W.T. Clarke High School valedictorian Daniel Wang got an important handoff from Board of Education president Joseph Parisi during Sunday’s graduation ceremony.
“Our time together has been unreal, surreal and truly fantastic. Together as a class, we are something amazing,” W.T. Clarke Valedictorian Daniel Wang told his fellow graduates. “We are all unique in our own ways, but that’s what makes us special. There are so many challenges waiting for our solutions. Let us explore our surroundings and be the change our world needs.”
Under clear skies and a dazzling sun, Wang was one of several speakers at Clarke’s graduation ceremony. Alexander Evangelatos, the salutatorian, spoke of his early days at the high school, and how they helped shape the person he would eventually become.
“I realized that I wasn’t doing what I loved,” he said of his first experiences at Clarke.
But that soon changed. “I love engineering,” Evangelatos explained. “I joined the Robotics Club. I was younger than everyone else, but I took the risk. Life is full of pitfalls. Overcoming those pitfalls makes us who we are. Everyone in this class is great in their own way. Stand out from the crowd, and don’t be afraid to fail.”
Class President Jason Dunleavy added a touch of humor to the proceedings, asking the graduating class to throw two thumbs up while he snapped a photo of himself at the podium with all of them behind him. “We have begun to find ourselves individually, and we have started to figure out what is important to us,” Dunleavy said. “We learned that not taking responsibility hurts you the most. Being an alumni of Clarke is something that will always shape you.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer offered the graduates some advice, saying, “My wish for the class of 2013 is that you go for it.” Schumer encouraged them to embrace new technologies. “Technology is to your generation like water is to a fish,” he said. “Now is the time to use it, to reach high and go for it.”
Superintendent Louis DeAngelo also offered words of wisdom. “It may be easy to lose faith and lose sight of what is important, but my hope is that you do not,” he said. “The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.”
As students came forward to receive their diplomas, hundreds of family members and friends watched them take the final steps of their high school lives. As the ceremony concluded, students were met with hugs, kisses, flowers and balloons, and were bombarded with requests for family photos, as their loved ones documented one of the biggest days of their lives.
David Weingrad contributed to this story.