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Assistant principal calls Freeport grads his ‘second family'

Graduate Romee Gooden, 18, and cousin, Jeshurun Colon,

Graduate Romee Gooden, 18, and cousin, Jeshurun Colon, 14, hang out after Freeport High School's commencement at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Center at Hofstra University in Hempstead. (June 26, 2013) Credit: Quinn O'Callaghan

Freeport class of 2013 president Chelsea Campbell, bound for Albright College, delivered a speech to her classmates on the virtues of her favorite sport, golf. Campbell said that golf has taught her patience and sticktoitiveness, and the value of self-improvement.

“My friends have heard it many times before.” she said. “But golf is life.”

Life lessons come in all different forms, as speakers explained to 375 graduates at Freeport High School’s commencement, held Wednesday at Hofstra University.

Joseph Mille, Freeport’s assistant principal for the senior class spoke, can relate to self-improvement. In his speech he explained how he initially was totally content working at Bright Cleaners in Lindenhurst. In August of that year, a graduate school admissions officer from Dowling College named Donna Rode came into the cleaners and befriended Mille. She tried to get him to enroll at Dowling’s education graduate program, but Mille declined several times -- until she offered him $100 to come in for a meeting to discuss registration.

Mille ended up enrolling at Dowling after the meeting, but didn’t forget about the money he was promised.

“Look at the bill,” Mille recalled of Rode answering his question about the money. “I knocked $100 off the tuition.”

Freeport’s valedictorian, Elizabeth Mulé, dared her classmates to pursue excellence and not to second-guess themselves when opportunities present themselves.

“Remember your beginnings, but don’t be afraid to go to new places,” said Mulé, who will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology next fall and had a solo in the Freeport Select Chorale’s rendition of "Seasons of Love" from the musical “Rent” just minutes before her speech.

Bianca Molina, the class salutatorian set to attend the University of Pennsylvania, asked her fellow graduates to trust in themselves as they move on to the next stages of their lives.

“We must believe that our dreams are worth pursuing in order to achieve them,” she said.

But Mille also reminded graduates that futures will always be tied to their past.

“A friend once told me that once Freeport is in your blood; you can never get it out of you,” Mille told the graduates. “That is absolutely true. This is now my second home, and you are my second family.”

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