During the 124th commencement ceremony on June 26, 119 members of Rye Neck High School’s Class of 2019 received their diplomas. The students celebrated their accomplishments and the completion of their secondary school experience before an audience of friends, family, teachers and administrators.
Principal Tina Wilson welcomed the guests and praised the students’ impressive accomplishments, which include $46,850 in scholarships, 18,600 hours of community service and representing Rye Neck at 64 higher education institutions in 18 states and three countries. She encouraged the students to enjoy every moment along their journey and the relationships they develop along the way.
“Harness all of the positive attributes you have developed,” said Wilson, who described the graduates as a group of bright, caring and intelligent young adults. “Use your empathy, activism, confidence, grit, ambition and intelligence to make our communities stronger. Be kind to others, but most importantly, be kind to yourself.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro reflected on the close friendships the students have made and the treasured time they have spent together, which for many of them started in Rye Neck as far back as kindergarten. She also paid tribute to the students’ kindness and generosity and encouraged them to continue to be creative, caring and community-minded individuals.
“As you prepare to take the next step along life’s journey, I know that you certainly have the capacity to make a difference in the world and to touch the lives of others in a meaningful way,” Dr. Ferraro said. “Take advantage of the knowledge you have gained as Rye Neck students. Along with the friendships that you have made, they will support your life’s work.”
The graduates also heard from guest keynote speaker Amy Carelli, a RNHS Class of 2009 graduate, as well as salutatorian Grace O’Rourke, who paid tribute to her classmates’ accomplishments and described them as talented, dedicated and ambitious. In his address, valedictorian Rafael Zyngier reflected on the importance of enjoying your life and living in the moment, rather than accumulating a list of accomplishments.
“Finding satisfaction with our accomplishments really stems from being happy with the decisions we make along the way,” he said. “Success means something different to everyone, so make your decisions according to your vision and keep in mind the clarity in those moments of reflection. Only we can determine if we are happy with ourselves.”
Zyngier encouraged his fellow graduates to find a place where they appreciate those around them and are treated respectfully, and, most importantly, do something worthwhile.
“We all have wonderful lives ahead of us, filled with the wonder and danger and excitement of the unknown,” he said. “But it’s up to us to grasp those opportunities and take advantage of everything life offers.”
One by one, and after years of hard work and dedication, the students took hold of their diplomas before taking their first steps as Rye Neck High School alumni.