Buckley Celebrates 96th Commencement!

On a beautiful June 14th, under clear sunny skies, parents, friends, faculty, and staff gathered to partake in Buckley’s 96th Commencement exercises and celebrate the achievements of the members of the Buckley “Centennial” Class of 2023. 

Pastor Keith Pettus, from Truth Center Ministries International in Port Washington, opened this year’s ceremony with an invocation. Pastor Pettus was introduced by graduate Genesis Edmonds who said of him that “he displays nothing but genuine love and care for those he shepherds as well as all others he crosses paths with.” Pastor Pettus based his message to the graduates on Buckley’s mission statement and urged them to “keep their eyes open and their mind awakened because, as one writer put it, ‘it is impossible to learn what we think we already know’.”  

On behalf of her classmates, Joselin Reyes presented the Teacher of the Year Award, selected by the members of the graduating class, to long-tenured Art Teacher and Musical Director Jennifer Demopoulos to whom she gave credit for transforming her into a girl she did not know yet and for helping her come out of her shell and be comfortable being authentically herself.
The Thomas J. Reid Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes outstanding teaching, demonstrated by concern for each student, quality of instruction, and commitment to Buckley. The 2023 Thomas J. Reid Excellence in Teaching Award was presented to Mathematics Teacher Heather Serra.

The G. Robert Gage Award for Excellence in Teaching, named and given in memory of Mr. Bob Gage’s late father, is given annually to a faculty member in recognition of their excellence in teaching. This award is funded every year by the investment income earned on the endowment gift made by the Gage family. The 2023 recipient of the The G. Robert Gage Award for Excellence in Teaching was Mandarin Teacher Sumeng Guo.

A generous endowment gift from Linda and John Powers made possible the presentation of an additional faculty award at graduation.  The Powers Family Teacher Recognition Award is given annually to a faculty member in recognition of their embodiment of the School’s character and spirit, care and nurturing qualities, and excellence in teaching. This year, the Powers Family Teacher Recognition Award was presented to First Grade Teacher Hillary Janik.

Board Chair Chris Lee presented this year’s Trustees’ Bowl, the School’s most prized academic award, to the student who achieved the highest grade point average. The Trustees’ Bowl was presented to Soleil Can. The Scholarship Medal for the second highest academic average was awarded to Valentina Lopez, while Isabella Ramirez earned the Certificate of Merit for the third highest average. 

Eden Clarkson and Aaron Spence, Student Council Co-Presidents, presented the gift of the Class of 2023 to Buckley Country Day School. The Class of 2023 presented a check to the school to add to the GoFundMe set up to support the family of a long-time, beloved member of the maintenance team who suffered a serious medical emergency in February. Thank you to the Class of 2023 for setting the right example and allocating their gift to a person who has done so much for the Buckley community.
Lower and Upper School Administrative Assistant Mrs. Jennifer Chillianis was selected by the graduating class to be their faculty speaker. She was introduced by Madeleine Garbus who spoke about the positive impact Mrs. Chillianis had on all of the graduates' lives and the lives of everyone in the Buckley community. “She always remembers the conversation that was started the morning before. Her nurturing and caring attitude is just adding on to the family that has been created at Buckley,” concluded Madeleine with gratitude. Mrs. Chillianis talked about how fondly she remembers her interaction with the graduates over the years and encouraged them to “remember to be kind and say ‘yes,’ to take every opportunity to be kind when they arise, and to ‘do it’ when they have the power to help someone.” Mrs. Chillianis brought the house down when her phone rang during her speech, and she responded to the call about a lost blazer or instrument, bake sale money, and dismissal changes. Everyone was familiar with the conversations she was re-enacting and could relate!

Cybelle Can ‘16 was this year’s alumna speaker. Cybelle was introduced by her younger sister, Soleil, whom she claimed to have raised! Soleil gratefully acknowledged how much of a pillar her sister had been in her personal growth, listening to her with an open mind and preparing her for different chapters of her life. Cybelle set out to offer powerful advice and guidance “from one Buckley graduate to another,” as she put it; and she did! Her message centered around the importance of adaptability. “Adaptability is the capacity we have to embrace change and change cultivates fear, which is why we often fail at adapting,” Cybelle started. Then she reassured the graduates that through neuroplasticity, we are wired to be resilient and adaptable. However, Cybelle added, “it is not just biology, you must also actively work at adaptability.”  Referring to the recent pandemic, Cybelle concluded, “You’ve all shown your skills in adaptability in the face of unfathomable change and came out okay, so trust in yourself to do it again and again.”
The two student speakers selected by their peers were Soleil Can and Aaron Spence. They framed their graduation remarks around the question “we still have to answer; the ever-demanding question of the purpose behind all that we are.” And so, Soleil and Aaron shared with us what their classmates had to say about their childhood dreams, their current identities, and what lessons they have learned and will apply in the future “to navigate all their high school endeavors.” Soleil and Aaron ended with a note of gratitude to, in their own words, “those who have helped them mold their present, past, and future, and most importantly, shape them into young individuals who will most definitely use the lessons they have been taught and thrive as they enter the next chapter of their lives.”
Diplomas were then awarded to the members of the graduating class. Newly-elected Student Council Co-Presidents Eliza Li ‘24 and Adli Abdel-Misih ‘24 displayed the wooden plaques carved by the graduates as they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas. Simultaneously, eighth grade advisors read excerpts from comments selected by the Head of School and written by the students’ teachers over the past twelve years.  

It was with pride and joy that the entire community joined in cheering the Class of 2023 and wishing them well.   

Shiloh Ffrench introduced this year’s musical offering: I Will Always Remember You by Miley Cyrus. Shiloh remarked, “As the song says ‘We gotta keep moving on' as we leave Buckley, but we will always keep our time together ‘like a photograph’ in our minds. It may be ‘hard to say goodbye,’ but it does not mean we must say goodbye to the memories we have shared.”
Pastor Keith Pettus concluded the ceremony with a beautiful blessing for the graduates and the school community.

The 2023 graduates have now become the newest members of Buckley’s Alumni Association, and we hope that under the leadership of their class agent, Eden Clarkson, Buckley will soon have the pleasure of hosting their first reunion.

The members of the Class of 2023 will be attending: Archbishop Molloy, Avenues, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, Friends Academy, The Lawrenceville School, Loyola School, The Mary Louis Academy, Northfield Mount Hermon, The Packer Collegiate Institute, The Peddie School, Phillips Exeter Academy, Poly Prep Country Day School, Portledge School, The Spence School, Trinity School. 
Congratulations to the Buckley Class of 2023!
Please click here for a link to photos from the ceremony and here for the video.

Buckley Country Day School

P: 516 627 1910 
Buckley Country Day School admits students of any race, color, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally available to students at the School. Buckley Country Day School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by law in respect of, without limitation, its educational policies, admission, financial aid, hiring and employment practices, use of school facilities, athletics programs, and other school-administered programs. This policy governs the conduct of all Buckley Country Day School employees including faculty, staff, and summer programs employees.