Linguist taught Babylon grads as kindergartners, seniors

Students wait for the graduation ceremony to begin

Students wait for the graduation ceremony to begin at Babylon Junior-Senior High School in Babylon. (June 22, 2013) (Credit: Jackie Salo)

When valedictorian Delaney Cassidy took the stage at the Babylon Junior-Senior High School graduation Saturday morning, she made it known that she was not there to inspire her fellow graduates to pursue their dreams or encourage them to cherish memories from high school.

“To be perfectly honest, I don’t care much about that,” said Cassidy, 18, laughing. “The only thing on my mind right now is getting through this as quickly as possible.”

Cassidy knew she was going to be nervous speaking before her teachers and classmates, so her mother gave her some advice for writing her speech.


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“I told her to keep it short and funny,” said Rosanne Cassidy. “Don’t talk about saving the world.”

Despite professing her stage fright at the celebration, Delaney Cassidy’s nerves were masked by the huge smile on her face, which was the inspiration for her speech. Smiling — her favorite activity — was more than appropriate for the occasion, she said.

“Some of us may smile because they have made lifelong friends here,” Cassidy said. “Some may smile because they have had exceptional teachers and some of us may smile because they never have to walk the halls of Babylon Junior-Senior High School again.”

As the 125 graduates walked across the stage on the school’s football field, they also smiled, with family members cheering or air horns tooting as their names were read. After all the members of the Class of 2013 received their diplomas, doves were released, bringing cheers from the beaming graduates.

Michelle Scharff, director of the world language department at the school, gave the farewell address. When the Class of 2013 was in kindergarten, the district began a pilot program that included Scharff teaching Spanish to kindergartners. Many of the students she taught this year she also had in kindergarten.

“Each of your faces are a reminder of the past and a promise for the future,”  Scharff said. “It is those faces that looked up at me with limitless potential so many years ago.”

Scharff said that when they were kindergartners, the day they would graduate seemed forever away.

“Just as quickly as the last 13 years have happened, so will the next,” she said. “Time will pass regardless, so set your goals and achieve them.”

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