Valhalla Center graduates lauded for their accomplishments and character

teacher, student and principal

Teachers reflect on students' success as new challenges await

Everyone at the Valhalla Center graduation had a smile on their face, reflecting the character of the three young men being honored.

One by one, teachers shared how thoughtful each graduate was and their pride in their accomplishments.

“The graduates are our students and your children,” Principal Leslie Handler said. “Your children worked really hard to reach this day.”

“We are all excited to see what you will do next,” Ms. Handler added.

Teacher Allison Waskiewicz said her student, Elijah Haynes, was always the first to volunteer and assist with any task.

family member hugs graduate“Everyone at the center knows Elijah is willing to lend a hand and can be counted on,” Ms. Waskiewicz said. “Elijah has been a real pleasure to have in the classroom.”

Teacher Jessie Fierro described student Anthony Brown as “someone who likes to have fun and laugh all the time.”

Mr. Fierro recalled one day when he accidentally dropped an item. Anthony laughed but was the first to get up from his seat and help clean up the mess.

“Anthony will truly be missed,” he said.

He told Anthony to continue to laugh and have fun. Of graduate Sean Ortiz, Mr. Fierro said, “He always has a bright smile on his face.”

That smile is there when Sean begins his day, and it's there when the day ends.

“Sean cares for everyone,” Mr. Fierro continued, “and I mean everyone. He can spot when someone isn’t having a good day and will say something nice.”

family members flank graduateSean was also the class reminder, encouraging his classmates to be sure they ate lunch.

“Sean,” Mr. Fierro encouraged, “continue that smile, continue that passion and continue to grow.”

Each of the graduates was called up to receive their diplomas as well as the Bob Newman Award, named for a late SWBOCES student that has been presented to graduating students of distinction for nearly two decades.

After applauding the students’ success, those gathered were treated to a video slideshow depicting the students throughout their educational careers.

“Parents,” Ms. Handler said, “now you can see the wonderful things your child has done.”