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One Ceremony, Hundreds of Smiles in West Babylon

New Graduates Throwing Their Caps In The Air thumbnail187778

Six months ago, West Babylon Senior High School seniors and administrators would have said an in-person graduation for the entire Class of 2021 was unlikely. But there they were, all together, sitting on the junior high school field on June 25 to celebrate their success.

Principal Stephen O’Leary handed out diplomas to the 315 graduates during the evening ceremony. He said that while it is hard to look back on the year and not think of the global pandemic and the disruptions it caused as the primary narrative, there was so much good that happened, and that is what the graduates should focus on.

That was a sentiment echoed by valedictorian Sara Kenney. “Please don’t fixate on your disappointments from this year,” she told her fellow graduates. “We all hoped for something different, but don’t let that be the only think your remember from senior year. Please remember the good times, the laughs, your friends, the activities, the fun.”

Salutatorian Caitlin Crowe said the physical separation that the Class of 2021 endured during the global pandemic actually made them more united. They also found new and unique ways to maintain their connections. It’s not surprising, she said, given that her classmates are some of the most driven and talented people she has ever met.

Senior class co-president Kaitlyn Russell noted the many academic, athletic and extracurricular accomplishments of the Class of 2021, which were well earned as a result of their strong work ethics, resilient minds and determined hearts.

“We were able to reach the stars as we had dreamed of doing because of the qualities that each of us possesses,” she said, “and this is what will make the memories we made in high school so memorable. This is why high school may be the best four years of our lives.”

Co-president Jordyn Hickey noted that students have been given so many opportunities in West Babylon to explore their interests and find their passions, and that will serve them well for the future. “You may not know what tomorrow holds, you may have a perfect plan or no plan at all, you may change your mind a million times – but eventually we will follow the path we are meant to take,” she said. “We don’t know what's to come in the next chapter of our lives, but your time right here in this small town has set the foundation for a bright future – no matter what that may be.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Yiendhy Farrelly said students learned many valuable lessons over the past 15 months – that some things are out of their control, but how they handle challenges is within their control. She called on them to always look for ways to better themselves. Additionally, Dr. Farrelly asked all of the graduates to stand and give their parents and family members a round of applause for all the support they have provided over the years.

Board of Education Vice President Cathy Gismervik, in her congratulatory remarks to students, said that their ability to overcome the challenges of the past two years is proof that they can take on anything that comes their way.

The ceremony included a performance of “Like an Eagle” by the band and choir. Mr. O’Leary handed out the diplomas and graduates shook hands with Dr. Farrelly and board of education members. After they officially became graduates, caps flew in the air and there were lots of handshakes, high-fives and hugs.