Commencement Features Celebrations of Community and Camaraderie

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.