About 1,200 people filled the Tilles Center at the C.W. Post Campus on Thursday for the Great Neck High School South graduation.
The school band kicked off its nearly seven-minute rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance," serenading more than 350 graduates as they filed onto the stage.
Salutatorian Samantha Phillips welcomed parents, students and faculty to the ceremony with inspired words from the popular Harry Potter character Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
"Of course it's all in your head Harry, but why on Earth would that mean it's not real," Phillips quoted.
She advised her peers not to let growing up limit the scope of their imagination when it comes to their futures. Phillips said when she was little she wanted to be a dog. While she outgrew that dream, she won't let her hopes of becoming a veterinarian or a scientist be deemed too far fetched.
Sarah Sherman, another student speaker, speculated about the future inspired by her high school education.
"In 20 years, 20 percent of us will be alcoholics, 80 percent will be obese and 10 percent of us will be dead," she said, quoting her health class to a laughing crowd. "In 20 years, 20 percent of us will be alcoholic lawyers, 80 percent will be obese doctors and 10 percent will be accomplished dead people."
A thunderous applause rang out as each graduate’s name was called as excited parents fought for room to take photos.
The group of 350 students that have spent the last four years growing up together tossed their caps sore into the air, screaming, shaking hands, hugging and kissing one another as they filed off stage.