Instead of a full football field being occupied with students and bleachers filled with family members for one big ceremony, the Hewlett High School class of 2020 received their diplomas in six smaller ceremonies held over a span of two days with social distancing protocols in place.
The ceremonies took place on June 29 and 30 as there were 45 students honored at each ceremony. Students sat in chairs that were six feet apart from each other while wearing a face mask or covering. They were able to remove their masks upon receiving their diplomas and when the photographer took their picture.
Hewlett High principal William Galati spoke at graduation and noted that the class of 2020 will always hold a very special place in his heart.
“Through the most difficult times, including the closure of school and shortening of the school year, you came together to support one another and our staff,” he said. “As difficult as it has been to forgo many of the activities and events that define senior year, you remained understanding and sensitive to many issues at play.”
Salutatorian Britney Paul said in her speech that the character of the graduating class has been on full display in the past three months. “When I was told that I was going to be this year's salutatorian, I felt extremely honored to be representing this class,” she said. “Most importantly, this is a class filled with kind and good hearted people. I’ve always thought this to be true but I’ve especially felt this in the past few months.”
District superintendent Dr. Ralph Marino said that despite the school year being cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, the adversity faced by the graduating seniors will help them going forward in life.
“Sometimes in life, the unexpected will happen, as it did for all of us this spring,” Marino said. “How you manage the challenges that life presents will ultimately define you. If I’ve learned anything about the class of 2020, it’s that you rise highest in the face of adversity.”