BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – They may soon leave their “comfort zone” of Briarcliff Manor behind, but Briarcliff High School valedictorian Stephan Kienzle knows the 2012 senior class is ready to tackle the challenges in front of them.
“You can look at it as an opportunity,” Kienzle said Thursday night while giving the school’s commencement address at Pace University in Pleasantville. “We each have the opportunity to go out into the world and seek whatever path we choose.”
More than 150 Briarcliff High School students threw their hats in the air Thursday night, proudly and happily taking the next step in their young lives. But before they left, many of the speakers cautioned the students of the dangers and opportunities that lie ahead and challenged them to face them head on. Principal James Kaishian said the students could be heading out into a difficult world, but believes they are very well prepared for what lies ahead.
“From our state champions in soccer and track, to the students who have excelled in science research, this class has accomplished a great deal of accolades,” Kaishian said. “I think this class has the temperament to make it in this world. It really requires a youthful approach to life and the desire for adventure and the willingness to try in spite of the threat of failure. That’s something they know and I think they’re well-suited for this modern world.”
For parents like Steven Elkes, who watched his daughter Sarah accept her diploma during the evening, the 2012 class is capable of anything.
“I think Sarah can do whatever she puts her mind to do,” he said. “It’s a phenomenal class with a bunch of bright kids and I think they’re all going to go on to do great things.”
Parent Jennifer Simmonds said she was very proud of all the kids have accomplished and had difficulty fighting back tears watching her son Rahsaan on stage.
“I had him when I was young and I couldn’t have ever imagined getting to this point,” Jennifer said. “He’s well-adjusted and a really great kid and I’m so proud of him. It’s been an amazing process getting here and God was with us the whole time. (Rahsaan) is such a good person, he’s a leader in the community and I can’t believe I raised such a great person. I can’t wait to see what he does and I know it will be great.”
Rahsaan’s aunt and Godmother, Kristina Newland, agreed.
“He’s a really great kid who loves music and has a bubbly attitude that I think will take him far,” she said. “I remember when he was born and I was a freshman in college and yelling out my window 'It’s a boy.' I think tonight is just as special as that was.”