Mineola High School graduates 130th class

Mineola High School graduates 130th class
Mineola High School’s 130th class graduated at Eisenhower Park last Saturday, hearing advice from administrators on how to handle a fast changing world. (Photo by Samuele Petruccelli)

Mineola High School’s 130th graduating class heard the district superintendent recount the two concluding Avengers films from Marvel’s cinematic universe at commencement on June 26.

Speaking to an audience in Eisenhower Park, Superintendent Michael Nagler compared the Marvel movies’ “blip” – a five-year period when half of all life in the universe was exterminated – to the “new normal” that his schools endured during the height of the pandemic.

“But reemerging from our pandemic blip hasn’t been instantaneous,” Nagler said. “In fact, it’s caused a great new conflict and divided our country, state and yes, even our school community.”

Listening, compromise, civility and empathy were characteristics the Mineola administrator cited as missing, partially as a result of the pandemic, but largely from a fear of change.

“As we live and now emerge from our blip, we continue to witness change in every aspect of life, including school,” Nagler said. “The greatest skill in dealing with change is to remember the old adage, ‘seek first to understand, then be understood.’”

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Also addressing the class of 2021 was outgoing Board of Education President Christine Napolitano, who offered statistics like the Dow Jones’ nearly 25,000-point jump, rapid increase in smartphone use, and national legalization of same sex marriage as indicators of a fast-changing world.

“Although the world has changed so much, there are some things that remain the same,” Napolitano said. “Being humble, kind and empathetic will always be superpowers to me.”

She urged the graduates to remember how much they are loved, and to live their best life and stay persistent.

“The road to success is always under construction,” Napolitano said. “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.”

For some graduates, commencement couldn’t have come fast enough. After experiencing over a school year’s worth of coronavirus disruptions to the typical classroom format, Alex Molina received his advanced regents diploma and will move on to study journalism at SUNY Albany.

“It feels really good, to be honest,” Molina said. “Going away for college has always been a thing I’ve wanted to do since like freshman year, and now, time has arrived.”

Though acknowledging the duality of emotions now that her son has graduated, Leidy Serrado pointed out the pandemic’s obstacles that her son overcame.

“Although we had so many hurdles and difficulties, it is an accomplishment for him,” Serrado said. “To his teachers, we are also thankful, and to all of those who contributed a grain of sand so that this could be a reality.”

“With this pandemic everything was more difficult,” she said. “But none of us gave up and here we are starting a new path for my son.”

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Marshall Little cheered for Mineola High School graduate Matthew Pardo as he walked on stage to receive his diploma last Saturday. Pardo will also be joining the Marines. (Photo by Samuele Petruccelli)

Not all graduates will study at universities, though. Matthew Pardo will join the Marine Corps.

“It definitely feels good to be out and not having to be locked in a room for six hours a day,” Pardo said. “I never really enjoyed sitting in a classroom. It’s not really my thing so I don’t think I’ll really miss it.”

Kristen and Kirsten Benes are twins and 2021 graduates. They say they’ll miss Mineola, and  their parents are more stressed about life after graduation than they are.

“At the beginning of the year I thought we were only going to last like two weeks max,” Kristen Benes said. “But we actually made it through the year, and it just went by really fast.”


An earlier version of this article said this was Mineola High School’s 113th commencement. It was the 130th.

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