BY BARRY WARNER
Last Thursday, the 109th commencement exercises of Tappan Zee High School occurred for 275 graduates
During a beautiful summer evening on the athletic field, in front of hundreds of families and friends, the formal ceremony was held. Student achievements were recognized by school officials and diplomas were awarded.
Speakers reflected on what it means to be on the cusp of a new beginning. Some know exactly what they want to do while others take a more meandering road, but they all have the ability to do so much good in the world. Principal Jennifer L. Amos told the graduates, “Choices open the doors to new possibilities and you stand before the gateway to what is next. Be present in the moment, thoughtful, strong in character and dare to create.”
The program consisted of the ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ processional; the pledge to the flag; the Star Spangled Banner; opening remarks by Principal Jennifer L. Amos; greetings by Raul Madera, president of the Senior Class; salutatory address by Emily Dries; valedictory address by Neal Patel; presentation of the class by Principal Jennifer L. Amos; acceptance of the presentation of the class by Schools Superintendent Dr. Ken Mitchell; reading of the class roll; awarding of the diplomas by Principal Jennifer L. Amos; moving of the tassel by Neal Patel and the ‘Radetzky March’ recessional.
The Salutatorian is the student with the second highest academic rank in the class who delivers the welcoming statement at the graduation exercises. Salutatorian Emily Dries told her classmates, “This past winter, I was watching ‘The Polar Express’ movie with the girls on the varsity basketball team and heard the line that resonated with me. As the young boy debates whether to board the train, the wise conductor says, ‘The thing about trains…it doesn’t matter where they are going. What matters is deciding to get on.’ Up until today, every single member of the graduating class has been united by one thing: Tappan Zee High School.
“Yes, we have all had unique experiences, but every one of us has been shaped by similar forces over the years due to this school. Today can be seen as a connecting point to our future endeavors. Today is a day where we can cherish all of the memories we made in high school, remember the lessons we learned and say thank you to those who helped us get on the train for the past 13 years. These experiences prepared us and will guide us in the future. Starting tomorrow, we will begin to part ways, board different trains and begin the next chapter of our lives.”
Superintendent of Schools Ken Mitchell stated, “Whatever we care about possesses the mind and captivates the spirit. Ideas and actions stream through the bodies of those individuals in the ‘zone.’ Enrich your life and the lives of others as you go out into the great wilderness.”
The valedictorian is the student with the highest academic rank in the class, who delivers the farewell address to fellow graduates. Valedictorian Neal Patel said, “I think that some of the most important lessons that we have learned go beyond simply the coursework and occur outside the classroom. Every single person here has a passion for something in life. We have incredible athletes, musicians, artists, actors and singers who have spent countless hours pursuing what truly engages them. All of these people lead me to cliché lesson one: follow what you are passionate about and you will never fail. As many of us embark on our next journey in life, we will be faced with more and more choices, but how do we decide what is right? The truth is there is always more than one right decision, so the ultimate answer becomes cliché number two: make a decision and make it with confidence. Those who are always too afraid to make mistakes will never succeed. The truth is that only our fears and inhibitions can stop us from living up to our limitless potential. We all have the ability to do whatever it is we set our minds to.”