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Rye Neck High School Celebrates Class of 2021

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Standing before an audience of friends, family and faculty, Rye Neck High School’s Class of 2021 celebrated their achievements and marked the completion of their secondary school experience during a commencement ceremony on June 24.

Principal Tina Wilson welcomed the guests and praised the students for their accomplishments and ability to approach challenges with adaptability, resilience and gratitude. As they move into the next phase of their lives, Wilson encouraged them to hold on to the memories they’ve made during their time at Rye Neck.

“I am confident that you will harness the same energy to create positive outcomes for yourself and others,” she said. “Hold on to the lessons you have learned and the strengths you have discovered. I am amazed at how you’ve matured, how our conversations have evolved and what you have individually and collectively accomplished over the last four years.”

In her remarks, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro reflected on the students’ creativity, flexibility and strength of character to confront each challenge that redefined their senior year.

“You experienced the significance of friendship, learned the value of positive thinking, experienced the joy of being a part of a supportive community and recognized challenges as opportunities to learn and grow,” Dr. Ferraro said. “As you graduate from Rye Neck High School and embark on your life’s journey, remember to follow your passion, choose wisely, greet challenges as opportunities and always strive for excellence.”

The graduates also heard from guest keynote speaker Marie Hasse, a RNHS Class of 2011 graduate, valedictorian Gabriel Miller and salutatorian Zachary Leontiou.

During his valedictory address, Miller expressed his gratitude toward family, friends and teachers for their support and reflected on the strong and caring school community that has enriched his and his peers’ lives. In his salutatory address, Leontiou commended his fellow graduates for everything they accomplished, including continuing to create art and participate in sports, clubs and activities despite unprecedented restrictions. When presented with challenges, he urged them to recall the strength they’ve exhibited over the past years and strive for a brighter future.

One by one, and after years of hard work and dedication, the students took hold of their diplomas and took their first steps as Rye Neck High School alumni.

Eighth Graders Mark Educational Milestone in Moving-Up Ceremony

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Eighth graders celebrated their accomplishments over the last three years during a moving-up ceremony, held before an audience of family, friends, teachers and administrators on June 24.

The ceremony featured inspiring words from student representatives Gabriella Fasolino and Saminal Quli, who reflected on their middle school experiences and the lessons they learned when facing challenges.

Fasolino said she looked forward to trying new activities, learning new material and making new friends in high school, and reminded her fellow classmates that they all have each other’s backs as support over the next four years.

“We need to have confidence as we enter high school,” Fasolino said. “We have been preparing for what is to come, which will be nothing other than greatness. Therefore, hold your heads high and have the time of your lives because soon we’ll be standing here as seniors throwing our caps in the air. We need to remember it’ll all go by in a blink of an eye.”

Quli encouraged her fellow classmates to embrace challenges because that’s what builds character and strength. She reflected on the entire class’s contribution and resilience in following safety guidelines, wearing masks and social distancing over the last year and a half.

“Hardships are going to happen in life but it’s how we grow and find ourselves through those experiences that define us as individuals,” Quli said. “Through those experiences we know that if we see something wrong with the world, we can effect change. We must be the change and stand tall instead of allowing adversity to take control of us. That is how our world can become a place that is safe, fair and just to everyone.”
In his remarks, Principal Dr. Eric Lutinski reflected on the students’ growth, resilience and ability to overcome obstacles, including quarantines, desk shields, asynchronous learning, cohorts, open windows in January and masks.

“Congratulations to each of you for achieving during what will become a legendary chapter in your life story,” Dr. Lutinski said. “Thank you, students, for demonstrating that you are capable of using your heads and having heart when faced with a challenge. Thank you, parents, for cheering so that we knew you were there when we needed you most. Thank you to every teacher, counselor, psychologist, assistant, nurse, custodian, grounds crew, secretary, clerk, monitor, coach, food server, administrator and Board member for making sure we were never alone in the ring.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro offered words of wisdom to the students and encouraged them to always stay positive and continue to support each other.

