By Amarnauth Samaroo
With pride, pomp and circumstance, Gateway’s Class of 2020 celebrated the occasion in style and grandeur with a most memorable Drive-by Graduation on Friday, June 26. Two of NYPD’s finest, Sergeant Clarke and Detective Duhaney, of the Patrol Borough of Queens South, graciously provided the cordon on Goethals Avenue during the Drive-by. With horns blaring, the processional, led by Valedictorian, Preya Persaud, and Salutatorian, Shalini Nesan, flamboyantly proclaimed for posterity this important milestone in the lives of our seniors. Cheered on by parents, families, friends, teachers, and passersby, the graduates, proudly bedecked in their Cap and Gown, and carefully observing social distance, sashayed down the sidewalk of Queens Gateway to receive their well-deserved diplomas from MC Shree Parsan.
Congratulations to the Class of 2020!
JEFFERSON CHIMBAY AGUAIZA
TAINA CONTRERAS CACHO
MARK JUDE DELA CRUZ
NAIYA JONES ESCORT
AL FAHID ZAMAN
Preya Persaud, Valedictorian, Class of 2020:
To the Class of 2020,
These four years have been a struggle. Through all the adversities, hard work and determination prevailed. Our time together has ranged from four to seven years. We are all able to call our peers family. We have all helped each other to get through the tough times and we have all celebrated the happy times with each other. I will certainly miss the bonds we made at this school, the relationships will be forever cherished as we move on to the next chapter in life.
The high school experience isn’t something to be taken lightly. It is a time of change and self-growth. Although it might not have been an easy thing to undergo, each one of us has changed from freshman year and that itself is an accomplishment worth recognizing. Each person can relate to the fact that you come out of high school a completely different person than you were going in. The changes might be intimidating but embracing the changes and learning to adapt is crucial to life. These are years of maturing. I commend every one of us who made it this far, handling Gateway’s workload and dealing with your changes is the greatest achievement so far.
This accomplishment couldn’t have been possible without the help from my teachers and my classmates. Along with my family and friends, the people around me have always been at my side supporting me with every step I take. I am grateful to everyone who played a role in aiding me and trusting me to make them proud. As we enter this new chapter in our life, we may not have each other physically but we still have our memories. Spending countless hours in the same building together develops a bond not easily broken. We will all continue with our lives and move on to bigger and better accomplishments. This will be the biggest change we will endure yet. I have confidence in the success of our class, everyone has the potential to be great. I wish everyone happiness and good fortune in your ventures.
Being the valedictorian that will lead Gateway’s Class of 2020 into new beginnings and bright futures brings me much pride. We are the graduating class that made history, the class that will always be remembered. Our senior year may not have been ideal but we successfully completed high school, every one of us put forth the effort so we are able to look forward to a bright future. I am proud of all of us, we all are here today because of our own hard work. I wish everyone well in their new chapters in life. Stay safe and well.
Shalini Nesan, Salutatorian, Class of 2020:
Good Morning all.
Before beginning, I’d like to offer my sincere condolences to anyone who has lost loved ones during these troubling times. I’d also like to praise anyone who has taken a stand against injustice, inequality, and has helped paved the way for social advancement with compassion even in the face of adversity. I’d also like to take a moment to honor my friend and colleague, Shania Seenarine. Shania, I’d like to thank you not just the impact you’ve had on me, but the impact you’ve had on the rest of our graduating class as well.
That said, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all parents, staff, and fellow graduates. It is a great accomplishment to be a graduate, and I commend you for all the effort and dedication you have invested in your education. This milestone represents strength, pride, and most importantly, taking responsibility for your future. To all the parents, families, friends, and loved ones who aided in making this day possible for the Class of 2020 through thick and thin, an enormous thanks and congratulations go to you all. You should give yourself a pat on the back for your role, no matter what it may be, in helping this class succeed. It brings me great joy and honor to be able to address the graduating class of 2020 as a salutatorian, one of my greatest accomplishments thus far in life.
Many people aided me in my journey, and for that certain thanks are due. Perhaps unbeknownst to us at the time, all of our parents sacrificed for us to have a good education and a better life. Some were immigrants like mine, coming here knee deep in poverty from a war torn county to make a better life for their family. For that, they should be honored. I’d like to thank my mom and my dad for everything. No amount of words could possibly give enough thanks for all the sacrifices you two have made for me, and I am beyond honored to continue your legacy. You two exemplify what the American Dream means to me, and I want to tell you that this here today is not just my achievement, it is yours as well.
Sometimes, it is not our close family, but others who have supported us that need our praise. I would like to thank my cousins Pungavi, Poonthalir, and Kumanan for never failing to put a smile on my face and for loving me for the person I am. I would also like to give an honorable mention to my cousin Tharany. Tharany, thank you for not just being the older sister I never had, but also for being my advisor, and my first best friend. As students, our teachers gave us the tools we needed to succeed. To my teachers, your unmatched confidence in me is what allowed me to thrive during my time in school, and your guidance and encouraging words gave me a reason to keep shooting for the stars. Lastly, I would like to thank all my friends for being amazing human beings in their own special ways, especially my two best friends, Jannat and Kevin. Even for those that I forgot to mention within this speech, I can assure you that you have contributed to our personal growth and you always have our utmost appreciation.
When I first arrived at Queens Gateway as a tiny 6th grader, I didn’t have the slightest idea that as a 12th grader, I would be the well-accomplished salutatorian of my graduating class. My years in Gateway have been filled with many trials and tribulations, but above all, my times in Gateway have taught me strength and resilience. I have cried, gotten angry, smiled, failed, felt proud, but above all, I learned the value of a good education. In life, there are constant battles one must face every day, and if there is anything that I have learned in my time as a student in Gateway, it’s that it doesn’t matter if you lose one battle or a hundred, as long as you learn something for the next time. These are trying times that everyone across the globe is facing right now, but it is important to remember that we are all in this together. This period above all has given me ample time to reflect on what is truly important, and I hope it has done the same for everyone reading this. The days that you feel like you can’t, is when you can the most. Inside every individual is burning inner strength, and it is our job to harness it. No matter what, bad times like this do not last, and there is always something to be thankful for, even on the darkest days. Life is indeed a trip. We will grow, change, fall down, inspire, but at the end of the day what is most important is that when we get off this train ride called life and look back on all we have become, we are proud. Self- preservation is key, and even when it seems intimidating and impossible, finding the courage to never settle is important.
To my fellow graduates, I know that it may be hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel right now, but I know that you can do it. With your amazing personalities and incredible strengths, anything is possible. Do good whenever possible, and as quoted from the Talmud, “One who saves one life saves the world entire.” Moving forward after this especially will be one of the greatest challenges we will face in our lifetime, but it is our responsibility as the upcoming generation of change makers to move forward with grace, humility, intelligence, and above all, compassion.
Once more, I would like to thank everyone who supported us on this journey and give a final congratulations to the Class of 2020. I wish you all good luck and prosperity in all your future endeavors, and I encourage you to be the change you want to see in the world. Go anywhere and conquer, and stamp your name on the stage. I hope you all turn out to be amongst the better people that we’ve learned about and admired in our history books. It has been an honor to be a salutatorian.
With Warm Regards,