Deer Park’s 2019 Graduates Celebrate Memorable Milestone

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Melding remembrance of proud milestones and reflection on future choices and journeys, the Deer Park High School Class of 2019 celebrated the school’s 56th commencement on June 28.

As in years past, the Roisin Dubh Pipe Band led the seniors into the stadium, while an ensemble consisting of the ninth grade and symphonic bands, directed by Jerry Cannarozzo, played “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Valedictorian and Student Council President Katherine Cho led the Pledge of Allegiance, Alexandria Costanza sang the national anthem, a choral group of 27 students sang the school’s alma mater, and alumna and Class of 2009 valedictorian Ekta Patel greeted the seniors.

“When we first entered high school, we were told it was going to be the best but quickest four years of our lives, and it was,” Senior Class President Ryan Hegney said in his address. “But it was the most important. It felt like yesterday that we were waving to our parents at our bus stops, and now we realize how suddenly all these years of school have flown by.”

Salutatorian Eiman Nawaz urged her classmates to be openminded and empathize with others.

“There will always be a chance to meet someone who could be your next friend, mentor or love,” Nawaz said. “A lot can be changed if you just listen to other people. It’s a work in progress and it’s going to take a lot of time to achieve that, but we’re not trying to win a prize, it’s just bettering ourselves. The simplest way to do that is just grow, listen to other people and have your voice be heard. There’s 7.53 billion people in this world. If even a couple of us did that, it would make a difference.”

In her speech as valedictorian, Cho said, “We are at an age where we can make our own choices. We are old enough to have opinions and the passion to take matters into our own hands. It’s not important to be right, it’s only important to be true to yourself and your moral compass. However, we are young enough that if we make mistakes, so be it. We have the time to turn and try again. After all, that’s the beauty of our generation. While others are stumbling in the dark, we are the ones to illuminate the candle and point them towards the light. What you choose to do with this power to lead, where you to choose to lead to, and how you choose to lead defines you and is what you are ultimately accountable for.”

“I’m already looking forward to the day we all cross paths again,” Cho said in closing. “Until then, please stay happy and healthy. Everyone has worked hard in their own way, and our reward is this singular moment.”

In a final graduation speech as superintendent of schools, Eva Demyen said to the seniors, “It is an important milestone in our lives, leaving Deer Park Schools – you as graduates and me as a retiring superintendent. This is just like ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ the end of a fabulous journey, but what a myriad of possibilities to come in the future.”

Demyen went on to quote several lines from the Marvel superhero film that reflected pertinent values and insights, before telling the graduates, “I wish you all the happiness, love and success that is possibly possible.”

The seniors also heard from alumnus Paul Becker, a retired naval rear admiral and member of the Class of 1979.

“While there’s 40 years between my class and yours, please know that when I wore the cloth of my country – either afloat in the Pacific or in the deserts of the Middle East – it was alongside teenagers right out of high schools like this,” Becker said to the seniors. “That’s why I have some relevant advice as you begin your adult journey. Up to this point of your lives, most of you have measured success by being able to fit in, but from here on out, you’ll start measuring success by being able to stand out.”

Demonstrating a shared sense of pride, Principal Charles Cobb shared a long list of remarkable student achievements, accomplishments and charitable works before presenting the administration and Board of Education with the graduating class of 2019.

Once diplomas were conferred, the new graduates turned their tassels, tossed their caps, and walked out of the football field to the traditional strains of Elmer Bernstein’s “The Great Escape.”