Long Beach High School’s Class of 2019 gathered during the school’s 96th annual commencement ceremony, held on June 26. Their positive energy was reflected in the sun that shone on Veteran’s Field, and proud family members, friends, teachers and district leaders applauded as hundreds of students made their entrances in caps and gowns.
The graduation band performed “Pomp and Circumstance” and the graduation choir performed the national anthem.
Principal Jeffrey Myers welcomed all honorees and guests.
“The students sitting on this field today are exceptional, but not the exception,” Mr. Myers said. “You attract what you project, so be enthusiastic, kind, energetic and attack every obstacle with urgency. Refuse to be average, continue to be extraordinary. It has truly been a pleasure and an honor to be part of your high school experience, and I wish you the best in your future endeavors. Go Beach!”
Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a graduate of the Long Beach Public Schools, was a special guest at the ceremony. He shared the poem, “Do It Anyway,” by Mother Teresa.
“I’ve seen people come from our humble community and go on to do amazing things,” he stated. “I know you can follow in their footsteps.”
As Board of Education vice president as well as a parent of a graduate, Maureen Vrona addressed the students.
“I know that the Long Beach School District has prepared you for the road that lies ahead,” she said. “You have had teachers that wanted only the best for you and opportunities to explore anything that interested you. Whether you are heading off to college or starting a career, use what you have learned here and build on it.”
Salutatorian Dmytro Vremenkl reflected on his introductory days in Long Beach after moving to the United States from Ukraine, along with the times that followed.
“Despite the poor language and the massive cultural barrier, I was received here with open arms,” he explained. “As a school and, more importantly, as a community, we overcame significant challenges that left marks on our lives. The road was filled with bumps and nails, but we made the best of it, together.”
Valedictorian Joshua Kapilian analyzed the definition of success.
“As we embark on our new paths, it’s important to consider the paths we choose to take,” he said. “Don’t choose to do something because it looks impressive – do it because you genuinely enjoy it. Joy is necessary to be a successful person and to make a lasting mark.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jennifer Gallagher used history to inspire and discussed the first landing on the moon by Neil Armstrong 50 years ago.
“If each of you accomplishes something that no one else ever has – if you are courageous enough to take those risks and self-confident enough to stick to your dreams, the Class of 2019 will have an amazing impact on our world,” she said.
Senior Class President Fiona Eramo emphasized the importance of learning from experiences and allowing failures to be moments of growth.
“The smallest gesture provides us with the opportunity to impact not only the lives of others, but our own,” she said.
The highly anticipated presentation of diplomas followed, and each graduate was called up to signify the completion of a long journey. Senior Robert Browne left his classmates and guests inspired as he walked across the stage sans wheelchair, despite physical challenges from a 2014 spinal cord injury. The spirit of the Long Beach community was evident as encouraging and emotional cheers roared from every corner of the arena.
Student Government President Talia Fernandez led her classmates in turning their tassels from right to left in a moment that transformed them from students to graduates. Caps flew upwards as students moved on to pursue limitless goals.