Members of the Lynbrook High School Class of 2020 and their families gathered at Point Lookout on July 23 for a senior celebration. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak, board of education members, high school administrators and staff members strived to make the afternoon ceremony special for the 203 graduates who did not have the opportunity to have a traditional graduation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the in-person celebration, a virtual ceremony was held on the district website on July 24.
At Point Lookout, each student dressed in their cap and gown and sported their matching Lynbrook mask. Attendees were required to park in every other spot and maintain social distancing to the best of their ability while the ceremony took place. The graduates sat in their assigned seats six feet apart from each other as Principal Joseph Rainis opened the ceremony by introducing senior Kayleigh Stalter to the stage to perform the National Anthem. A moment of silence was also held for the late board of education trustee Alicemarie Bresnihan, a dedicated member of the Lynbrook community and school district.
Valedictorian Arpie Bakhshian and salutatorian Anna Rath addressed their peers, focusing their speeches on the obstacles the Class of 2020 has had to overcome due to the pandemic and the positive lessons that they learned from this unprecedented time in history. Following their remarks, Mr. Rainis listed the vast achievements that the students accomplished and left them with words of wisdom.
“We live in a time of challenge and change,” he said. “In challenging times like these it can be hard to keep looking up, to keep your chin high, to keep moving forward. But what I’ve seen in each of you is the ability to embrace challenge, to change and to grow. This is your time; this is your moment. You are where you are meant to be. And as I said earlier, I am confident that you, the Class of 2020 will help build a better and brighter future for our community and nation.”
Dr. Burak also praised the graduates and offered words of encouragement.
“The world will never be the same again after this 2020 moment in time,” she told them. “You have the power to change the world for the better…you have the power to create your own story.”
In addition, Dr. Burak gifted the Class of 2020 with a time capsule which will be filled with responses to questions that she had emailed them. The seniors answered questions regarding their favorite moment at Lynbrook High School, what they would have done differently and where they could see themselves in 20 years. The time capsule will also be filled with memorabilia related to the Class of 2020 and be buried in the high school’s courtyard after the school’s new addition is complete. At their 20th high school reunion in 2040, the time capsule will be opened to allow the Class of 2020 to reflect on their unique senior year.
Seniors were announced on stage to receive their diplomas from members of the board of education. After all the names were announced, Mr. Rainis continued the high school’s graduation tradition of asking all the Lynbrook High School alumni to raise their hands. He proudly asked the Class of 2020 to join their fellow alumni. The graduates tossed their caps in the air to mark the end of their non-traditional senior year and their time as Lynbrook students.