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Remarkable Class of 2017 Celebrated at Commencement
Posted 06/05/2017 10:15PM

The moment the tassels are turned and the Class of 2017 graduates!

> Commencement Photo Gallery

> College Acceptances Poster

“Bay Ridge Prep has taught us to live life fully, to respect each other, to be ourselves, to conquer our fears, to dream big and to have no regrets,” said A.J. Solecki, a member of the Bay Ridge Prep Class of 2017. “Bay Ridge Prep has also taught us that through all of our successes, we should always remain humble and never, ever forget those who helped us along the way.”

Solecki’s sentiments were echoed by several other student speakers that addressed their classmates, parents and teachers at the 19th Annual Commencement of Bay Ridge Prep. The ceremony, held June 2 at the Brooklyn Museum, celebrated the 65 students from the Class of 2017 who earned over $4 million in scholarships to more than 100 colleges and universities.

A.J. Solecki, Mitchell Polozov, Mia Bedford-Lazow
Photo: Jullie Brown Harwood | see more photos!

“The classes were rigorous,” said Mitchell Polozov ‘17, “but they provided me with a strong learning experience. I was given the chance to get to know my teachers and peers on a personal level, strengthening my connections with them and adding to my educational experience. Without the opportunities that this school provided me, I would have never received the chance to explore different activities and discover what I really enjoy doing.”

Mia Bedford-Lazow ‘17 encouraged her classmates to not let obstacles and failure stand in their way as they advance in life. Paraphrasing a quote from Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” which she read in ninth grade, Bedford-Lazow reminded her peers that, “we may fall down seven times, and that is okay, as long as we stand up eight.”

Speaking of the passionate and talented faculty of Bay Ridge Prep, Kaitlyn Kugler ‘17 remarked, “I feel so blessed to have had such amazing teachers in my life that I will forever remember as role models.”

Daniel Stekol ‘17 said of the faculty, “I would like to thank my teachers from the bottom of my heart, not just for the things they’ve taught me, but for the ways they changed me as a person.”

Kaitlyn Kugler, Daniel Stekol, Erica Pye.
Photo: Jullie Brown Harwood | see more photos!

Giving examples of how Bay Ridge Prep teachers have fostered growth in their students in very unique ways, Kathryn Fasano ‘17 praised the school for offering “classes that motivate you to understand not for a grade, but for your own intellectual and emotional growth” and an “environment where teachers focus on your strengths rather than putting you down for your weaknesses.”

Erica Pye ‘17 gave her fellow graduates one simple directive: “Continue to be excellent.”

Excellent is a word that can easily describe this class and it is reflected in the colleges and universities that have extended offers of admission to Bay Ridge Prep’s newest alumni. The list of acceptances includes American University, Barnard College, The Cooper Union, Cornell University, Fordham University, Georgia Tech, Michigan State University, New York University, Northeastern University, Pratt Institute, Skidmore College, University of California, University of Pennsylvania, University of San Francisco and Williams College.

Kathryn Fasano, Alexandra Gaudio
Photo: Jullie Brown Harwood | see more photos!

“We have developed from babies into adults at this school and thrived together as a family at Bay Ridge Prep,” said Alexandra Gaudio ‘17 as she reminisced about her time with her classmates and gave her thoughts on the what comes next. “I can almost guarantee that someone in this room today is going to be famous one day. We are all going to be the lucky ones to say, ‘Oh, hey, I know him!’” 

Mr. Adam Wolfsdorf delivers a personalized "Hamilton"-style song to the class.
Video: Julie Mayring

As a surprise for the graduating class, Upper School English teacher Mr. Adam Wolfsdorf, who often composes a poem specifically for Commencement, decided this year to take the students' lesson on "Hamilton" to a very personal level and composed a song for the class in the style of the popular Broadway-musical.

Prior to bestowing diplomas on the graduates, Bay Ridge Prep founders and Heads of School Dr. Charles Fasano and Dr. Michael Dealy also offered parting words for the graduating class and their guests.

Speaking to the many teary-eyed parents in the audience, Head of School Dr. Fasano shared that being a parent offers the best times of one’s life but, mixed in with it, are the uncertain times.

