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Valedictorian: ‘To beat the best you must dare to dream’

Salutatorian Jaelyn Morgan, 17, of Westbury, and valedictorian

Salutatorian Jaelyn Morgan, 17, of Westbury, and valedictorian Julien Brathwaite, 17, of Westbury, graduated from Westbury High School at the Tilles Center on the LIU Post campus in Brookville. (June 23, 2012) Credit: Brittany Wait

Jasmin Watson was voted “Most School Spirited” during her senior year, so it’s not a surprise that she clapped, cheered and even cried Saturday, the day she graduated from Westbury High School.

“The spirit here is amazing,” said Watson, 17, of Westbury, who was class vice president. “That’s what I love most about our high school. When we want to be, we are a huge family.”

Watson was among the nearly 265 students who received diplomas during the commencement ceremony at the Tilles Center on the LIU Post campus in Brookville. Just over 300 students graduated from the high school, but some opted not to walk the stage.

Watson’s advice to the incoming class is to not lose sight of what’s important in life.

“Stay true to yourself,” said Watson, who plans to study media arts and dance at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus. “You have to know what you want at the end of the day. I know if I work hard, that I can be successful in everything I do.”

Principal Manuel Arias said the class received close to $80,000 in local scholarships and about $250,000 in academic scholarships.

“It’s a great class. I’m so proud of them,” Arias said. “We have students going to Ivy League schools, those that are committed to helping their community and students that come from all different backgrounds and have so many different talents.”

Valedictorian Julien Brathwaite enjoyed playing basketball in ninth and tenth grades, but when he had to undergo surgery to remove a cyst underneath his eye lid, he couldn’t play on the team.

Instead, he subbed as assistant coach for the women’s team and couldn’t get enough of it. Now, he aims to keep coaching basketball, as well as study electrical and industrial engineering at the University of Michigan in the fall.

“I love basketball. It’s pretty much my life,” said Brathwaite, 17, of Westbury. “Because I taught my sister and brother how to play, I found that I liked seeing the sport from a coaching perspective.”

In his valedictorian speech, he said that as long as a person has a dream and the dedication and motivation to pursue it, then they can achieve anything.

“To beat the best you must dare to dream,” Brathwaite said in the speech. “I believe that dreams serve as a propeller to move us forward and I challenge you to pursue your dreams, despite the obstacles.”

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