Proud parents, friends and school administrators looked on as the Riverhead High School Class of 2021 received their diplomas during the district’s annual commencement exercises on June 25.
The early summer evening ceremony commenced with a flag salute led by the NJROTC and student-musicians singing the national anthem.
The accomplishments of this year’s graduating class were touted by several speakers, including interim Superintendent of Schools Christine Tona, who spoke about the challenges the Class of 2021 faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As you step into the world, look back and celebrate all your memorable experiences,” Tona said. “You have been an inspiration. Continue to make us proud.”
In his address, High School Principal Sean O’Hara told students to embrace life’s challenges, never take anything for granted and remember that their diplomas are “symbols of hard work and a new new beginning.”
Valedictorian Aria Manucha reflected on memories from her years in the Riverhead School District and offered advice to her classmates.
“Don’t sweat the big things,” she said. “They always work themselves out over time. Focus on the small details.”
During his speech, salutatorian Kyle Martelli told his peers to always “turn [their] obstacles into stepping stones” and “live life smiling.”
The ceremony also featured words from alumna Tijuana Fulford, founder and executive director of the Butterfly Effect Project. She spoke about dreams and hopes for the future and offered students a list of 10 tips to reach their dreams, including being true to themselves, not giving up, being open-minded, teachable and accountable, and always remembering who they are.
Also taking the podium were student body President Nikolas Novikov, student government President Viktoria Skobodzinski and student government Vice President Imani Thomas, who presented the class gift in honor of Katerin Perex Sajbin, a member of the Class of 2021 who passed away in January.
The graduates were then called to the stage to receive their diplomas and the official designation of Riverhead Central School District alumni.
The district offers best wishes and much success to the Class of 2021, now and in the years to come.