Almost a thousand friends and family members and guests gathered at the Thursday evening to watch just over 300 graduates cross the stage to receive their diplomas from
Superintendent of Schools Paul Kreutzer welcomed the graduates-to-be and told them he was ready to send them on their way because the world was in need of their "ideas, enthusiasm, inspiration, confidence...ingenuity, determination, and optimism."
"We need your competitive spirit. We need to see something special in sport that allows us to share in the victory and admire the accomplishment. Records are made to be broken… but we need them shattered," he said.
Graduates may have been surprised to hear some of the statistics mentioned by School Board President, Mark Lipton, who told them over their 13 years they had used 122 million pieces of paper in school, participated in 2,000 athletic contests and driven 48,000 miles on a school bus.
As he reflected back some of their collective experiences, he said like Christopher Columbus, the graduates and families now sat at the "edge of a new world."
"In front of you is the unknown, but like Columbus did before you, bravely sail into the unknown. Greatness was never found in what has been done before," Lipton said.
Class valedictorian Melissa Grossbarth spoke of the importance of being realistic and how graduates could taking advantage of opportunities before them.
"Do not sell yourself short, but don’t be disappointed if your preferred path doesn’t pan out. Dream big, but realize how large those dreams are, and be honest about what would be necessary to attain them," she said.
Stephanie Riocci, , talked about the myriad decisions and encounters in life that help shape the individuals she and her classmates have become.
"We all have those people that define the memories that stick, and the decisions that make us grow up. Cherish them. As we all diverge to new places and leave the unifying bond we all share that is high school behind, there are two things that we should take away with us. The memories we made and the people who made those moments worth remembering," she said.
Ellen Doherty, who was addressing a graduating class at John Jay High School for the last time before at White Plains High School, praised the seniors for their compassionate acts, such as building homes in Nicaragua and collecting food and winter coats.
"You have learned how to be a part of the community and still be yourselves," she said. "You've learned how to accept that your neighbor is worthy of the same kind of respect that you are. You've learned to handle disappointment, compromise and success with good will and made room at the table for those less fortunate than you."
The commencement ceremony included performances by the Rolling Tones, The Noteables and The Treblemakers, John Jay's a capella musical groups. The "key of knowledge was delivered by Kendall Coniaris and Lauren Murray, co-presidents of the class of 2012. Caroline Weldon provided the faculty address and delivered the senior class address.