Comsewogue grads celebrate new beginnings

A graduate gets a hug after receiving her

A graduate gets a hug after receiving her diploma during the Comsewogue High School graduation ceremony in Port Jefferson Station on Saturday. (June 23, 2012) (Credit: Michael Cusanelli)

Even though members of the Class of 2012 was about to leave Comsewogue High School behind, their principal reminded them that there was a long and promising road ahead.

“Graduation is but one success in your life,” Principal Joseph Coniglione said as he looked out over the 312 graduating seniors. “Graduation is not an ending, but a beginning.”

The Comsewogue High School seniors did indeed have many successes to celebrate besides graduating. Among them, the school is to be recognized nationally in Washington later this year for its student-run anti-bullying program, called Students United for Safer Schools.

“This will be a tough class to replace,” Coniglione said. “Each and every one is special in their own way.”

Valedictorian Rachel Lawrence is one of those special students. The 17-year-old comes from a family of valedictorians, including her mother and brother.

“There was a lot of work involved,” said Lawrence, who will attend Yale University to study biology and mathematics.

Graduate Hope Reindl also had reason to celebrate Saturday. In May, Reindl suffered aborted cardiac arrest during a game of intramural basketball.

After five weeks of recovery, Reindl was able to rejoin her classmates and walk in the graduation ceremony.

“It’s almost surreal to be so close to not being able to graduate,” said Reindl, 18, who will attend Suffolk County Community College in the fall to study visual arts and photography. “I’m definitely excited to leave but scared to grow up.”

During her farewell speech, Lawrence told her classmates that they should be excited for the unexpectedness before them.

“We’re going places,” she said. “The big moments in our lives are always about going places, leaving.”

But before they left the high school one last time, school Superintendent Joseph Rella reminded the graduates that they would always be welcome at Comsewogue High School.

“We are better because you are here,” Rella said. “Whoever you are and wherever you go, you’ll always be one of us.”

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