As she addressed her fellow graduates last Sunday, West Hempstead High School’s valedictorian, Caroline Moyer Laurin, examined the true value of their high school diplomas.
“Our success is not supposed to be based on scores from standardized tests,” she said. “These four years are supposed to shape you into a person that moves society forward.”
At the school’s 59th commencement, at the C.W. Post Tilles Center, hundreds of friends and family members watched as 135 graduates took their first steps into the next stage of their lives. Amid cheers and applause, the honorees looked out to their loved ones in the audience with proud smiles, many raising their fists in triumph. After they received their diplomas, the graduates tossed their black satin caps in the air.
“We did great throughout high school, so if we keep it up, I’m sure that we’ll do even greater things in the future,” said senior class President Emily Esposito, who plans to study biology at the University of Delaware.
This year’s graduating class included 22 diploma candidates with distinction and 23 with excellence, alongside 39 members of the National Honor Society. Two will attend Ivy League universities next year, while five others will enter the armed forces.
At the start of the ceremony, Sen. Chuck Schumer encouraged the graduates to reach for lofty goals and reach deep down within themselves for their passions. Schumer also offered them a few simple words of advice: “Go for it.”
Salutatorian Anna Chen said she cherished many friendships that she made in high school, quoting C.S. Lewis: “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
Chen, who will attend Hunter College this fall, added, “The piece of paper we are receiving today seems worthless after all we’ve accomplished these past four years. Success is not a place where you arrive, but the passion and work that you put in on the way there. If we put effort into the things we love and the things we excel at, then we are on the right path.”