East Hampton Grads Look to Future

East Hampton's valedictorian, Alexander Sigua Pintado, left, and its salutatorian, Jonathan Gomez Barrientos. Durell Godfrey Photos

The mood at the East Hampton High School class of 2018 commencement ceremony, held under a big white tent on the school grounds off Long Lane on Friday evening, was excited and upbeat, aided by cooler-than-usual temperatures. "This is the first graduation I remember where it is less than 90 degrees under the tent," joked Adam Fine, the high school principal. Though it threatened to rain, even the weather seemed unwilling to spoil the graduates' big day.

In his heartwarming speech, Jonathan Gomez Barrientos, the salutatorian bound for Cornell University, thanked everyone who helped him get there, especially his mother for her bravery in bringing him and his three siblings to this country, without so much as speaking the language. He fought back tears as he thanked her. Alexander Nicholas Sigua Pintado, the valedictorian, who is headed for Harvard University, strove to inspire in his speech, advising his peers not to fear failure and rebuking the education system for enforcing that fear.

Student reminisced about their time at the school, looking back on some distinctly modern-age moments -- the school installing cubbies for smartphones to prevent cheating, the class being targeted on Yik Yak (the anonymous bulletin-board app that recently went through a moment of popularity) -- and some less so -- the class breaking a bullet-proof window, the class fearing the future.

National politics crept in at the edges of the celebration. The principal commended the class, many of them immigrants or the children of immigrants, for staying focused on academics while simultaneously fearing for their safety.

Of the 210 members of the class listed in the graduation program, 83 percent will attend college and 63 percent will attempt four-year degrees. Forty-two members of the class are in the National Honor Society, 21 are in the National Art Honor Society, 17 are in the Tri-M Music Honor Society, and 65 are in the National Foreign Language Honor Society.

In just a few months, East Hampton graduates will head across the country to pursue college degrees, with members of school's class of 2018 set to attend seven of eight Ivy League colleges and 20 of the American universities ranked in U.S. News and World Report's top 50 schools. They will be in Hawaii, California, Florida, Oregon, Colorado, and Texas, among other states, with the option to pursue studies ranging from medicine and engineering to art and the law.
 

Durell Godfrey
Durell Godfrey
Durell Godfrey
Durell Godfrey
This student literally flipped for joy after graduating on Friday.Durell Godfrey