Graduation 2016, Buckley’s 89th Commencement Exercises
Jean-Marc Juhel, Ph.D., Headmaster
On June 15, under auspicious blue skies, 31 soon-to-be Buckley graduates proudly walked across the Powers Family Garden to meet their families, friends, and teachers under the tent where they had gathered to celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2016.
Rabbi Todd Chizner of Temple Judea of Manhasset opened this year’s ceremony with an invocation in which he encouraged the graduates to think of “their special gifts as a source of inspiration, mostly for the purposes of enabling peace in our world.” Rabbi Chizner was welcomed to Buckley’s commencement exercises by Kenny Silver ’16 who studied with him for his Bar Mitzvah.
President of the Board of Trustees Valerie DiFebo presented this year’s Trustee Bowl, the School’s most prized academic award, to the student who achieved the highest grade point average. The Trustee Bowl this year was presented to Ansh Amin. The Scholarship Medal for the second highest academic average was awarded to Jack Davis, while Bobby Mark earned Honorable Mention for the third highest average.
Four faculty awards were presented at graduation:
On behalf of her classmates, Despina Tsiamtsiouris presented the Teacher of the Year Award, selected by the members of the graduating class, to fourth grade teacher Mrs. Lynn Knox whom she described as “a gracious and compassionate teacher who brightens her whole classroom.”
The Thomas J. Reid Excellence in Teaching Award, selected by the Headmaster and the Assistant Heads based upon recommendations from the faculty, is an award recognizing outstanding teaching, demonstrated by concern for each student, quality of instruction, and commitment to Buckley. This year’s Thomas J. Reid Excellence in Teaching Award was presented to music teacher Dr. Elizabeth Glennon.
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 his/her excellence in teaching. This award is funded every year by the investment income earned on the endowment gift made by the Gage family. The 2016 recipient of the G. Robert Gage Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to 2nd grade teacher Mrs. Stefani Rosenthal.
A generous endowment gift from Linda and John Powers has 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 his/her embodiment of the School’s character and spirit, care and nurturing qualities, and excellence in teaching. This year’s recipient of the Powers Family Recognition Award was kindergarten teacher Mrs. MaryBeth Horne.
All four teachers received well-deserved standing ovations from the audience.
Cybelle Can and Andrew Mazza, Student Council Co-Presidents, then presented the gift of the class of 2016 to Buckley Country Day School: a new printer and office space for the 8th grade lounge. No more blaming defective printers for late homework!
Mr. Mercer Hall, who teaches 7th and 8th grade American history, was selected by the graduating class to be their faculty speaker. He was introduced by Andy Simeone ‘16 as a “Renaissance man, who can speak multiple languages, write like a journalist, comprehend literature, and hold a conversation regardless of the topic.” Andy highlighted both his intellect and his sense of humor. Mr. Hall spoke about the class of 2016 as “together, a formidable force proving the axiom that the smartest person in the room is the room, gifted beyond their grins, mature beyond their blazers, a high-functioning mishmash of equals.” Mr. Hall concluded his remarks by recognizing how lucky the graduates’ teachers were simply to wait, watch, and say “we knew you when.”
David Gage ’11, Chaminade ’15, Columbia University ’19, was this year’s alumnus speaker. David was introduced by his sister Katherine ’16. After reminiscing about his years at Buckley with the same wit and verve for which he is often remembered, David focused his remarks on friendship and told a personal story about a classmate whom he now considers one of his greatest friends. “Do what it takes not to drift out of touch – don’t wait,” he urged the graduates, because “there’s something wonderful about a friend whom you grew up with, and that’s worth holding on to.”
The two student speakers selected by their peers were Portia Inzone and Jack Davis who used the clever metaphor of the human body to highlight the part that each graduate contributed to their common experience “going through many transformations and rebirths; happy, sad, and everything in between, on our hero’s journey.”
Diplomas were then awarded to the members of the graduating class. Upon hearing their names, the students handed their plaques to the newly-elected student council co-presidents, Isabella Marrale ’17 and Max Brown ‘17, and walked across the stage to receive their diplomas. Simultaneously, eighth grade advisors read excerpts from comments written by the students’ teachers over the past twelve years and selected by the headmaster.
It was with pride, joy, confidence, and nostalgia, that the entire community joined in cheering the class of 2016 and wishing them well.
Charlotte Bolling introduced this year’s musical offering: History, by One Direction, in celebration of ‘the times that have brought us to this day, the greatest team the world has ever seen.”
Rabbi Chizner concluded the ceremony with a blessing, congratulating the graduates and praising their teachers for the love and concern they demonstrate, not just teaching a subject, but teaching a child.
The 2016 graduates have now become the newest members of Buckley’s Alumni Association, and we hope that under the leadership of their class agent, Maya Neckles, Buckley will soon have the pleasure of their visit.
The members of the Class of 2016 will be attending: Blair Academy, The Chapin School, Collegiate School, The Dalton School, East Norwich, Friends Academy, Garden City High School, Groton School, Long Island Lutheran High School, Loyola School, Loomis Chaffee School, The Mary Louis Academy, The Packer Collegiate Institute, Phillips Exeter Academy, Portledge School, Regis High School, and United Nations International School.
Congratulations Buckley Class of 2016!