News Around The District

  • One apple + two apples = APPLEPALOOZA!

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 10/22/2021

    When math teacher Andrea Cleveland’s voice came over the public address system telling students at Carl L. Dixson Primary School that there was “math and apples everywhere,” that could only mean one thing: it was Applepalooza Day!

    Ms. Cleveland was right. There were apples everywhere — apples in the front yard of the school, in the playground and in each classroom. Each fall, the students at Dixson spend a day immersed in math and apples as the conduit for helping students understand math concepts — like numbers, addition and subtraction. Woman works with boys on math problem

    “This event truly engages every child and every staff member,” said Ms. Cleveland, who designed all of the age-appropriate stations and selected corresponding materials. “There are numerous ways to use the theme of apples to meet learning standards. Children learn in many different ways and I select activities to reflect that.”

    Ms. Cleveland explained that activities are geared to each grade level. Pre-kindergarten students stay in their classrooms, while kindergartners move from one class to another and first grade students move around the school grounds visiting different stations outside.

    “Go apple picking!” announced Principal Jeffrey Olender to a group of students before they dashed through the school’s front lawn looking for bags of apples. They were tasked with picking up a bag of apples, looking inside the bag for a slip of paper with a symbol, such as three dots or six lines, indicating a number. Students then had to place the bag in a bin with the corresponding number.

    Dixson has been hosting Applepalooza for over six years. The entire day is planned by Ms. Cleveland, who develops activities and shares them with her fellow teachers. Her fellow staff members assist students from one activity to the next as they work through a variety of math fun.

    In one classroom, students rolled a dice and selected a number of “pretend apples” (small green or red fabric balls) and placed them in a bowl of a muffin tin that corresponded with the number on the dice.

    Boy and girl working on math problemAnother activity included rolling a dice, picking the correct number of red or green chips out of a dish and placing the chips on a board with an apple tree. When their tree was full of apples, they were encouraged to shout “APPLEPALOOZA!” Another saw students reaching into a bucket and picking out a paper apple with a number on it. They then had to look at a large board with apple trees and count the apples until they found the tree with the same number of apples indicated on their sheet of paper. In another, students were instructed to find two separate bags of apples that, when added together, equaled 10.

    “It is my hope that the students have fun participating in activities that allow them to apply what they are learning in math,” Ms. Cleveland said. “One of my goals is that the children learn through experience – and that creates a lifelong memory.”

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  • AHHS welcomes old and new friends for ‘Start with Hello’ week

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 10/4/2021 8:00:00 AM

    “You’re enough.”

    “I like your smile.”

    “Never give up.”

    These were examples of the hand-written messages left on the Inclusive Tree hanging in the cafeteria at Alexander Hamilton High School. During their lunch period, students wrote positive messages to their peers on hand-shaped cutouts and then taped them to a paper “tree” hanging on a cafeteria wall. This was one of many activities during Start with Hello Week, sponsored by Sandy Hook Promises.

    The weeklong event has been a staple at the high school for the past four years. For one week in September, the Peers as Leaders, or PALs, developed an activity for each day to help all students get to know one another and spread a positive vibe throughout the school. Girl posts note on wall

    On Wednesday, Sept. 29, in addition to notes being posted on the Inclusive Tree, students were asked trivia questions about safety. Those who answered correctly were given a lollipop.

    “You have to earn that lollipop,” teacher and PALs advisor Kacie Schulman joked. Questions included “How many states have enacted Extreme Risk Laws?” and “When was the Columbine School shooting?”

    Earlier in the week, students began the day by writing their names on nametags, which enabled them to say “hello” to those they saw in the hallways. They also had participated in No One Eats Alone Day, when students were encouraged to sit with someone they didn’t know during lunch and start a conversation. 

    Other activities during the Sept. 27-Oct. 1 week, including Factoids Day, when students wrote a fact about themselves on a popsicle stick and looked to find another student with a similar fact so they could get to know each other better. The week wrapped up with an emoji matching game, where students were given a laminated emoji and had to find their peers who had the same one.

    Last year, the event was held virtually as students were attending school remotely at the time, Ms. Schulman said. 

