Jericho High School Class Of 2023

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On June 25, Jericho High School held its commencement for the Class of 2023 at the Tilles Center in Brookville.
Three-hundred-and-sixteen graduates, dressed in a black cap and gown with yellow accents, made their way to the stage
“This year we have a plethora of speakers: the superintendent, president of the board, co-principal, the Board of Education rep, 15 valedictorians…,” said the co-president of the Student Council, Ruby Shanker, who will be attending Duke University. “It’s our morning. It’s our day and our time to shine. We’ve worked so hard and we deserve your time and this opportunity to tell you why this has been such a special journey for all of us. I think our class has been through the craziest high school experience since the Bubonic Plague. These trials and tribulations have bonded us as a family and transformed us from being the most competitive grade to being a slightly less competitive grade. And even though we couldn’t wait for remote learning to end and get back to real classes, we still managed to set a new record for senior cut days according to [Jericho High School Co-Principal David Cohen].”
Jenna Tse, the student representative to the Board of Education, who will be attending Georgetown University, spoke about how throughout her high school career she learned how to approach debates with an open mind.
“I implore you, as you move to new places and meet new people, argue with them,” Tse said. “Don’t avoid disagreement, but embrace them and expect to lose and expect to be proven wrong.”
President of the Board of Education Jill Citron said she hoped the graduating seniors have appreciated the support and guidance from their teachers, mentors and families.
“I extend my deepest appreciation to the exceptional educators and staff who have nurtured your intellectual growth and inspired your thirst for knowledge,” Citron said. “They have dedicated countless hours to shaping your minds and molding you into the remarkable individuals you are today. Equally deserving of our gratitude are the families and friends who have been a constant source of love, encouragement and motivation.”
Citron also took the time to honor a new program at the district, Unified Basketball.
“Unified Basketball partners students with special needs, I’ll call them the athletes, with students without special needs, I’ll call them the helpers, to play together in an interscholastic sports league just like our varsity and JV teams,” Citron said. “To me, and I think to everyone who is involved or who experienced it this season, Unified Basketball exemplified everything that is good in this world. The athletes, for the first time in their lives, had the opportunity to play a competitive sport on a team in front of cheering fans and bond with students with whom they don’t ordinarily interact. The helpers, who were unbelievably patient and humble, had the opportunity to teach, coach and assist the athletes. The parents, who probably never thought they’d be able to see their child play on an organized team in a court or a field, had the opportunity to cheer on their children and watch them flourish. Our students, teachers, administrators filled the stands as amazing spectators and cheerleaders and were so genuinely happy for the athletes.”
Next, valedictorians took to the podium to say a few words.
“Today we are gathered here not only to celebrate the end of our high school journey but also the beginning of a new chapter in our lives,” said a valedictorian Elaine Jiao, who will be attending Dartmouth College. “On behalf of the senior class, I’d like to thank our teachers and mentors for their unwavering support in our journey. You have shaped our minds, encouraged our passions and guided us. To my fellow classmates, congratulations. We have made it through the countless, late night study sessions, challenging exams and extracurricular activities. Each of us have grown in our own ways, and together we have formed a resilient and compassionate community.”
Another valedictorian, Samuel Kane, who will be attending the University of Virginia, quoted national champion basketball coach Tony Bennett.
“If you learn to use it right, the adversity, it will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn’t have gone any other way.”
“As this part of our lives comes to a close and we enter into a new era, it’s easy to hope everything will continue to go our way,” Kane said. “Unfortunately, as we all know, this is likely wishful thinking. Realistically, there’s going to be struggles. Even the most trivial setbacks will feel monumental in the moment. At this moment, you might be asking, ‘why is this guy so pessimistic?’ And I wouldn’t blame you. However, like Coach Bennett, I believe that these misfortunes are disguised opportunities and can be seen as advantageous. In a lot of ways, we have already shown our ability to use hardship in this matter, in both group settings and on a personal level.”
Emily Kim, who will be attending Harvard University, said she began her high school journey with a four year plan, but eventually found that she could not strategically plan her life.
“I realized that in life, there’s multiple paths one could take to end up at the same destination,” Kim said. “In life we aren’t bound to any singular path.”
Following some of the speeches, the Jericho High School Chorus performed “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen.
And then more speeches from the valedictorians followed.
“Today marks the beginning of something new,” said a valedictorian Joshua Ochalek, who will be attending Cornell University. “What it is, you might not know yet. You have the potential to become anything: historians, chemists, nurses, teachers, musicians or even chefs. This moment marks a step into the unknown and the opening of the next chapter of our lives. But with every transition, comes reflection.”
Amid the valedictorian speeches, Jericho Union Free School District Superintendent Hank Grishman said it was hard for him to believe this was the 28th high school graduation as the superintendent.
“This day continues to be one of the proudest moments in my career as I celebrate the accomplishments leading to the graduation of our extraordinary students with all of you,” Grishman said. “I must share that all of our senior classes are impressive, however the Class of 2023 is definitely a cut above.”
The Jericho High School Co-Principal David Cohen added that he’s inspired by the class’s brilliance, innovation, fortitude and care for one another.
“One of the joys of being an educator is the ability to impart wisdom and inspiration in our students,” Cohen said. “But it’s often the students themselves that motivate the teachers.
Finally, the students, in a moment that marks new beginnings, received their diploma.
Afterwards, the students rose from their seats.
“Once I have completed the following statements, you will move your tassels to the left, and you will be official graduates of Jericho High School,” Cohen said. “By the power vested in me by the Education Department of the State of New York and the honor bestowed upon me by our Board of Education, it is my pleasure to officially present to you for the first time the graduates of Jericho High School Class of 2023.”
The crowd erupted in cheer and caps flew into the air.
Congratulations to the Class of 2023!

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