Jun 15, 2012
Text and photos by Deanna Del Ciello
Seniors at Lawrence Woodmere Academy celebrated their graduation last Friday, June 8 in the school’s auditorium. The two hour ceremony showcased the students in Senior Performances and featured speeches from Valedictorian Dylan Phelan, Salutatorian Justin Greene and some faculty.
The 30 graduates composed themselves on the auditorium’s stage, decked out in blue caps and gowns while listening to comforting remarks and words of advice from a range of adults and themselves.
Headmaster Alan Bernstein encouraged students in his opening remarks to “think beyond the mundane” and to “make connections often and with passion, the world will be better for it.”
Following Headmaster Bernstein was Peter Boneparth, president of the Board of Trustees, who told students to “go for it, you are equipped to go for it.”
Commencement speaker Robin Wagner, figure skating coach for Olympians Sarah Hughes and Sasha Cohen, graduated from LWA in 1975. To the students she said, “trust your instincts, take a breath, don’t rush and take your time. You are going to be fine and even better than that, you are going to excel.”
Valedictorian Dylan Phelan described leaving LWA as “breathtaking.” “I’ve built personal relationships and lifelong friends. Leaving it behind is a bit nerve-wracking but exciting. The school has equipped us with experience needed to prosper in a world as diverse as ours.” In his speech, Phelan inspired his fellow graduates to “work to improve not only your state of living but the state of living of all those around you.”
For new graduate Melissa Ellowitz, LWA has been a “second home and family for the past six years.” It is with this family that the students from LWA “can be confident that we’ll never be truly lost.”
Melody Pierre-Gilles had “feelings of melancholy and nostalgia” during the graduation ceremony. LWA was an “unforgettable journey” where she “learned many life lessons that cannot be found in a book.”
Parents were also feeling a wide range of emotions on LWA’s graduation day.
“It’s a feeling of peacefulness, Abbie Kugler of Hewlett said about her daughter Andie’s graduation. “You know you gave them a very good foundation. This is the next stage. You need to trust in their abilities.”
For Raeshon Parrish of Queens, her son Trent’s graduation was “just wonderful.” LWA was a “great experience and great school.”
Headmaster Bernstein reminded the students to “take good care, be safe and stay in touch” before they tossed their blue graduation caps into the sky while standing on the steps just outside of the auditorium, never to return as a student of the academy again.
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