The students of Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School hosted a celebration on Friday, November 13, 2015, to honor the many veterans of the East End community who served in the armed forces.

The ceremony began on the front lawn of the school, where students and honored veterans gathered around the flagpole for the raising of the American flag by Michael Pankowsky ’76, Commander of the American Legion in Riverhead.

The group then moved inside to the auditorium where Carl Semmler, Principal of McGann-Mercy, and Dr. Kathleen Walsh, Diocesan Superintendent of Schools, welcomed the veterans and spoke to the student body about the importance of sacrifice in our everyday lives. Matt Prochillo, director of campus ministry, delivered the invocation, and the McGann-Mercy Chorus performed the National Anthem.

Senior Taya Coniglio ’16—who has hopes of being accepted into the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis—spoke about the influence her father had in her decision to pursue a career in the military services, and thanked the veterans for their service. Our special guest speaker Sergeant Major Timothy Wiwczar ’78 took center stage and spoke about the best ways to honor veterans every day. He urged the students to use the freedoms America provides wisely, by flying the flag, and voting in each election. There are the best ways to honor the legacy of the many veterans that served their country proudly.


After closing comments, Principal Semmler announced that the charity the student body chose to support earlier this year was the local VA Hospital. Refreshments were served and members of Mercy on Mission—a student club devoted to making a difference in the community—stayed to mingle with the veterans who had great stories to tell.