After another successful and productive academic year at Gaynor came to a close on Thursday, June 15, it was time to bid farewell to the graduating class and send them off with best wishes. On Friday, June 16, faculty, staff, graduates, and their friends and family gathered in the Gaynor Gymnasium for graduation, and the class of 30 were recognized for their achievements and hard work in speeches from Board President Henrietta Jones-Pellegrini, Trustee and Gaynor parent Scott Mager, Head of School Dr. Scott Gaynor, Gaynor alumnus Nick Kenner ’90, and class representatives from the student body.
Henrietta Jones-Pellegrini, outgoing president of the Board of Trustees, welcomed everyone to the ceremony. “I look forward to this day each year—it is the time to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to wish them well as they move on. Six years ago I was the parent of a graduate and I sat where you are today. For my daughter, she was sad to be leaving her friends. And for me I was sad to be leaving the nurturing community. It was an emotional day! If these feelings resonate at all let me try and give you some assurances. For both parents and students, the doors of the school are always open. There are events that we love to see parents attend. For the students, they will find that the teachers and administrators insist that they come back and visit regularly! And from our experience, my daughter was wonderfully ready for the next step. It is what our incredible teachers do so well. But it wasn’t clear to me how well prepared she was until after she left and she started at her new school.”
Jack Hillyer and David Mager, class representatives and members of the graduating class, also spoke at the ceremony about the ways they have improved academically and socially and what they will take with them in the fall when they start at their new schools.
“There is no way that I would have gotten to this point without the education, support, and friendship that I have been lucky enough to find here at Gaynor,” said Jack. “This school has given me so much academically and personally. I have learned about the power of writing for someone like me who sometimes gets nervous speaking and articulating complex thoughts. I have been encouraged to channel my enthusiasm for animation and drawing to tell stories and demonstrate my understanding of content and to engage others.”
David reflected on the progress he has made at Gaynor. “All of us graduates had to face many challenges in order to make it here to this ceremony. Personally, I had to overcome many things before I got to where I am today. At my old school, I could not read or write when everyone else could, and the teachers and students did not believe in me. Since everyone thought that I was not able to read or learn I thought there was no school that could help me. Boy, was I wrong! As I began to think back about these past eight years here at Stephen Gaynor School I naturally thought about all of the teachers, specialists, administrators and staff that I have been so fortunate to learn with.”
David’s father and Gaynor Trustee Scott Mager, encapsulated the way in which Gaynor touches an entire family. “The Stephen Gaynor School saves children’s lives, and in doing so, saves families too … because a family is only be as happy as its least happy child,” said Mager. “Our family is so blessed to have found the Stephen Gaynor School for our son David.”
Nick Kenner ’90, founder and CEO of Just Salad, was selected as this year’s alumni speaker. “We are celebrating today because what you just accomplished is hard and we celebrate today because we are about to find out what you are made of,” he said.
Rehannah Baksh and Ophelie Zolidis received the President’s Education Award, recognizing students who have demonstrated leadership potential and outstanding academic achievement. Jack Hillyer and Hali Bernstein were given the Community Service Award which recognizes students who have shown the most dedication to community service. The Helen Rosenthal City Council Award which recognizes a student who has shown scholastic excellence with an emphasis on math and science was given to Ming Robinson and Ben Warshavsky. And finally, the Gordon Gaynor Award, recognizing those who embody the spirit of hard work and determination, with the most consistent record of academic improvement, was awarded to Isabel Veyssi and Phillip Winter.
Dr. Gaynor reminded the graduates and families of Yvette Siegel-Herzog’s dream for the school. “Her vision has always been about making sure the individual student isn’t lost in the masses,” he said. “For over 50 years she has ensured that we, our dedicated teachers, administrators and staff help to unlock each child’s potential. Our graduates today are proof of that attention to the individual.”
Gaynor is dedicated to providing our students with the tools, communications skills, and study habits to prepare them for success at their next schools, and our recent graduates and alumni are a testament to those efforts. Our very heartiest congratulations to the graduates of Stephen Gaynor School’s Class of 2017. Check out the list of amazing schools they will be attending come September. We are so proud of them! Congratulations to all, and best of luck in the coming year.
The Beacon School
Birch Wathen Lenox School
The Churchill School
The Clinton School
Eagle Hill School
Grace Church School
Hastings High School
Professional Children’s School
The Victor Hugo School
York Preparatory School