When Maggie Corrigan’s Long Beach home burned down in 2011, her classmates and teachers at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale quickly stepped in and organized a fundraiser that brought in about $30,000 to help her family.
“Even people that didn't know me helped out,” said Corrigan, 18, who was among 515 blue-capped Firebirds to graduate at a Hofstra University ceremony on Sunday. “I don't know what we would have done if it weren’t for the school.”
While the efforts of those at the school were extraordinary, Corrigan said it is common for people at the school to go out of their way for others.
“Everyone is very understanding and there are always people to talk to.” Corrigan said, who is headed to Penn State next fall to pursue a degree in communications. “All the teachers really take an interest in your problems and try to help you. They keep an eye on you.”
In her address to the graduates, salutatorian Gina Marie Cach offered another example.
After superstorm Sandy, groups of students volunteered in Breezy Point, an area hard hit by the storm.
“I have seen our hardships result in growth and charity,” Cach said.
Beyond charity, the Kellenberg class of 2013 knew how to work hard, said the Rev. Philip K. Eichner, president of Kellenberg Memorial.
Indeed. The class won 2,033 scholarships and grants, with 316 students receiving one or more scholarships. Of the 515 graduates, 512 are going to college.
“But they’re not nerds,” he said, “and like true Catholics, they like to party.”
Corrigan said she is going to miss the environment at Kellenberg, “because I have been there for so long it’s kind of like a second home to me. There wasn’t like one part of the school I didn't know how to get around and now college is so big and it's going to be weird to find my way around.”