(Photo courtesy of the Bethpage School District)

Celebrating Grads Of 2024

BY Lauren Feldman and Erica Schwartz

Our students have officially graduated! The Class of 2024 was recognized late last month for the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to its studies. Congratulations to all Observer grads!


Bethpage High Schoolers donned their caps and gowns on Wednesday, July 26 for the school’s 69th commencement ceremony. Zoe Chinda, class valedictorian, gave a speech which resonated deeply with the audience as she quoted her all-time favorite song, Vienna by Billy Joel. “As my favorite lyric from ‘Vienna’ goes, ‘Don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?’. Graduates, as harsh as it sounds, I hope that in life you remain a bit unsatisfied. I hope that you seek out the ‘mores’ of life. There is always more to find, more to learn, more to love, more untried paths, and more unopened doors. Don’t settle for satisfaction, strive for excellence.”

Superintendent David Schneider also delivered a powerful message: “Never forget how powerful your voices can be in front of others. Use your voices to uplift others, to bring people together. Use your voices to challenge and create, so that you can make a lasting impact on this world. Do not underestimate the impact that a single voice can have, as history is filled with examples of individuals who, through their courage and conviction, have brought about significant change. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.’”


The Class of 2024 from Farmingdale High School joyfully marched to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” during their graduation ceremony on June 19 at Hofstra University. This event culminated in their academic pursuits, extracurricular activities, and engagement in athletic programs.

Amidst cheers from family and friends, students donned white and green robes, proceeded to their seats, and tossed their caps in the air to celebrate this significant achievement. Cheers, and best wishes to all the graduates!


At the top of Hicksville High School’s graduation ceremony, Myra Faheem, president of the American Sign Language Society, signed the National Anthem alongside a chorus of student singers. Raymond A. Williams, Principal of Hicksville High School, acknowledged the Board of Education and the faculty and staff of Hicksville High School before turning the microphone over to Dr. Theodore Fulton, Superintendent of Hicksville Schools. 

Fulton inducted 3-time Emmy-Award-winning Hicksville High School 1992 graduate, Joseph “Roman” Feeser IV into the Hicksville Public Schools Hall of Fame. In her salutatory address, Zahel Nasari acknowledged her parents for supporting her education since childhood and their own journey escaping the war in Afghanistan 25 years ago. Valedictorian Melanie Unger spoke about the power of being a light in a world of darkness and encouraged her peers to go out and make a difference. Additional speeches were delivered by Gia Rangi, President of the Student Government, and Linda Imbriale, Secretary of the Board of Education. 

It was smiles galore at Holy Trinity’s senior graduation ceremony. After a blessing from Father Francis Sarfong, the school chaplain, and a performance of the National Anthem, Salutatorian Natalia Sanchez left the senior chorus to get on stage and address the crowd. In her speech, Sanchez thanked her parents in Spanish, reflected on the beginning of her class’ time at Holy Trinity during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, and acknowledged Holy Trinity for helping her to find “the power in [her] own voice.” Sanchez rejoined the choir for a rendition of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Christine Yarian Perren and Frederick Perren.

Following the awarding of diplomas to students, Valedictorian Aidan Colonna took the stage to deliver his speech. His speech was followed by speeches from Jim Grillo, principal of Holy Trinity, and Pamela Sanders, Superintendent of Schools of the Diocese of Rockville Center. The ceremony was brought to a close by Most Reverend John O. Barres, Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Center.


General Douglas MacArthur High School seniors marked a momentous occasion as they reached the culmination of their years in Levittown Schools at the 63-rd commencement ceremony held at the Hofstra University David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on June 22.

MacArthur Principal Joseph Sheehan welcomed guests and urged graduates to keep moving forward into the future. “Be ready to embrace the new experiences that lie ahead and step on to that road to the future with steadfast confidence,” he said. “Have faith in your own abilities, work hard, and there is nothing you cannot accomplish… I strongly encourage you to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to you and seize the moment.”

Superintendent of Schools Todd Winch reminded graduates that they are fully prepared to take on the challenges that may lie ahead. “This moment signifies not just the closing of a chapter, but also the start of an exhilarating new one,” he said. “Embrace the uncertainty that accompanies new beginnings. Life is a journey of exploration, unveiling opportunities along the way.”

Salutatorian Benjamin Campbell addressed his peers and urged them to take joy in the little moments. “It’s hard to not constantly get caught up in chasing success,” he said, “but don’t forget to enjoy the happy moments… When it feels like everything in the world is against you, find those little things that you simply love and feel grateful for.”

Valedictorian Zarif Jamal thanked the family members and staff who have helped his peers reach this milestone. He reflected on the ‘golden rule’. “Without the golden rule, we would be living in a world full of disrespect. However, those who stand their ground to be respectful of others are the ones who strive toward happiness.”

