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Harborfields Graduating Class of 2024 Shows Power to Transform

Harborfields Graduating Class of 2024  thumbnail260038
Harborfields Graduating Class of 2024  thumbnail260039
Harborfields Graduating Class of 2024  thumbnail260040

On a sunny June 22 morning, the seniors of Harborfields High School marched onto the football field for the last time to kick off the school’s 65th commencement ceremony. After a dozen transformative years in the district’s schools, the new grads were ready to celebrate the culmination of this crucial part of their educational and life journey.

“My message to our graduates can be summed up with one simple word, and that’s pride,” Superintendent Dr. Rory Manning said. “Pride is the immense feeling that I’ve had over the past few months as I attended your final days of school, your final award ceremony, your final concerts, your final games, your final day of watching the senior video and counting down the seconds until the final bell. I’m so immensely proud of you, your family’s proud of you and you should be proud of yourselves. Your high school graduation is a major milestone in your life. You did it, and it’s time for us to let you go. Keep making us proud, seniors.”

While addressing the students, Dr. Manning presented U.S. Air Force veteran and local resident George Kuhn with his high school diploma through New York State’s Operation Recognition, and presented retiring Board of Education member Suzie Lustig with an honorary diploma.

“Fearless is not the absence of fear,” salutatorian Brooke Cheskes said, quoting Taylor Swift. “It is not being completely unafraid. To me, fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death. This quote represents all of the challenges and struggles that have made us who we are. Over the years, we have been through so much together and I know that no matter what, we will continue to lift each other up and learn how to overcome the struggles we will face throughout our lives. Though this chapter is coming to a close and our challenges in life certainly are not over, I hope every single one of us remembers what we’ve been through and that nothing can stop us. Congratulations, Class of 2024, and remember to stay fearless.”

“It is hard to believe that today is finally here,” said valedictorian Tara Gosselin, who also served as class president for the last four years. “We’ve spent so much time dreaming of this day as a moment in the distant future. However, here we are, ready to celebrate the Class of 2024 for one final time all together. Graduation is a day of transition, the shift from the comfort of our childhood to the uncharted territory of our future. I could not be more grateful for the people I have met along the way at Harborfields. It has been an absolute privilege growing up alongside all of you. As we have done so many times before, we are now faced with a transition. There is a bittersweet sensation of gratitude for all we have experienced together and sadness for what we are leaving behind. Unlike our recent transitions, this next one requires more independence. We’ll be faced with new people, new environments and new challenges. While today is the end of our Harborfields journey, it is just the beginning of the rest of our lives. Today is a checkpoint, a reminder of all we have done and all we are capable of doing. As we navigate the next chapter, we will inevitably experience challenge and doubt. However, today is proof that we can handle it. I hope that high school has given us all the confidence we need to put ourselves into the world and make the differences we wish to see. Everything we need for success lies within us, but let today be a reminder of our limitless potential. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”

Retiring high school math teacher Cathy Purcell, the day’s featured speaker as chosen by the students, talked about the value of lessons learned.

“We all run into roadblocks,” Purcell told the seniors. “When you encounter these roadblocks, think of the lessons you learned here. Maybe it was the tough love you received in my classroom. I used to run, and runners have that adage, you can always go double the longest distance you have ever run, and I still live by that. What else have you learned? You’ve learned that you are not alone. You’ve learned that there are other ways to approach problems. You’ve learned to listen to your friends, families and colleagues. You’ve learned that when you fall off the horse, get back on. A big thing I’ve learned, and I hope you have learned, is to ask for help. Sometimes the best solution is right in front of you, if you just ask.”

Principal Dr. Marie Netto reflected on the metaphor of the coffee bean transforming a pot of boiling water.

“It’s not about the circumstances we face every day, but rather, how we respond to them,” Dr. Netto said. “The coffee bean was able to adapt and ultimately alter its environment. Throughout these past two years, I have seen each of you face challenges with resilience and grace. I have witnessed you supporting one another, growing stronger in the face of adversity, and like the coffee bean, transforming your surroundings. Life will undoubtedly present you with situations that will test your strength, your patience and your resolve. Remember, in these moments, you have the power to choose how you respond. Will you let the world change you, or will you rise to the occasion and transform the world around you? Class of 2024, you have shown that you are capable of greatness. My hope also is that you will approach each day with confidence and with the knowledge that you, like the coffee bean, have the ability to face challenges, no matter how daunting and the power to transform the world you as you move beyond the walls of Harborfields High School.”

Each graduate was then presented with their diploma by members of the Board of Education as their families in the stands cheered. To conclude the ceremony, the entire Class of 2024 turned their tassels and launched their green and white caps skyward, ready to walk from the field as proud alumni.

Date Added: 6/25/2024

A Community Beautification Project Begins at Washington Drive

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In a true community effort, local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Greenlawn Garden Club, Centerport Garden Club and Penny Club kicked off a 10-day school beautification project on June 10 at Washington Drive Primary School in the Harborfields Central School District. Under the leadership of Principal Kathy McNally, the various groups worked together to plant perennials and arrange painted rainbow rocks along the front of the building.

“We are very excited to be a part of this community service project,” McNally said.

Date Added: 6/20/2024

Congratulations to This Year’s Retirees!

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The following 13 dedicated Harborfields Central School District staff members were honored at recent retirement reception ceremonies at the district's four schools.

Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School – June 4, 2024
Denise Bowles (Reading Teacher)
Michele Turchiano (Physical Education Teacher)

Oldfield Middle School – June 5, 2024

Steven Brunner (Custodial Worker)
Sandra Buscemi (Special Education Teacher)
Sharon LoBello (Teaching Assistant)
Drew Lockwood (Art Teacher)
Marianna Price (School Transportation Coordinator)
Harborfields High School – June 6, 2024
Joann Boccard (Principal Office Assistant)
Debra Lumsden-Gerhardt (Paraprofessional)
Catherine Purcell (Mathematics Teacher)

Washington Drive Primary School – June 14, 2024
Marie Fenter (Elementary Teacher)
Guy Semione (Head Custodian)
Cecilia Stella (Reading Teacher)

Date Added: 6/20/2024

A Successful Launch for TJL’s Unified Lions Afterschool Program

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This spring marked the launch of Unified Lions, an afterschool program at Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School, which was created by two remarkable Harborfields High School students. Focused on inclusivity, students in the program enjoy makerspace activities such as creating lava lamps, outdoor games like four corners and fun team-building activities.

Date Added: 6/19/2024

High School Science Research Students Engineer a Parachute Project

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Harborfields High School’s science research students recently worked on a spring engineering project, testing their homemade rockets and parachutes. The project follows the rules of the Science Olympiad event called Ping Pong Parachute. Students are given a half-liter soda bottle and a ping pong ball and tasked with getting as much hang time as possible for the ping pong balls. The bottles were launched with 50 psi of air pressure. Students were allowed to use a wide range of materials as long as they didn’t provide any chemical propulsion to the rocket. The hang time was measured by equipping the ping pong balls with a sensor that could detect movement down to the hundredth of a second. Students had to break the project down into three components: aerodynamics of the rocket, parachute design and payload deployment.

Date Added: 6/19/2024