Four Students Are Moving Up from Rye Lake Middle School

Rye Lake Middle School Class of 2021

Grads Encouraged to Be Grateful, Embrace Life, Persevere

For the four students who are moving up to ninth grade, Rye Lake Middle School was a short but meaningful pit stop on their education journey, Principal Marvin Elliott said during their graduation ceremony June 10.

“The journey of a NASCAR driver can take anywhere from 100 to 200 laps,” Mr. Elliott said. “As a result, performance is key, for as we need food and water as fuel to survive, the NASCAR driver must also refuel to continue the race because at some point, the tires and brakes will become worn and torn. It is at those crucial moments when you must pause during your journey only to start again.”

He offered plenty of advice as they refuel and prepare for high school. “Be grateful. Like yourselves a lot. Practice forgiveness. Aspire to be a mentor. Smile wide, laugh hard,” he said. “Do not rush to grow up. Treasure what is truly important. Learn from the past but don’t live in the past.”

Rye Lake teacher Tiziana DeMasi presented academic awards and “Most likely to be” certificates to the graduates -- Declan Byrne, Francesco Fiorillo, David Nash and Gael Serrano-Lopez – as parents and family members watched virtually. Declan received the science award and is most likely to be a top chef. Francesco Fiorillo – who participated in the ceremony remotely – got the computer award and is most likely to be a lawyer. David Nash received the English language arts award, and teachers predicted that reporting on sports for ESPN is in his future. The math award went to Gael, who is most likely to be a Lego master, teachers said.

Thursday was a celebration of completing a chapter in their books and preparing to write a new one. “You will experience success, you will experience happiness, sadness, frustration and growth, just to name a few,” Ms. DeMasi said. “Success is no accident. It’s your hard work, perseverance, learning and studying that brought each and every one of you here today.”

Ms. DeMasi told the boys she looks forward to hearing about the next chapter. “Remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and loved more than you’ll ever know,” she said, quoting author A.A. Milne.

Rye Lake Middle/High School secretary Louise Tibaldi said in a year that was like no other, the graduates met the challenges they faced “like champs. Whether you were all remote, in-person or a mix of the two, you showed up and did the work to get yourself here.” 

“Everyone here at Rye Lake is so proud of the young men you have become. It’s been exciting to see how much you have grown and matured,” she said.

Three of the graduates are moving up to the Southern Westchester BOCES Special Services program at Irvington High School, and the fourth will attend Rye Lake High School.