South Side High School celebrates class of 2023 graduates


The South Side High School class of 2023 celebrated its graduation at Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports Complex on Friday evening, in front of a packed crowd of family and friends.

It was a time of great joy for the class of nearly 250 graduating seniors as they reflected on their four-year academic journey in Rockville Centre.

High School Principal Patrick Walsh explained that it is the policy of the Board of Education when the weighted seven-semester average of the top two students is .01 or less they will be declared co-valedictorians.

“That is the exact scenario we have this year,” Walsh said. “The only thing more impressive than these two students’ academic prowess is the depth and quality of their character.”

Following the opening remarks, the co-valedictorians Cameron Colletti and Samantha Stein took the stage to share a few parting words with their classmates.

Colletti, who will be attending Johns Hopkins University, addressed the graduating class about her experience as a cross-country athlete and the lessons she learned about “perseverance and friendship” which she will take with her on her journey in higher learning.

“High school was my Sunken Meadow. Sunken Meadow State Park is considered one of the most difficult cross country courses in New York state due to its infamous snake and cardiac hill,” Coletti said. “I ran these hills several times throughout my high school career but senior year I was able to understand them more. To me, Sunken Meadow’s snake and cardiac hill were able to perfectly describe the challenges faced throughout high school and the ways to overcome them. There were a number of things to push me through both the difficult times in school and in a race … Knowing that I had my teammates beside me reminded me that I wasn’t only running for myself but I was running for my team as well.”

Samantha Stein, who will be attending Georgetown University, expressed her gratitude towards the parents, teachers and peers in the audience who’s unwavering support guided them through their four years of school.

“Our graduation ceremony represents the last time we will be gathered as a complete class before going our separate ways,” Stein said in her speech. “We are initially linked by nothing more than a common educational institution but we can now bond over shared hardships and triumphs.”

Before handing out the diplomas, the school announced the recipients of four prestigious awards that are presented by the district to a select few each year.

This year, the PTA Centennial Award was presented to Tatiana Markou, the Dr. Richard Byers School and Community Service Award was presented to Cameron Colletti, and the Laurel Awards were presented to Ali Pullaro and Daniel Walter.

“I wish to extend to all of our students a healthy and happy and hearty congratulations to all of you,” Superintendent Matthew Gaven told the graduating class of 2023. “It was a real privilege to get to know each and everyone of you.”

Kelly Barry, president of the school Board of Education said she was honored to stand before the graduating class of 2023 and acknowledge their many accomplishments.

“It is a privilege for us to be here as we honor and recognize this group of outstanding students,” Barry said. “To our dear graduates, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stated there are only two lasting requests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots. The other is wings.’”

Walsh said that as the former assistant principal, and now principal at South Side High School, he has had the privilege of seeing the students transform from an unsure group of freshmen to strong, confident and passionate young adults.

“It is an incredible and with immense pride I stand before you today as we celebrate this momentous milestone in your lives,” Walsh said. “Over the past four years at South Side High School, I have had the privilege of witnessing your remarkable growth.”

Following the remarks, students were called up one by one to receive their diplomas. Once the ceremony was complete the graduating class threw their caps in the air in celebration of their accomplishment.