Class Of 2021 Graduates With Legacy Of Resilience

Class Of 2021 Graduates With Legacy Of Resilience

The Wantagh School District Class of 2021 overcame the academic obstacles faced during the COVID-19 pandemic to a restored celebration of 221 graduates during the high school’s 66th annual commencement exercises. The graduates’ spirits and appreciation for family, friends and faculty were evident as they proudly processed onto Lawrence Field on June 18 as the band played “Pomp and Circumstance,” followed by the national anthem, under the batons of senior drum majors Sydney Gallo and Elise Page.  

In his welcoming remarks, Wantagh High School Principal Dr. Paul Guzzone told the graduates that the way they carried themselves during this “year for the ages” was commendable. He said, “You have set a new standard that all classes will have to adhere to.” Dr. Guzzone also told the class they are better prepared to take on a world that is different than anything we ever knew.  

During his Superintendent’s Address, John McNamara described the celebration as the most important graduation ceremony to take place on Lawrence Field. “Today is about being reconnected to the world,” Mr. McNamara said. “Us being together to celebrate is the point [of a graduation ceremony].” 

Continuing the theme of the students’ resiliency, Board President Adam Fisher explained, “Being here together is a testament to how far we’ve come.” He also noted that the graduates are stronger than ever, having adapted to their COVID-19 environment, but acknowledged that the world will continue to throw them curveballs, challenges for which they are prepared. 

Senior Class Co-President Christopher Morale reflected on high school experiences and remarked that Wantagh helped to shape the seniors as individuals. Co-President Dominick Rossi prepared a 2021 time capsule letter for the class and noted the importance of “encapsulating their time together.” 

Wantagh Dollars for Scholars President Gerald McCrink awarded 12 scholarships to deserving seniors from the Wantagh Dollars for Scholars Scholarship Fund and include Jillian Balkunas, Gina Calise, Amanda Ciaramella, Sierra Crowley, Lauren Daniels, Margaret Gates, Kaden Ireland, Grace Kane, Anjelica Meagher, Shannon Sullivan, Robert Spiteri and Melanie Volz.  

Introduced by assistant principal Nick Pappas, salutatorian Hayden Maitra told his peers that most of his time in Wantagh has been filled with uncertainty and unpredictable events. “It is in this reflection that I realized as a citizen of Wantagh, the only certainty is that we will all overcome uncertainty.” Hayden continued, “Throughout all of the chaos, good and bad, over the past four years, we were bent and twisted but never broke.” Valedictorian Melanie Volz, introduced by Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Marc Ferris, said she did not see herself as being a singular valedictorian. “As I walked the halls, I didn’t just see you all as my classmates and friends, but rather I saw mini valedictorians, each in their own right.” She also said the class’s story together does not end during graduation. “As graduates of Wantagh High School, you will carry a piece of our town with you wherever life guides you for….this community is a defining component of your character.” 

After the celebratory speeches concluded, Mr. McNamara presented the Class of 2021 and each of the graduates walked across the dais to receive their Wantagh medal and diploma from members of Central Office and the board of education. After Mr. Fisher recognized the seniors as alumni, the graduates threw their caps in a traditional cap toss, marking their move onto new academic adventures and closing a special chapter of their lives.