75 seniors and principal Alm move on
Saturday morning, June 18, was a perfect day for a graduation. As the middle and high school band performed Pomp and Circumstance, a large crowd of family, friends, neighbors and educators waited under brilliant blue skies as the 75-member Haldane Class of 2016 made its way down from the high school to the rostrum, in a procession led by senior class advisor Joe Virgadamo.
The school’s 121st graduation ceremony got under way with class president Alexandria Gariepy leading the salute to the flag followed by the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by the Haldane Chorus, the Blue Notes.
Principal Brian Alm welcomed everyone and addressed the graduates at what would be his last Haldane commencement. The popular principal is moving on to a senior position with the Ossining Union Free School District.
“There isn’t a person in this audience that doesn’t … sense just how special you are as individuals, and collectively,” he said. “You are pioneers, inventors, and traditionalists all the same. You are kind, compassionate, and responsible. You lead by example.”
Gariepy was next to speak. “It has truly been an honor to be your class president,” she said. “Without a doubt, Haldane isn’t just another school that I have attended, it has become my home. Your love, kindness and willingness to help, while still allowing us to grow as individuals, will never be forgotten.”
Wylie Thornquist and Adele Westerhuis presented the valedictorian and salutatorian addresses, respectively.
Westerhuis pointed to community involvement as a signature trait of the class of 2016. “From joining local fire departments, to Girl Scout Gold Award projects, everyone has made an effort to give back to the community which has supported us for so many years,” she said. “We have made community service a key part of our class’s identity.” Referring to the senior class trip to New Orleans and the students’ work at Habitat for Humanity sites, she added, “Nowhere was it more clear that our grade had a passion for helping others.”
In the valedictorian address, Thornquist stressed the importance of constant human growth, quoting Muhammad Ali who once said, “A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
“I can only imagine what world will lie before us in 30 years, but I know that each and every one of us will play a part in shaping that world in big and small ways,” Thornquist said. “I hope … that we all only grow kinder, braver, and stronger with time. With that in mind, Class of 2016, keep growing, keep thriving, and keep your eyes on the horizon.”
Members of the community and sponsors presented more than 30 scholarships, honors and awards to many of Haldane’s top students.
The big moment came when Superintendent of Education Diana Bowers made it official, certifying the graduation of the Class of 2016. One by one the students received their diplomas, but only after stopping briefly to continue an age-old tradition — the ringing of the Haldane bell. William Zuvic, the last to receive his diploma, performed the final honor by ringing the bell 16 times. Soon after, caps flew high in the air in another time-honored tradition.
Several members of the Class of 1966 were also on hand. After the formal ceremonies were complete they too made the walk up to the Haldane bell and enthusiastically rang it several more times, marking the 50th anniversary of their graduation.