Three Students Graduate from SWBOCES’ AIIM Program at the Decagon
Three longtime Southern Westchester BOCES students who inspired their teachers to improve themselves recently graduated from the AIIM program and will move into adult community programs.
The commencement for Liam Cadigan, Tyler Johnson and Kristopher Zingone took place June 21 at the Rye Lake Campus. They were students in the Applied Intensive Intervention Model program for students with autism.
Teacher Beth Callan thanked the young men and their families for being a part of the SWBOCES community. During the ceremony, she said that the students inspired her and her colleagues to become better educators and people. She highlighted each graduate’s special qualities.
Kris: “Through the sheer force of your personality, you light up the classroom with your laughter and humor.”
Liam: “Your gentleness and warmth has endeared you to all who have had the pleasure to get to know you.”
Tyler: “You make sure you acknowledge everyone every day. You say hello and goodbye to everyone, making all around you feel special.”
Allison Emig, Decagon principal at Rye Lake, said the success of Liam, Tyler and Kristopher was built on trust and a true partnership with families and home school districts.
“Parents, we are appreciative that year after year you trusted us to care for your children, to teach them, to prepare them for the next phase of their lives,” she said. “Because of your belief and faith in us, we’ve been able to lead your children toward success.”
Ms. Emig said it will be strange not to see the young men on campus next year, “but I know that they are going to move on to bigger and brighter, amazing things.”
After receiving their diplomas, Tyler, Kristopher and Liam participated in a drum circle with their teachers and some classmates. They practiced playing loudly and softly and at rapid and slow tempos. Graduates and guests then moved to the Decagon building, where they ate bagels, pastries and fruit. Ms. Callan played music and students danced in the open room at the center of the building.
Ciro Zingone of Yonkers, Kristopher’s father, said his son has always enjoyed his schooling with SWBOCES. “It’s a very good program. The staff care a lot,” he said.
Liam’s parents, Denise and Richard Cadigan of Rye, agreed. Liam started with SWBOCES when he was 6. “It’s been a wonderful program. We could not be any happier,” Ms. Cadigan said, adding that educators taught Liam to be more independent.
Liam will be moving into the Community Based Services’ Day Habilitation Without Walls program in Westchester, his mother said. Participants engage in volunteer and recreational activities in the community, such as helping with Meals on Wheels or going swimming.
“He’s very personable and likes to be out and about,” Mr. Cadigan said.
Tyler will be in the day habilitation program at Taconic Innovations in Mount Vernon, said his mother, Tanya Johnson. He was there for a two-day trial in May and did great, she said.
Ms. Johnson said she appreciates everything the educators in the AIIM program did for her son. “I don’t know all their names, but they deserve a medal,” she said.