PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. Briarcliff High School graduates felt excited Thursday night as they listened to clever and heartfelt speeches delivered by classmates, teachers and administrators.
"I thought I would never get this far. Four years goes by faster than you think," said Anthony Damato, who plans to go to Westchester Community College in the fall to study to become a baker and chef.
Classmate Shachi Dave agreed.
"I'm really excited. I can't even believe that four years has passed so quickly and I wish everyone luck," she said.
Speakers during the graduation ceremony included valedictorian Jonathan Schneider, co-salutatorians Evan Camp and Erica Miller, and chosen guest speaker Thomas Kenney, an English teacher.
Miller encouraged classmates not to be afraid to get lost as they let go of fears of the unknown, while Camp delivered his graduation wishes entirely in rhymes.
Schneider urged his classmates to continue to strive to do their best whether in sports, engineering, art or dancing.
"I liked the speeches. I thought there was a bit of levity and a lot of it was clever," said graduate Nathan Feist, who is looking forward to working at a brokerage firm this summer.
Kerry started his speech off by jokingly telling about how he had procrastinated until the last minute to write his speech, then googled "Spark Notes graduation speeches" to get ideas.
He then gave graduating seniors a thought-provoking piece of advice: Be selfish.
"Spend the next four years doing something you enjoy and are passionate at, and don't listen to anyone who tells you not to pursue your joy," he said.
For Kenney, being selfish meant listening to his still, inner voice which told him to spend a year teaching English in the south Bronx for no pay instead of going to medical school.
"I felt selfish. I knew that that wasn't what (my parents) wanted, but that still, small voice wouldn't shut up..., I taught for a year and I was hooked. I never went back to medical school and I made a career in teaching," Kenney said.
With heartfelt words of wisdom received, graduates tossed their blue and white caps with orange tassels.
Congratulations Class of 2011!
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