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Sophomore Franciscovich Wins Distinguished Youth Award

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High school sophomore Emily Franciscovich recently received a Distinguished Youth Award for Suffolk County’s 17th Legislative District for her volunteer service, personal development and physical fitness, among other achievements. Franciscovich, a Girl Scout, has been part of the Girls That Give Back volunteer group for the past four years. In a one-year period, she completed 100 hours of dance classes for her personal development, 100 hours of tennis for physical fitness and 200 hours of community service.

2020 Graduates Overcome Adversity to Celebrate Their Achievement

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Showing pride and community spirit in the face of adversity, Deer Park High School’s Class of 2020 graduated at last in the school’s 57th commencement, divided into six sessions over July 30 and 31.

After students and parents assembled at the football field, socially distanced for safety, Morgan Laissle led the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a speech from Senior Class President Emily DeStefano.

“Although this ceremony is not what we imagined, it still symbolizes how far we’ve come,” DeStefano said. “Despite what was thrown our way, we figured out how to rise above it. We are now the class graduating during a pandemic, but the Class of 2020 is so much more than that. We know what it’s like for our lives to change unexpectedly, but throughout it all, we held our heads high, finished with a smile, and now we are starting our own lives with determination. Remember to never give up, never stop believing in yourself and live every day like it’s your last.”

“This pandemic didn’t stop us,” salutatorian Zubaer Mohiuddin said. “Our generation stayed positive and invented new and creative ways to get around our problems. We didn’t let that flame inside us burn out. We made the best of it. This upcoming year will be different. It’s already a big step to be moving on after high school into a new environment, but on top of that, we have to adapt to this new way of life due to the pandemic. But I know that this will not be a setback for us.”

Valedictorian Sameer Riaz discussed the concepts of opportunity, privilege and responsibility. “Not everyone has the opportunity to graduate from high school and make it this far,” he said. “We did it, and yet we still take time to thank those who made this possible, because we know that there are so many people who put effort into moving us along our journey. So, when you’re congratulated a million times today, accept it, because you deserve it. Be proud of yourself for making it to the end of the path.”

Superintendent James Cummings told the new graduates, “If you’ve learned a lesson from this, you’ve learned how to overcome and how to make sacrifices, and then how to care for other people and maybe think about other people before yourselves. As you move on from this ceremony, you don’t want to be defined by the disappointment of the way your senior year ended, you want to think back to the first 11-and-a-half years and the great times you had, the great friends you made, and the position you put yourself in to make a difference in the world. That’s what life is about: Making sure that anything that comes your way, you learn from it, you figure out how to overcome it, you make yourself better, and help other people be better.”

“With all that has occurred, by no means has this diminished all your accolades, who you are as individuals or how you are viewed as the Class of 2020,” said Principal Charles Cobb. “It has shown that you are a group of young adults who are resilient in your constant pursuit of excellence, and you have been able to handle these adverse situations with the utmost poise and professionalism that is usually displayed by those with much more experience. You will be remembered as the Class of 2020 that has overcome these obstacles, and moved forward to ensure that all your goals are met. For that, I and the staff of Deer Park High School are most proud of you.”

Following Cobb’s words of praise, diplomas were conferred and tassels turned at each of the six joyful ceremonies, and the Class of 2020 embarked on the next step of their educational and life journeys.

Deer Park School District