Students ‘rap’ up their high school careers
By Elizabeth Bengel
In a commencement address to the Haldane class of 2013 Saturday, June 15, Dr. Mark Villanti, Superintendent of Schools, referenced a hook sung by Canadian hip-hop artist Aubrey “Drake” Graham: “Started from the bottom / Now we’re here.”
Advising the audience to disregard the song’s otherwise explicit language, Villanti expressed why he felt this particular lyric resonated with the group of 73 students seated behind him. “Many of you started at Haldane in kindergarten at the bottom, and now you are here at graduation,” he said.
While it may not have the abundance of academic and extracurricular resources offered at public schools with higher enrollment, a Haldane education allows students to develop close-knit relationships with classmates, teachers and parents — the kind of relationships that might not exist if the school were larger.
A Haldane student since kindergarten, Ryan Koval recognizes the advantages offered by a Haldane education and remained optimistic upon graduation. “My time at Haldane has influenced a huge part of my life. Even though it is a small school, I feel more prepared for college thanks to the closeness with the teachers. I will definitely miss my friends, many I’ve known since childhood, but I know that we will stay in touch.” Koval is headed to SUNY Cortland, where he plans to major in exercise science as well as play for the school’s Division III baseball team.
Class of 2013 Salutatorian Simon Close encouraged classmates to look toward the future with optimism rather than anxiety: “We ought to treat graduation as a commencement and to conclude it not with an ending, but with a beginning,” he spoke. “Goodbye to the old and familiar; hello to the new, the unknown and the promising.” Close will study at Bowdoin College, a highly selective liberal arts school in Brunswick, Maine.
Like Villanti, Class of 2013 Valedictorian Carolyn Schaefer featured a quote from a Billboard-charting hip-hop artist in her speech: “In the words of Kanye West, ‘Welcome to graduation.’” Schaefer’s speech recognized the distinct and varied talents of her peers and addressed the accomplishments of classmates and teachers alike, including Katie Robertson for beekeeping; Arin Gosal for freestyle rapping; and English teacher Nancy Martinez for simply “being the best.” “Never limit yourselves, for you and I know how much good you have to offer,” she told her audience.
Following the commencement, Schaefer told The Paper: “I was really not used to standing in front of so many people, let alone speaking words that all of them would be listening to. It was a little scary and definitely a new experience.” Schaefer is off to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she will study engineering.
“Free at last,” Skye Horgan said post-ceremony. “It feels like the first day of the rest of my life. The past few years have been magical, but I’m ready to take on the challenges of higher education.” Horgan will attend SUNY Purchase and hopes to continue with photography, a longtime hobby she feels will be better nurtured in a college environment.
A number of awards and scholarships were presented to students, including the Cold Spring Lions Club Scholarships, awarded to Sarah Diebboll, Emilie Procario and Diana Martinez; the Blue Devil Booster Club Scholarships, awarded to Bayley Semple and Rebecca Garrison; the Garrison Art Center Excellence in Art Award, awarded to Cassandra Nicholas; the Cold Spring Fire Company Scholarship, awarded to Jeffery Phillips and Patrick Junjulas; the Gerald Timmons Memorial Award, awarded to Cory Bodge; the Haldane Soccer Association Daniel J. Milewski Award, awarded to Laura Kearns and Ciaran Dillon; the George W. Ellis Memorial Award, awarded to Joseph Marigliano; the Kristofer J. Di Natale Scholarship, awarded to Katelyn Robertson; and the 2013 Betty Budney Community Service Award, awarded to Lindy Labriola.
Photos by Maggie Benmour