The Paul D. Schreiber High School senior class of 2018 threw their caps in the air on June 21, ending their educational journey with the Port Washington School District and looking forward to what the future holds. But, before they officially graduated, the 409 students sat on the athletic field listening to words of wisdom from faculty in front of family, friends and, as student speaker Derek Knight put it, “that one distant relative who you only saw once before in your life, but still came to your high school graduation.”
The graduates cheered each time the “Class of 2018” was said in the many speeches given by Knight, Schreiber High School principal Dr. Ira Pernick, Board of Education president Karen Sloan, Assistant Principal for the class of 2018 Dr. Julie Torres and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Mooney.
Pernick reflected on the generalities many attribute to today’s youth regarding technology, stating, “it is those same technologies that allowed your teachers to bring you together in pairs, trios, quads and more to share work via Google docs or apps. You all know more about communicating with a large number of people than folks like me ever will. It is your generation, and more specifically the class of 2018, here and around our country that can bring people together around a common issue with just the phones in your hands in a few minutes.”
Torres, also a class of 2018 graduate, recited the words spoken at her graduation by the University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, “‘we cherish liberty, not chains, opportunity without limits, love without condition and learning without ending.’” Torres continued that she hopes the graduating class will carry the collective values of “truth, honesty, hard work, perseverance, integrity, kindness, charity, fairness, justice and equality” with them into the future.
While the faculty shared their hopes for the graduating class, it was graduate Knight who captivated the audience with his jokes and dry delivery, but with a message about community and individuality at the speech’s core.
Knight reflected on the times he felt Schreiber was a community, stating, “I remember when my friends and I would fill an entire white board to practice for an upcoming test or even those times where we’d collectively argue with our teacher that giving an open-book test is in their best interest. Much like the swim team, we had a feeling that we were in it together. We had each other’s backs when we needed each other the most.” Knight went on to explain each student has become special in their own way, equating individuality to music as “each individual note on a keyboard is different, but when you put all the distinct notes together, every variance and tone resonates and harmonizes with each other and you can make a song like Beethoven’s ‘Ninth Symphony’, Mozart’s ‘Allegro’ or ‘Lil Pump’s ‘Gucci Gang.’” He concluded by telling his fellow classmates, “community, friendships and connections are so important to any path in life you choose to follow. No matter who doubts you, aim for your dreams and never give up.”
After Mooney spoke about the collective $3 million in scholarship monies awarded to the class of 2018 and class achievements—including three National Merit Scholarship award winners, five National Merit finalists, a Regernon Scholar and more—each of the students crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. After each of the diplomas were awarded, Mooney confirmed the Schreiber class of 2018 as graduates.
While Schreiber got rid of academic rankings, the school still recognizes three students of the class of 2018 as top academic performers, including Julia Ruskin who will be majoring in computer science at Princeton University, Rebecca Muratore who will be attending Johns Hopkins Univerity in the fall and possibly majoring in neuroscience or computer science and Julia Kim who plans to major in computational science at Carnegie Mellon University.
“As much as I love Port, I’m excited to explore Pittsburgh, where I will be attending college,” said Kim, who was also the recipient of the Bogart Scholarship. “I also look forward to making new friends and traveling more often.”
“I’m looking forward to taking classes in subjects that I haven’t had the opportunity to learn before and exploring other subjects in much greater detail than I did during high school,” said Ruskin.
While all three concurred their place in the class was never a top concern, they were honored to be named class leaders. The three reflected on their time at Schreiber, explaining that they will miss their friends, teachers and the supportive environment of the school.
“I feel well-prepared for life after high school, thanks to my teachers,” said Kim. “My English teacher Mrs. Schulman taught me how to work through the writing process, encouraging me to write many drafts before submitting a final piece. She, as well as many of my other teachers, have helped me grow and discover my own interests.”
“Schreiber has helped me to learn how to be an independent thinker and problem solver,” added Muratore. “Having had a difficult course load at Schreiber, I now feel prepared to tackle the challenges and time management skills that come with a college course load.”
The three also recalled their favorite Schreiber memories, with Kim’s being a trip she took her senior year to Portugal where she explored Europe with 24 other students while Muratore’s was this year’s spirit week as the senior class united for one of the last times.
“One of my favorite memories from Schreiber was the last day of high school for seniors,” shared Ruskin. “We stayed up all night, watched the sunrise on the turf and counted down to the final bell together. I felt a strong sense of community with the whole class.”