School officials and students say final farewells to Schreiber’s Class of 2016

School officials and students say final farewells to Schreiber’s Class of 2016

Paul D. Schreiber High School’s class of 2016 is bound together by three significant threads of the same fabric — gratitude, love and courage, said Kathleen Mooney, the Port Washington School District superintendent. 

“We are all part of the same fabric that makes us human,” she said to the hundreds who attended Thursday’s graduation ceremony at Schreiber’s football field. 

“You are on the cusp of an important milestone in your life, and it’s very exciting to share this moment with you and you families,” Mooney said, adding that she also achieved an important milestone in her life.

“Exactly one month ago today, I had triple bypass surgery,” she said. 

Mooney said because of her support system, she was able to summon her strength, determination and courage to confront her fear and “work to reestablishing a normal life.”

She said she is confident the 383 graduates are leaving with that same strength, knowledge and integrity to withstand challenges, “whatever they may be or wherever they may occur.”

“For many of you the road to being in this moment was fraught with challenges and obstacles that only you know and experienced but you overcame them with strength, determination and courage,” she said. 

Mooney added that the students will be graduating with a “high-quality education from a community that values its schools and is committed to its children.”

According to Mooney, the graduating class was awarded nearly $2.2 million in scholarships to universities and colleges across the country. 

“And while it is not a competition, I do believe that you surpassed the class of 2015, well done,” she said. 

The school board president, Karen Sloan, advised class members to chart their own course and avoid being swayed by others. 

“Change is the only constant in life, but it doesn’t mean it will be easy,” said Sloan. “Be brave enough to make change and let it reflect in your choices. Make those choices from your hopes, not your fears.” 

She added: “Don’t worry so much about the things that you cannot change; focus your energy on the things you can. The belief that all things change is true. No situation is permanent. Be the change you want to see in the world. You may not be able to change a situation, but you can always change the way you handle it.” 

Giving the commencement address,  Addison Ronis, a graduating senior, said,  “We’ve come to the day we’ve been anticipating for four years.” 

Ronis referred to her fellow classmates as “bright and fun interesting human beings.” She told them to focus on what’s good in life and not allow their creativity to be bound by external expectations and reminded them that they are prepared for life after graduation. 

“We are ready for this, and we’re good enough to be who we’re supposed to be,” she said. “My fear is that there are students sitting here who don’t believe that. And if we don’t believe it all the amazing potential inside each of us is lost. Don’t let that get lost. Embrace your strengths and throw them at people who say they don’t matter.” 

Ronis said in her speech that she spent a lot of time baby-sitting, and would see a “museum of Crayola abstract paintings and macaroni art” created by the children she watched. 

She said that the children would display their work proudly and receive the appropriate response from their audience, meaning herself, and that the kids have the “confidence to explore and exhibit creativity” without being told otherwise. 

“It’s a genuine moment of unselfish happiness for them and then those children are sent off to schools to fight for their right for individuality,” she said. “They struggle to maintain themselves while they’re simultaneously told that they’re not good enough for the things they think they want. Then, by the time they get to where you guys are, they firmly believe just that. That their creativity is not good enough.”

Ronis said she believes the four years spent in high school “should be spent building confidence and forming opinions and learning about yourself and about the world,” and that Schreiber allowed her to do that. 

“Schreiber has been such an incredible space for all of us to take the time to flourish in this regard,” she said. “We were given this huge gift and we’ve already done everything we could’ve done. How on earth could anyone tell us that we aren’t ready for the real world? Seriously, we’re set.”

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