You may think of high school and see the crowning of prom king and queen, Friday Night Lights, rowdy pep rallies and a packed homecoming dance. Now, Great Neck South did not have a homecoming this year or a rowdy pep rally. But, did you see that booming Cultural Heritage night this year? Did you recognize our athletes’ close relationships on and off the field? And did you notice how our clubs are forever growing?
Academically, we have a great deal of spirit. Our school and faculty are highly ranked nationwide; yet, these ratings are not what define us. So I wonder: do we have a “so-called” community and spirit like that of a typical high school? I believe that community and spirit exist here, but it isn’t typical and it is far from the norm. And, like Great Neck South, it is unparalleled.
Like magnets, we became—and still are—attracted to the clubs and activities that mirrored us. My fellow students and friends in DECA, HOSA, Robotics, Science Olympiads, Great Neck South Athletics and Theatre South, to name a few, experienced this shared phenomena.
We all know that we came to high school for the academics, but that wasn’t what we stayed for. We came for AP World’s massive outlines, but we stayed till 4 to munch on “cup-o-noodles” with Mr. Ko; we came for Mr. Marr’s public speaking, but we stayed till 6 for “All That Jazz”; we came for bio tests, but we stayed till 7, to huddle around Dr. T’s laptop with him; we came for required wood-shop class, but we stayed till 11 with Motch, Corrigan and Ruvio to make engines roar and robots win. We stayed for relief.
The relief gave us the freedom to soar outside of our classrooms, and it became a common interest between teacher and student, friend and friend. From 7:59 to 2:33, many of us felt like caged birds in class. However, those same classrooms in which we were “trapped” gave us a freedom and flight with after-school. Maybe you’re like I am: Your club is now the cornerstone of your life. Maybe you’re not, and after-school was just something fun to do. Either way, we are now unapologetically passionate, either through a reserved enthusiasm or an obnoxious shout like my own, about what we love. Academics were for the brain, but after-school was for the soul.
So what of homecoming? That came from our fostered passions that we now had the confidence to share; it grew into a far larger community at Great Neck South.
In the future? The luxuries and freedoms of what after-school provided will dissipate; however, our takeaway will be our fearless pursuit of what we loved here. So I’m excited for this future, thanks to this school.
We didn’t have a homecoming because unlike most schools, we did not need one. At South, after-school was homecoming every day, and every day we could come home.
Like the beloved robins that once inhabited nests outside the GP room and Main Hall, we, too, have the ability to fly confidently from here. Take whatever home you loved at after-school, and let it be the beginning of your future.
Read the complete graduation speeches from the Great Neck North Class of 2017: Yunyi (Anita) Zhang and Zachary Lee, and from Great Neck South: Rachel Brenner, Isabella Harnick, Isabella Malfi, Benjamin Newman, Joshua Putter, Shrinath Viswanathan and Melody Yang.
Learn about the 2017 valedictorians and salutatorians here.