Celebration, Remembrances at East Hampton Graduation

The graduating students were all smiles at the commencement ceremony on Friday evening. Durell Godfrey photos

In flowing maroon caps and gowns — with gusty winds causing a few caps to be toppled — 157 graduating seniors, East Hampton High School’s class of 2017, marched across the school fields and entered a giant tent, where family members, faculty and staff, as well as community well-wishers, gathered to revel in the pomp and circumstance of this year’s graduation ceremony. The high school band played on as the class valedictorian, Philipe Zablotsky, led his classmates, followed by the salutatorian, Dylan Schleider. Many of the students donned cords around their shoulders, indicating the various societies into which they were inducted. 

Adam Fine, the school’s principal and the evening’s keynote speaker, began his speech by remembering two students who would have been present if not for their tragic deaths: Anna Lytton, who died four years ago after being struck by a car while riding her bike, and Matthew Lester, who took his own life in January. 

On that note, Mr. Fine addressed the seniors: “This class has faced incredible highs and lows. You have had to deal with challenges that at your age you should have never have had to face.” The principal reminded his students that life is precious and advised them to, “not let the obstacles you face define you but inspire you instead.”

A moment of humor, in an otherwise somber ceremony, was provided by the salutatorian during her speech. “To my fellow Montauk grads, I want to say that we got the short end of the stick as far as school transportation goes. In four years of high school, we spent about a month of our lives sitting on a bus journeying up and down the stretch.” Dylan ended her speech declaring, “Goodbye everyone. I’ll remember you well in therapy!”

Richard Burns, the district’s superintendent, and J.P. Foster, the president of the school board, handed out the high school diplomas.

One proud parent, Lynn Czranecki, was there to cheer her daughter, Jillian. Ms. Czranecki said she is a graduate of the school, as was her mother and grandmother, and considers herself a fixture at East Hampton High’s graduation ceremonies. Jillian, she said, will attend Elon University in the fall.

Maxine de Havenon, who graduated from East Hampton two years ago and now attends Brown University, was also in attendance to celebrate the graduation of her sister, Cecilia. “This really shows you what a great community East Hampton is,” she said of the vast crowd under the tent. “I see many of the same faces who were here when I graduated.” Her sister will attend Bowdoin College in September. 

John Ryan Sr., a longtime member of the school board, hugged his granddaughter Marikate Ryan after presenting her with her diploma.
Members of the graduating class anxiously awaited their diplomas.
Diego Avila and his family mark the moment with a photo.
Cameron Kavanaugh with his father, John Kavanaugh
The class valedictorian, Philipe Zablotsky