Valedictorians and salutatorians from Nassau County’s high schools will soon graduate — embarking on new journeys as they walk in the steps of scholars who came before them.
Before all this, however, the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents recognized them for earning the top spots in their class. At a June 1 breakfast, David Flatley, the council’s president, gave words of encouragement to the Class of 2018.
“Question everything,” he said, before quoting President John F. Kennedy, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” In order to strive for excellence, Flatley continued, the best and brightest minds must reject the status quo and never settle for what appears easy.
Keynote Speaker Elizabeth Hashagan, an anchor at News 12, shared a similar sentiment as she addressed the graduating class. She asked them to imagine a world where they are always given what they want and problems are solved effortlessly. If such a world were to exist, she continued, there would be no growth.
“For me, the ‘nos’ in my life have made me a fighter,” Hashagan said about her dream of becoming a news reporter and the many rejections she received before getting her first job.
Hashagan said that she had to continuously produce content on her own and eventually an employer admired her work and offered her a job. “If you want something, sometimes you have to make it happen yourself,” she said.
North Shore High School’s valedictorian Hally Bello, of Sea Cliff, and salutatorian Perry Kleemann, of Glen Head, attended the breakfast. Bello, who will attend Tufts University in the fall, was honored to share some time with the county’s best and brightest.
“It was really interesting seeing where all of these incredibly talented students were going to end up going to school,” Bello said. “I was certainly impressed and almost intimated at the level of success they had achieved but was excited to be among them.”
Kleemann, who is Wesleyan-bound, called the breakfast a “surreal” experience. “I realized as I sat among the best of the best on Long Island, it was sort of a surreal moment that I could share the time and space with other accomplished individuals,” he said. “It made me feel inspired.”
Alyssa Seidman contributed to this story.