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The Class of 2013 put the books away and got the party rolling.
Proud alums in tasselled caps and gowns — and smiles as wide as the sun — basked in the limelight and shared their academic successes at pomp-filled graduation ceremonies across the borough.
Some came away wiser for the experience, thanks in part to a former hostage of a terror group.
Students at the Berkeley Carroll School in Carroll Gardens listened raptly to keynote speaker David Rohde, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, who was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008, but managed to escape after seven months in captivity.
“Think before making major decisions,” Rohde warned them.
August Rosenthal was Berkeley’s student speaker.
Ex-transit chief and Republican mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota was in a class of his own at Poly Prep Country Day School’s 156th commencements. The former deputy mayor and past chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority gave the guest address at the Park Slope school, where his daughter Kathryn was a 2009 graduate.
Poly also recognized National Merit Scholarship semifinalists Emily M. Giurleo, Bonnie Mai, Courtnie R. Phillip, Emma E. Restrick, and Philip G. Strauss.
Bay Ridge Preparatory School headed to the Brooklyn Museum for its 15th annual graduation rites, which included a student show performed by Elia Bishara, Gabby Gross, and Joshua Rich.
Bishara, who shared the stage earlier with co-salutatorians Yael Avidan, Dennis Fedoroko, and Kelly Joule, had some sound advice for his classmates.
“This day proves that we have the potential to explore this vast, mysterious world,” he said. “That we can go on to college and begin to find ourselves, and find how we want to make a mark on this world.”
Valedictorians William Bauman, Matthew Cordone, and Abraham Peterkin spoke about the challenges their generation will face in the future — or as Cordone put it, “the pressures of adult life.”
For some, the special occasion was an opportunity to return to their old stomping grounds.
Tatiana Nicoli, owner of Boulevard Books and Cafe in Bay Ridge, found herself back at Fontbonne Hall Academy, after graduating from the all-girls school 17 years ago.
“It was like returning to family,” said Nicoli, who gave the keynote speech. “I told the girls don’t worry about how much money you’re going to make, remember to be happy, and be mindful of your community.”
Gabrielle Mineo and Jessica Seliste were Fontbonne’s valedictorian and salutatorian.
Regina Pynn, a Class of 2006 grad and the project engineer for United Technologies Aero Space Systems, was the guest speaker at Bishop Kearney High School’s big day, held at Brooklyn College. Billy Wei was the valedictorian.
At Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School, another celebrated alumnus took to the podium.
Brooklyn Heights dentist Dr. Eugene Stanislaus, Class of 1976, returned to his Windsor Terrace alma mater to bolster a new generation. Lyle-Anthony Aigbedion and his sister Lydia-Rose kept it in the family, as valedictorian and salutatorian.
The sight of rolled-up diplomas looped around pumping fists continued at Xaverian High School’s ceremonies at Brooklyn College, where Steven Swenson was the valedictorian, and Peter Acquafredda the salutatorian.
Acquafredda recounted how Xaverian’s director of alumni relations Eddie Mayrose, Class of 1979, once said to him, “To be a Xaverian man, you just need to ‘get it.’ ”
“The first few times you hear this, you have no idea what he’s talking about,” Acquafredda said to chuckles from the audience. “But the longer you are here, the more you just ‘get it.’ ”
Alum Rev. Michael Bruno of St. Luke’s Church in Whitestone, Queens, was Xaverian’s keynote speaker.
The pastor, Class of 2003, urged students to lead a life of grace.
“Be men of compassion and love,” he said.
Courier Life Publications extends its hearty congratulations to Brooklyn’s Class of 2013.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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