On Friday, June 19th, the Waldorf School of Garden City celebrated its 58th Commencement and the achievements of the 24 members of the Class of 2017. The keynote commencement address speaker – chosen by the graduating class – was Camp Glen Brook Program Director, Mr. Mark Stehlik.
(Photo courtesy of Donna Mueller Photography.)
Senior class co-advisors Mr. Victor Kim and Mrs. Emmie Yaeger also addressed the graduates. Three seniors were selected by their classmates to speak on behalf of the graduating class: Nzingha Helwig, Bilan-Ardo Ali, and Luna Splendori.
What They Said
“Maya Angelou, the great American poet, once said…’in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.’ … and the class of 2017 is proof that Maya Angelou said is true. Culturally, this class represents 14 countries, speaks 13 languages, and represents 5 religions. These 24 students have created and displayed many beautiful things during the past 4 years” said Senior Class Co-Advisor Victor Kim. “These past four years as your advisor have been some of the happiest times I’ve had as a teacher. While these are the last moments we might be spending together as a class, you will forever be on my mind and in my heart. I will miss you all dearly, and the school will never be the same without all of you.”
“An outstanding quality of this class is the acceptance and love that they extended to every member of their class. This class understood the true meaning of the word fraternity-brotherliness, to see the human in each of us and extend a hand in friendship. This class has a deep and abiding love for each other. Over the years, as members of the class faced loss, disappointment and frustration, the class always rallied around their friends and took care of one another,” said Senior Class Co-Advisor Emmie Yaeger. “I have just a few thoughts to share with you, my class of 2017, Be courageous, speak the truth, love others and let them love you, but most importantly, love yourself. Be good to yourself, try to find balance in all aspects of life, and keep striving for your dreams. True freedom is the freedom of thought; continue to expand your mind, and don’t stop asking questions, even if you think you’ve found your answer.”
Said graduating senior Nzingha Helwig, “Within Waldorf, we have lived comfortably in a realm of mercurial forces residing in sturdy, overarching constants; we are shown how things change within entities that remain the same. While society is constantly changing, one thing that has not changed, is the world’s need for Waldorf students. Because there will always be a need for artists, for scholars, for scientists and mathematicians, philosophers and daydreamers and workers; for whole, kind, conscious human beings— and that is who we all are. We walk with reverent footsteps through a sun-splashed world with verses revolving in our minds, with melodies in our ears, with open, reaching hands— and we are curious, and we are aware, we are wonderstruck and smiling— and we think, and we listen and we love. In this time, in this country, in this world, where we face climate change and racism, a lack of compassion, acceptance or understanding; where we stare down a path with no clear next step, wondering if we have crossed a line we cannot return from, there is no need to fear. Because we are navigators, we are star gazers and sailors, truth-seekers, pathfinders and problem solvers— we have been taught to find our way through the darkness, and when there is no sign of light, we are prepared to supply it.” ©
“When you think of Waldorf, you think of individuality, imagination, and intelligence. Walking down the halls, you see those three traits displayed in showcased artwork, handwork, and woodwork. Apart from how unique the school and its students are, our class stands out from the rest because of our teachers,” said graduating senior Luna Splendori. “Thank you to all the faculty for taking the time to fill our education with meaning. Most importantly, throughout these four years, we have remained a family. We are the class that sits together at every opportunity. We support, defend, and care for each other. That is something unique, that is something impressive, and that is something that we need to remember. Now we can take a deep breath, remember what our teachers have taught us, and start proudly on our own individual journeys.”
“People often say ‘you meet everyone for a reason,’ it is a common phrase used to make people respect and cherish the relationships they have in their lives, but never had I understood this statement so completely until I applied it to my fellow classmates. I would not be the person that I am today without having been exposed to the ideals, the thoughts, and the uniqueness of each of my classmates,” said graduating senior Bilan Ardo Ali. “What we have taken from each of our classmates has sculpted us into well-rounded, understanding, and informed individuals. While we have learned a great deal from all the wonderful courses we have taken, as well as from our the teachers who have left many lasting impression on us, what has also prepared us for this next portion of our lives is what we have gained from one another. Therefore, my wish for you all is that you go out and find a group of people in this next phase in your life who will continue to challenge and encourage you just as we have done for one another at Waldorf.”
Said Camp Glen Brook Program Director Mark Stehlik, “You are graduating from an outstanding School where you have received an education for your head, heart, and hands. You are all graduating as capable critical thinkers, creative artists, hard workers, and most importantly joyful and energetic individuals. Through my own small part in this education I have seen you do incredible things… that have taught you skills and strengthened your force of will, and they have given you the opportunity to care for and look out for one another: something your class does remarkably well….Just like I told you, remember that it is not a race. Enjoy the view. And stay together with your friends. If you arrive at the end alone, you haven’t done it right at all. Your friends should be with you the whole way.“
Click below to view more photos from the day’s festivities!
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.