    “It’s a great way to spread positivity throughout the school,” said PALs member senior Kathleen Praino of Start with Hello Week. Her favorite activity is the use of nametags. “It feels good when you walk down the hall, and someone says hello and uses your name.”

    “I always think it’s an important message to create,” PALs member senior Yahir Arellano said of sending a positive message to the school community.

    Yahir said he enjoys Don’t Eat Alone Day because it is an opportunity to talk to someone you may not know and to make a friend.

    The week was something different for junior Dhaniel Saleh, who is a new student at AHHS.

    “The nametags were great,” she said. “I couldn’t put names to faces and that really helped me get to know my peers and now we have a closer relationship.”

    PALs member Ashley Robinson, a freshman, said that she knows what it is like to come to a new school and not know anyone.

    “Activities like this are fun and inclusive, which is why we do it,” she said.

    Junior Daniel Villada said he wrote several messages complimenting people, letting them know he thought they had “nice hair” or that he liked “the color of their eyes.”

    “Hopefully it makes their day,” he said. “It’s something fun for the school.” 



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  • Backpack donation helps students have what they need

    Posted by Alicia on 9/29/2021 2:00:00 PM

    It was a busy day at Carl L. Dixson Primary School on Friday, Sept. 24. Not only was it the monthly Fitness Friday, but students had the added bonus of going home with a new, donated backpack full of school supplies.

    “We have some special guests who are giving out colorful treats,” said Dixson Principal Jeffrey Olender, who playfully teased students before the giveaway began. Man hands out backpacks to students

    Thanks to a partnership between the Elmsford Police Department and the Heavenly Productions Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Armonk, every student at the school received a free backpack filled with folders, pens, pencils and a notebook.

    Heavenly Productions, which was founded in 2003 by Chair Kathy Reilly Fallon and her husband James Fallon, has worked with Elmsford for the past three years after being contacted by Doug Ramirez, Elmsford’s school resource officer. Since then, it has donated full backpacks to students at the start of each new school year. This year, the organization donated 200 backpacks to Dixson. The organization’s Backpack Project is in its 11th year and has donated more than 13,000 backpacks to students throughout the region.

    “We help kids in need,” Dr. Reilly Fallon said. “It’s good to give back to the community.”

    She was on-hand for the backpack distribution, which took place after the Friday Fitness fun at the end of the school day. Officer Ramirez joined her in helping to pass out the colorful backpacks, along with fellow officers from the Elmsford Police Department.

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  • A walk with Dad for ‘Dads Take Your Child to School Day’

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 9/24/2021 12:05:00 PM

    Helping hoist on backpacks, holding hands crossing the street and sharing warm hugs were all part of the morning routine for fathers on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.

    The Elmsford Union Free District participated in “Dads Take Your Child to School Day,” an initiative that began in 1996 following the Black Start Project Million Father March. In 2006, New York gave the event its current moniker and school districts throughout the state have been inviting fathers and other male caregivers to take part ever since. Man with arm around boy

    “Normally he gets on the bus,” said Ralph Lopez, who brought his son, second grader Justyn, to school. “He likes to be with his friends, but today I decided to drop him off. It’s an honor for me. He enjoyed it as well. He was all full of smiles.”

    This is the third year that Alice E. Grady Elementary School and Carl L. Dixson Primary School hosted a “Dads” event. 

    “It’s bonding time,” said Nick Chouloute, as he brought his son, kindergartner Micah, to school. The two enjoyed donuts and juice, which was served at Dixson as a before-school/work treat.

    “It’s nice and it makes us feel appreciated,” said Steve Absolu as he walked his first-grade daughter Alana to school. “We work hard for our kids,” he said of the many dads who participated.

    According to the website, dadstakeyourchildtoschoolday.com, “research indicates that children whose fathers take a more active role in their lives have better outcomes related to academics, behavior, and social skills.” 

     Click here to see photos from this fun morning! 



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  • Play ball! Work on athletics fields continues

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 9/14/2021 8:30:00 AM

    Athletic Director Robert Pollok has taken a ride down memory lane, in a way, researching the Elmsford Union Free District’s athletic history.

