly, I would like to recognize our Superintendent, Dr. Stimmel. When I first met Dr. Stimmel, I didn’t know him as the Superintendent but as the Principal of Cherry Avenue, where I went to elementary school. Dr. Stimmel has made an impact on me ever since my very first day of school. After my first day at Cherry, I was supposed to go to an afterschool program called New Life. However, with all my excitement and nervousness in the morning, I forgot to ask my parents what bus I was taking there. That was kind of a problem. At the end of the day, I watched frantically as all the other students were shuffled from the cafeteria to their buses and soon out of sight. In the midst of my panic, Dr. Stimmel came up behind me and calmed me down. He then personally drove me in his car to New Life. I’ll never forget that. As this is Dr. Stimmel’s last year at Sayville, I want to give a big round of applause for him. Thank you for all you’ve done. To me, this story really emphasizes the characters of the teachers and staff at Sayville. Each is willing to take time out of his or her day to help others. To the teachers and staff, thank you for all the work you’ve put in to get us to where we are today. You guys are our heroes.”

    Gene segued into the focus on his speech. “Talking about heroes, I love the Avengers movies. Yeah, I’m kind of a nerd… I think our high school years played out very similar to the Avengers movies. Our freshman year represents the first Avengers movie…we formed new connections, banded together, and somehow made it through our first year of high school.”

    On cue, the Band played the Avengers Theme. “Our sophomore year was Avengers: Age of Ultron. No one really remembers this one, or cares about it, but at the end of the day, robots took over the world. Except in our case, they weren’t named Ultron, they were named Zoom and Google Meets. Yeah, that’s when COVID hit us. And that’s when our version of Infinity War began.”

    Gene continued with his clever analogy. “Junior year was definitely tough. Our entire school was snapped. While half of us didn’t exactly turn to dust, we were separated into two cohorts, never able to interact. While I don’t think any of us actually fought Thanos in Junior year, we did face other great threats. We had to suffer through lockdowns, contact tracing, quarantines, and the ever-present bong of a Google Meet. …But, like Thor and Groot in Infinity War, we made new friends and joined forces in Junior year. We were there for each other, always trying to brighten someone else’s day, as dark as it may have been. Like the Avengers.”

    Again, the Band played an Avengers interlude before Gene resumed.  “Senior year was our Avengers Endgame. Time to collect the Infinity Stones. But instead of the Time Stone, Power Stone, and all that, we had to get letters of recommendation, activity resumes, college essays….. But through all the stress… we united as a class, finally coming together in person. We rooted for each other, supported each other, fought for each other. We assembled like Avengers… What matters is that by the end of the year, we survived. We braved through the pandemic, we braved through our Infinity War. After everything we have experienced, I can say that we, as the Class of 2022, are one of the bravest and most resilient classes of Sayville High School….And now after we have united together, it’s time to depart. Even the Avengers went their separate ways after Endgame.”

    Neatly tying up his Avengers references, Gene concluded: “Next year, … you may find yourself in unfamiliar settings and even Far From Home… remember the powers you gained from Sayville High School and the Sayville community. While we weren’t bitten by radioactive spiders, we did gain the power of forming webs and connections with the people around us. While we didn’t get an unbreakable shield, we did gain the unbreakable power of resilience…. As a class, we faced intense, unique challenges throughout our time at Sayville High School. . . and we beat them! That’s why we are here today! As we enter our New Life, we won’t have our teachers to guide us or Dr. Stimmel to drive us. But, Class of 2022, remember we are heroes and nothing can stop us. Thank you.”  Gene stepped from behind the podium and, with a superman move, pulled his robes apart to reveal his Avengers logo t-shirt in a final gesture. As the applause erupted, the High School Band struck up the Avengers theme until the Class of 2022 Valedictorian returned to his seat.

