For almost thirty years, I’ve watched Sag Harbor salute Pierson’s graduating class of seniors, although always as a passive bystander, a member of our community standing off to the sides as friends and neighbors send their children off into the world.
Now, as time once again catches me, I’m a spectator no more.
Our son, Connor, as part of Pierson’s 2012 senior class, is just a few short days away from graduating high school.
Recently, Connor spoke about service at Pierson’s National Honor Society Induction Ceremony, and as I looked past him, to the many other National Honor students, I felt a sense of comfort, a deep knowing that from our little town, many of our seniors were going off to sow great seeds, and that our future is bright.
Over the years, I’ve watched as Connor and his classmates evolve from naive children, happily singing songs at Sag Harbor Elementary’s Morning Program, to spectacular, poised and self-assured young adults.
Each year, from the elementary school’s afternoon pickup, to the endless drama of Middle School, to High School’s final push before either college or life’s next step, I’ve seen this graduating class grow, mature, and articulate their unique insight with expressions of music, sport, theatre, community service, in some cases rebellion, although always with an individualism far beyond what I ever encountered in my educational experience.
So, here’s what I did. I randomly asked six Pierson seniors if they had a purpose for their life and plans for their future. Here’s what they told me:
Emily Verneuille, is attending SUNY Geneseo, and said, “I’m still undecided about my career, but I plan to study math or business. If I enter the fields of finance or accounting, my efforts could help improve the quality of life for others. Playing the clarinet is also important to me because it brings joy to my life and that of those around me. Changing the future can be accomplished through both work and pleasure.”
Sean Hartnett is also attending SUNY Geneseo. He shared with me, “Whatever I do, I will use every ounce of strength I have to be the best I can be. And I will dedicate my life to it. My future is bright because no matter what I do, I don’t see the option of failing. Whether it’s a neuroscience student, medical doctor, or president of the United States, I will give my best effort. And that is why I only envision success and nothing less for myself.”
Mike Heller will be attending the University of Virginia, and said, “One can often have the biggest impact on the future by excelling in one’s personal endeavors. Some of my goals, which include having a family, becoming a high level sports business executive, and contributing to my community, may not be what some people consider changing the future, but I believe I will do my part to help. By achieving personal happiness and by making the lives of others better, we can all make a brighter future.”
Sariah Cafiero is attending Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and said, “After graduating high school, I plan to make the future brighter by helping children who struggle with their parents’ divorce. It’s something I had to go through, I know it’s tough, so the least I could do is help. I would also like to coach! I’d love to get something together like a field hockey tournament in order to raise money for breast cancer, under privileged children etc. Volunteering for various types of things is something I love to do, helping out communities is very important for me not only now, but in the future, because I can make a difference. Not only does this help the future, but it helps me be the best person I can be.”
Sean Romeo is attending the University of Maine, and said, “In the future, I hope to bring a higher level of fitness to the world. I would like to decrease obesity rates and help people live long, healthier lives.”
And Pierson senior, Sam Miller, is off to Cornell University’s, College of Engineering. He told me, “Currently, I don’t have any pinpointed dreams of how I might affect the future after I graduate. I have far fetched ideas like the next person; however, I would consider my overarching goal to be improving technology from an environmental standpoint. One specific aspect I would love to work on is making transportation more efficient; such as creating cars that can drive themselves, therefore increasing traffic flow and reducing unnecessary stops. One thing I do know for sure is I will continue to apply myself fully, and be not only the best student or employee but the best person I can be.”
These Pierson seniors, along with the entire graduating class, are our tomorrows, our future, and I stand in awe of their potential.
Soon, they will be gone.
And yet, as our graduating seniors go off to follow their heart, their roots will always be firmly planted in Sag Harbor, still intuitively tethered to a community that loves them, and will always be here, ready for their return.
For our family, we’ve been blessed with Connor, a wonderful son, brother and friend. We are grateful beyond measure that we’ve been gifted with the honor of raising our children in paradise, and although Connor goes off to UMass Amherst soon, nothing can diminish his remarkable childhood here in Sag Harbor.
Congratulations, Pierson graduating class of 2012. I am bursting with pride, and grateful that, thanks to you, our future is bright.
North Haven resident, Robbie Vorhaus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.