    His research has shown that the Alexander Hamilton High School long jump pit is the same one that was used by 2010 All-American and State Champion Tre Bracey. It was also used by 1980 State Champion Long Jumper David Konsens. He did note there had been some work done to allow for better drainage back in 2017, but not much has been done until now.

    All of this is about to change as construction on the high school athletics fields, that began in June, continues. Construction work on athletic fields

    The Michael Arciola Field, known as the AHHS Main/Lower-Level Field, is having new drainage installed. Once construction on the drainage is complete, a new turf field will be put down.

    “Once completed, this field will serve once again as the Multi-Sport/ Multi-Season cornerstone to our athletic department,” Mr. Pollok said. “This turf field will serve our student-athletes and community as a football, soccer, baseball and softball fields.”

    For the upcoming seasons, both of the upper fields will wait for the planned renovations there to begin, enabling the AHHS soccer team to have use of it for practices and the fall season. The Varsity and JV teams will use local village and town fields for the regular season. Once the lower field work is complete, the upper fields will be converted to synthetic turf.

    The playing fields are not the only athletic spaces having improvements made. Mr. Pollok said the track and field teams will see upgrades to their facilities too. The long jump, triple jump and high jump pits and a rubberized track are part of the project too and will be located behind the AHHS baseball/softball third base lines.

    “Our throwers will benefit from a brand-new shot-put pit and discuss throw area on the upper levels,” he said. “On the upper level, surrounding the upper soccer field that meets the NFHS field dimension requirements, we will have a 300 meter, four-lane track, with a 100 meter straight away. Finally, a track for our outstanding track team and coaches to work on,” he added.

    The athletic director is excited for the 2021 Class “C” Softball Champions to return to their renovated softball field in the upper level, a space, he said, that will also serve local Little League programs in the community and even the modified baseball team can use it for practice.

    The upper and lower softball and baseball fields will be ready for use once the installation of backstops, dugouts, bleachers and foul poles are complete, he said.

    The lower baseball field will also get a baseball/softball tunnel installed to allow players to work on the fundamentals of hitting and use of the pitching machine safely.

    The project was part of a $5 million Capital Improvement plan approved by voters in 2020, that also included installing new windows and exterior doors at AHHS. The money was part of the districts Capital Reserve Fund.

    While improvements and upgrades have been done in the past, including refinishing the gymnasium floors and replacing lights at AHHS, “I don’t know of a time, if ever, that the athletic facilities at AHHS have gone through a major overhaul as large as this project,” Mr. Pollok said.

    Understandably, Mr. Pollok was hoping to have the facilities ready to go for the start of the fall sports seasons, however, delays have been caused by shortages in materials, something the construction industry across the board has had to contend with recently. The hope, he said, is to have the main field finished by mid-October, if only for practices until the final components are done, including the installation of bleachers, goal posts, scoreboard and a sound system.

    “I am proud to serve the Elmsford UFSD,” Mr. Pollok said. “I am proud to serve the student-athletes of Alexander Hamilton High School. When this new athletic sports complex is completed, I am certain the students, alumni and community at large, will be as proud of it as I am sure to be.”




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  • Welcome back! EUFSD students have started a new school year

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 9/13/2021 2:10:00 PM

    The skies were grey, but the smiles brightened up the day as students, teachers and staff members made their way into the schools for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Welcome Back lawn sign

    The first day of school in the Elmsford Union Free School District was Thursday, Sept. 9. There was a celebratory atmosphere throughout the district as parents dropped off their children and buses pulled up to unload students. It had been two years since students enjoyed a traditional first day of school in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    With safety guidelines in place, including parents filling out a daily health form to masks being worn indoors, the year began with in-person instruction. 

    Students were greeted with balloons and encouraging words as Superintendent Marc Baiocco and principals Joseph Engelhardt, Andrea Hamilton and Jeffrey Olender greeted students and families at their respective schools.

    “It was an amazing opening, and it was great to see everyone back in school,” Dr. Baiocco said. “We are excited for what is sure to be a fabulous school year.” 

    Click here to see photos of opening day! 


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  • Superintendent’s Welcome Back message kicked off a new school year

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 9/10/2021 8:15:00 AM

    Superintendent Marc Baiocco addressed all staff members of the Elmsford Union Free School District during the opener of a three-day Superintendent’s Conference meeting. His address to the school community was held virtually.

