Hillside Grade School awarded its sixth grade students with diplomas at the school’s Moving Up ceremony last Friday.
“The key to your success starts with diplomas the gift of knowledge given to you at Hillside,” school secretary Theresa Southern told the students. “You must share this knowledge and your talents with others. We expect to hear great things from you.”
Before receiving their diplomas, students were honored with a wide range of awards, including recognition for excellence in community service, academic determination, and test scores on state exams.
“It’s exciting because you don’t know who’s going to get awarded with what,” graduate Rushi Shanmuga said of the ceremony.
Shanmuga said he is looking forward to making new friends and getting a more in-depth learning experiences as he moves on to New Hyde Park Memorial High School.
In addition to receiving their diplomas, students performed two songs at the ceremony.
The second song they performed, entitled “Bye, Bye Hillside,” was written for students by history teacher Kathleen Shanahan. Music teacher Sharon Pesenti directed the chorus.
“I hope the kids reach all their dreams and hopefully develop their musical skills,” Pesenti said. “Music develops critical thinking, self-esteem, and self-expression.”
Ari Boldur, a graduate who sang at the microphone during the performance, said he has enjoyed being part of both the orchestra and chorus during his time at Hillside.
“I really like singing, and it’s been really fun here,” Boldur said. “But they don’t have theatre at Hillside. Me and my friend actually tried organizing a school play called “Midnight Mission,: but we needed a permit so we had to cancel it. I’m excited for next year because they have more opportunities for theatre.”
Pia Rose Alana, the school vice president, was invited to give the farewell address to the graduating class. She thanked teachers and staff for their support and spoke of the friendships the students made throughout their time at Hillside.
“I’m looking forward to going to Julliard and Harvard University to work as a nurse,” the sixth grader said when asked about her future plans. “I’m excited to move onto a big school.”
Principal Karen Olynk said that she hopes the students “accomplish anything that they wish for” as they enter the next stage in their lives.
She told the students the continue to work hard in order to achieve their goals.
Graduate Christopher Dean concluded the ceremony before family members and friends of the students watched a slide show presentation, which was filled with photos of the students throughout their seven years at the school.
“Our moment in time has arrived, and we are ready to take on new challenges and new tomorrows,” Dean told his classmates.
Following the ceremony, students and their families celebrated with a reception in the school cafeteria.
While enjoying the reception, parent Joseph Sepcaru spoke highly of the school’s teachers and the work they have done in preparing his daughter Madeline for the next level of education. He said that as a teacher himself, he feels that his daughter has received “an exemplary education at a wonderful school.”
Sixth grade math teacher Salvatore Giurlanda said he was amazed by the academic and social growth that the students displayed throughout their years at the school.
“They’re going to be making positive contributions,” he said.