Rain did not take away any of the joy and pride that families, faculty, and friends felt as members of the Buckley Country Day School Class of 2018 walked under the graduation tent to the processional sound of Pomp and Circumstance.
Pastor Derek Garcia, a chaplain of the Nassau County Police Department, opened this year’s ceremony with an invocation in which he encouraged the graduates not to repress our innate desire to please and honor our parents. He also reminded their parents to always celebrate their children’s accomplishments, even with a simple “well done!”
Pastor Garcia was welcomed to Buckley’s commencement exercises by Samantha Amritt whom she introduced as “a selfless and caring family man, always offering support to police officers and their families, and a great mentor for teens in the Youth Academy.”
Chair of the Board of Trustees Valerie DiFebo 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 Dilynne Hsu. The Scholarship Medal for the second highest academic average was awarded to Lindsay Fabricant, while Dionne Chen earned the Certificate of Merit for the third highest average.
Four faculty awards were presented at graduation:
On behalf of her classmates, Dilynne Hsu presented the Teacher of the Year Award, selected by the members of the graduating class, to 6-8 grade science teacher Mr. Roger Persaud whom she described as “someone who has dedicated so much of his time and effort into influencing the educational goals of each student - an excellent role model who has guided them through everything they need to know, especially through the difficulties of organic chemistry.”
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 kindergarten teacher Ms. Kathryn Robinson.
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 2018 recipient of the G. Robert Gage Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to 7-8 grade mathematics teacher Mrs. Sue Rodriguez-McLean.
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 physical education teacher and coach Mr. Brian Boyle
All four teachers received well-deserved standing ovations from the audience.
Jane Park, Student Council President, then presented the gift of the class of 2018 to Buckley Country Day School: new stools for the upper school science lab “to replace the old ones which have suffered incredibly through several generations of Buckley students and will now support the learning experience of each and every one.”
Mrs. Maureen Miseo, who is the Headmaster’s assistant, was selected by the graduating class to be their faculty speaker. She was introduced by Eugene Park. “Mrs. Miseo” he said, “greatly contributed to our high school process and our everyday experience at Buckley.” Mrs. Miseo skillfully and inspiringly used “keys” as a metaphor to address the students and impart her wisdom to them as they go through the doors of Buckley. She reminded the students of the “keys” they had shared with us in their 8th grade speeches and shared her own “keys” with them. Mrs. Miseo told the students, “If you have the keys you need – when the door is closed – when the situation is challenging- reach to your key ring and find the key for the answer.” She concluded, in her characteristic loving way, “If you happen to lose your keys, stop by my office, I will help you find them.”
Jack Vissicchio ‘09 was this year’s alumnus speaker. Jack, the oldest of three Vissicchio children to graduate from Buckley, was introduced by his sister Ana who shared with us how much she enjoys “Sunday morning breakfast when her big brother Jack always listens to all that’s on her mind and gives her the best advice.” Jack’s speech captured the attention of his audience as he shared some of his best Buckley memories and reminisced about his own 8th grade graduation when ”he had to let go of that feeling that he still has to this day when he thinks back on his time at Buckley.” Jack’s words to the graduates focused wisely on what their high school experience might be like and all the insecurities they may be feeling. How lucky were they to have Jack share with them this critical message: “Whenever you find yourself questioning how you are going to be liked or popular in high school, instead ask yourself ‘what can I do to like ME in high school’.” Jack’s message was to the point and inspiring; it gave the graduates much to think about as they approached the next stage of their journey.
The two student speakers selected by their peers were Ana Vissicchio and Alan Barkan. With much wit, humor, and obvious affection for their classmates, Ana and Alan talked about the class of 2018 as if they were movie stars receiving awards based on their chosen yearbook class names and all the idiosyncrasies they had shared over the years.
Their clever remarks about each of their classmates drew much laughter from the audience. Ana and Alan closed with a well-deserved shoutout to all their teachers, “the great directors who make the magic happen behind the scenes.”
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, Skylar Powell ’19 and Bryan Byrne ’19, 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 a mix of pride, joy, confidence, and nostalgia that the entire community joined in cheering the class of 2018 and wishing them well.
Eleni Pappas introduced this year’s musical offering: Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds.
“With both a lack of judgmental attitudes and an abundance of friendship at Buckley,” Eleni said, “it has been easy for my peers and me to be so closely connected. It is important for us not to forget who we are collectively as a grade.”
Pastor Garcia concluded the ceremony with a beautiful blessing.
The 2018 graduates have now become the newest members of Buckley’s Alumni Association, and we hope that under the leadership of their class agent, Yara Bendary, Buckley will soon have the pleasure of hosting their first reunion.
The members of the Class of 2018 will be attending: The Bronx High School of Science, The Chapin School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Friends Academy, George School, Hackley School, Kent School, Loyola School, MacArthur High School, The Mary Louis Academy, North Shore High School, The Packer Collegiate Institute, Phillips Academy Andover, Phillips Exeter Academy, Portledge School, Riverdale Country School, Sacred Heart Academy, Trinity School, Xavier High School.
Congratulations Buckley Class of 2018!