“Like a great song interrupted just before the best part,” is how Peter Kambeseles ‘20 described the high school experience of seniors at Bay Ridge Prep, and all around the country. He added, “But ours is a generation of resiliency and hope. Born in the aftermath of 9/11, we brought joy to many families all over the world. Today, we are coming of age during another transformative event that will not soon be forgotten.”
The remarks, made during the 22nd Annual Commencement ceremony of Bay Ridge Prep on June 9, joined other students’ who gave thoughtful and insightful reflections on their time together at Bay Ridge Prep while looking toward the future with optimism as they continue to adjust to a new normal forced upon us by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I can say that without a shadow of a doubt that this is the road not taken,” said Moses Millman ‘20. “I do think we will be able to come out of this situation and take positives away from it. Time and life are very similar. It is not about how much you get but what you fill those days or minutes with.”
Sara Anzalone ‘20 reminded her fellow graduates that although their futures may be uncertain, there are things they know for sure.
“We know we received a high quality education,” Anazalone said. “We were taught good work ethics and habits that we will use to our advantage for the entirety of our lives. We learned that focus, ingenuity and a good attitude are keys to progress.”
Echoing those comments, Noah Weiss ‘20 told the Commencement audience, “speaking on behalf of my classmates, I can say with all confidence, that our time at Bay Ridge Prep has set us up for success, no matter what the challenge may be.”
The education and care for each student that was often referenced is a result of the extraordinary work done by the school’s faculty and staff. William Succop ‘20 thanked teachers for “providing a dynamic and friendly educational environment and teaching us not only about history, math, science and where to use a semicolon, but also about ourselves.”
Layla Bonilla ‘20 said, “the vital skills that I gained from my time at Bay Ridge Prep will be beneficial for the future. We all have our own individual experience at Bay Ridge Prep, which makes this school stand out from the others.”
Olivia Terzuoli ‘20, speaking about the school culture, compared classrooms to a canvas that students then “painted with the pondering thoughts that filled the air as we embraced our similarities and respected our differences.”
The camaraderie between the students and respect for one another were referenced by Jack Kambessles ‘20 when he said, “social media has documented some of it but the friendships formed and challenges we tackled as a team transformed us and molded us into the young adults we have become.”
Marcell Saucedo-Elcock ‘20 also spoke about transformation and how studying the life and lyrical artwork of Kendrick Lamar helped him understand that to reach a higher level, you have to be different.
“At some point he had to initiate the switch between being a gang member, to a philosophical poet/rapper,” Saucedo-Elcock said. “With this comes great reflection and self awareness, or what I define as intelligence. By doing this, he granted himself a better shot at life, an opportunity to lay his mark on the world. Only being 18, I’m not quite sure what my... better yet our purpose will be. What I do know is that I take everyday as a blessing, another day to work towards this understanding.”
Amanda Solecki ‘20, also speaking about the experience of Bay Ridge Prep and growing up in today’s world conveyed the sentiments of many of her classmates.
“We can all agree that one of the most transformative aspects of our school is the way it never forced us to paint inside the lines of convention with respect to anything we did,” Solecki said. “Bay Ridge Prep taught us that education is much more than knowing the elements of the periodic table or memorizing the dates of wars throughout history. Bay Ridge Prep taught us to be free thinkers. So, to my classmates, I encourage you to continue to paint outside the lines, to continue to think freely and to chase your dreams fearlessly.”
The 2020 Commencement Ceremony, held virtually via a combination of live and pre-recorded elements, was livestreamed to the community on June 9 at 4 p.m. Eastern. Students gathered on Zoom prior to the livestream and then gathered again at the conclusion of the recorded elements to join together for a live tassel turning ceremony. You can watch the full ceremony at and other Class of 2020 celebrations at bayridgeprep.org/classof2020.
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.