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Rye Neck High School Celebrates Class of 2019

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During the 124th commencement ceremony on June 26, 119 members of Rye Neck High School’s Class of 2019 received their diplomas. The students celebrated their accomplishments and the completion of their secondary school experience before an audience of friends, family, teachers and administrators.

Principal Tina Wilson welcomed the guests and praised the students’ impressive accomplishments, which include $46,850 in scholarships, 18,600 hours of community service and representing Rye Neck at 64 higher education institutions in 18 states and three countries. She encouraged the students to enjoy every moment along their journey and the relationships they develop along the way. 

“Harness all of the positive attributes you have developed,” said Wilson, who described the graduates as a group of bright, caring and intelligent young adults. “Use your empathy, activism, confidence, grit, ambition and intelligence to make our communities stronger. Be kind to others, but most importantly, be kind to yourself.” 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro reflected on the close friendships the students have made and the treasured time they have spent together, which for many of them started in Rye Neck as far back as kindergarten. She also paid tribute to the students’ kindness and generosity and encouraged them to continue to be creative, caring and community-minded individuals.

“As you prepare to take the next step along life’s journey, I know that you certainly have the capacity to make a difference in the world and to touch the lives of others in a meaningful way,” Dr. Ferraro said. “Take advantage of the knowledge you have gained as Rye Neck students. Along with the friendships that you have made, they will support your life’s work.” 

The graduates also heard from guest keynote speaker Amy Carelli, a RNHS Class of 2009 graduate, as well as salutatorian Grace O’Rourke, who paid tribute to her classmates’ accomplishments and described them as talented, dedicated and ambitious. In his address, valedictorian Rafael Zyngier reflected on the importance of enjoying your life and living in the moment, rather than accumulating a list of accomplishments. 

“Finding satisfaction with our accomplishments really stems from being happy with the decisions we make along the way,” he said. “Success means something different to everyone, so make your decisions according to your vision and keep in mind the clarity in those moments of reflection. Only we can determine if we are happy with ourselves.” 

Zyngier encouraged his fellow graduates to find a place where they appreciate those around them and are treated respectfully, and, most importantly, do something worthwhile. 

“We all have wonderful lives ahead of us, filled with the wonder and danger and excitement of the unknown,” he said. “But it’s up to us to grasp those opportunities and take advantage of everything life offers.” 

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


Eighth Graders Celebrate Milestone in Moving-Up Ceremony

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Eighth graders – who have been described by their principal as kind and hardworking students – celebrated their accomplishments over the last three years during a special moving-up ceremony, held at the gymnasium on June 26.

The celebration began with the middle school band performing “Pomp and Circumstance” and continued with a performance of “America, the Beautiful.” The ceremony featured inspiring words from student representatives Asha O’Reilly and Matthew Steeves, who reflected on their middle school experience and encouraged their classmates to demonstrate grit in all of their endeavors. 

In his remarks, Principal Dr. Eric Lutinski shared a few words of wisdom with the students about the importance of embracing failure as a stepping stone to success, and provided them with advice on developing grit. 

“Having grit means having determination, fortitude, resolve or strength of character,” he said. “Grit is ignoring available excuses. Grit is finding a way to get things done. It’s OK to take advantage of support from family, friends and technology once in a while; just don’t forget that you are your own best resource.” 

During the ceremony, several students received awards for excellence in academics, athletics and the arts. 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro referenced this year’s “Wizard of Oz” theater production as she offered words of wisdom to the students. She also encouraged the students to thank their parents for their love and support. 

“As you prepare for the next chapter of your Rye Neck journey, I ask you to look within yourself and to think about the adventures of the Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Cowardly Lion whenever you are faced with challenges,” Dr. Ferraro said. “Always know that you have the courage, sensitivity and intelligence to achieve. After all, you are Rye Neck students – brave, caring and smart.” 

Signifying the conclusion of one chapter and the beginning of another, the eighth graders were called one by one to accept their certificates. They will embark on the next phase of their educational journey as high school freshmen in the fall.


‘Extraordinary Class’ Moves Up to Rye Neck Middle School

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F.E. Bellows Elementary School fifth graders – who have been described by their principal as a class of kind and extraordinary children – said farewell to their elementary school days during a moving-up ceremony on June 20. Together, they will embark on the next phase of their educational journey as sixth graders at Rye Neck Middle School in the fall.

The program began with a processional to “Pomp and Circumstance,” a flag salute and a performance of “America the Beautiful” before Principal Michael Scarantino welcomed the guests and honorees. He shared a few words of wisdom with the students and reminded them to look after one another because they are a family who will travel together through their entire school career. 

“My hope has always been that this theme – this message of family – would resonate with each and everyone one of you, and it has,” said Scarantino, who fondly remembered the students as his first third grade class at the school that he’s had the privilege of watching grow and learn over the years. “As I stand here proudly on your moving-up day, I am confident that you will take care of one another in middle school.” 

Scarantino encouraged the students to continue to show kindness and respect toward others and strive to achieve their goals. 

“Stay extraordinary whether you are an athlete, a scholar, an artist, a scientist, an innovator or a humanitarian – or a combination of all of the above,” he said. “Being extraordinary means anything you put your mind to is possible.” 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro acknowledged that the students are ready for new, exciting challenges and opportunities that await them at middle school.  

“You have become strong, confident boys and girls with dreams and aspirations,” Dr. Ferraro said. “You are all extraordinary in so many ways. I ask you to remember that you have the Bellows spirit, so push yourselves to explore, take on a bit more, and when you do – new doors will open.” 

Before the students were called one by one to receive their certificates, they performed “Words of Wisdom,” a song that was written by the students and music teacher Tom Galgano. The ceremony concluded with a performance of “The Moving-Up Song 2019,” another song written by the students and Galgano.