More than 300 people bid adieu to at their Sunday graduation, with excitement and fondness marking the evening's festivities.
The speakers for the evening, including students and the Chappaqua school district leadership, looked both backwards and forwards.
Salutatorian Davis Wertheimer, self-deprecating himself in a lighthearted way, noted that there were several things he couldn't do that his classmates have achieved.
“So, yeah, there are a lot of things that I can’t do. But here’s the thing: You, Class of 2012, all of you, you can," he said. "At some point or another, we’ve done each and every one of the things that I’ve just described with incredible skill, grace and dedication.”
Wertheimer gave his own take on what it means to have success.
“If you want to be successful, do things that make the world a better place, for you and for others.”
Phylicia Ashley, the class president, reminded her classmates of what they have been through, going back to elementary school.
“Although these days are gone, we should never forget what lessons you’ve been given for the future.”
David Turer, the student council president, had similar sentiments, noting that their time in school has played a role their identities.
“The little things that we’ve learned from kindergarten until now shape at our core who we are," he said.
Chappaqua school board President Alyson Kiesel, a 1988 Greeley graduate, had her first opportunity to attend such an event in her current role.
“I don’t think I could have predicted 24 years ago, as I sat exactly where you sit now, that I would one day be speaking at a Greeley graduation as president of the board of education," she said. "But if I have learned one thing since then, is that the only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability.”
Kiesel spoke to the class about the importance of critical thinking and in dealing with unpredictability.
Superintendent Lyn McKay looked even further to the future for the students, to when they will graduate from college and begin their careers. In her remarks, she encouraged the class to look at work that they will be interested in, and telling them about being "passionately curious."
The graduation, in a way, acted as a juncture for some current events that are reshaping the Chappaqua school community.
At the start of the ceremony, McKay asked for a moment of silence , a father with three children in the school district who died Friday in a skydiving accident in Ulster County.
Longtime football Coach and gym teacher Bill Tribou, who is for an unknown reason, was not explicitly noted for his absence. However, in his valedictorian speech, Kamil Sadik talked about how in taking one of his classes, he realized the importance of hard work that brings positive outcomes, rather than the outcomes themselves. He described Tribou's class as one that perhaps had “the greatest impact” of any class he took at Greeley on his development.
“So no matter what notion of success we wish to pursue in life, we will all go through the same process of trials and failure and recovery from that failure, for approaching and reshaping our notion of what success means to us," Sadik said.
The day, in an upbeat way, was a graduation of sorts for Greeley's top administrators. Principal Andrew Selesnick, who in July will become an assistant superintendent for human resources, gave his final address and extolled the civic virtures of the students he has seen over the years.
"So much kindness and so much to be proud of," Selesnick said in looking back.
Mark Bayer, one of Greeley's three assistant principals, is also class principal for 2012. Bayer will leave Chappaqua next month , trading Quakers for Tuskers.
“He makes us work harder. He made us want to make him proud," Phylicia Ashley said about Bayer.
In his remarks, Bayer discussed the strengths of the grade that he has spent years getting to know.
“After thinking long and hard about how I would honor you, my seniors, in our final moments together, I thought I would just keep it simple and to the point: You are an awesome bunch of individuals, and as I look out at you tonight, you look exactly the same," he said. "But the blue robes and the matching mortarboards mask the hidden truth, and that is that each of you is unique and special in your own way, with your own talents and your own skills. And each of you is ready to start the next part of your journey, a path that is distinctively your own and which no two of you share.”