Story by A.J. Arias
Warwick Valley High School’s Class of 2018 moved their tassels from right to left and took another step forward in their lives after receiving their diplomas at the graduation ceremony on Sat., Jun. 23.
There were 328 graduates that received their diplomas inside of the high school’s new gym after festivities were moved inside for the first time since 2006 due to the risk of rain.
Addresses from several different members of the Class of 2018, as well as Superintendent Dr. David Leach, and Principal Dr. Larry Washington inspired graduates and attendees.
Festivities started with a performance of the country’s national anthem by members of the High School’s Meistersingers led by Choral Director Noreen Hanson. That was then followed by a performance of the songs, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” by Chloe Borthwick and Band Director Chris Persad.
Borthwick said she chose the two songs for different reasons – “What’s Going On” because it’s a social commentary of what’s happening in society and “The Climb” because she said it fit the themes of graduating.
Kindergarten Teacher Presents Medals to Former Students
One of the more heart-warming moments of the ceremony occurred during the acknowledgement of the academic achievements of the Salutatorian Jacqueline Grundfast and Valedictorian Jack Schenkman. Principal Larry Washington announced that they both shared a kindergarten teacher when starting their journeys as students. Their Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Taylor, then came down from the stands and to the stage to present both students their medals for their academic achievement.
Police Lt. Maslanka Watches Baby His Saved 18 Years Ago Graduate
Another heart-warming moment came later on during the announcement of the graduates. When Christopher Shea’s name was announced, along with his three other siblings that graduated with him, it acted as a reunion for Shea and Warwick Police Department’s Lt. Thomas Maslanka.
When Christopher was baby he stopped breathing and Lt. Maslanka was one of the officers on duty who helped save his life. Able to get the baby breathing again, 18 years later Lt. Maslanka came to Shea’s graduation in order to watch him graduate high school. The two unfortunately did not get a more proper reunion due to the nature of the festivities, but for Lt. Maslanka, who normally doesn’t work on graduation day, it was a reminder of the impact of his services for the community.
All four student speaker’s speeches varied in content and message. Salutatorian Jacqueline Grundfast gave a speech about wondering and curiosity telling her peers to “never be afraid to be the one raising your hand and asking a question.”
Valedictorian and Class President Jack Schenkman gave a speech about aging and growing up, saying, “You must not underestimate the advantages of a limitless imagination.”
Class Vice President Isabella Jardine-Vistocco reflected on a message she learned in Mr. Mita’s critical thinking class. Finally, Senior Class Speaker Wen Long Yang gave a speech about goodbyes and change saying, “Without change there would be no innovation and leaves will fall, books will close, you will have to wave goodbye.”
The future looks bright for all the graduates. Several students will be attending Ivy League schools in the fall including Jack Schenkman, who is heading to Princeton, and Wen Long Yang, who will be attending Yale.
It can be said best by Superintendent Dr. David Leach who stated, “I’m so excited about your future.”
The rest of the community is as well and would all like to wish the graduates of the Class of 2018 a collective congratulations and good luck!