    “I hope the summer has left you recharged,” Dr. Baiocco said on Aug. 31. “As our students begin next week, it is so important to welcome them into a fabulous school year.” Slide of Superintendent's Conference Day

    He recognized the staff members who have worked in the district for the longest, calling out those who reached their 15-, 20- and 25-year milestones. He offered a special shout-out to Alice E. Grady Elementary School teacher Lisa Liebel, who has been working in the district for 30 years.

    Dr. Baiocco introduced new staff members – some are district alumni; others are returning to the district to work.

    As the Elmsford School District takes special pride in its community partners, Dr. Baiocco was excited to share information about a new partnership that the district formed with the Westchester Jewish Community Services based in White Plains, which will assist students with their mental health needs.

    The day brought much celebration too. Dr. Baiocco referred to Elmsford as “A District on The Move” and celebrated its many achievements. Among them were an increase in rigorous outcomes; expanded community partnerships; improved communication and outreach; K-12 curriculum alignment; emphasis on continued improvements; diversity, equity and inclusion; and “the amazing students, community and staff,” he said.

    The district recently completed its annual strategic planning meetings, which helped develop a roadmap for the new school year through 2021. Some highlights include staying student-focused, implementing a rigorous curriculum and providing a healthy and safe environment for all.

    Equity has always been an important component of the district’s work. The Equity Team continued its goal of creating more awareness about equity in the district and empowering students to speak up.

    Dr. Baiocco honored teachers for their work. He shared a quote from writer William Arthur Ward: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

    “For some students, this year may be the first time they enter our school buildings in over a year,” Dr. Baiocco said. “Let's have fun and ensure that we meet our students’ academic and social-emotional needs throughout the school year. Continue to do great work on behalf of our students!”


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  • Welcome! EUFSD welcomes new staff at the New Employee Academy

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 9/1/2021 2:30:00 PM

    The first day of a new job can often be overwhelming. However, administrators in the Elmsford Union Free School District helped to make new staff feel welcome and ready for their new roles during the New Staff Academy.

    “You’ve landed in an amazing place,” Alexander Hamilton High School Principal Joseph Engelhardt told the group gathered in the library at Alexander Hamilton High School on Aug. 30.

    “We truly are a community,” Superintendent Marc Baiocco said in his welcoming address. “We mean that with every sense of our being.”

    The district, he said, reaches out to its families beyond the classroom in many ways. For example, the monthly food pantry is available for families in need. Additionally, Dr. Baiocco shared how the district is taking extra measures to help students with their social and emotional needs through a partnership with Westchester Jewish Community Services. Group of people on a staircase

    He encouraged the new hires, along with veteran staff, to keep in mind the difficult year the students have experienced related to the COVID-19 pandemic as they begin their work with students.

    “We need you to recognize signs and symptoms and help students develop coping mechanisms until they can get the help they need,” Dr. Baiocco said.

    Carl L. Dixson Primary School Principal Jeffery Olender further emphasized the sense of community in the district

    “We are the first to welcome students into the district,” he said. “We are all about creating connections with parents. We want to establish a mindset that kids love coming to school.”

    Alice E. Grady Principal Andrea Hamilton told the new hires that the students and staff at her school share a close bond.

    “We really are a Grady family,” she said. “I have one ask for you — I ask that you treat them like they are yours. There are so many things that have been going on in their lives. I want them to feel safe and welcome.”

    One way to foster that closeness and sense of community is through communication, said Joseph Engelhardt, principal at AHHS.

    “My one big ask for you is communication,” he said. “Our families need and deserve to hear from our teachers. A warm welcome to our families is not the expectation, it is a demand. It’s what our students deserve.”

