Tappan Hill School honors students during Moving Up and Graduation Ceremonies

Thirteen students from the Special Services program at Tappan Hill School were honored during an emotional ceremony on June 10 .

The ceremony for the CAD and AIIM programs took place in the morning, with Principal Phyllis Rizzi and Assistant Principal Francesca Fernandez visiting various classrooms to present each student with their certificate. Proud parents watched as tearful teachers and staff shared memories. The children were overcome with emotion, knowing that they would soon be leaving their beloved Tappan Hill teachers for a new chapter of their academic career.

The afternoon’s ceremony honoring three graduates who have completed their last year of schooling and are transitioning to vocational and/or community placements was held in the gymnasium, where Ms. Rizzi opened the ceremony with welcoming words for the families in attendance.  

“Today is a day of joy and gratitude. We are here to bid farewell to our students and wonderful families, as our graduates are now ready for the adult world,” said Ms. Rizzi.

Ms. Fernandez also remarked on the students’ time at Tappan Hill.

“Each of your time at Tappan Hill has been full of memories—with each other, teachers, staff and your families. Whether it was an Achilles Event, Talent Show, running a laundry program or having your class meeting with Errol playing the guitar. Each of have left your mark on Tappan Hill,” Ms. Fernandez.

The ceremony continued with a heartfelt slideshow, depicting each students’ journey throughout their school years. After faculty and family members wiped away tears, Ms. Fernandez presented the cheerful students with their certificates, then turned the microphone over to Special Education teacher Erroll Rivera.

Mr. Rivera shared thoughts about his journey with the three graduates, noting how Christopher’s love of basketball led to a friendly wager between them on the NBA Finals; how Cameron’s passion for food always made him hungry; and how Michael’s top-notch laundry skills are a testament to his time at Tappan Hill School.

“One of the main purposes of the ADL program is to get students to be able to effectively communicate their wants and needs, and I believe we have done that for all three of our graduates,” said Mr. Rivera. “We’ve taught them how to use their passions in a constructive way, and I know they will take those skills with them as they enter the next phase of their lives.”

Ms. Fernandez ended the ceremony with a hopeful message for the new graduates.

“Christopher, Cameron and Michael—you’ve brought joy, kindness and passion to Tappan Hill. Continue to bring those attributes with you in the future, because I know you can do anything you set your mind to.”