More than a decade of lessons, achievements and connections were represented in a single unforgettable moment as the Division Avenue High School Class of 2024 crossed the stage and became graduates at the Hofstra University David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on June 22.

Division Avenue Principal John Coscia reminded graduates that their perseverance is made possible by their strong unity. “Each of you has the ability to lift each other up without expecting anything in return, which is the hallmark of outstanding character and leadership.”

Salutatorian Ceyda Nazli congratulated her peers on a prideful accomplishment. “Functions are not always linear, and neither is problem-solving,” she said. “That’s why if you want to make your life less tiring, you need to give yourself grace along the way. Remember that you aren’t supposed to be anything you were told you are – you should just be.”

Valedictorian Syeda Nowroz addressed her peers and related their diverse experiences to the virtual world in the video game, Minecraft. “Despite the main objective of the game being to reach the end, players are given full freedom to do what they please,” she said. “Minecraft is more similar to our high school paths than you might think… Each person carves their own path, and just because you aren’t doing what that Science Olympian is doing, or what that football star is doing, doesn’t mean that you’re any farther from the path to success.”

Class of 2024 President Carly Perez reflected on her many experiences throughout her years in Levittown Schools. This year, Carly and her peers visited Summit Lane Elementary School, where she had a memorable experience speaking with a younger student who asked about her own graduation year. “We sat there and did the math and came up with the year 2034,” she said. “I told her to enjoy the memories with the people around you, because one day the moments you shared with classmates will just be distant memories. The pure innocence of this little girl excited for the future reminded me of myself.”


Massapequa High School celebrated the Class of 2024 at an evening ceremony at Hofstra University’s Mack Arena. “The Class of 2024 has been a pleasure to watch mature, excel, and evolve into young adults,” said Principal Barbara Lowell. “I have been so truly inspired by this class… our trustworthy and reliable students have achieved so many accolades.” Lowell also recognized four students who will be entering the armed forces or military institutions after high school.

Superintendent Dr. William Brennan told the graduates that they are “the leaders our world needs” because of their ability to make a positive impact, inspire others, foster a sense of community and purpose, and stand up for what’s right.

Valedictorian Victoria Chu was proud to be part of an amazing group of capable, hardworking and passionate people. Her message to her classmates was based on wise words from Walt Disney about the importance of moving forward. “Life is filled with twists and turns, and there may be times when we want to fall back into our comfort zones,” Victoria said. “But taking risks, pushing ourselves outside of the familiar is exactly what has brought us to this success today.”

Salutatorian Ava Minnini said as they graduate high school and prepare for what’s next, they just need to think of the first time they went into the unknown – starting kindergarten. “As we embark on the stage of our lives, I’m sure we will regress back to the anxiety we felt as kindergartners and our colleges will feel as big as our elementary schools once did,” she said. “We will undoubtedly face new challenges, and with them, new fears. We have all proven to possess the qualities necessary to propel ourselves beyond our fears.”


Plainedge graduates gathered on the evening of June 27 at Hofstra University. Principal Lauren Locco had some opening words for the students. “Tonight is a very exciting night that marks the beginning of a new chapter in your lives. Tonight we celebrate you; what you have accomplished and what you will accomplish. As your name is called tonight, I want you to think about what that truly signifies. It represents everything you have learned before you start the next chapter of your lives.”

Salutatorian Lucas Marotta gave a moving speech about the importance of growth and reflection during this next chapter, comparing the students to caterpillars about to become butterflies. He emphasized that reflection is important, but should not hold them back from the next stage of their lives. “When you get home tonight, take a look in the mirror. Realize, despite everything, it is still you in that reflection.”

Valedictorian Ahmed Hamdan reflected on the passage of time, asking, “Are we what we have done with time, or are we what time has done to us? As we stand on the precipice of change, we reflect on what we do… it is not merely the passage of time that defines us, but how we choose to use it. The actions we take, the goals we make… we have the choice to define our destinies. We are not passive participants… our time is now, and the future awaits.”

A moment was also taken to recognize Dylan Nuccio, a member of the graduating class who tragically passed away early this year when his car struck a tree off the Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway. Dylan’s diploma was awarded first, and his family was there to receive it on his behalf. He will be sorely missed but fondly remembered by his classmates.


On June 23, Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School celebrated its 33-rd annual commencement ceremony at Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Center.

Board of Education trustee Mrs. Lauren Sackstein addressed the attendees. “Be the leaders I know that you already are and can continue to be,” she said. “Whether you gathered food for a family in need, raised funds for a POB family in crisis, collected shoes for those who cannot buy their own, or sending supplies to war-torn areas and humanitarian efforts – small steps lead to big accomplishments. Small acts of kindness lead to bigger moments.”

