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Copiague’s Class of 2022 Celebrates Final Chapter

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Surrounded by family, friends, administrators, board of education members and faculty, the Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School Class of 2022 celebrated its commencement exercises at Suffolk County Community College’s arena on June 23.

The soon-to-be graduates marched into the arena to “Pomp and Circumstance.” Senior class president Paris DeFreitas led the Pledge of Allegiance and Copiague School District’s Board of Education President Brian J. Sales offered his congratulations to the graduating class. “On behalf of the Board of Education, I would like to welcome everyone here this evening to the commencement exercises for the Class of 2022,” he said. “Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air: work, family, health, friends and spirit. And you’re keeping all these in the air. You will soon understand that work is one of the balls that if you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will forever be scuffed, marked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”

Copiague School District Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Bannon offered her words of advice to the graduates. “Students, I have watched you grow over the last 13 years, and I know you are leaving us more than ready to embark on the next chapter in your lives, whether it’s college, work or the military,” she said. “I hope that as time passes, you can look back on your life and happily say ‘I did it all.’ Hold on to the excitement and the anticipation you feel tonight and look at every opportunity with that same excitement. Most of all, my wish for you is that each of you live your happiest life.”

Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School Principal Joseph Agosta addressed the seniors about how far they have come and his expectations for them as class. “When you look back and reflect, you will recognize that for much of these past 13 years you have been supported by loving families, caring and dedicated teachers and administrative staff and a board of education focused on providing you with the skills needed to reach your potential, stand on your own and take your place as productive world citizens,” he said. “Looking forward, I expect much from you and I know that the future will have great people working toward bringing our humanity together. I have great confidence that you will be the people making that change. The past few years, we have all faced many challenges. But those challenges are actually what has united us in so many ways. We are truly lucky to live and work in Copiague. It’s a place that we can all call home – a place where everyone is accepted. You may not see it now, but when you go out into the world and experience life you will reflect upon your time at the Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School and how well you were prepared for all of life’s challenges.”

Salutatorian Devonie Rhoden challenged her classmates to be the best they can be in this world. “You are strong, you are worthy, you are loved, and you are enough,” she said. “Remember those four things anytime you doubt yourself. In this room, I see the next Academy Award winner, Nobel Peace Prize recipient or Hall of Fame athlete. I think you all get the point. All of you have the potential to do great things and make a lasting impact on this world. The sky has no limit, and your possibilities are endless. I am proud and honored to be graduating alongside all of you today.”

Class of 2022 valedictorian Joseph Falco Jr. spoke to his peers about overcoming challenges, most notably his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome at a young age. “Every single one of you here has that same potential that I do to rise up and become your best self,” he said. “Effort and the drive to succeed is found in all of us, whether we’re brimming with strength and confidence or are too scared to put ourselves out there. I know there are times where all of us may feel like succeeding is impossible, whether it be from a couple bad grades or you may be going through a major loss, but never let that discourage you.”

Students were then called up one by one to receive their diploma and congratulations from Dr. Bannon and Mr. Agosta. Once the final name was called, Mr. Agosta instructed the students to turn their tassels to signify their status as graduates. Caps flew high in the air as the arena sounded with applause.


Date Added: 6/24/2022