Tradition &

Waldorf Celebrates 57th Commencement

On Friday, June 10th, the Waldorf School of Garden City celebrated its 57th Commencement and the achievements of the 22 members of the Class of 2016. The keynote commencement address speaker – chosen by the graduating class – was Waldorf alumnus and High School English Teacher Mr. Alexios Kritas ’85.

(Photo courtesy of Donna Mueller Photography.)

Senior class co-advisors Mr. Shane Flanagan and Mrs. Deirdre Burns Somers also addressed the graduates. Three seniors were also selected by their classmates to speak on behalf of the graduating class: Gerard Burnett, Skyla Davis and Julia Gonzalez. Click here to view more photos from the day’s festivities (photographs by Communications Associate Kevin Padilla)!

What They Said

The full text of remarks delivered by Shane Flanagan, Deirdre Burns Somers, Gerard Burnett, Skyla Davis, Julia Gonzalez and Alexios Kritas ’85 are available by clicking on each name. Following are excerpts.

“I strongly believe that this class has layers, many many layers, of which a lot of people do not know about,” said Senior Class Co-Advisors Shane Flanagan. “Most commonly this class is known for their excitability, their funniness and their eagerness to not take anything serious but not a lot of people know that a large number of the members of this class have experienced more loss than most at their age. I strongly feel this loss has shaped this class in to who and what it is.”

Said Senior Class Co-Advisor Deirdre Burns Somers, “Find a group that makes you think. A group that makes you feel. Don’t solely sit around with people who look like you, act like you, come from the same place as you and share your beliefs! It is too easy to be complacent; we all need to have friends who stretch us, who make us the best we can be. If this group doesn’t exist already outside of Waldorf — form it! Even up the gender split and form a group of people from different races, religions, nationalities, ethnicities, socio-economic classes, sexual identification and orientation, etc. Form a group where the personal and ancestral biographies of the individuals are different from yours.”

“This school has prepared me for the next chapter in my life in many different ways,” said graduating senior Gerard Burnett. “Not only has it prepared me for college but it has truly allowed me to get a feeling for who I am. Throughout the years, I continuously learned more about myself and I believe that this is key in today’s society. So many people go through life failing to realize that they are in this world for a reason and failing to recognize that they have gifts to share with the world. If your family or school does not instill the feeling within yourself that you matter, you will go through life not knowing that. Luckily enough, for all of us on this stage, the Waldorf School of Garden City has given us the gift of knowing that we are valued for our special traits.” In the fall, Gerard will attend Rutgers University.

“Thinking of each of you reminds me of the greatest lesson you have taught me; being yourself is the only way to achieve success and happiness,” said graduating senior Skyla Davis. “When we were in middle school we used to drink Honest Kid’s juices and on the back of each juice box was the quote ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.'” Skyla will be attending George Washington University in September.

“As we move into this adult stage, it is crucial that we think back on where all the past decisions made by us and our families have led us. Our gratitude to our parents and the Waldorf School will stem from the realization of the countless lessons this school and the people in it have taught us,” said graduating senior Julia Gonzalez. “Although these lessons may not be apparent to us right now, they live within us and will reveal themselves in each of us in time to come. The Waldorf School, as we all know, offers a unique education that stimulates not just our brains, but also our hands, hearts and souls. We have learned to think as individuals, to work as a group, behave as a community and grow together as a family. Our teachers have taught us to think about the significance of the moment before engaging in it and to be open to every perspective and world view. The people we encountered here each and every day embodied and promoted in us qualities such as acceptance, respect, compassion, patience and integrity. All of these qualities have become a part of us – sometimes without us realizing exactly how.” Julia will be attending Colby College in September.

Said High School English Teacher Alexios Kritas, “From the depth of your main lessons to spatial dynamics during your pre-lesson warm ups, from fiber arts projects to woodworking, sculpture, painting and drawing, from phenomenologically-based science experiments and organic gardening in our greenhouse with its solar-powered irrigation pump to the construction of accurate projectile launchers and two-story stage sets designed to fit together in more than one way, from putting on full-length plays and musicals to performing in the Waldorf singers or singing acapella or playing in the orchestra or eco-orchestra or school bands, from exploring philosophy to learning world languages, from doing eurythmy in veils to soloing across a cloud-covered ridge in the White Mountains as part of the Glen Brook program, you have had the opportunity to explore what makes you most human in the highest sense of the word, to experience your wholeness as people and the creativity with which you all are endowed. As we move into the future, these essentials of Waldorf education–a number of them coming down to us directly from Rudolf Steiner’s first Waldorf School in Stuttgart, Germany–still hold true.” This past year, Mr. Kritas was named a “Distinguished Teacher of 2016” by the Harvard Club of Long Island (click here to read the story), as a result of a nomination from current Harvard undergraduate and Waldorf alumnus Jonathan Gill ’15.

An accredited member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) and the Association of the Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA), the Waldorf School of Garden City is a 360+ nursery through grade 12 college preparatory day school. From the early exploration and rich play children experience in the early childhood program to the sophisticated conceptual challenges of the high school curriculum, the Waldorf School of Garden City nurtures the healthy and balanced development of the whole human being. The school’s approach to learning encourages academic, intellectual, artistic, moral and social growth and lays the groundwork for a satisfying and creative future.

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