“This unusual school year brought to light your inner strength, resilience and creativity, which allowed you to find positive results within challenges that you faced,” Dr. Ferraro said. “When things seem difficult, remember all that you were able to achieve as eighth graders, believe in yourself and know that you have what it takes to succeed. Your future is very bright.”

During the ceremony, several students received awards for excellence in academics, athletics and the arts. Signifying the conclusion of one chapter and the beginning of another, the eighth graders were called one by one to accept their certificates before they walked away from the football field as rising high school freshmen.

Bubbledad Brings Science to Life for Daniel Warren Students

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Daniel Warren Elementary School kindergarten through second grade students were treated to an interactive science demonstration when Chris Catanese, also known as Bubbledad, visited their school on June 1, 17 and 18.

As part of the PTSA STEAM programming, the students experienced an enrichment program that directly correlated to the science curriculum and learned how to make bubbles of all sizes.

“The students loved it; they had so much fun while learning,” teacher Emily Taylor said.

F.E. Bellows’ Fifth Grade Class of Heroes Moves Up to Middle School

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F.E. Bellows Elementary School celebrated its 112 fifth graders during an in-person moving-up ceremony on June 16. Described by their principal as resilient, determined and adaptable heroes, the students bid farewell to their elementary school days before an audience of teachers, administrators, parents and friends.

In his remarks, Principal Michael Scarantino reflected on the students’ strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles, including navigating online learning, quarantining and wearing masks for 175 days.

“It takes mental toughness to accomplish that for so long,” Scarantino said. “What made it most impressive was they didn’t complain about it at all. They went about the tasks at hand: learning, leading and achieving because they knew these were the most important obstacles that they needed to overcome to be successful.”

He praised the students for their determination to complete their assignments, try their best in every subject and participate in remote Math Olympiad, book clubs and stock market game classes. He also encouraged them to take their resilience, determination, adaptability, independence and mindfulness on their next educational adventure as middle schoolers in the fall.

“They were determined to have the best fifth grade year possible and took advantage of every opportunity afforded to them,” he said. “They were fully aware of the obstacles they faced this year and calmly acknowledged and accepted the challenge. The most powerful heroes in the world are those who can master the art of mindfulness and they did it with ease.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro said the students are ready for new, exciting challenges and opportunities that await them at middle school, including being the first middle school class to enjoy a new gymnasium.

“When I think of your fifth grade year, I think about how different it was for you, but I am also reminded of the good things and how strong and resilient you were,” Dr. Ferraro said. “You adjusted quickly to new ways of teaching and learning and to staying connected with friends. Throughout it all, you were able to be positive and supportive of each other.”

Before the students were called one by one to receive their certificates, Rye Neck High School senior and valedictorian Gabriel Miller shared a few words of wisdom.

The ceremony concluded with a performance of “Better Day,” a moving-up song that was written by the students and music teacher Tom Galgano.

Rye Neck Appoints Dr. Dulce Barker as Middle School Principal

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The Rye Neck Union Free School District Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Dulce Barker as the new Rye Neck Middle School principal.

“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Dulce Barker to the Rye Neck School District,” Dr. Ferraro said. “The community will benefit from her extensive experience as a teacher and administrator. Dr. Barker brings a passion for learning and teaching to the position of Rye Neck middle school principal.”

Dr. Barker most recently served as assistant principal of Anne M. Dorner Middle School in the Ossining Union Free School District. During her tenure, she has been responsible for supervising staff and providing professional development for teachers and teaching assistants. She also served on the district’s equity, social-emotional learning and special education committees. Prior to that, she worked as a science teacher and science department coordinator at Rye Middle School.

Dr. Barker began her educational career as a science teacher, having served at the Adrien Block Intermediate School 25, Windward School and the Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers. In addition, she worked as an adjunct professor at Manhattanville College. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in anthropology from Florida Atlantic University, as well as a certificate of advanced study and a doctorate in educational leadership from Manhattanville College.

Community members are invited to meet with Dr. Barker on June 21 at 6 p.m. in the middle/high school dining hall.

Appointed on a three-year probationary term during the Board of Education meeting on June 16, Dr. Barker will step into her role on July 1.