Families sat in their cars in the parking lot of Nassau Coliseum, their radios tuned in to listen to the speeches, and watched the large screen that displayed students receiving their diplomas. It was not the graduation ceremony the 290 seniors from South Side High School had planned on, but the socially distant event still brought an air of excitement as it brought the Class of 2020 together for a final time.
Lara Solano, president of the Student Government, lead the Pledge of Allegiance and introduced the senior members of the Chamber Singers, which prerecorded a performance of the National Anthem. Students lined up in groups of 40, wearing masks and keeping a distance, before walking to the podium to receive their diplomas.
“In these trying times, our sense of community has only strengthened,” Valedictorian Miguel Hulyalkar said. “While high school’s over, we will still have to overcome hardships to pursue our goals, despite any variables in our way. It is up to each one of us to overcome these obstacles to achieve success. We are the future of this nation, and with innovation, leadership and sense of community, we can overcome any challenge.”
Principal John Murphy spoke of the strengths of the students and how the members of this class advocated for themselves and also helped others, particularly over the past few months. He told the students they changed him “on a cellular level.”
“I remember selfless service…it inspires me and reminds me that hopefulness is learned, and it is always there if you choose to look for it,” Murphy said. “Thank you for bringing out the best in is, for allowing us to sing your praises, and may your memories of today be guided by collective service.”
The graduates then left Uniondale and returned to Rockville Centre, where they were greeted by residents for a car parade to celebrate their accomplishments.