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Commencement Features Celebrations of Community and Camaraderie
Posted 06/04/2019 07:34PM

Watch the video recap of Commencement above, produced by Noah Weiss '20 and Moses Millman '20.


Celebrations of camaraderie and community among the Class of 2019 highlighted each moment of Bay Ridge Prep’s 21st Annual Commencement. The ceremony, held on Friday, May 31, at the Brooklyn Museum, featured several student speakers who each reflected on their unique bonds and connections while crediting the school’s culture for shaping their educational and personal growth.

“I have a feeling these friendships are ones to last a lifetime,” said Danielle Kasler. “I am grateful to so many of you for helping me to become a better version of myself, and it’s been inspiring for me to watch so many of you transform as well.”

Remarks by Cam Goldberg expressed similar thoughts about developing and maturing as an individual within the school community.

“Bay Ridge Prep offers so many opportunities to grow as a unique person, not to grow as everyone else does,” Goldberg said. “Individuality is important to hold close, and growing more and more into my own person along with watching those around me grow so much, has been the most wonderful part of my experience.”

Dominique Perone, speaking of the different changes and emotions one might go through during high school, said her and her classmates “have learned to make our own decisions and have all grown into mature adults...and come into our own, to know what we want to do with our life, what our passion is and who we are destined to be.”

The impact their teachers had on their experience at Bay Ridge Prep was one of the most significant memories the students said they would take with them after graduation.

“Throughout my three years, I’ve had teachers who were so caring, loving, and willing to do anything to help me,” Merve Balantekin said. “I have learned so much from them and grown bonds that I will carry with me for my entire life.”

Students take one last group selfie together. See more photos below.

Justin Herzfeld recalled not only the academic experiences he had with Bay Ridge Prep faculty, but also the connections they made with him and many other students outside of the classroom.

“Feel gratitude for attending a school where the classes are taught by some of the finest educators in the city, in classes small enough that they don’t just know our names, but know each of us well,” he said. “A place where your math teacher doesn’t just teach about third degree Taylor polynomials, but also cheers you on at your baseball game with a huge poster board with your name on it.”

Mia Composto gave thanks for the countless number of opportunities she said she was given to create original pieces of literature.

“I would have never imagined that I, a young girl with a once suppressed love for literature, would end up in a small school that treasured creativity and imagination so largely,” Composto said. “I believe this is just one of the elements that makes Bay Ridge Prep so very special.”

Students celebrate just after graduating. See more photos below.

Raymond Lee thanked the school for the unique opportunity it gave him to take advanced math since his time in the Lower School and eventually advancing a grade to join his fellow graduates in Upper School.

“I made all my closest friends in fifth grade, but they were all a year older than me... I was being invited to movie nights and birthday parties from the grade above me,” he said. “After several years, the news that I was skipping eighth grade into high school brought tears to my eyes. The surprised looks on my friends’ faces during freshman orientation, I’ll remember the rest of life. I was finally where I belonged.”

Graduates share a moment together before parting ways. See more photos below.

In their addresses to the graduates, Heads of School Dr. Michael Dealy and Dr. Charles Fasano also spoke of the community the students built with one another and the values they continue to develop.

"Your values are not necessarily right or wrong but they are something deeply personal for you. There are choices you are going to have to make in life that can be really advantageous for you, but they might conflict with your values,” Dr. Fasano told the school’s newest alumni before encouraging them to reflect first on each big decision they have to make. “When you compromise your values to have some gain, it can have a cost on your soul, on your being, on who you are as a person.”

In his opening address, Dr. Dealy spoke of the values and characteristics of each graduating student. While noting their individuality, he also emphasized the common bond they will forever share.

“You are all unique individuals and yet all the same in one respect,” Dr. Dealy said. “You made it through all the challenges of Bay Ridge Prep and you did it together.”

Students pose for one last group photo together prior to Commencement. See photo gallery link below.

Honors announced at Commencement included the naming of Valedictorians Cam Goldberg, Justin Herzfeld, Danielle Kasler and Raymond Lee. Salutatorians included Merve Balantekin, Crystal Freeburn and Jackson Pearlman. The valedictorians and salutatorians, in addition to having the highest GPAs in the class, completed numerous AP, advanced and honors courses during their high school career.

Medals of Academic Distinction were given to Sophia Bae, Mia Composto, Katherine Gilbert, Justin Hanna, Maxwell Landy, Gavin McDonough, Xela Perun and Amalia Sandine.

Two students - Crystal Freeburn and Maya Pellitteri - were recognized with the Charter Club Award, a distinction given to graduates who have been in Bay Ridge Prep from Kindergarten all the way through the completion of Upper School.

MORE: Full Photo Gallery

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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