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Long Beach High School Class of 2014

Schools and Libraries

July 1, 2014


           

            Marking the completion of a high school career distinguished by many successes, members of the Long Beach High School Class of 2014 stood tall in their blue caps and gowns as they marched through the gates of Veterans Memorial Field for the 91st annual commencement ceremony.

            Senior Alexandra Brodsky, who has sung "The Star-Spangled Banner" at countless ceremonies throughout her high school career, was proud to open her own class's graduation with her final Long Beach High School performance of the national anthem.

Principal Neil Lederer offered the seniors a piece of sound advice based on his own career experiences. "Select a field that excites you, gives you satisfaction, and one for which you have an aptitude," he said. "Decide for yourself what you believe to be a future that will be rewarding and gratifying. Dream big, and although there may be setbacks and disappointments, feel confident in yourself and pursue your heart's wishes. I hope you will find a life's work that you will treasure, as I have treasured mine."

Board of Education President Patrick Gallagher, who is retiring after serving 12 years on the board, said he holds a special place in his heart for the Class of 2014. "Fifty years ago this day, I graduated from the Long Beach High School Class of 1964," he said. "I was elected to the board when you entered first grade, so we traveled together these past 12 years." He went on to recount the new and challenging academic culture that has been created in the district over the past decade, with new facilities to support that culture. The results, he said, have been tangibly evident. The graduation rate has grown from 89 percent in 2004 to 97 percent in 2014, and Regents diploma rates have soared from 67 percent to 98 percent. He then asked the graduates to stand and thank their community for supporting their success.

Salutatorian Lindsay Ricci spoke to her fellow graduates about the true meaning of success. "Our society has defined success as wealth or intelligence," she said. "But amid some of our greatest triumphs, also lie some of our greatest failures. Our mistakes are part of the path to accomplish our goals." She then went on to credit those who are rarely acknowledged for their accomplishments the one who picks up his brother from the bus stop every day, the one who works two jobs to help his family, or the one who practices his sports daily to earn a college scholarship. "This is success and these are the people who have succeeded and need to be recognized," she said.

"High school graduation is a ceremony that has us looking both backward and forward in time," said Superintendent of Schools David Weiss. "It is a day to think about the voyages that you have already taken and the voyages ahead. As you dip into your own future, create a vision of your life that will bring wonder for yourself and others."

            Valedictorian Chandler McMillan recalled the major breakthroughs − such as the introduction of the car, the deciphering of the human genome and the invention of the iPod − that have defined each generation by revolutionizing society and transforming our perception of the world. "What is our generation going to be known for?" she asked. Taking from the words of Nelson Mandela, she asked them to let their greatness blossom. "Let us be that great generation and let our greatness blossom," she said.

            In keeping with the moment, members of the wind ensemble and select choir then performed an inspiring rendition of "You Raise Me Up."

            Senior Class President Fallon Enright recalled the close friendships they made and the lessons they learned in their shared journey through Long Beach High School. "I have known many of you since preschool," she said. "I have seen you blossom into brave, spirited and intelligent individuals." She then called Mr. Lederer to the podium to present him with an honorary diploma, in gratitude for the difference he has made all their lives during the course of their senior year.

As the graduates crossed the stage one by one to receive their diplomas, they shook hands with the board members and administrators who congratulated them on their accomplishments.

Then as tradition dictates, Student Organization President Juliana Gomez directed her fellow graduates to move their tassels from right to left, signifying this important rite of passage that they had successfully completed. The graduates closed the ceremony by proudly tossing their mortarboards into the air. As the wind ensemble played "Marches of the Armed Forces," the jubilant graduates strode confidently from the field, creating a symbolic wave of true blue Long Beach pride.