The Nassau County Council of School Superintendents honored 115 seniors from 55 public high schools for their outstanding academic achievements at its annual Celebrating Excellence Breakfast on June 7 at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.

High school valedictorians, salutatorians and honor student designees were joined at the breakfast by their superintendents, principals and family members. Celebrating Excellence Breakfast Committee Co-Chairperson and East Rockaway Union Free School District Superintendent of Schools Lisa Ruiz said it was an opportunity to recognize Long Island’s brightest young men and women who will soon be off to some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges. 

Dr. Michael Nagler, president of NCCSS and superintendent of the Mineola School District, acknowledged the top students for their hard work and tenacity, and reminded them to remain lifelong learners and to always be good listeners. “Seek first to understand, then be understood,” he told the seniors. 

The keynote speaker was Michael Braun, a 2013 graduate of Elmont Memorial High School, who was the 2018-19 student representative on the SUNY Board of Trustees. Braun noted that about 3.6 million students will graduate high school in the United States this year, making the roughly 72,000 valedictorians and salutatorians part of an elite group. He said that sometimes dreams change and success may come in ways they never envisioned, but it’s important for them to take advantages of the opportunities that come about. 

The title of valedictorian and salutatorian, Braun added, represents creativity, intelligence, leadership, perseverance and a drive to always improve.

Superintendents from NCCSS’s Celebrating Excellence Breakfast Committee announced the name of each valedictorian and salutatorian along with their college plans. The program also featured the national anthem performed by Madrigal Singers from North Shore High School and entrance music from the Mineola High School String Ensemble. The breakfast also honored Dr. James Tolle, a former administrator in Uniondale, Malverne, Garden City and Roslyn, and past executive director of NCCSS.