A student waves to family members in the crowd as...

A student waves to family members in the crowd as she prepares to graduate during the 96th annual Paul D. Schreiber High School graduation in Port Washington on Friday. (June 22, 2012) Credit: Michael Cusanelli

The 415 members of the Class of 2012 stood in the blistering morning sun on Friday at Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington anxiously waiting to get their diplomas.

But first, Principal Ira S. Pernick gave the graduating students one final piece of advice before they received their diplomas.

“If at first you don’t succeed, don’t try skydiving,” Pernick joked.

But Pernick wasn’t just making a clever pun. He was alluding to the fact that making the leap from high school to college can be like jumping out of an airplane - no matter how much preparation you have, there is always a brief moment of uncertainty.

The 96th annual graduation ceremony painted a picture of a school that encouraged unity and involvement in the arts, sciences and athletics.

Members of the Class of 2012 even created a “Wall of Shame” in the main hallway to post all of their college rejection letters. Even in their failures, the students at Schreiber High School have been taught to stand together.

“I think there was a definite sense of community and closeness that’s indicative of Schreiber,” said Jesse Weil, 18, of Port Washington. “I’m really gonna miss that.”

Other students spoke of the relationships they had made during their time at Schreiber High School with classmates, faculty members and teammates.

“The thing I’ll miss most is getting to know my teachers and getting involved with lots of clubs and sports,” said Renee Cohen, 17, who will be attending Cornell in the fall.

Her classmates spoke similarly of their time at Schreiber High School.

“The relationships of the teams is phenomenal,” said Hayley Kerr, 18. “Everyone is so nice and supportive.”

This year, the Class of 2012 included three Intel semifinalists, eight National Merit semi-finalists and five Division 1 athletes.

“The depth and breadth of what [these] students have accomplished is second to no high school in the United States,” said assistant principal David Miller. “The academic accomplishments of this group are really spectacular.”

In the fall, graduates will be attending prestigious universities such as Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Princeton and Dartmouth.

“I learned so many things that I’m going to use for the rest of my life,” said Manuel Enrique, 17, who moved to the United States from El Salvador. “I feel like I came to the right place.”

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