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EI's Resilient Class of 2020 Graduates

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Despite losing the end of their senior year to the pandemic, the high school’s Class of 2020 came together to celebrate their resilience at the school’s 93rd commencement ceremony on June 26. Graced by sunny skies, the graduation ceremony was successfully split into five socially distanced sessions at the football stadium, ranging from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Principal Mark Bernard began the speeches by recognizing the difficult circumstances leading up to commencement. “Unexpectedly, we were thrust into a new normal,” he told the assembled seniors. “Your world is changing and you will be faced with many challenges. With those challenges come choices, and sometimes those choices are difficult. My hope is that you will be making choices with compassion and sincerity in the face of adversity. Class of 2020, please keep accept these challenges and always keep your vision clear, because your future is bright.”

The next address came from salutatorian Justine Rizzo, who said, “I am grateful that despite the fact that the world is in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, we are able to be here together to share this important milestone in our lives.  The important thing is that we all made it here as united as one graduating Class of 2020. We are ready to bring our unique talents and EI Pride to the next stop on our journey.”

“What I took away from everything that has happened recently, and what I hope you do too, is that despite all that we have lost, we have gained so much more,” valedictorian Caroline Meehan noted in her address. “As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.’ I think that we can all agree that this year was far from what we expected. But we showed strength when everything around us felt like it was crumbling. We have lived through this horror, and I wish for all of us to recognize that we are fortunate enough to have made it out the other side, hopefully gaining the confidence that we are stronger than we thought as well as a deeper appreciation for things we may have taken for granted.”

“There were people that told us that this wasn’t going to happen today, but it’s so important to see each other and to realize that there’s nothing in this world that you can’t overcome if you stick together and work together,” Superintendent John Dolan said in his address. “When you were faced with what is undoubtedly the longest, toughest fight we’ve had to face in my 35 years in public education, you never gave up. You kept going and working. That’s what makes us so proud of you, and that’s what EI Pride is.”

Board of Education President William Carpluk discussed the nature of happiness. “Long-lasting deeper joy and happiness does not come from our individual accomplishments,” he said. “This kind of happiness is the sense of fulfillment, that wells up within us, that comes from giving to others our love, our generosity, our compassion. What you will remember about today is not the piece of paper, but the relationship you created by giving of yourself to others.”

Following the presentation of diplomas, Class President Kayla Cappe gave the farewell address and led her classmates in the turning of the tassels.

“Having been a part of this distinguished class for the past 12 years, I know there is no obstacle we cannot overcome,” Cappe told East Islip’s newest alumni. “As we pursue our goals and dreams, using all the talents, skills and knowledge we have acquired throughout these years, I know the world will be a better place. Congratulations Class of 2020, I know we made history.”

Thursday, September 16, 2021