Cardillo gets grand farewell at Manhasset graduation

Cardillo gets grand farewell at Manhasset graduation
Manhasset School District Superintendent Charles Cardillo addresses the Class of 2017 one final time before his retirement. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

As Manhasset School District Superintendent Charles Cardillo began his final remarks to the Class of 2017, the skies began to cry along with the students, faculty and community who were heartbroken to lose their beloved leader after more than a decade.

“After being together for 12 years, each of you, and I, will be graduating together,” Cardillo said. “All of you will be moving onto the next stage of your life, and my wife and I will be moving onto the next stage of our life.”

The hands-on superintendent who is often greeting students and colleagues before the bell rings for class was honored throughout the Manhasset Secondary School graduation ceremony Friday for his passion, mentorship and love for the district.

Principal Dean Schlanger became principal of the secondary school to have the opportunity to work with Cardillo and grew to see his boss as both a superior and a friend.

The 281 members of Manhasset Secondary School’s class of 2017 gathered Friday for the last time. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

“I’ve been very lucky to have a Charlie Cardillo, not simply as a boss, but as a mentor,” Schlanger said. “One who has encouraged me to reflect, strive and become a better principal. Charlie Cardillo’s passion for education makes him a remarkable leader, and we are blessed for his generosity, caring and support.”

Silver M Society President Richard Bennett honored distinguished students for their academic performance and charitable contributions throughout their time at Manhasset. Seven students — Kyleigh Harmon, Emma Fleishman, Carina Lewandowski, Olivia Tatarian, Thomas Whelan, Leah Ritterband and Jun Seok Max Kim — were inducted into the decades-old society along with two honorary members, math teacher Laura Petras and Cardillo.

“With your leadership, budgets passed at super majority numbers. Student achievement soared,” Bennett said of Cardillo. “You have made a profound difference in the lives of thousands of people and had a lasting impact on our community. Even when you faced adversity, you showed us how to put on a smile and keep moving forward.”

The Class of 2017’s legacy will live on thanks to two gifts to the school: a traffic sign designed by valedictorian Gregory Dellis to help guests find their way around the campus as well as a new set of wood displays for the Silver M awards for the next 30 years.

Salutatorian Carina Lewandowski began to get emotional near the end of her speech. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

Salutatorian Carina Lewandowski defined her high school career by her seven seasons in track and field and broke down the class’s four years together with long-distance running, finally pushing to the finish line as seniors before heading to another race in college.

“We’ve already had so many lasts, and this certainly won’t be our last last,” Lewandowski said. “I hope whatever race you find yourself in next, no matter the distance that your new adventure comes with a coach to guide you and a crowd to cheer you on. When you near the end of any race and feel like you can’t run any more, think about all the ones you’ve finished before and for goodness sake, let’s run this part of the race a little more slowly.”

Valedictorian Gregory Dellis addresses the class of 2017. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

Dellis, who will attend Yale University in the fall, kicked off his valedictorian speech with an unexpected line: “She was naked, and I was afraid.”

Dellis compared his four years at Manhasset to the daunting experience of his after school comprehensive life drawing class, where he spent his Thursday nights drawing the figures of nude models as an awkward 15-year-old boy. Week after week, Dellis said he became less uncomfortable with the assignments and developed as an artist while growing into a young adult.

“Manhasset will continue to tie us together, and who we are today will forever be shaped by our shared life drawing sessions. Here we are now, not quite as naked and hopefully a lot less afraid. Class of 2017, thank you for being my models for all these years. Come next September, we will all be a part of new student bodies, let’s set out, make those lasting connections, see beyond faces in the crowd and develop first impressions into lifelong relationships.

“Don’t fear the nakedness of the obstacles, failures and unmarked canvases to come. Find your models and be that model to somebody else. We are now all ready to make life our drawing.”

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