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The Class of 2016 Has Its Day in the Sun

Grad16AThere could not have been a more perfect June day for a graduation –- cool, sunny, dry and comfortable for the hundreds of parents, grandparents, teachers, friends and supporters who came to cheer on the 356 graduates in the Scarsdale High School Class of 2016.

Before the processional, the spirited thoreaubut well-behaved group gathered in the gym and honored two class members who were singled out for marching to their own drummers and being their own person. Ben Isaacs Stevens and Signe Louise Porsborg Forsingdal both looked surprised but pleased to be recognized. Assistant Principal Sue Peppers told the class that this was her last graduation after 28 years at SHS and advised the students to "stay close to their friends."

With that they lined up in alphabetical order and marched out to Dean Field to the sounds of Pomp and Circumstance played by the Symphonic Band under the baton of conductor Jason Noble.

School Board President Lee Maude advised the students to "try something new," do something you're not good at," and to "experience all life has to offer," before ceding her time to Board V.P. William Natbony who had a daughter in the graduating class.

GradSpeakersA child actor, Natbony drew an analogy between the high school experience and a theatrical play. He said, "There's something really special about High School -- I like to think of its as a four year long drama club production. As parents we can attest that there WAS a lot of drama in that production. There are many rehearsals -- some go really well, while others not so well. Over the four years of rehearsal, the actors, musicians and tech crew bask in their accomplishments and learn from their mistakes along the way. Teachers, counselors and parents provide notes along the way, giving the production structure and imparting valuable knowledge to those who participate. And then there are the friendships -- both the nurturing of old friendships and the making of new ones -- friendships that result in a collaborative and continuing performance in a show called "life."

He continued, "In As You Like It, liptakbrownShakespeare wrote that "all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." I would suggest to the Class of 2016 that YOU are those "players" and you are about to set foot on that world stage. You will have a vast audience -- your family, your peers, your colleagues and the world at large. You will have the power to influence, the ability to create, the knowledge to innovate and the persuasiveness to move people. Do not be afraid to use your voice as you perform your various life roles. classofficersaBe strong in your convictions and compassionate in your actions. Never lose sight of your own personal potential or your creative voice. Never underestimate your talent and your ability to spark change -- find your passion, perform a meaningful role using that passion, and your reviews will be great. I also urge you to perform well the role of representing Scarsdale in the global community and keeping true to our District's motto of "non sibi" -- not for one's self alone...... Today is the "opening night" of your classofficersbnext show. The rehearsals are over. The audience has filed in. The stage manager has called "places". The overture is finished. The curtain is rising. The lights are coming up. The spotlight is on you. And you're on. Break a leg!"

It was a bittersweet day for class advisors Larry Brown and Ann Liptak who retired at the end of the school year. Charlie Musoff thanked Brown, saying he "encouraged us to be our most sarcastic selves!" He called Brown a "beloved teacher," who always helped the class do what they wanted to do and told Brown to "enjoy some more golf." Matthes Drescher thanked Ms. Liptak for "being there for everyone," and helping the class through everything from Junior Olympics to the Senior Class Play. He said, "To know Ms. Liptak is to know that you're not alone."

DSC09683The two advisors took the stage and thanked the class for showing them a few things ... like "The Brian," the best sandwich at Nonni's, and the second meaning of words like "darty, dank (cool) and word (sounds good)." They reminisced about dancing the night away at the best senior prom ever and ending the year with a colored powder throw.

Brown remembered a favorite student who graduated in 2005 and passed away last week at the age of 29. In his year book, he quoted Derek Zoolander saying, "I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is."

Brown offered the following advice on what we could learn from this young man's life:

  • Live large. The world is your oyster, and you should either go big or go home.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff. Life is simply too short to worry about meaningless things, particularly things that are out of your control.
  • Be forgiving. We are all human, prone to making mistakes. Forgive the acts of others as you would like to be forgiven.
  • Embrace the world around you. As Ann said earlier, we are all in this together, so whether it is your community, your nation or the entire world, give back to others.
  • And finally, never postpone joy. Our time together as friends and family is short and precious, so Carpe Diem!

Ann Liptak choked up as she quoted Walt Whitman saying,gradcounseling

I tramp a perpetual journey,
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.

Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far, it is within reach ..."

They ended by saying, "We say goodbye with beautiful memories in our heards and we say good to you with tears in our eyes." Many in the audience choked back tears themselves.

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 Class VP Owen Marsh thanked everyone at the school, from the principals to the custodian, the secretaries, nurses, library staff and aids for keeping the school running smoothly.

Class President Clare Chan said it was difficult to find words to name this feeling. She said she felt like an Emoji with eyes and no mouth and captured the moment with the word WOW. Putting on the gown, she said, gave her goosebumps.

She remembered her friend Michael Ludwig who passed away after fourth grade and would have been a member of the graduating class. She called him "determined and optimistic" and said he always smiled. She also remembered Paulie Jimenez, a student at Greenacres Elementary School who died this year and said that the Class of 2016 would donate the balance of their funds to the Ludwig Foundation and Paulie Strong. She encouraged her classmates to highlight the good times they had together, and to never apologize for who they are. She ended with a serenade from High School Musical, singing "We're all ready for the start of something new!"

Principal Ken Bonamo told the class that he also started his tenure at Scarsdale High School four years ago too. He reminded the students that it's easy to see tragedy and say "not my problem," but urged them to take on big challenges and to respond to hate with love. He told the students, "You are out best hope." He advised them to "study what you love and follow your heart," and wished the class a wonderful graduation.

With that, Superintendent Thomas Hagerman bid the class to "Go forth to grow in wisdom and to serve the common good, non sibi."

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