Valedictorian, Gregory O’Rourke
Gregory O’Rourke took the podium at the 2012 North Shore High School Commencement Ceremony while his peers, teachers, family and friends watched with joy and admiration. After he graciously asked everyone in the audience to show their respect for the Salutatorian, Claire Castellano, he began his speech by stating, “Every day we look in the mirror and judge what we see. Class of 2012, if there is one thing I want you to take away from this address, it is this: The future calls…” Gregory continued and reminded his peers that, “We cannot let ourselves be trapped into thinking that we are incapable of making ourselves worth more and making society a better place. Nor can we let ourselves think we are perfect or special beings simply because we exist. The future calls. There’s a world out there that needs your help. There’s a person in you that needs to be worth something. The future calls. There’s a mirror out there that will tell you whether or not to be worth something. Make this world a better place. The future calls...” He concluded by saying, “So, my beloved high school class, as we all find ourselves on different corners of the country, remember that there’s always a mirror that each and every one of us is going to have to face. And, get ready, because the battle is long and hard but I know it can be done….”
It is clear from reviewing Gregory O’Rourke’s extensive list of awards and honors that he has approached every challenge of his high school career with hard work, passion and dedication. This is reflected in his numerous accomplishments including: National Merit Semifinalist, AP Scholar, Harvard Book Award, Foreign Language Honor Society, Science Honor Society, Senior Spanish Achievement Award, Victor Baptiste Spanish Essay Contest (Honor Bronze Medal), Long Island Math Fair (two Gold Medals), Rensselaer Medal of Achievement in Math and Science, Social Studies Departmental Award, and AAPT Award for Achievement in Physics.
- While his academic accomplishments have been outstanding, Gregory also participated in
- the following diverse and fulfilling activities: Men’s Track Team, AIDS Peer Educators,
- Theatre-Dramaturgy, Internship with Village of Sea Cliff with Senior Outreach, LGBT and
- Senior Citizen activism, Literary research, Science Olympiad, and the Gay-Straight
- Alliance just to name a few! He said, “Joining the track team helped to teach me that
- judging others based on unimportant and unsubstantiated social constructs and stereotypes
- was a big mistake…But, I wanted to be all that I could be, and be part of something new…”
Gregory’s stellar achievements have earned him an acceptance to Stanford University in the fall where he wants to study sociology, mathematics, physics, and English. His career goal is to become an attorney. He said, “I hope to become an attorney with a strong lean towards social justice and civil rights law. Both of my parents are attorneys and it has been my dream to be a lawyer ever since I can remember”. Everyone at the North Shore Schools is sincerely proud of his many accomplishments.
Salutatorian, Claire Castellano
Over her past four years at North Shore High School, Claire Castellano has truly excelled. Among her long list of honors, Claire received the Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award, Dartmouth Book Award, Long Island Math Fair Silver Medal, AP Scholar with Distinction, and was a PSAT National Merit Commended Scholar. Her achievements include: National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, and Science National Honor Society. She was nominated for the National Honor Society of High School Scholars and achieved High Honor Roll every quarter (Grades 9, 10 and 11).
In addition to her academic accomplishments, Claire was Co-President of the National Honor Society and Co-Secretary for the Tri-M Music Society. She played on the Field Hockey, Basketball and Softball Teams while maintaining her strong interest in music. She performed the clarinet in the Pit Orchestra, Pep Band, Marching Band, and Wind Ensemble. Additionally, she was nominated for the NYSBDA Honor Band and participated in NYSSMA.
During the 2012 North Shore High School Commencement Ceremony, Claire spoke about one of the greatest American writers of the 19th Century, Herman Melville, who wrote Moby-Dick. She said, “…Melville left for the ages a source of inspiration from one of the simplest forces of all: childhood. He wrote, “Keep true to the dreams of thy youth”…She continued, “Without over idealizing childhood, there is something pure about the dreams of youth, something innate in our characters that we can trace back to our childhood…As children, we imagined our potential as having no limit. So why now, years older and allegedly wiser, should we create hindrances to our independence and success?” She concluded by saying, “…We are given the chance now to solve some of the great issues that plague our planet. And, frightening through they may be, we must not shy away from these troubles, and we must not create an internal ‘glass ceiling’ where there is none. We must, instead, strive to tackle these issues with the enthusiasm and perseverance that we had as children…”
Claire will be attending Amherst College in September. Upon leaving high school, she concluded by stating to her peers, “Broaden your horizons, be adventurous, and try something new, all with the knowledge and maturity you have gained and developed over these past four years and throughout the course of your life. But, never lose ‘the dreams of thy youth”.
Lots of luck is offered to both Gregory O’Rourke and Claire Castellano. We at the North Shore Schools are all so very proud of both students and congratulate them for their dedication, passion, courage, and talent. This is only the beginning and we celebrate you and the entire North Shore High School Class of 2012.