When Nicholas McNiel addressed his Friends Academy classmates during the school’s graduation ceremony, he quipped that Saturday was the day they had all been waiting for, and worked so hard to see — the day he would give his first commencement speech.
McNiel, 17, who was selected by his classmates to speak, is just one example of the playful nature that both students and faculty agree define the Class of 2013.
Gathered together for the last time at the ceremony at the school in Locust Valley on Saturday, students and faculty recounted the antics of the graduating class.
“In all that you do, you like to have fun and you like to laugh,” said William G. Morris Jr., the head of school. “While at your senior retreat, more of you went swimming than any other class.”
At their beach day on the quad, Morris says that despite the weather being in the low 40s, students were undeterred from blowing up inflatable pools and bringing out beach chairs.
“I enjoyed having seniors showing up in my religion class wearing snorkels, diving masks, rubber duckies and swimmies,” said Morris.
The 2013 yearbook cover, which is covered in multicolored cartoon characters, is also reflective of the graduating class, said teacher Martha Mayer. Mayer, who teaches educational technology and media studies, was the faculty representative chosen by the students to give a commencement address.
“They are absolutely capricious,” said Mayer, the yearbook adviser. “They are lighthearted and the cover exemplifies that.”
Their spirited nature is not the only factor that distinguishes the close-knit class, Morris said. Of the 96 graduating seniors, 75 percent gained early acceptance to college.
As they head off to college in the fall, class speaker Margot Mangiarotti, 18, advised her classmates to take this legacy with them by never losing their sense of childhood.
Mangiarotti, who will be attending Cornell University, spoke of how important it is to try and live carefree and fearlessly, as they did when they were young.
“Take these upcoming years of your life seriously, as they are defining,” said Mangiarotti. “However, treat them with love, wonder, trust and creativity as we all already know so well how to do.”