In a virtual moving-up ceremony on June 18, Rye Neck Middle School celebrated its eighth graders’ achievements and successful completion of their middle school days. In his remarks, Principal Dr. Eric Lutinski acknowledged that the students have endured what will hopefully be the “toughest time our planet will go through in your lifetime,” and encouraged them to think about perspective and potential as they prepare for high school.
“It’s easy to get stuck in details and complain about the loss of our little rituals or comforts we think we have a right to,” Dr. Lutinski said. “It’s natural to feel like a victim and it’s natural to blame other people for how crises are handled. The trick is to allow these big events to inform our perspective, not let them become our identity. All of you have your potential intact. All of you are still armed with natural gifts and talents that you will use to achieve prosperity.”
He shared a brief list of people who were around the eighth graders’ age when they went through the influenza pandemic of 1918 and were still able to achieve success.
“This crisis will help form our life experience, but most of us are just watching it go by,” Dr. Lutinski said. “Corona is not our fault. It’s also not to blame for our problems in life, and it doesn’t have to be an obstacle. Maintain perspective and you will maintain a hold on your considerable potential.”
The celebration included inspiring words from student representatives Max Deckinger, Caroline Johansen, Haruka Nanri and Julie Van Roijen, as well as a reflection from Cathy Toolan, a teacher and eighth grade team leader. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro described the 122 eighth graders as creative, kind and hardworking.
“This unusual school year brought to life your inner strength, resilience, creativity and perseverance, enabling you to find positive results to new challenges that you face,” Dr. Ferraro said.
During the ceremony, faculty members announced awards for excellence in academics, athletics and the arts. Signifying the conclusion of one chapter and the beginning of another, Dr. Lutinski announced the names of each member of the Class of 2024.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, a group of staff members drove through various parts of the district to hand deliver an envelope to each eighth grader’s home. The students received their certificate and a hard copy of the program, as well as any awards they may have earned.