"YOU BEGIN AGAIN" by Jacqueline Kalomiris, Class of 2012 Salutatorian (excerpt from speech)
Greeting her audience with cheerful demeanor, Jackie attempted to corral her classmates’ runaway thoughts “as we sit here on this momentous day.” The 2012 Salutatorian skirted reflections of pride, separation, and celebration. Instead, she asked them to question the “kind of people we would like to be after we receive our diplomas and leave Sayville High School?”
Jackie found her answers in observing the best role models, her teachers, who not only have “one of the most important jobs,” but who “love what they do...their happiness in life is something that I could only hope to obtain myself.”
“The first person I thought of was Mrs. Bernstein.” This drew resounding applause from the graduates. “...this wonderful woman has graced these hallways since my father attended Sayville High School, Class of 78…” Jackie giggled as she looked for Mrs. Bernstein’s reaction where the honored and vocal educator sat under the white tents with colleagues. “Now she is graduating with us! Not only has she devoted the last 34 years to teaching High School math, she has also done it with an unmatched passion and dedication.” Jackie expressed appreciation for Mrs. Bernstein’s strength, level-headedness and teaching methods, especially her successful reduction of “an entire AP course in record time, giving us more than two months to review, so we can get those 4s and 5s and get the college credit that many of us need. We wish you luck in your retirement, and we love you!” Again applause punctuated Jackie’s remarks.
Mr. Gittler was another remarkable teacher. After a twenty-year career as an optometrist, he followed his real passion: teaching. “…he risked everything by putting himself through school again, all…well... to put up with us! I think that we should learn from Mr. Gittler.... take our lives into our own hands and make ourselves happy, because no one is going to do it for us.”
Jackie encouraged her classmates to react and adapt. “Whoever each of us chooses to be, if in the end we are happy with our choices, then everything will be great, and if we are not happy, we know that nothing is permanent, and with courage, self-respect, and optimism, we can make the right decisions for ourselves. And remember, it is okay to change your mind...to become someone better.”
She thanked them for teaching her “invaluable life lessons, how to have fun, and how to be competitive;” Sayville faculty for “providing the best education and support;” the Sayville community as a whole; and her family for playing “the biggest role in helping me become the person I am today, I love you all!” Concluding, Jackie wished, “best of luck in finding yourself!”