Buckley Celebrates 97th Commencement

Dr. Jean-Marc Juhel, Head of School
Bright-eyed soon-to-be Buckley graduates wearing red and blue sashes and ties; enduring traditions and age-old pomp and circumstance; proud parents, families, friends, faculty and staff gathering under a large white tent on the Roby Young Field; an overwhelming feeling of joy; never disappointing late spring, clear skies: nothing was missing for Buckley’s 97th commencement exercises and the graduation of the Class of 2024. 
Reverend Jennifer Bailey, Director of Pastoral Care Services for New York City Health & Hospitals in Brooklyn and a spiritual care worker for the Red Cross, opened this year’s ceremony with an invocation. Rev. Bailey was introduced by graduate Jade El-Hajj-Bey who expressed her admiration for a person who “on a daily basis practices with grace to impact the lives of clinicians, patients, and their families.” As the graduation ceremony began, in a beautiful message to the Buckley community, Rev. Bailey urged her audience “to unfold with intention, and tenderness, and kindness, and compassion.” 
On behalf of her classmates, Ana Calvo presented the Teacher of the Year Award, selected by the members of the graduating class, to Seventh and Eighth Grade Mathematics Teacher Sue Rodriguez-Mclean. Ana pointed out that Mrs. Rodriguez-McLean was her classmates’ unanimous choice because “she created an environment where it felt safe to make mistakes and try something new.” “She inspired us,” Ana continued, “through her story before Buckley. Being one of the few Latina female engineers, she carries her experience and hard work into every single day.” 
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 2024 Thomas J. Reid Excellence in Teaching Award was presented to Pre-Nursery Teacher Susan Florendo.
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 2024 recipient of the The G. Robert Gage Award for Excellence in Teaching was Fourth Grade Teacher Christine Ikin.
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 Kindergarten Teacher Sarah Roman ’98. 
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 Nicholas Datterdeen. The Scholarship Medal for the second highest academic average was awarded to Ana Calvo, while Angel Wai-Hernandez earned the Certificate of Merit for the third highest average. 
Eliza Li and Adli Abdel-Misih, Student Council Co-Presidents, presented the gift of the Class of 2024 to Buckley Country Day School. The Class of 2024, a very athletic class, raised money to purchase a new scoreboard for one of the gyms. Being that they managed to raise more money than needed for the scoreboard, they added $2,000 to acquire new equipment for the Athletic Department and chose to allocate another $2,000 to the Headmaster’s Impact Fund started by the Class of 2017 to assist Buckley Country Day School’s families with expenses above and beyond tuition. Thank you to the Class of 2024 for their thoughtful generosity and for “paying it forward.”
Seventh and Eighth Grade English Teacher Maria Newman was selected by the graduating class to be their faculty speaker. She was introduced by Liam O’Sullivan as a teacher who made her students feel like family and who made their last two years at Buckley the best they could be. “We are forever grateful,” concluded Liam. 
Ironically, as Mrs. Newman pointed out, this was a little bit of ”payback” for all the speeches she made them write! Mrs. Newman, who teaches Homer’s Odyssey in one of her classes, offered to challenge the conventional narrative structure of the hero’s journey. She told the students about the opportunities they can create for themselves and make the world they already live in extraordinary. She urged them to listen to their inner voice as their mentor. Finally, Mrs. Newman invited the students to consider the reality of life as far more complex and nuanced than the test/ordeal/reward linear sequence of the hero’s journey. Very eloquently, Mrs. Newman warned the students against shiny narratives that may mislead them unless they are willing to speak up and break the rules in order to help everybody. 
Dilynne Hsu ’18 was this year’s alumna speaker. Dilynne was introduced by her younger brother, Chase. Chase introduced Dilynne not only as the valedictorian of the class of 2018, but also as his role model and best friend. Dilynne shared how she remembered first introducing Chase to her kindergarten classmates, fourteen years before, in the form of a sonogram picture. “It’s funny how things come full circle,” she said. “Now he is introducing me. It’s like a reverse show-and-tell.” With her high school years and the beginning of her college experience under her belt, Dilynne was able to reassure the graduates that in spite of the anxiety caused by the inevitability of change, they have been well equipped by their Buckley teachers to handle whatever comes their way thanks to the grit and passion for learning they have developed. “The memories you have made and the people you have met are part of who you are and who you will become,” Dilynne said to the graduates before lovingly reminding them that “Buckley will be here for you when you, too, come full circle.”
The two student speakers selected by their peers were Eliza Li and Ken Thongpahusatcha. Eliza and Ken opened their remarks with an expression of gratitude for their teachers, their families, and their classmates. They then beautifully highlighted the unique personalities and qualities of each of the graduates, recounted the many ways in which they contributed to the overall experience of their classmates, and offered thoughts on where their future might take them. With nostalgia in their voices, Eliza and Ken recognized the inevitability of endings; but finding inspiration in Winnie the Pooh’s wisdom, they also realized how lucky they were “to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Diplomas were then awarded to the members of the graduating class. Newly-elected Student Council President Alyssa Sugiyama ‘25 and Assistant Director of Development for Alumni Engagement Holly O’Brien 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 2024 and wishing them well.   
Austin Hatwood introduced this year’s musical offering: Remember Me from the animated film Coco. “No matter the size,” Austin remarked, “big or small, deep memories are the embodiment of the Buckley experience, which is why it is so important that we recognize the people that we created those memories with.”
Reverend Bailey concluded the ceremony with a beautiful blessing for the graduates and the school community. 
The 2024 graduates have now become the newest members of Buckley’s Alumni Association, and we hope that under the leadership of their class agent, Eliza Li, Buckley will soon have the pleasure of hosting their first reunion.
The members of the Class of 2024 will be attending: Andover, Blair Academy, The Browning School, Chaminade High School, Charterhouse School (UK), The Dalton School, Dominican Academy, Grace Church School, Long Island Lutheran Middle and High School, Loyola School, Manhasset High School, The Mary Louis Academy, Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School, Phillips Exeter Academy, Portledge School, Sacred Heart Academy, Trinity School, Westhampton Beach Senior High School, Xavier High School.

Please click here for a link to photos from the ceremony, here for portraits and candids, and here for the video.
Congratulations, Buckley Class of 2024!

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.