Tappan Hill School graduation ‘Not the end but a beginning’

13 students honored in emotional commencement ceremony

The Tappan Hill School community honored 13 students, four of whom graduated from programs there and will pursue new challenges and adventures elsewhere. Meanwhile, nine students will move up to new programs next school year.

“Over the years I have recognized what a monumental moment graduation is,” Principal Phyllis Rizzi told a packed gymnasium decorated for the commencement. “It’s the celebration of our students' hard work, determination and spirit. It’s a testament to the dedication of not only our staff but you, the families.”

The annual celebration of student achievement here featured an emotional slideshow of highlights from throughout each students’ time at Tappan Hill. Students Deskin Burton, Christopher Vataj and Malclom DiBella, all of whom moved up at the event, lead the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Teacher Errol Rivera reflected on the accomplishments of his students.

“There’s no greater joy than to see them and their focus as they enter our building every day,” Mr. Rivera said. “Today is not the end but a beginning. So go out and let the world know who you are.”

Teacher Rachael Lynch acknowledged the various professionals who support the work done with students every day as well as the support from families.

Following the ceremonies, family members gathered with the honorees and school staff for photos as well as cake and refreshments to mark the occasion.

The graduates of the Tappan Hill School Class of 2024 are: Carl Aguirre, Derek Galindo, Fraley Gomez and Samantha Vintimilla. Those students who moved up were Jedidiah Akumiah, Yonas Bilal, Deskin Burton, Ricardo Chavez, Malcolm DiBella, Jahiem Ivey, Tommy Shala, Christopher Vataj and Francesco Villa.