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Islip, Lynbrook high school students celebrate graduation day

Islip High School's Class of 2015 enters its

Islip High School's Class of 2015 enters its graduation ceremony on Thursday evening, June 25, 2015. It was the first time a graduation ceremony was held at the school's new athletic stadium. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Across Long Island, high school seniors are donning gowns, and striding across stages and athletic fields to accept their diplomas.

More than 30,000 students are graduating this week and weekend from the Island's 124 public school districts, which include 112 high schools. After they toss their mortarboards into the air, they'll spread out in August and September to colleges in Nassau and Suffolk counties; throughout the Northeast; and to points north, south and west.

This week, though, it's their time to shine before proud parents, other relatives and teachers.

"We have high aspirations for the Islip graduating class of 2015," said Michael Mosca, principal of Islip High School. "We are confident they are prepared to make an impact in this world once they leave us."

Here are reports from ceremonies Thursday night at Islip High School and Lynbrook High School.


Valedictorian Ethan Fields drew from the words of the late author David Foster Wallace in giving encouragement to his fellow graduates. Wallace, in May 2005, told students at Ohio's Kenyon College to consider how their world view informs their actions.

"We can choose to see ourselves as the center of the universe and consider everything from our point of view," Fields, 18, said to his 270 classmates. "Or, we could try to think about things outside our perspective, think about things in such a way that the world does not revolve around us."

Fields, 18, plans to attend SUNY Fredonia in the fall to study music composition and sound recording technology.

A common theme Thursday night among the speeches and well wishes for graduates was the end of one chapter and the start of another.

"I want you to picture your life as a book," school board president Mary Dennis said. "You are going to begin to write the next chapter."

The commencement ceremony was the first held in the school's new stadium, which opened in October. Nearly 1,800 of the stadium's 3,370-plus seats were filled with cheering friends and family as the graduates walked across the field.

"This class has demonstrated outstanding scholarship, leadership and spirit throughout their time here," Michael Mosca, the high school principal, said before the event. "They carry with them a sense of community and pride rarely seen."

Thursday night also was part of a new chapter for Mosca, who concluded his first year as principal. His speech included a selfie with graduates to commemorate the occasion.

For Tina Barry, of Islip, watching the ceremony from the audience was a new viewpoint. She graduated from Islip High School in 1981, and Thursday night she watched her daughter Kate, 18, do the same.

"It think it's cool," Kate said of sharing an alma mater with her mother. "We did different things when we were here -- like I did theater -- but it's really awesome."


Grace Sarlo, a school nurse at the district's Waverly Park Elementary School, remembered helping several of the 228 Lynbrook High School graduates get better from "tummy aches" when they were younger.

"Those days are gone now, coming from belly aches to today," said Sarlo, 47, of Lynbrook, watching as graduates received their high school diplomas on the field outside Marion Street Elementary School. "I remember them when they were so small, and now they're all grown up. It's so nice."

Her son, Josh Sarlo, 18, was valedictorian of the class of 2015.

It was a challenge, he said, to receive that honor. He juggled classwork with playing for amateur hockey teams in Connecticut and New Jersey. His goal is to join a Division I hockey team at an Ivy League college while majoring in business.

"I give 100 percent to everything I do," Sarlo said. "You can't worry about the future. You have to go out and do what you have to do today, and everything else will work out."

Salutatorian Ryann Moelis, in her speech, spoke about graduates conquering the fears they may have of moving on to the next step of their lives.

"We are choosing different paths, but we are all equipped with the same hopes to be brought outside of ourselves, to be forced to explore and to be propelled forward, never allowed to nestle in the comfort of predictability and sameness," Moelis, 18, said to more than 1,000 people -- families, friends and students -- at the ceremony.

Moelis, of Hewlett, is headed to the University of Virginia in August. She is leaning toward studying public health or international relations.

Joseph Rainis, principal of Lynbrook High School, said that in his 30 years of being involved in education, the 2015 graduating class is special for its level of maturity and commitment to the community.

"I don't simply see them as students," Rainis said. "I see their stories, the bonds, the obstacles they had to overcome. . . . This is a great step for each of them to move forward to the next chapter of their life story."

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