The Class of 2018 is on its way.
Riverhead High School’s commencement exercise for the first crop of graduates born in the 21st century took place this morning in the high school gymnasium. An overflow crowd packed the auditorium to capacity to watch the event remotely.
Cloudy skies and a light rain forced the event indoors, but the weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the 335 graduates and their families — not by a long shot. The gym’s atmosphere was charged with enough excitement to rival any basketball playoff game, expressed at the conclusion of ceremonies by loud cheers, applause and foot-stomping that rocked the stands.
Senior class vice president Jewel Escobar presented the school with the class gift, an Adirondack bench decorated with the school’s blue wave logo, she said, “to remind the classes that follow us: once a blue wave, always a blue wave.”
Class president Madison Cohen reflected on the graduates’ four years of high school, which she noted were “some of the most controversial in terms of current events.” Madison spoke of example set by the Parkland High School students in the wake of the mass shooting at their school and the inspiration found in the Parkland students’ courage and conviction.
Valedictorian Juliette Lehman drew from the powerful words of two women poets, Maya Angelou and Rosalia De Castro to urge her classmates to live their lives with resilience and determination.
“I can be changed by what happens to me but I refuse to be reduced by it,” Angelou wrote.
And from the 19th century Spanish writer DeCastro: “I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.”
Riverhead High School principal Charles Regan told the class, whose high school years have been a time of “unprecedented student activism,” to “take that next step and make a difference.”
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti