When Paul Pandolfi took to the stage at the Our Savior New American School graduation ceremony Saturday he made one thing clear: he would not fear the future.
“The future is never clear, but I know that, with God, I have no fear because he will guide my path,” said Pandolfi, 18, of Medford.
The private Christian school, located in Centereach, hosted its graduation ceremony Saturday afternoon. During the ceremony, each member of the 22-person graduating class took to the microphone to deliver a heartfelt speech, echoing Pandolfi’s message and enthusiasm.
While the words in each speech differed from student to student, each student spoke about how the school has changed their lives. In many of their messages, the diverse class -- described as a “big fruit basket,” by graduate Jubilee Colon, 18, of Central Islip – expressed an eagerness to enter the real world.
“When I came to OSNAS I was stuck in a mode where I wasn't sure if I wanted to change the person I was,” said Cheick Sy-Savane, 18, of Centereach. “I soon realized that I would need focus and commitment in order to succeed. Now, I’m walking out of this school practically fearless.”
Since the school teaches students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, many students, like Rainer Dombek, 18, of Lake Grove, have been there for their entire academic careers. Dombek, who attended the school for 15 years, expressed his gratitude for the school and was thankful that the school “allowed me to have a voice.”
“The memories I’ve made here will stay locked into my heart forever,” he said.
Duncan Kasibante, 18, of Coram, who came to the United States from Uganda, expressed gratitude for his school, but did joke that it was tough to adjust to the school upon arriving from Uganda.
“When I first walked into the classrooms, all of the teachers immediately knew my name,” he said. “This was scary to me at first because, in my country, when the teachers know your name, it’s a bad thing.”
Ronald Stelzer, headmaster of the school, attributed the student’s willingness to look toward the future to the school’s ability to prepare them for “eternity.” Stelzer acknowledged that the many accomplishments the Class of 2013 has achieved are nice, but that ultimately it is their commitment to their faith that will get them “safely into heaven.”
Stelzer believes that because of the school’s commitment to teaching with an evangelical Christian perspective, Our Savior New American School students are better prepared for the future than others.
“So many schools don’t prepare you for eternity, how short-sighted is that?” Stelzer said.