Grads applaud Wednesday during the Atlantic City High School graduation ceremony at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Michael Ein

ATLANTIC CITY — Reflecting on lessons learned and experiences from Hurricane Sandy was the theme at Atlantic City High School’s graduation ceremony Wednesday at Boardwalk Hall.

“I saw a renewed sense of unity that I have not seen in a long time,” salutatorian Brian Gallagher said. He reminded his peers that after this graduation day, each would be headed in their own direction, but that the devastation from Sandy only helped the community grow stronger.

“This gathering of students today is nothing short of a success story,” Gallagher said.

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Throughout high school, success was clearly defined as achievement tied to a system, Valedictorian Dominique Voso said.

But, she asked her classmates, what is success in the real world?

“This October, our hometown was washed over by a disaster — Hurricane Sandy,” Voso said. “Some of us came back to water damage, mold or no home at all. Streets were blocked by Dumpsters, littered with trash and scattered with mounds of sand.”

“But to us Vikings, Sandy was just a setback. We have made great progress. We are very thankful for the community, our family and friends, as well as the donations from all over the country,” Voso said.

“Success is not just a grade-point average. Success will only be determined by us,” Voso said.

Board of Education President Patricia Bailey quoted comedy writer Robert Orben and told the students that, “A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that individuality is the key to success.”

“This graduation ceremony celebrates each of you, individually,” she continued. “Even Superstorm Sandy couldn’t stop you. This uniqueness is reflected in the diversity of the school. In diversity, there is learning and there is strength. In the last four years, as a class, you have demonstrated this.”

Bailey told the “Superstorm Sandy class”, totaling 533 students, that dreams do come true, and they should pursue theirs.

Superintendent Donna Haye announced Principal Oscar Torres’ retirement after the speeches to the hundreds crowded at Boardwalk Hall, and wished him luck. Several other teachers’ retirements were announced, as well.


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