Amityville’s Class of 2019 Shines Bright

Amityville’s Class of 2019 Shines Bright photo

As Amityville Memorial High School graduates made their way along the track, cheers erupted from the crowd. Proud family members, who filled the bleachers, enthusiastically welcomed the Class of 2019 to the football field where commencement exercises were held on June 27.

Acting Principal Edward Plaia announced that it was the first time graduation had been in the evening. It also marked the return of the ceremony to the outdoors after two years of inclement weather. This year the sun shined bright as speakers talked about the bright futures ahead for the graduates. 

“We are all extraordinarily proud of you,” said Mr. Plaia, who was their principal at Edmund W. Miles Middle School. “We are here to celebrate your achievements and your accomplishments over all your years of schooling.”

Mr. Plaia cited their “Warrior work ethic” which led them to success and will help them through the bigger challenges ahead. He noted that the graduates have been accepted into some of the top colleges on the planet.

Superintendent Dr. Mary T. Kelly told the graduates to thank all those who have helped them reach this level of achievement. As they move on, she asked graduates to cherish the memories, friendships and experiences from their time in Amityville and use it as a source of comfort.

Dr. Kelly discussed the Apollo 11 moon landing, and how it was the culmination of many years of hard work from people from all different backgrounds. She said the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, would never have imagined doing that when he graduated college, yet a little more than a decade later he made history.

“As I look out at you this evening,” Dr. Kelly told the graduates, “I am very optimistic, because I see the future, and I am confident that the world will be assured of many more giant leaps for mankind because you will lead the way.”

Valedictorian Raiphy Jerez, who will major in electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that most people can’t point to one big moment that has led to the their success. Instead, it is a series of little decisions that creates each person’s path.

Salutatorian Aleyna Kokoglu spoke about how she moved to Amityville from Turkey when she was 9, spoke little English, and learned to communicate through art. Nine years later, she is preparing to attend Stony Brook University with ambitions of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. 

The end of high school, she explained, isn’t the end of a journey but just another step along the way.

“It marks the beginning of a much more exciting chapter for all of us,” she said. “This is where our lives truly begin.”

Senior class adviser Margot Howard said her first introduction to the Class of 2019 was when they were in seventh grade, and she was a student teacher. Meeting them assured her that education was her right path, and soon after she began teaching in Amityville. She encouraged the graduates to seek a meaningful purpose in life.

“Go out into the world and do well,” she said, “but more importantly, go out into the world and do good.”

Senior class President Britney Colas reflected on the years the graduates spent together. Although they will head in different directions, she hopes Warrior pride will remain in the hearts forever and the friendships will remain intact.

“As I stand here today and look upon my fellow graduates, I see potential, potential for greatness,” she said, adding, “This is not a goodbye, this is simply a see you later.”

Under an arch of red and gray balloons, graduates received their diplomas from Mr. Plaia and were congratulated on stage by Dr. Kelly and board of education members.