Sayville’s Class of 2023 all about ‘being’ and ‘purple willpower’


Sayville’s Class of 2023 salutatorian and valedictorian stole the show at the high school’s annual commencement ceremony, delivering inspiring speeches that brought their classmates to their feet.

“Being vs. doing. We often conflate these two ideas,” salutatorian Karishma Patel told more than 250 fellow graduates during her speech. “While the difference may seem small, what we choose to be is far more important than what we choose to do.”

When it comes to being, the members of Sayville’s Class of 2023 are off to an impressive start. Ninety-five percent of the class plans to further their education and approximately ninety-nine percent of the graduates earned Regents diplomas this year, the district said.

A whopping eighty-one percent of the graduating class will attend a four-year college or university, school officials reported. It’s the district’s highest percentage ever.

After a one-day delay due to a rainy forecast, the graduates gathered for commencement outside at the high school at noon on Saturday, June 24, together with hundreds of teachers, family members, friends and Sayville alumni. Indeed, in attendance were graduates from 1948 through 2022.. 

“In whatever careers we decide to pursue, there will always be tasks to complete, deadlines to meet, pressures to navigate, time we must manage, and the ever-present battle against procrastination,” Patel continued in a speech that captivated the entire crowd. “In such an environment, we think the only way to get through is to do do do, but much is lost in that approach. We lose sight of our greater purpose.”

Sayville Class of 2023 salutatorian Karishma Patel

She spoke to her fellow graduates about their generation and the historic moments they had witnessed and difficult times they lived through.

“We are a generation that cares deeply about the world around us,” Patel said. “We have witnessed the injustices that persist and the inequalities that divide.

“We have seen the effects of climate change and the prohibition on girls’ education. We have heard the cries for racial justice and gender equality,” she continued. “There is no doubt that our lives, especially in the last few years, have so far been populated with disasters, tragedies and heartbreaks, but that only drives us to do more.”

The graduates

Here are some photos taken of Sayville High School graduates after they received their diplomas.

Valedictorian Michael Pitre followed Patel’s speech by dancing up to the podium to the tune of James Brown’s “I Got You.” He asked his classmates — donned in the school’s official purple and gold colors — to close their eyes, in order to set the stage for a powerful metaphor.

“Imagine a sky not painted in its usual blue and radiant hues,” Pitre prompted his peers. “Instead, envision a sky dominated by thick, ominous clouds. But amidst this darkness, piercing through, behold a breathtaking rainbow — an emblem of hope.

“At its foundation lies the color violet, a shade of purple, resiliently supporting the other colors as they defiantly break through the cloud cover,” he went on. “And if you gaze further along the arc of the rainbow, you’ll discover a pot of gold. Yet, its brilliance isn’t derived from material wealth, but from an unwavering wellspring of happiness and contagious laughter.”

Sayville Class of 2023 valedictorian Michael Pitre addresses his fellow graduates.

And with that, Pitre beckoned his fellow graduates to open their eyes and to “Look around at the remarkable individuals behind me. In each and every one of my peers, you can unmistakably witness the perfect fusion of purple and gold — of unyielding mental strength and exuberant joy. Just as purple stands as the most potent color on the electromagnetic spectrum due to its short wavelength, so do these qualities define us.”

Pitre called on his fellow graduates to use their “purple willpower” and energy to not only make the world a better place but to enjoy themselves while doing it.

An ‘amazing mascot’

Class President Bobby Zane, focused his speech on Sayville’s mascot, “The Golden Flashes.”

“For years, people have questioned how a lightning bolt represents our community. Some have even suggested that we should have a tougher sounding mascot like an eagle or even a bobcat,” Zane said. “But I promise you, that a Golden Flash is an amazing mascot that can teach us all an important way to view the world and the adventures we will encounter.”

Zane reminded his classmates to savor the present because the experience will be over “in a flash.”

Acknowledging grads set to serve our country

Special recognition during the ceremony was given to graduates Thomas Golio and Ryan Karman, who will serve U.S. military. Golio is heading to the U.S. Military Academy West Point and Karman has enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard.

More photos from commencement

Photos are courtesy of Sayville Public Schools.