    High School Band



    Principal Hoffer thanked Shayla and continued by acknowledging the "tremendously dedicated and caring group of professionals who have assisted them in achieving this milestone of high school graduation—the teachers of Sayville Public Schools.” Hoffer listed the names of the “Teachers Who Have Made a Difference” for the Class of 2022.  He followed by stating that “The Class of 2022 has been an outstanding class to work with in all endeavors.  Our students, your sons, daughters and friends, have earned many significant honors, both individually and collectively, and they have been outstanding representatives of our school and community….95% of the students in the Class of 2022 will go on to further education, and that approximately 99% of our graduates have earned Regents diplomas this year.” Principal Hoffer continued by recognizing “the noblest of commitments” and asked  Keira Collins, Colin Gover, Vincent Palumbo, Jack Quinlan, Jillian Rastello, Allison Reilly, Yirdaw Rivera, and Nicholas Romano to stand. “These young adults will be serving in our US military and providing us with the veil of freedom we have all come to know and love.  Thank you for your anticipated service.”

    Before closing the ceremony, Mr. Hoffer thanked the volunteers who serve on the Sayville Board of Education, the Central Office Administrators, along with the faculty, the staff, the technicians from IMC and the grounds crew “for their support, guidance, and leadership throughout the year.  Without their teamwork, their commitment and their cooperation, we would not be able to provide the quality of programs that we are able to provide for our school and community each year.”

    After the Senior members of the High School Chorale sang God Bless America, Principal Hoffer addressed the Class of 2022 for one last time. “The Class of 2022 has been a credit to our school and community.”  He acknowledged the efforts of the class officers, Student Government and Class Advisors, along with the Guidance Department and Assistant Principals, before he announced: “I would like to congratulate and compliment the members of this outstanding class for your commitment to excellence in every arena. I can state, without hesitation, that the Class of 2022 has been a remarkable class to work with in all endeavors.  I applaud you for all of your efforts throughout your respective high school careers, and I would encourage you, as the future leaders of this wonderful country, to continue to be energetic, hardworking and committed to your goals and to your dreams. As a 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... Thank you for joining us this evening.  Please have a safe and enjoyable evening. I congratulate the Class of 2022, and wish you success, health, and happiness.”

    The Sayville Graduates waited until their principal finished before they tossed their mortarboards. Like birds on the wing, colorful caps soared skyward.




    • Ms. Sonja Anderson - Brooke Aufiero,Sarah Newman 
    • Mr. Philip Anzalone - Cole Amodemo                                                            
    • Mr. John Bombara - Shayla Smith 
    • Mr. Adam Brown - Daniel Weber 
    • Mr. Daniel Cameron - William Grandfield 
    • Mr. Fred Diekmann - Olivia Reiss 
    • Ms. Melissa Dreyer- Gene Weng                                                                 
    • Mr. Kevin Durnin - Ava Gross, Kerry O’Donoghue 
    • Ms. Audra Feeley - Maleena Dionisio 
    • Ms. Kaytie Ferremi - Ava Eriksen 
    • Ms. Cynthia Giannico - Caroline Gozaloff 
    • Mr. Evan Hammer- Andrew Person                                                            
    • Ms. Susan Hart - William Kretz 
    • Mr. Robert Hoss - Matthew Bonfanti                                                        
    • Mr. Ari Kramer- Evan Como, Alayna Pavao 
    • Ms. Gabrielle Lambiase - Christina Arlotta 
    • Mr. James Lecci - Aiden Lorenzo,Brigid Manning 
    • Ms. Eileen McCullough- Erin Maher 
    • Ms. Hannah Michaelson - William Busch,Jack Corcoran,Holly Doxey,Eric McFadden 
    • Ms. Melinda Moran- Isabelle Smith 
    • Ms. Caitlin Morrell- Casey Malone                                      
    • Mr. Matthew Nani - Brenna Mattia 
    • Ms. Georgia Psilakis - Luke Buyes,Thomas Cea, Jr.,Charlie Sands 
    • Ms. Gina Romano - Braden Ainslie 
    • Mr. Gerard Sampson - Demetri Dozier
    • Mr. Reade Sands - Nicholas Desiderio 
    • Mr. Douglas Shaw - Molly Schollenberger 
    • Mr. Adam Sznitken - Gwen Brown 
    • Ms. Nicole Teufel - Angelina Sagginario 
    • Ms. Amy Thomas- Leah Muscarello 
    • Ms. Debra Urso - Abbey White 
    • Ms. Eileen Walsh-Ahrens - Olivia Massey                                                  
    • Ms. Katherine Whitehurst- Isabella Graziano 
    • Mr. John Verschure- Josefina Wilson