Class of 2023 Commencement
Congratulations to the Class of 2023
The green foliage on three sides and the purple glow at the front cupped the Venetian Theater, gently holding all the pride and joy of John Jay High School’s 229 graduates and their families, as well as many teachers, district administrators and community members. For nearly an hour on Thursday, June 20, laughter and tears filled the space before spilling out into Caramoor’s grounds and beyond.
The music and stories shared at John Jay High School’s Class of 2023 Commencement created a memorable and moving send-off for a class described as kind and resilient, and whose academic and athletic achievements included four Regeneron Science Research awards, eight league championship teams, six all-state players, five academic all-Americans and a state champion robotics team.
Valedictorian and Salutatorian
Dr. Steven Siciliano
Leadership Nurtures Whole Community
In his Commencement address, Principal Steven Siciliano highlighted the ways that the Class of 2023’s leadership nurtured community, including all-school pep rallies; a rotation of playing squads for Unified basketball, a team that champions students with special needs; and a house band, Route 121, which plays at school events and more.
Salutatorian Olivia Blank used the earth’s rotation—at approximately 1,000 mph—to highlight the energy with which the Class of 2023 pursued what they love in classes, at club meetings, during practices and rehearsals, as well as “a calculated mix of Bobo’s runs, hikes at Ward, trips to the Res, late-night excursions to Cam’s for Mac Bites and Cluckin’ Russians, themed Friday night football games, and sweet-tooth fueled drives to King Kone or Deborah Ann’s.”
The mood shifted when Valedictorian Joseph Klettner took the stage
A minute into his speech, Valedictorian Joseph Klettner put on thick rimmed glasses, held up an oversized book and pinched his nose, becoming a self-deprecating stereotype of a nerd. In nasally delivered words, he defined the label as “someone who devotes his life to books. I have a terrible social life and do nothing but study with my cats.”
Props put aside, Joseph turned the hilarity into an important message. “There are bound to be expectations and stereotypes placed on us … But what I’ve learned from being at John Jay is that you can be whoever you want to be. Jocks can be gentle and kind. Geeks can be social butterflies. I can be in a rock band."
“Regardless of what category society boxes you into, that box is not made of steel … once I stopped caring so much about what other people thought, I grew infinitely in confidence and personality … Congratulations, Class of 2023. May you always strive to be you.”
"Thank you for the memories. I will never forget them"
Social studies teacher and assistant softball coach Kaitlyn McCarthy was the students’ choice for a Faculty Guest Speaker. After several pithy observations of life at John Jay, she highlighted one of the most impactful moments of her year—"watching the leadership, dedication and growth of the young female athletes that I’ve had the absolute pleasure to coach.” When her voice wavered, more than a few tissues came out.
After Superintendent Andrew Selesnick accepted the Class of 2023, Dr. Siciliano deemed them graduates. The young people flipped their tassels right to left and tossed their caps in the air. It looked like festive confetti to the applauding audience below - a celebratory close to the ceremony.