Hofstra's Mack Sports Complex was filled with a roaring crowd on Monday, but they weren't there to cheer for a basketball team.
Instead the parents and loved ones of 934 Benjamin N. Cardozo High School seniors packed the stands to cheer on the superstars of the day, who were there to received their high school diplomas.
One of those superstars was Valedictorian Jian Xiang Xia, who made it to the top of the class, despite the challenges of being an English as a second language learner. Xia came to the U.S. when he was eight, and worked diligently to learn English well enough to conquer his academics.
Xia told the crowd that he was nervous about having to give his first speech, and that writing wasn't his forte, but gave a sharp address despite self doubts. "Do what you need to do first, and want you want to do second," Xia said. It was a bit of advice one of his favorite teachers gave him. Xia said he believed his generation would be "burdened with both national and international problems," but that their Cardozo education had prepared them to take hold of those problems.
Salutatorian Allison Lawsky agreed, saying that Cardozo is "the best high school in New York City. "I don't know about you but my high school experience didn't involve mean girl cliques or singing in the hallways," she added.
The entire arena seemed to have warm feelings for the class' alma mater—and for the kids themselves. The event's security personnel—who work on the Cardozo campus as well—seemed proud of the students achievements. "They're great kids," one security officer told Patch. "You'll love them," he added.
Indeed, this reporter knows very well that they're good kids, because they come from hardworking, spiritful parents who have built a great community.
On a personal note, the graduation was full of poignancy for me as well. I've been working for Patch as Bayside's local editor for nearly two years, and covered the Bayside beat at a newspaper for an additional year previous to joining Patch. But this Wednesday, June 27—the day Bayside High will graduate its seniors—I will be moving on to another position within Patch.
I will miss the community very much. Just as graduates customarily say to one another, I hope you'll say hello when you see me around. And I mean it.