The Class of 2021 closed out their unprecedented career at Gaynor with an unprecedented graduation ceremony at Icahn Stadium at Randall’s Island on Friday, June 11.
Board of Trustees Co-President Grant Duers, father to graduate PJ and Yellow Cluster student Anna, welcomed the graduates, family, friends, and faculty members to the outdoor ceremony.
“It is great to be with you live and in person,” Duers said. “This was clearly a year like no other, but you made it, and as a result you are incredibly well prepared for high school. After a year like this, how hard can high school be, anyway?”
Parent speaker Adina Haller, parent of graduating student Max and Blue Cluster student Joey, has been a Parents’ Association volunteer since Max started at Gaynor, was a Gala Co-Chair for two years, and served as PA President for two years.
“Gaynor has grown along with our children. We saw the grand opening of the Yvette Siegel Performing Arts Center, the building of the state-of-the-art Field House, and the building of the bridge connecting the North and South Buildings. Even though so much has changed to the physical buildings, the soul of Gaynor remains the same … every child has their own challenges and learning differences, but these should not define them or impede upon their success,” she said. “This school is magical.”
Alumni speaker Aden Wiener, Class of 2013, graduated this year from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business with a degree in finance. This summer he starts work for a Real Estate Development Firm as an Analyst.
In his remarks to the graduates, Wiener described his own Gaynor journey, from reluctance to join a new school to gratitude for all that Gaynor had taught him. He said, “While you may not realize it now, Gaynor is the best thing to have happened to each one of you. Make it your goal to advocate for yourself, take the time you need to learn, celebrate your differences, and appreciate your strengths. I encourage you to continue to be curious and ask questions. Don’t allow others to intimidate you. Trust that you are talented and follow your passions. I am confident that your experience at Gaynor has given you the tools to do things that you never imagined you could.”
As he invited the graduates to walk across the field to receive their diplomas, Dr. Gaynor made note of the unusual location — a field normally used for track and field events. He recalled the time that he thought he had disappointed his fellow summer campers by failing to win the summer invitational track meet. It turned out that his friends had learned a different lesson — one of never giving up, and continuing to strive for yourself and your team no matter what.
Dr. Gaynor said, “This year, you all deserve a medal for being resilient in the face of a once in a century crisis. You all faced a seemingly endless marathon that you should never have had to run. You showed up, trained hard and never gave up. Remember when times get tough and you don’t do as well as you like that your effort will be rewarded.”
The ceremony was live streamed for those who were unable to attend in person. Nearly 400 viewers tuned in to the live online ceremony, watching from throughout the United States as well as France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Canada, and Denmark.
To watch a recording of the event, click here.
2021 Award Winners
President’s Education Award
- Olivia Beal
- Victoria Ross
Comptroller Community Service Award
- Matthew Boova
- Jolie Landau
Helen Rosenthal City Council Award
- William Black
Gordon Gaynor Award
- Maxwell Haller
- Olivia Beal
- Jolie Landau
- David Gray
- Jonah Lichtman