Saturday, February 13, 2016
Graduation 2014

Laughs, tears and a few regrets fill graduation ceremonies

By Maya Rajamani
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Angel Valdez, 10, Anthony Salaman, 11, and the rest of the AmPark Neighborhood School fifth grade graduating class perform on June 19.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Sarah Gabay, Rachel Cohen, Malka Kaminetzky and Kate Weinberg sing and celebrate at the reception for the Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy’s graduation ceremony on June 18.
Masao Katagami/The Riverdale Press
Magic Washington dances at the graduation ceremony for DeWitt Clinton High School’s class of 2014. The proceedings took place at the Armory Track in Manhattan on June 26.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Katherine Guerrero-Valoy's eyes begin to tear up during the David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy (M.S./H.S 141) graduation ceremony on June 26 at the College of Mount St. Vincent.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Christopher Frias, Jr., 17, looks at an image of Alexander ‘A.J.’ Walker as Cesar Lebron, 18, listens to a speaker explain the kind of person A.J. was and what he meant to the school prior to his death. John F. Kennedy High School saved a seat for him at its graduation, held at Manhattan College’s Smith Auditorium on June 26.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Grader Davida Kraus addresses the audience at the SAR Academy’s graduation ceremony on June 18.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Yi Liu, 18, who is heading to New York University, Ethan Sua, 18, going to SUNY-Oswego, Sasha Reiter, 17, going to SUNY-Binghamton, Christina Millan, 17, going to SUNY-New Paltz, Ashley Greaves, 18, going to Swarthmore College and Marco Cisneros, 17, going to Manhattan College, pose for their family and friends after graduating from the David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy (M.S./H.S. 141) on June 26 at the College of Mount St. Vincent.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
John F. Kennedy High School graduates celebrate at the Smith Auditorium at Manhattan College on June 26.

RKA students look ahead

As senior Jumanah Escalera began to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” at the start of the David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy’s (RKA, M.S./H.S. 141) June 26 graduation ceremony, her voice broke as she teared up — she could not continue. 

Luckily, her classmates were there to provide backup vocals. 

Soon, the entire audience had joined in the song. Senior class president Hanady Sayed spoke of RKA’s sense of community in her speech.

“We are a family. We may not always get along, but at the end of the day… we appreciate moments like those,” Hanady said while recalling RKA’s movie night, her class’s senior trip and a senior dinner where the chef tossed food into students’ mouths.

Many of the graduates will go on to college, with seniors earning more than $2.5 million in scholarships this past school year.

On their next journey, Principal Lori O’Mara advised students to live without regret. 

“Too often, I hear people say, I’ve really wanted to do that,” she said. “Don’t let yourself be the person that says that.” 

Valedictorian Ashley Greaves described overcoming adversity in achieving her academic goals. She said she often stayed up until 4 a.m. to complete work in classes she struggled with.

The graduate, who will attend Swarthmore College with plans to study biology and become a doctor, exhorted her classmates to pursue their passions. 

“I advise you all to fall in love,” she said — with a class, a job, an interest or a place they would someday travel. 

SAR students transition to high school

The word “shalom” can mean both hello and goodbye. 

It was on the tip of many SAR Academy students’ tongues as they said farewell to middle school and took the stage at the Salanter Akiba Riverdale High School for their graduation ceremony, where many of the students will attend next year. 

“Rabbi Harcsztark, you are getting a group of really wonderful students,” SAR Academy Principal Binyamin Krauss said to SAR High School’s principal during his welcome speech on June 18.

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