An Unforgettable Moment for North Babylon Graduates

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As North Babylon High School’s Bulldog mascot greeted guests at the gate to the football field, the stands slowly filled with excited family and friends, there on that cool, cloudy commencement morning of June 27 to see the Class of 2015’s moment of graduation glory.

Following a color guard from the North Babylon Fire Department, the students filed onto the field to the traditional sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance,” their robes and caps forming a sea of alternating blue and white.

Senior members of the school’s orchestra and concert choir began the proceedings with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” before several speakers took to the podium.

Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Shaffer, an alumnus from North Babylon High School’s Class of 1981, was first to address the seniors. “Congratulations on a job well done,” he told them. “We’re expecting great things from you in the future.”

After a stirring performance of “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” by the senior members of the school’s concert choir, principal Jonathan Klomp took the stage to list the many accomplishments of the Class of 2015 in scholastics, athletics, science, music, theater and volunteering, as well as their scholarship achievements and colleges they will attend.

 “The mountains you will climb” was the theme of Klomp’s address, citing examples such as a teacher who literally climbs mountain peaks in his spare time, and senior Jordan Bailey, the first North Babylon graduate in memory to be accepted to West Point. “Don’t defer your dreams, for all we all need to find out next mountains,” Klomp told his students. “You summit alone, but when you return, your family will be there. On behalf of North Babylon, we wish you all the best. Remember the lessons you learned here. Your community and classmates are always here for you.”
Interim Superintendent Salvatore Carambia told three pointed stories about dealing with fear, the meaning of success and expecting the unexpected. “Be your own hero,” he told the students.

 “It’s very special to be here,” said attending Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a member of North Babylon’s Class of 1987. “I remember when I graduated, and from where you are sitting now, you can achieve your greatest hopes, dreams and desires, whatever they may be.”

Senior class co-presidents Brad Clark and Leah Petraglia reviewed the last four years they had shared with their classmates, from successes to experiences. “Thank you, North Babylon High School, for making us who we are today,” said Petraglia.

Salutatorian Alison Veintimilla, who Klomp introduced as “a true well-rounded Bulldog,” veered from convention, calling up her best friend and third-ranked senior Grecia Asencios to share the honor and the podium with her. After asking her classmates to offer each other congratulations, Veintimilla lauded the support of parents and family, which she called “the pillars of life.” Acknowledging that doubt and loss exist, she said, “The future is a scary place, but it’s okay if things don’t go as planned. Detours on the road can be more worthwhile.”

Up next was valedictorian Hiah Saljooki, who Klomp called “an exceptional student in many aspects,” noting that she was the second North Babylon valedictorian in her family. Saljooki began by praising her parents, siblings and teachers. “We should be happy, but not satisfied,” she said in her address, explaining her personal definition of success and wishing for her fellow seniors to have future experiences far more memorable than even graduation. “Class of 2015, go forth and be successful, one unforgettable moment at a time,” she said.

Teacher Lindsey Loscalzo was the featured faculty speaker of the day, discussing her life experiences and telling the graduates, “The world is pretty amazing, go be amazing in it.”

Board President Janet Meyerson handed out awards for perfect attendance to Amina Abdelaziz, Kaitlyn Binder and Matthew McGovern, setting the stage for the presentation of diplomas. The 387 proud seniors shrugged off stray raindrops and moments of gusty winds that threatened to send caps flying, walking to the stage for their individual moment of recognition.

After turning the tassels from left to right, the newest alumni roared in joy, sending their caps flying to the sky before their families joined them on the field for an extended celebration.