Smiles and sunshine were in abundant supply as the Jesse J. Kaplan School held its Graduation 2012 ceremony on Friday, June 15. More than a dozen students were celebrated in a joyful and emotional ceremony held under a large white tent set up behind the West Nyack school. Kaplan, which is part of Rockland BOCES’ Student Services Program, serves children with developmental disabilities.
In her opening remarks, Principal Julie Larson thanked the students’ families for entrusting the school with their children.
“They are beautiful, beautiful children and they will be treasured wherever they go,” she said.
District Superintendent Dr. Mary Jean Marsico told the group that though they are moving on to new challenges, “they will always have a home here.”
The keynote address was delivered from a wheelchair by Tiffany Mason, who described how she fought to overcome obstacles in her life.
“I will not be limited by my limitations, and I will not allow my limitations to limit me,” she concluded as the audience, applauding, rose to its feet.
The students, wearing green caps and gowns, conveyed their feelings about graduation. Some spoke through the aid of a voice box, others held up signs that said “thank you” and “I’ll miss you” and others, like John Coviello Jr., expressed appreciation for teachers, families and others who helped them get to this point.
“I will always remember the good times I had,” he said during an emotional speech.
Executive Director for Student Services Dr. Amy Albers and Dr. Marsico presented a special award to each student, and representatives from the graduates’ home school districts gave them diplomas.
After graduation, the students will transition to a variety of adult programs run by agencies including Venture, ARC of Rockland, and AHRC.
Congratulations to the Jesse J. Kaplan Class of 2012: Christine Michelle Bonfante (Clarkstown), Travis Chambers III (Washingtonville), Brielle Champeau (Clarkstown), John Coviello Jr. (North Rockland), Eric Fanning (Nanuet), Recai Gonzalez (Goshen), Mariah LeClair (Highland Falls), Paul Nickelson (Lakeland), Victor Ortega (Pearl River), Melissa Phillips (East Ramapo), Anthony Sarju (East Ramapo), Jahill Shakur (Nyack), Harvey Weber (South Orangetown), Jeremy Weise (East Ramapo).