Put the books away and get the party rolling.
The Class of 2014 fist-pumped to the sky, as high-school graduations got underway across Brooklyn, with some young scholars coming away wiser — thanks to “Bobby Baccala.”
Steve Schirripa, who played the salty-tongued character on “The Sopranos,” cracked up the crowd at Poly Prep Country Day School’s Dyker Heights campus, where the guest speaker urged Poly grads — among them his daughter Ciara — to be fearless go-getters.
“Not taking risks is a risk,” said the actor, author, and voice artist. “When a good, worthwhile opportunity comes and you’re nervous or even scared to take a chance, take that chance.”
Schirripa shared his own dilemma when, at age 40, he was offered the role of a lifetime on the TV hit series.
“What if I sucked and got bumped off in the first season?” he said to giggles in the aisles. “To get anywhere, to do anything well, you’ve got to take it one step at a time and you have to work, really work, at each next step.”
Headmaster David B. Harman had some sage advice: “Go live that one wild and precious life that is yours and yours alone,” he told the cheering crowd.
Annabel Newman was Poly’s student speaker.
Reuters editor Toni Reinhold was in a class of her own at Bishop Kearney High School’s commencement day at Brooklyn College, where the Class of ’71 graduate alerted rapt listeners to the four cornerstones for success — honesty, integrity, perseverance, and self-reliance.
“Bishop Kearney has allowed you to be leaders, and taught you to be a team players,” she said. “As you go forward, keep the H.I.P.S. in mind.”
Susan Bazik and Mandy Chin were Kearney’s valedictorian and salutatorian.
The happy occasion was not without a few misty eyes.
“I’m going to miss my friends and teachers,” said Fontbonne Hall Academy graduate Ariana LoVerde, who prescribed herself a sun-soaked vacation in Italy before heading to college in the fall to study business.
The former freshman president and her fellow grads celebrated Fontbonne’s big day at Our Lady of Perpetual School, where valedictorian Emily Esilda Bruder and salutatorian Emily Lauren Mary Giacomazzi spoke to wide applause. Maria E. DiCarlo, (Class of ’89), an associate professor at St. Joseph’s College, gave the keynote speech.
Fontbonne mom Michele Papapietro beamed from the audience as her triplet daughters — Allie, Marissa, and Nicole — strode to the podium in white gowns to accept their diplomas.
“My husband and I are filled with pride over their accomplishments, but at the same time we are sad to see them leaving home,” said the wistful mom, who will see her girls off to separate colleges in August.
Xaverian High School’s pomp-filled rites squared off at Brooklyn College, with a pipe and drum band doing the musical honors.
Individual awards were given to, among others: Kevin Savarese, academic excellence; valedictorian Daniel Loud, general excellence; Anthony Sigismondi, scholar athlete; Patrick Coen, principal’s award; Joseph Principato, president’s award; and Nicolas Tritto, Xaverian spirit award.
Xaverian’s keynote speaker was Judge Matthew D’Emic (Class of ’70) — administrative judge for criminal matters at Brooklyn Supreme Court — who offered some tips on personal growth.
“Your path will not be direct, your future will not be uncomplicated, and your experiences will often not confirm what you know, but change it,” he said, adding wisely. “The difference between doing something and doing nothing is everything.”
St. Edmund’s Preparatory High School also held its graduation ceremony at Brooklyn College. Peter A. Clarke was the valedictorian, sharing the podium with salutatorian Kevin Kenna.
Courier Life Publications is proud to congratulate Brooklyn’s Class of 2014.