FARMINGDALE — For the 62 Hall-Dale High School students who received their diplomas Saturday, their graduation ceremony was a time to share their common memories and reflect on the time they spent together even before they reached high school.

For Mark Tinkham, the principal of Hall-Dale High, the ceremony was a chance to offer his final words of advice to the first graduating class he’s been able to see through since they were in the sixth grade.

Tinkham focused his speech on framing, which he described as the power of thought and positive thinking.

“If you approach a situation in a negative manner inside, you can’t be positive,” Tinkham said.

About 200 people attended the ceremony in Hall-Dale’s auditorium.

In their speeches, graduates reflected on their time in middle school. In his honor speech, Eli Spahn said, when he moved into the district in sixth grade, he was invited to join multiple friend groups at the beginning of the school year.


“People that I had never met would just come up to me and welcome me,” Spahn said.

Class President Grace Begin began her speech by preemptively apologizing for any cheesy phrases she might use, as her goal was to avoid being “basic.”

“Despite my best efforts to avoid it, my first draft sounded like one of those messages I read off the wall in the girls locker room,” Begin said.

In her speech, Begin said she polled both upperclassmen and underclassmen on what their favorite part of high school was. With upperclassmen, she said, she was met with a lot of pause.

“Most of the freshman would reel off a half dozen answers like rapid-fire text messages,” Begin said.

Begin said because the underclassmen have been at Hall-Dale for a shorter amount of time, they have a shorter list to consider.


At the end of her speech, Begin jokingly asked Tinkham if the class could be excused forever, quoting “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Jen Paisley, Hall-Dale’s art teacher, recognized the foreign exchange students with honorary diplomas.

Tinkham, who was hired in 2012, said this is the first class he has been with since the graduates were sixth graders.

“I feel like a family member to many of these seniors,” Tinkham said. “They are family to me.”

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