Adrian-James Gevero, the salutatorian of Sewanhaka High School’s graduating class, said he has thought about “every moment” of his experience at Sewanhaka.
On the one hand he recalled fights, arguments, bickering and misunderstandings. But there was also an abundance of love, relationships and memories, Gevero said, among the diverse class of students whom he now called family.
“Family means that support is unconditional, it means that we push each other to strive for only the very best,” Gevero said. “And looking at the people in this room with me today, I realize that ‘the best’ is all but ensured for the Class of 2018.”
Gevero was one of the 247 seniors graduating from Sewanhaka High School at a ceremony at Hofstra University on Sunday, which featured speeches, awards, musical performances and congratulations from administrators.
The Senior High Chorus, directed by Rachel Daloia, sang “Stand Together” by Jim Papoulis. The chorus then took on “It’s Time for Moving On” by Don Besig, before the senior high school band performed highlights from the “Lion King” soundtrack and other songs.
Parents, friends and family members cheered loudly as each person walked on stage to claim a diploma. A few waved cardboard cutout faces of graduating students, smiling in their graduation portraits.
Valedictorian Arianna Vandezande said that among the hundreds attending the ceremony, there were many heroes – like “teachers, coaches, family and friends” – and that the class should not only try to be one, but make them proud.
“None of those people are heroes because of their physical strength, but because they willingly gave their hearts to you,” Vandezande said. “They want to see you reach your potential. They want to see you be successful and thriving. They want to see you at your best and your happiest.
“So for the heroes in your life, shatter their expectations and make them prouder than ever, because you wouldn’t be who or where you are today without them.”
As for Gevero, he said his own family is why he is “the person here before you” today.
And maybe, under Vandezande’s definition, could be considered heroes.
“One person in particular has been the driving force in my life and that’s my dad, who left his life in the Philippines when he was around my age and traveled 8,000 miles across the globe to start a new one, securing the future of a son that didn’t yet exist,” Gevero said. “That, to me, is the definition of selfless.”
“But behind every great man is an equally as great woman,” Gevero added. “And that woman is my Tita Karren, joining our family a little less than a decade ago … to become the second of two amazing mothers I’ve had in my lifetime.”