    Joining the EUFSD this year are:

    Natalie Bolden, Art, AHHS
    Haughton Brown, LOTE
    Anthony Gentile, Special Education, AHHS
    Firoza Rahman, Math, AHHS
    Vanessa Davis, Special Education, Grady
    Maia Hood, 4th Grade, Grady
    Gabriella Solis, Dual Language, Grady
    Tiffany Wilson, Teaching Assistant, Grady
    Michelle Civetta, Leave Replacement, Dixson
    Caitlin Franklin, Building Sub, Dixson
    Rafael Javier, ESL, Dixson
    Catherine Mathsen, Teacher Aide, Dixson
    Marvin Whittle, Teaching Assistant, Dixson
    Adrian Pritchett, Maintenance Laborer, Buildings & Grounds


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  • District plans ahead with new goals during strategic planning meetings

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 8/31/2021

    A sure sign that a new school year is about to begin is when the Elmsford Union Free School District convenes a late summer meeting consisting of community stakeholders as part of its strategic planning.

    On Tuesday, August 24, a group of teachers, administrators, staff, parents and students gathered in the library at the Alice E. Grady Elementary School to explore ways to improve student outcomes. The three days of meetings were facilitated by Sean Brady of Prism Decision Systems, who has worked with the district for more than 10 years. Group meeting in library.

    “One of the things we want to look at is our goals now and also our goals over the long term,” Superintendent Marc Baiocco said. “What we need to focus on is what is in the best interest of every student and family we serve.”

    Past goals have shown clear improvement, as was noted during the first meeting. Over the past three years, the district has experienced marked improvements in most of its goals.

    “That is tremendous,” Alexander Hamilton High School Principal Joseph Engelhardt said. “It represents the rigor of our students.”

    “It shows the trajectory you are on,” noted Mr. Brady. “Today we have an opportunity to say, ‘What other outcomes would we like to measure?’”

    During the session, the group reviewed the improvement strategies for 2021-2024. Among them was taking a closer look at learning, specifically, exploring a more challenging curriculum and instruction. They also discussed the needs of the whole child, or a student’s social and emotional needs. In addition, they scrutinized the school environment to assure the district is providing a safe, nurturing and culturally significant place for all. And finally, they reviewed the partnerships the district has with outside organizations and how to engage parents and the broader community.

    As the day progressed, the group reviewed the improvement strategies for the district line by line and in some instances, they revised the wording for clarity. They then voted to approve the suggested changes.

    “We do this to ensure the language is clear and clearly explains what the district is trying to do,” Mr. Brady said.

    Collectively, they then took a look at each individual school which had predetermined specific areas of focus. The group then offered suggestions relating to these areas.

    For example, the Carl L. Dixson Primary School, was zeroing on the areas of social-emotional check-ins with students, equity and inclusion, and parent connections.

    At the Alice E. Grady Elementary School, they took a closer look at students’ social-emotional well-being, students reading at or above grade level, and the effectiveness of the materials they use.

    The social-emotional well-being of students was also a consideration at Alexander Hamilton High School, along with college and career readiness and curriculum alignment with learning standards.

    The district’s central office looked at its goals as well, specifically those for the dual language program and students’ social-emotional well-being.

    While divided into groups by school, they were tasked with developing specific ways to reach their school’s goal. They discussed what the goal was, what formula would be used to measure improvement, who would be responsible for managing the work necessary and evaluating the data to determine if the goal had been met.  

    “This helps us zero in on what the goals and plans are,” Mr. Brady said.

    During the next two days, the groups met in each building to further investigate and make determinations about how to move forward in achieving their goals.

    “We are very grateful for everyone’s participation,” Dr. Baiocco said. “It’s a long process that is so central to what we do as we move into a new school year. We have seen the fruits of our labor,” through goals met and positive outcomes.

    Once approved by the board of education the 2021-2024 Strategic Plan will be posted on the district website.


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  • Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 6/30/2021 12:15:00 PM

    When Superintendent of Schools Marc Baiocco asked the Class of 2021 “Are you ready?” one student loudly proclaimed, “Yes sir.” It was the moment he and his classmates had all been waiting for — to be officially declared graduates.

    In a turbulent year that included remote learning, hybrid learning and in-person learning, the Class of 2021 members persevered and now proudly call themselves alumni of Alexander Hamilton High School. Their commencement ceremony took place on the grounds of Knollwood Country Club on June 23. Graduates tossing caps into the air

    The ceremony began with the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance by senior Jason Atkins, and the singing of the National Anthem by fellow graduates Shaday Garvery, Kate Hidalgo, Lizbeth Medina, Bailey Proctor and Dahlia White.

