Harborfields High School principal Dr. David Bennardo wore many caps at the school’s graduation ceremony on Saturday.
Not only was Bennardo the keynote speaker, he was also a grad parent and diploma recipient during the ceremony on the school football field in Greenlawn.
Bennardo, who coined the term “HF family,” wrapped up his ninth and final year at the school. He was recently hired as the new superintendent for the South Huntington School District.
“This is completely surreal after nine years in this close community,” said Bennardo, who was selected by students to give the keynote address instead of the school’s tradition of bringing in a guest speaker. “I’ve fallen in love with the Class of 2012 and their families.”
Soon after presenting his daughter Tiana, 18, with her diploma, Bennardo received an honorary diploma from Harborfields High School as the 287 graduates gave him a standing ovation.
“We will always remember his morning hellos with a smile,” said salutatorian Cyril Danielkutty. “The HF family is a legacy he will leave behind.”
The “HF family” was a common term used during the graduation ceremony as speakers remembered senior year.
“This is more than a high school. We have a bond here that is so much more like a family,” said Bennardo.
Bennardo helped with many projects for students including Dylan’s Footprint, a foundation established by Harborfields staff members, students and families for Dylan Thompson, 18, a graduate who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The foundation helped raise enough money to make Thompson’s home wheelchair accessible.
“I couldn’t have been here without the support of the school and I’m really thankful,” said Thompson, of Centerport.
The Class of 2012 not only had a close bond, but strong athletic and academic achievements as well. The graduates received over 650 scholarships from universities across the nation and the men’s basketball team earned the school’s first New York State Championship title.
“The perfect high school experience cannot be measured quantitatively,” said Bridget Greene during her valedictorian speech. “We will always carry a little piece of Harborfields in our hearts.”