Commencement Celebrates Class of 2012
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For Bay Ridge Prep’s Class of 2012, Commencement on June 1st at the Brooklyn Museum meant the end of one chapter in their lives and, for some students, the conclusion to the longest chapter of their lives so far. Before preparing to make new discoveries and reach for new accomplishments in college, however, this year’s senior class used their graduation day to leave a mark on Bay Ridge Prep like only they could.
Emotional student speeches were undoubtedly the highlight of the day along with the annual senior slide show, a video presentation featuring interviews of the seniors, and a surprise flash mob that brought the ceremony to a bittersweet end.
"Bay Ridge Prep offered us the opportunity to question, to find out why something happened and not just that it happened," Brandon Fernandes '12, said before presenting The Class of 2012: In Their Own Words, a video he produced and edited. "It offered us the opportunity to have our answers questioned, polished, respected...it made clear to us that in education, one size doesn't fit all, nor that it should."
A constant theme throughout many of the salutatorians', valedictorians', and other students' speeches was the feeling of community and the tremendous effort on the part of the faculty to make students feel like individuals.
"I really couldn't have wished for a better collection of teachers than I have had at Bay Ridge Prep," said Taylor Ward ’12. "They've played a much bigger role than I did in shaping the person I’ve become today."
Hira Javed '12, said, "The teachers here do not believe that they are better than or superior to the students but, rather, that we are all still learning as we go along."
Javed added that she remembered coming to an open house and Head of High School Dr. Michael Dealy telling her "students find it very hard to leave when graduation time comes around." Javed turned to Dr. Dealy and said to him, "You were one hundred percent correct."
Sofiya Bavlovych '12, reminded her fellow graduates to "take this moment and realize that this is probably the last time we will ever all be together like this…I wouldn't have shared these moments with any other group of people other than the one sitting here with me today."
Eamon Gallagher '12, said he needed exactly what Bay Ridge Prep gave him, which was, "a place that respected the ideas and comments of its students… There is a deep feeling of comfort in the classroom; this comfort allowed me to build confidence and take chances."
Recounting a story that Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach Tony Campbell often tells student-athletes, Joseph Senisi '12, who first came to Bay Ridge Prep in 2001, told the audience at Commencement how his involvement with the school's athletic program helped him understand what it truly means to persevere.
"Before we started practice, Coach got us all together and said, 'Guys, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,'" Senisi said while reminiscing about beginning high school basketball in fall of freshman year. "He said this before every practice and every game for the rest of the season. That same year, we won the championship. After the game…he gathered the team for one last time that season and said, 'Guys, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Today was the thousandth step.' From that day on, I knew exactly what he meant."
Senisi continued, "never take anything for granted and never settle for complacency…For all of us graduating today, this is the beginning of a new journey and it’s just the first step."
Other memorable student quotes from Commencement included:
Erik Wu-Leung '12, describing Bay Ridge Prep as, "a community that has nurtured confidence in our abilities as well as ambition."
"Every day, we learned something new at Bay Ridge Prep…Our teachers guided us and taught us everything they know, both inside and outside of the classrooms," Jessica Cacace '12, said.
"I will cherish being able to blend seamlessly with everyone's unique personalities," Samora Alexis '12, remarked.
Speaking about the friendships she established since being a student in the Lower School, Melissa Parke commented, "not a lot of people can say they are graduating with their best friends…I know the group sitting in front of me will stand by me forever."
Michael Filippino '12, added, "Bay Ridge Preparatory School has become a second home to me and its students and faculty are like family."
"Bay Ridge Prep is a special place where not only did I get a great education, but I found an awesome group of people to call my friends," said Rowan El-Yateem '12.
Danielle Cowan '12, said, "By the end of the first week of school I knew this was the place for me. No one judged you or made you feel as if you didn’t belong."
Of all the life lessons taken from Bay Ridge Prep, Lauren Simonton '12, said, "If I’ve learned anything, it's how important it is to have such an incredible group of people to work with; both students and teachers."
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After the conferral of diplomas and the traditional slide show that ends Commencement, the Class of 2012 had one last memory to leave for the Bay Ridge Prep community. Just as closing remarks were being made, the entire class leapt out of their seats, on to the stage and surprised their families and the school faculty with a two minute long flash mob. As a mix of songs selected by the seniors filled the museum auditorium, the school's newest graduates danced their way into becoming proud alumni of Bay Ridge Prep.
Honors bestowed at Commencement included:
Valedictorians: Sofiya Bavlovych, Hira Javed, Taylor Ward, Erik Wu-Leung
Salutatorians: Samora Alexis, Jessica Cacace, Rowan El-Yateem, Brandon Fernandes, Eamon Gallagher, Joseph Senisi, Lauren Simonton
Medals of Academic Distinction: Jesse Beckerman, Michael Filippino, Pamela Foladare, Celina Greene, Isabel Guerriera, Arlene Rodriguez, Ruddy Santana
Developing the whole student since 1998, Bay Ridge Prep is an independent, K-12 college preparatory school offering a strong academic program in a student-centered community that values the unique talents and learning styles of each person.