This was the first time anyone can remember a graduation at 5 p.m., rather than the usual 10 a.m. start of previous years.
The ceremony started with the usual playing of “Pomp and Circumstance,” and students followed in a march led by principals, assistant principals, school board members and a few faculty members.
Principal Ira Pernick welcomed the students with the theme of “inspiration.” Pernick said “doubt destroys more dreams than failure does,” and “every one of you is the Michael Jordan of something… discover what you are.”
Karen Sloan, president of the school board, gave the students a top 10 list of things the graduates should do. This included making little things count, laughing, staying curious and keeping their word.
Sloan said call an uncle for advice, followed by a laugh from the audience when she followed by saying “not because he is an attorney.”
Assistant Principal Julie Torres, who was in charge of the 2014 class since freshmen year, gave an emotional speech as she said she had grown very close to the class over the past four years and would greatly miss the students.
She concluded with a quote from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Commencement speaker Murphy Siegel was a highlight for the crowd. First he took a selfie with his fellow students from the stage. He said he was curious to know how to make a speech like this so he looked at 10 videos online, which got a chuckle from the audience.
He said there is a question these days that people ask: “What is wrong with the Y generation?” He followed up by saying absolutely nothing is wrong with it.
He continued to say the Y generation has great taste in music as opposed to the Springsteen and Beatles “noise.”
He said “young adults are not misinformed because they don’t read The New York Times with their burnt toast and coffee.
He said this is the smart phone and tablet generation and its news comes from “Upworthy and Buzzfeed”.
He continued by saying the Y generation cares about things.
He highlighted its involvement for getting a skateboard park, pushing for LGBT rights in school, as well as raising money for the environment and for cancer. He continued to say the Y generation has a “let’s do” attitude. Siegel captured the audience with the right amount of humor, getting his word out and stepped off to a lively round of applause.
School board member Larry Greenstein awarded the Bogart Scholarship to Lily Li for exemplifying high academic achievement, leadership skills, involvement in school activities and service to the Port Washington community.
This was followed by Superintendent Kathleen Mooney, who spoke to the class using a snowflake as one of her themes. She said each snowflake is unique like each student and “works with others as a snowflakes stick together.”
After her speech, she formally accepted the class of 2014, at which time the students erupted with cheers, flinging their graduation caps high in the air.