Salutatorian Matthew Kang asked his fellow classmates to help those around them. “Going forward, I hope that all of us do the best we can to demonstrate compassion and care for those around us. Famous American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, ‘…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!’ I know that many of you have helped those around you. Continue doing so. If not, think about how you can help someone in their life. That is a great idea of success.”

Valedictorian Safal Kamath began his address thanking guests and family members and implored them to never focus too much on the past or future. “Oftentimes, we become too focused on what was and what will be. When you came to this building, as I’m giving this speech, and as we get our diplomas and graduate high school, time is ticking away,” he said. “So, live in the present, because you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

Class President, Samantha Graf, then addressed the attendees. “As we look to the future, all of our paths are unclear,” she said. “This may be scary but I can promise all of you today that the hard work, kindness, and friendship that got us through the past four years can and will get us through many more.”

Island Trees

Island Trees seniors donned their caps and gowns on the evening of June 26, entering the football field to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Principal Dr. Jessica Sventoraitis opened with some words of encouragement for the students. “Don’t be afraid to try something new. Join the new club, take the hard class, study abroad… This is the time in your life when you get to do this. The class of 2024 has left a positive impact on Island Trees High School. We wish you all the best as you leave us to go on to do all of the wonderful things that lie ahead of you, all of the journeys you’re about to embark on.” 


Graduates from Seaford High School’s Class of 2024 will bring with them into the real world some life lessons from television icons. The theme across all of the speeches at this year’s commencement ceremony at the Tilles Center was the TV-watching experience and the characters who served as role models.

Valedictorian Umika Hathiramani honored Mr. Feeny from “Boy Meets World” and his lesson that leaving school with a desire to succeed in the world isn’t enough – they must also strive to change it. “We are always asked what it is we want to be, but it’s important to think about who we want to be,” she said. “What are our core values and principles? Do the experiences we chose speak to our character, personalities, and morals? True success is not measured by titles and accolades, but by who we become and the lives we touch along the way.”

Salutatorian Angelina Belgiorno told her fellow graduates to embrace curiosity, and that was why she selected Dora the Explorer as her TV icon. Dora also demonstrated courage and resilience, she explained, traits that are needed to accept new challenges. “Exploration drives innovation, human connection, and societal progress, but also personal growth and self-discovery,” Angelina said, encouraging the Class of 2024 to “cherish what curiosity can accomplish.

Principal Nicole Schnabel shared some advice from Ted Lasso, and the valuable lessons he teaches his audience about leadership, love and life. Before the traditional cap toss, Ms. Schnabel had one more piece of advice from Ted Lasso for the graduates. “Do you know what the happiest animal on Earth is?” she asked. “A goldfish. You know why? It’s got a 10-second memory. We can define our lives by mistakes or something we wish never happened, or we can define our lives by how we work toward moving forward. Don’t get hung up on the negative. Be that goldfish who already forgot about it.”


Under the golden sun on the Wantagh High School turf field, seniors marked a milestone as they turned their tassels and officially became graduates during the school’s 69th- annual commencement ceremony. Michael Avitabile, Morgan Masterson, and Matthew Riley led the presentation of colors. Maylani Lee and Nyla Lester, co-presidents of the student government, led the flag salute. Jaiden Diaz, Melissa Lento, and Ryan Horowitz conducted the band in playing the national anthem.

Wantagh High School Principal Dr. Paul Guzzone, who took his first steps in the role as the Class of 2024 began their freshman year, commended graduates on their perseverance. “To say that we’ve been through a lot in our four years is an understatement,” he said, “and I could not ask for a better group of young men and women to be by my side. I will forever be grateful to be able to call myself your principal.”

Senior class co-presidents Nyla Lester and Jaclyn Silverman addressed their peers and reflected on their journeys from first timid steps to confident graduates. “Reflecting on our last four years at the high school, I want to acknowledge the admirable development and growth of this class,” Nyla said. “No matter where life takes us, we will always have a piece of each other.”

“It’s surreal to reach this exciting chapter in our lives,” Jaclyn added. “To many people here, our first day of kindergarten feels like just yesterday. I didn’t know it back then, but all I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten.”

In her valedictory address, Maylani Lee reflected on the definition of valedictorian. “‘Valedictorian,’ as translated from Latin, means to bid farewell,” she said. “As such, I wish to close today’s events with a hopeful goodbye to my fellow graduates. Saying ‘Have a great summer,’ has turned into, ‘Have a great rest of your life.’ Looking out at all of you, I see people with endless opportunities.”

Salutatorian Catherine Ibrahim congratulated her peers and reflected on their many lessons. “Like it says in one of the walls of our beloved school: ‘Whatever you are, be a good one,’” she said. “I’m sure we’ve all felt the results of this one way or another… When we gave something our all is when it turned out for the best.”

Photos from this year’s graduation will be available in a following post!

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