GREENBURGH, N.Y. - While rain spat down outside, a rainbow of green and white balloons arched over the Westchester County Center's stage for Woodlands High Schools graduation.
The 138 students of the Class of 2011, along with parents and friends, packed into the auditorium to pay tribute to the Greenburgh graduates who studied late, applied to colleges and wrote exams. Thirty-one students were members of the National Honor Society while 112 graduated with a Regents Diploma.
"We are overjoyed at your successful completion of high school," said Lloyd Newland, president of the Board of Education. "You are all exemplary representatives and the epitome of the standard of excellence produced by Greenburgh Central 7."
The highlight of the ceremony was the keynote speaker, author Darrell J. Bennett, who nearly sermonized to the graduates about how to take control of their destiny.
"You can be a product of your imagination and your imagination can be a product of you," he said. "They can take your possessions, they can take every material thing that you have. But what they can never take is your sheer will to be a product of your imagination."
In the fall, the graduates will start a new part of their lives, said Newland, transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, which they must do gracefully and confidently.
"In life, when you get knocked down, as you inevitably will, you don't give up you get up," said Bennett. "Failure is not a result of obstacles. Failure is the result of letting the obstacles stop you."
Members of the graduating class will attend a variety of universities, including Harvard University, Fordham University, Penn State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"I have no doubt that all of [the graduates] will be successful and happy and happiness is whatever path you choose," said Newland. "We are not here to celebrate an ending. We are here to celebrate the beginning of all your tomorrows."
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