While they weren’t able to hold a traditional graduation ceremony due to COVID-19, the Riverhead Central School District celebrated the Class of 2020 on June 29, June 30 and July 1 with 13 separate and memorable ceremonies on the Coach McKillop Field.
During each ceremony, smiling graduates accepted their diplomas before a socially distanced gathering of friends and family. Each ceremony included a speech by Principal Sean O’Hara, who wished the graduates well and praised them for accomplishing a great deal despite the times.
“We can all grow during times of uncertainty, though difficult,” he said. “And growth has occurred, though different for each of us.”
The graduation celebrations were preceded by a number of events that honored the Class of 2020. The district held a drive-through tribute at the high school, where seniors had the opportunity to wave goodbye to their school and teachers. The district also hosted a virtual graduation ceremony, where a number of students gave poignant and memorable speeches.
Salutatorian Zachary White told his peers, “We have learned the importance of perseverance. We must also remember that we never gave up; the next chapter of our lives is about to start, and we have the perseverance to make the most of whatever we decide to do in it.”
Valedictorian Christina Yakabowski offered, “I challenge you to acknowledge fear…[to] take yourself out of your comfort zone, step away from perfection and show the world who you really are. And most of all, accept others when they open up to you. Vulnerability is strength, not weakness.”