Recognition Ceremony 2020

Recognition Ceremony celebrates the Class of 2020 in virtual style

For a school year that saw many educational traditions and expectations change when a global pandemic struck, students at the Southern Westchester BOCES Center for Career Services adapted to the changes and challenges and came away stronger.

One more change they had to navigate was the traditional end-of-year Recognition Ceremony. Typically, the event is a large gathering at the Westchester County Center for students to celebrate their accomplishments with their teachers and their families. The ceremony not only recognizes the success of students, but also is a time when they receive awards and scholarships, hear sage advice from successful guest speakers, including some BOCES alumni, and come together one last time. This year was markedly different due the impact of the coronavirus. School administrators worked to put together a virtual ceremony that premiered on June 18 at

One of the most poignant portions of the event was a video montage of seniors, called “Student Voices,” in which they shared their thoughts about what BOCES has done for them.

In their own words:

“I think BOCES has pushed me to where I want to go. I came out of it having a plan pursuing a career in construction management.”

“I am going to the Culinary Institute of America, the most prestigious and number one culinary school in this country. I am so excited for it. I am astounded someone like me got in, to go to a school that is that prestigious, that is like the Harvard of my industry.”

“Basically, come with motivation. That’s all it takes.”

“He [Instructor Chef Peter Tomaskovic] really helped me learn more about myself.”

“Mr. Harty made my time at BOCES a success because he’s very experienced at what he does. He brings out that hunger in you and makes you want to do more.”

Students shared their future education plans. There are students who will be attending the University of Hartford, Westchester Community College, and the Rochester Institute of Technology, to name a few. One student is going into the Air Force Reserves. Others plan to pursue careers in criminal justice, filmmaking and nursing.

“It is reaffirming to know that the SWBOCES Center for Career Services has played such a significant role in the educational careers of our students,” Director Dahlia Jackson said.

Valedictorian, and aspiring veterinarian, Madeleine Bailey, will attend SUNY Delhi to continue her study of animal science.

“Without BOCES I don’t believe I’d be the student I am today,” she said in a pre-recorded address. “I loved it here at BOCES because I felt I was surrounded with genuine people who were sincerely passionate about the program they belonged to.”

“Above all I am thankful for my teachers, Mr. D’Abruzzo and Mr. Hamilton. By far they have been the greatest teachers I’ve ever had. They were a non-stop support system for me and effortlessly made the classroom a fun learning experience.”

“Although I did not get to say goodbye in person, I am thankful to have met and worked with such wonderful classmates,” she continued.

The ceremony included the announcement of several individual awards and scholarships as well as an acknowledgement of the 335 graduates — 250 of whom received technical endorsements and 330 who participated in the Center’s Work Based Learning program.

“On behalf of the Board of Education and the Central Administration team I’d like to let you know how proud of you we are and how confident we are of your future success. This confidence comes from what we know about how you’ve responded during this challenge— as a student body you have been spoken of very highly of by your teachers, teaching assistants, assistant principal, principal and director throughout the past two years but especially so in the past few months. Your attendance, participation, learning and growth during normal and remote times have been impressive and this is a very reassuring sign for the future,” said James A. Gratto, Jr., assistant superintendent for educational services, in his address to the graduates.

“On behalf of your teachers, counselors, principal and assistant principal, the young men and women of the Class of 2020, as you begin your life and career journey as an adult, remember all doors will eventually open for you if you remain steadfast and strong. If you can imagine it, you can achieve it,” Ms. Jackson said.

Click here to watch the virtual Recognition Ceremony for the Class of 2020.