“One of the best parts of my job, and I believe my colleagues can say the same, is seeing students through difficult times and getting to see what the teamwork of families and a school working together can do to make a positive impact on a child’s life,” Dr. Fasano said. “But it is days like today that you stop, shut out the outside world for a minute and reflect and appreciate the moment we are in right now. And celebrate the success of these students."

In his Commencement address, Head of School Dr. Dealy recalled the admissions interviews that many of the students went through prior to enrolling in Bay Ridge Prep.

“We spoke of career and life goals and sometimes interesting facts about science and history,” he said, “but we were mostly interested in being sure that we could make the coming years successful in as many ways possible.”

Dr. Dealy continued, “You have proven to be a great fit in our community and we have been educational family members for years. I wish you all the best in your college and life experiences. If you are looking back years from now, I hope you look back on these times as precious hours we spent together.”

Graduates take one last class photo outside the Brooklyn Museum.
Photo: Jullie Brown Harwood | see more photos!

Honors announced at Commencement included the naming of Valedictorians Alexandra Gaudio, Kathryn Fasano, Mitchell Polozov, Erica Pye and Daniel Stekol. All five students had 4.0 GPAs after taking classes at the AP, honors and college level throughout their time in the Upper School. 

Salutatorians, whose GPAs were separated by razor-thin margins and also took advanced courses, included Mia Bedford-Lazow, Kelly Brander, Peter Dorris, Kaitlyn Kugler, Molly Schwarz, A.J. Solecki and Andreina Wu Cen.

Medals of Academic Distinction were given to Alexandra DeShong, Jack Franco, Phone Htet Paing, Yu Peng, Andres Priest-Lopez and Dominick Tristani.


Graduates toss their caps in the air at the end of Commencement. 
Photo: Jullie Brown Harwood | see more photos!

Founded in 1998, Bay Ridge Prep is an independent, K-12 college preparatory school offering exceptional courses and intimate class sizes in a socially-mature and positive environment.


  • 8101 Ridge Boulevard
  • Brooklyn, New York 11209
  • Tel: 718.833.9090
  • Fax: 718.833.6680
  • 7420 Fourth Avenue
  • Brooklyn, New York 11209
  • Tel: 718.833.5839
  • Fax: 718.833.1043


Bay Ridge Prep is an independent, private, co-ed, day school accredited by the New York State Association of Independent Schools and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools. Serving students in Kindergarten thru Grade 12 from all across the New York City area, Bay Ridge Prep is located in Brooklyn and dedicated to enriching intellectual curiosity, creativity, and emotional intelligence through a student-centered community that values the unique talents and learning styles of each person.



About Us

Bay Ridge Prep is a co-ed, K-12 independent school in Brooklyn, New York, that is home to 400 students and over 100 faculty spread across two buildings.  With a student-centered environment and fresh approach to education, Bay Ridge Prep provides an enriching academic experience in a socially mature environment.


Bay Ridge Prep is selective in admissions and prospective students go through a formal application process.  What we look for most in an applicant is a student who will benefit from our programs and make a positive impact on our community.


Bay Ridge Prep students get their first taste of hands-on learning in Kindergarten, when they become owners and operators of their own bakery.  By high school, they are deeply engaged in courses like Science, Research & Design - a three-year class that offers the opportunity to conduct original, independent research.


Led by experienced arts educators with advanced degrees in art, music and theater, the arts program recognizes that creative expression is a vital and integral part of a student’s development.


Home to nine championships in the last seven years, Bay Ridge Prep Athletics offers students an opportunity to explore physical challenges and develop leadership and teamwork skills.

Student Life

Student life is more than just classes, clubs and team sports.  Bay Ridge Prep is proactive in making every day life for students engaging, positive and enjoyable. 


Giving to Bay Ridge Prep has a profound impact on the daily lives of our students and helps give the school's administration the flexibility and financial resources to address spontaneous needs in and out of the classroom such as undertaking new programs and facility upgrades.


Bay Ridge Prep Alumni can be found everywhere.  Our newest alums are at some of the best colleges and graduate programs in the country and older alums are professionals in the fields of medicine, law, media, education, finance and more.

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