Greenport High School students wait to get their diplomas during...

Greenport High School students wait to get their diplomas during graduation on Sunday. (June 26, 2011) Credit: Lisa Finn

Proud parents and family members cheered, clapped, and stamped their feet as 60 seniors marched down the aisles of Greenport High School's auditorium Sunday in a ceremony filled with laughter, tears and hometown heart.

Secondary principal Leonard Skuggevik gave the ceremony a deeply personal touch, taking time to share heartfelt stories about, and give gifts to, students, many of whom have been classmates since kindergarten.

“When I first interviewed two and a half years ago for this job, I saw a sign outside that said, ‘The greatest kids in the world learn here.’ Never before has such a simple message been so true,” Skuggevik said.

Skuggevik presented Kaitlin McElroy with a bottle of laundry detergent meant to symbolize her stature and quest to evade the school’s dress code.

“Small and mighty,” Skuggevik said.

Similarly, Skuggevik remembered the day in March 2008 when student Brian Lehmann asked his teacher for a paper clip and promptly made Greenport High history when he jammed it in a socket, sparking a loud noise and “quite a shocked” student.

But on a more serious note, Skuggevik talked about the future.

“Today is a day of unbridled optimism,” he said. “No goal is unreachable.”

In one of four commencement speeches delivered by students, Joseph Anthony Silverman said, “Only in Greenport” would a beloved teacher ride a bike down the hall or would Superintendent Mike Comando joke with students.”

“This is not saying good-bye,” Silverman reminded his fellow graduates. “It’s saying farewell until we meet again.”

Photo: Greenport High School graduates wait to receive their diplomas during commencement Sunday. (June 26, 2011)