St. Matthew’s School honors five graduates for their hard work and achievement

Each left an imprint on the program that will be remembered, staff say

 graduates all lined up Classmates serenaded, families cheered and educators applauded five graduates of the St. Matthew’s School Class of 2024 at a heartwarming ceremony for their milestone achievement.

“These students have worked very hard to get to this day,” Principal Leslie Handler told a packed audience in the school’s Luther Hall. “We are excited and happy that they have achieved all that they have.”

Teachers offered tributes to each of the graduates: Christopher Aguilar, David Borjas, Hector Garcia, Darlyn Mejia and Amdiel Peters. Their hard work, sense of humor and work ethic in various school and community roles was recalled with fondness tinged by the realization that they are leaving St. Matthew’s for new challenges elsewhere.

graduates seated at ceremony

Teacher Maggie Donaghy said of Amdiel that his smile always lights up a room. He always worked hard at Old Navy and for SWBOCES. “Keep smiling, Amdiel,” she said. “The world is yours.” Of David, she added, “You have the best sense of humor, David, and can make the whole class smile.”

Teacher Phil Rucci said Chris truly enjoyed when the therapy dogs would visit. Other times he would laugh so hard he would leap around the room. “We’ve been able to watch Chris grow in front of our eyes,” he said, “from a little boy to a grown man.”

Each of the students received the Bob Newman Award, named for a late SWBOCES student and presented to graduating students of distinction for nearly two decades.

Teaching Assistant Demetria Thomas said she was new to the program last fall when she met Darlyn, recalling how well they came to know each other. Darlyn is an amazing cook, she said, having just passed his latest culinary assessment. Soon he’ll start work for the local Parks Department in Katonah.

graduate and principal“Above all, you are a sweet young man,” she said. “I’m so proud to have met you.”

Teacher Patrice Cookes said of Hector that he had once been very shy but has matured greatly over time. He is gentlemanly, always holding doors, and demonstrates a great work ethic in jobs at such locations as Old Navy, White Plains Bakery and at Grace Church, where he served food for the homeless.

“He has such exemplary qualities, such as caring for others, as he has such an enormous heart,” Ms. Cookes said.

Also honored at the ceremony were St. Matthew’s retirees Speech Therapist Leslie Wrobel and Teaching Assistant Barbra Brady.

The ceremony was punctuated by a student performance of Coldplay’s Stars in the Sky led by Music Teacher Andrew Ruoti on guitar and accompanied by five current St. Matthew’s students as wll as a recorded chorus of students from across SWBOCES programs.

View more photos on the SWBOCES Facebook page.