    Alexander Hamilton High School Principal Joseph Engelhardt welcomed the graduates and their families and recalled how he began his tenure as principal when students in the Class of 2021 were freshman. He said he grew in his position as an administrator and learned right along with them.

    “You will forever be remembered in my heart as the class that taught me how to be a principal in Elmsford and what our school is all about. I thank you for that,” he said.

    Mr. Engelhardt shared the definition of “grit and determination” as defined by renowned American educator Angela Duckworth: “passion and sustained persistence for long term achievement with no particular rewards or recognition along the way.”

    “Class of 2021, you will be recognized for your grit and determination,” Mr. Engelhardt said. “Our students here today had to learn through this new landscape starting in their junior year – through virtual, hybrid learning or in-person, whatever combination you chose, you did it and achieved it at a higher graduation rate than any class before you. That is grit. That is Hamilton!”

    Salutatorian Alyssa Fitzgerald, in her speech, noted how she learned to be successful from her twin sister, Jonelle, who at 13-years old underwent her first of many surgeries. Her learning continued as she watched her sister persevere through whatever life threw at her.

    “I believe that story of that 13-year-old girl is a testament to the flexibility and exception a successful life requires,” Alyssa said. “She taught me, in order to be successful, you have to walk out into the unknown, be kind and be willing to accept help because whether you think you need it or not, you do.”

    “I say to my fellow graduates, when you encounter a hurdle, take that leap of faith,” she concluded.

    Board of Education President Candice Wood noted how for so many years, the graduates had awakened to the same alarm clock announcing it was time to go to school.

    “You will continue to wake up every day to that same alarm but with a different vision and a different perspective,” she said.

    “Be proud of yourself and all your complexions and complexities, all of your accomplishments. Through the trials and challenges that you will face, embrace the good times and the memories, learn from your pitfalls and disappointments and embrace the opportunities that await you,” she said.

    Student Government President Kate Hidalgo reminded classmates how quickly time has passed. Many of them first met while in pre-k, she said.

    “Time goes by like the speed of light and we don’t realize it until all we have left are memories,” she said. “If there are things you haven’t done in the past four years, don’t be upset about it, just take things slower in the future. Live in the moment and don’t rush to grow up,” she said.

    Kate is the first in her family to attend college and she thanked her parents for making that possible. She spoke directly to them in Spanish, later informing the crowd about the essence of what she had said to them before concluding: “I look forward to seeing what the future holds for each of us. We are now the generation of change. This year we have shown that our generation is resilient and adaptable, and we have a voice that will not be diminished.”

    During the ceremony, members of the Class of 2021 received a number of awards and scholarships.

    “The faces you see surrounding you are the ones you are going to remember from your childhood,” said Valedictorian Jackie Praino. “This is your Hamilton family, your Elmsford family, and they will always be here to support you and lift you up as you prepare to embark on the next step of your journey.”

    “The next steps in all of our journeys are ones we must learn to take on our own,” she continued. “No matter what, we will all be getting a new beginning. We are saying goodbye to the life we have known in Elmsford. The future is yours to shape any way you want.”

    Guests were entertained with a song, “For Good,” from the musical “Wicked,” sung by seniors and classmates Lizbeth Medina, Bailey Proctor and Dahlia White.

    Before he formerly declared them graduates, Superintendent Marc Baiocco shared some encouraging words of his own.

    “Let your heart be your compass, your mind be your map and your soul be your guide and you will never be lost,” he said, quoting Indian author Ritu Ghatourey

    “In the days and months following the pandemic, we all questioned our decisions. Your family members questioned is it safe to return to school? Students wondered what this school year will be like, teachers worried about how am I going to continue to teach in this hybrid model, administrators questioned how do we possibly keep everyone safe. We learned when nothing is sure, everything is possible.”

    And finally, it was the moment students were waiting for — the distribution of their diplomas. When every member of the Class of 2021 had theirs in hand, they tossed their caps into the air before breaking up as a group to meet their family and friends.

    Click here to see photos from the event!









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