Seniors Begin New Chapter

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The Westbury High School class of 2015 took a relatively small step in the present—and a huge step toward their destinites—when they attended their highly-anticipated graduation ceremony on June 26.

Held at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Greenvale, the Westbury graduation ushered a class of 291 students—led by valedictorian Tiffany G. Shaw and salutatorian Isabel Amaya—towards an uncertain yet bright destiny filled with endless possibilities. Countless family members packed the venue to the rafters, all offering their unbridled love and support for their loved ones.

WBYGrad_070115ADr. Pless M. Dickerson, president of the Westbury Board of Education, addressed the class gathered on the expansive stage of the Tilles Center, noting that this was not only their graduation, but their commencement as well.

“As we all know, commencement means to begin. From this day forward, no matter what path you take, you must always remember the skills from your educational experience,” he said. “Remember, your success is a source of pride to your parents, family members, teachers and administrators. Always remember to give back and thank those who have given you support.”

The guest speaker for the evening, Luis E. Tolosa, is the son of immigrants from El Salvador. He graduated from Westbury High School in 2011 with a full four-year scholarship to Columbia University, where he will be wrapping up his degree in Computer Science next year. He said that being asked to address the outgoing students of the class of 2015 on the challenges that await them was a huge honor.

“They asked me to speak here tonight because I’m always back at Westbury helping out. I assist with some of their programs, I tutor a lot, and I mentor their Robotics team each year,” he said. “Being asked to give a speech this year at graduation in front of all these people is incredible. I didn’t have the opportunity to do it when I graduated, so being asked to come back is…I can’t explain how I felt when I was asked. It was great.”

Valedictorian Tiffany Shaw
Valedictorian Tiffany Shaw

Johanna Villa was among the many students ready to receive their diplomas, eyes full of hope and wonder for the potential of her life to come.

“I feel very well accomplished…school has been very helpful to me,” Villa said. “I’ll be attending Nassau Community College for two years, and see if I like it there and to feel out where I want to go in life. I feel like I can accomplish anything.”

Amaya has been a jack-of-all-trades in her time at Westbury. She has taken multiple AP classes, been president of National Honor Society, and engaged in a plethora of community services, sports, and extracurricular activities. Now graduating as salutatorian, Amaya plans on double-majoring in Bioengineering and Spanish at Lehigh University this September.

“It’s really exciting. I feel like all my hard work has paid off after all these years. I’m just happy to be here with my class today,” she said. “After I finish college I want to get into research to build medical equipment…I just want to help people.”

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Class president Angelique Brown and salutatorian Isabel Amaya

Class President Angelique Brown said that finally reaching the next stage of her life after so much hard work and dedication was indeed a bittersweet feeling.

“I spent all day crying today…you’re happy to be leaving high school, but you’re scared that you’re going into the adult world,” she said. “Next year I’ll be attending Hampton University where majoring in Political Science…I want to become President of the United States.”

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