EDUCATION

NY town plagued by violence graduates high school seniors

About 1,200 high school students in Brentwood, New York, celebrated their futures at a graduation ceremony capping a violence-plagued year that started with the killing of two fellow students.

Reeda Iqbal, the Harvard-bound valedictorian of the district's Sonderling campus, said Sunday the community afforded them the chance to gain exposure to diverse cultures.

Ross Center valedictorian Michael Simoes described his class as "resilient," saying Brentwood has readied them for the future. Simoes plans to become a surgeon.

The two say their stories of scholarship and perseverance deserve as much attention as the carnage.

The suburban New York community has experienced a spate of gang violence since the school year. Authorities have investigated the deaths of 11 people, mostly teenagers, in Brentwood and neighboring Central Islip since September.