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B-BP Graduation Full of Hope, Encouragement and Expectations

The next chapter in life, post high school, is one of excitement and challenge.

There wasn’t a blow-up doll in sight, and just a few beach ball volleys slapped around during the Bayport-Blue Point High School commencement mid-day Saturday with an over arching theme from student and faculty speeches focusing on encouragement in tackling the challenges that come in leaving a bucolic high school environment.

School leaders urged graduates not to focus on accruing wealth but rather the pursuit of a career and the satisfaction of a job well done and how that exceeds anything brought by a high-tax bracket lifestyle.

“There are reasons why families settle in this community. It’s to give you a leg up to succeed and how well that is applied is up to you,” Bayport-Blue Point Board of Education President James March said in his address to the 180 graduates during the two-hour ceremony.

March urged the students to understand how critical education is to their future, and the community at large.  “Your generation needs to serve as advocates for the educational system,” said March, adding, “It is the cornerstone of our democracy.”

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According to the district, a major portion of this year’s graduating class will be continuing their involvement with the ‘cornerstone,’ with 63 percent going on to four-year colleges and 29 percent enrolling in two-year programs.

The class academic statistics reveal the Class of 2012 appears to understand the importance of education. Of the 180 students, 98 percent were awarded Regent diplomas, and of those 72 percent received advanced diplomas and 38 percent achieving advanced diplomas with honors, which requires a 90 average or better on the Regent exams.

“This is a pretty impressive class,” High School Principal Timothy Hearney told the crowd, citing the names of top colleges that students are heading to come the fall. “This year’s class earned in excess of 1.5 million in scholarships and awards,” he said.

School Superintendent Anthony Annuziato, who is leaving the district for the school chief role in Smithtown at month’s end, incorporated a well-known Ralph Waldo Emerson quote in concluding address:

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded,’ he told the assembled class.

Class of 2012 President Kathleen McKeveny urged her classmates to remember what they have accomplished and what they have survived, drawing laughter as she recollected being suspended for toilet papering school trees in her early high school days.

“Embrace the world, you are capable of greatness,” she told her classmates, and “dream big.”

“I have high hopes for this class, go forth and set the world on fire,” she said.

Hearney noted how this class was one he’s watched come through the years, and said he cherished the bond he had made with the students. He is clearly proud of their academic progress, citing that in May 2008, 150 district students took Advanced Placement exams and as of this May, 370 exams were taken.

“You are the change agents and you left your mark in this high school and I thank you,” he told the students. “Believe in yourself as I believe in you. Don’t use phrases like should have or could have. You’re capable of doing anything so make that happen.”

Salutatorian Stephanie Warnken noted graduation marks a new chapter of life, and the unique attributes of growing up in a small town.

“Not everyone can say they know the name of every student in their class, and the town is a basis of who were are, it’s our roots. It’s prepared us for the rest of our lives,” she said.

“There is not a moment I regret, and we will be successful in our own ways. Don’t be afraid of failure,” she told her classmates.

Emily Sarich, class valedictorian, noted how life-changing high school graduation is and the excitement of going out into the “real world.”

“For all these years our lives started the same way each September, it was far from easy but it was predictable and we knew it would not last forever. And that’s the thing of the future. It won’t wait for you,” she said, citing a quote reportedly stated by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his rumored list of 11 rules of life:

“Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time,” Sarich said, adding that while she could fill her address with more notable quotes she simply wanted to thank those who helped her in the past years.

“I’m truly grateful to the faculty, friends and my mom for being so awesome. It is our choices, more than our abilities, that show who we really are,” she told her fellow graduates.

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