Twins Thomas and Matthew Austin have been inseparable their whole lives.
But after walking the stage, flipping their tassels and tossing their caps in the air at graduation, the fact they will both be in boot camp training across the country from each other had set in.
“The truth is, we want to serve our country and do something great with our lives,” said Thomas Austin, 18, of Hicksville. “We’re two of the four graduates who enlisted in the military from our school and people asked us, ‘Why join?’ And I told them, ‘Why not?’”
The Austin brothers were among the 318 students that walked the stage, graduating from Hicksville’s Holy Trinity Diocesan High School on Saturday at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex at Hofstra University in Hempstead.
Thomas Austin will be heading to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., on Aug. 5 for Army basic training; his brother Matthew is leaving a day later for Parris Island, S.C. and Marines boot camp.
The 2013 graduating class received nearly $33 million in academic scholarships and many were accepted to colleges including Cornell University, Dartmouth College, University of Notre Dame, Vassar College, Berklee College of Music, and New York University.
Principal Gene Fennell was beaming with joy while handing diplomas to students on stage.
“It’s a very dynamic and generous class. They have great faith and they’re ready to go out into the world and do great things,” said Fennell. “We’re proud of their achievements and their drive to integrate themselves into their community and make an impression.”
Valedictorian Caroline Brown, who plans to double major in speech and hearing science and linguistics at the University at Buffalo in the fall, recalls the school’s Spring Fling in May, which had adults with developmental disabilities mingle and dance with students.
“It was fun and so nice to see their faces light up,” said Brown, 18, of Baldwin, who is graduating with her cousin and belongs to an extended family who has or will send 16 children to the school. “Trinity is the best place in the world. I advise future students to take advantage of what this school has to offer because there’s so much you can get involved in.”
Salutatorian Kimberly Nicolas, who plans to study film at Ithaca College in upstate New York in the fall, walks away with fond memories of film and yearbook club and orchestra.
“Since I’m a reserved person, film will give me the platform to express myself and make a statement,” said Nicolas, 18, of Westbury. “My advice to the upcoming class is to get involved behind the scenes because a lot is presented to you in life, but after high school things change and you have to work harder. Get involved, network and advance yourself.”