The Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center held a socially distanced, in-person commencement ceremony for the graduating Class of 2021 on June 24, 2021. The event also recognized graduates from the Class of 2020 who, following the cancellation of last year’s ceremony due to restrictions from the pandemic, finally had the opportunity to experience the pomp and circumstance of a traditional graduation ceremony.
Attendance was limited and face masks were required for staff and guests this year to maintain a safe environment at the Henry Viscardi School, a New York State supported 4201 school that provides an enriched educational setting for students with severe physical disabilities. Commencement speaker Dr. Lester Young Jr., Chancellor of the NYS Board of Regents, urged students to take pride in their academic accomplishments made during a uniquely challenging year.
“All graduations are special. But for those students who graduated last year – and for those who are graduating today – this celebration is even more special,” said Dr. Young. “It’s special because you did it in a year like no other – a year in which the COVID pandemic impacted every facet of our lives. But you persevered. You overcame the obstacles that life placed in your way. You worked hard and you succeeded.”
Equipped with the necessary technologies, students quickly adapted to a fully remote curriculum during the spring of 2020 before a hybrid model, combining in-person and remote instruction, was introduced in the fall. Salutatorian Andrew Cherico remarked on the resiliency of his classmates and teachers.
“Through what has been such a tough year of learning and hesitance has also been a year of perseverance and bravery,” said Cherico. “To see our school come together and make sure we got an education while keeping us safe has showed me a perfect example of ‘if there’s a will, there’s a way.’”
Valedictorian Nidhi Majumder is set to study at Hofstra University this fall. She addressed attendees about how a supportive network of peers and staff helped her excel as a student, discover her strengths, and prepare for the next chapter of her life.
“I appear on this stage filled with absolute gratitude upon receiving this accolade knowing the immense impact HVS has had on me and my character. Henry Viscardi is not just a school, but an enormous family with unconditional compassion and kindness permeating among us every single day.”
Majumder closed her remarks with a message about how reaching the high school graduation milestone marks the beginning, not the end, of a meaningful journey.
“Although it might not seem like it, our journey has not come to an end. It’s up to us to bring the lessons we learned together into the outside world and use them to make it a better place.”
About the Henry Viscardi School
The Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center is a New York State supported 4201 school that offers children with severe physical disabilities (Pre-K through age 21), who often require life-sustaining medical treatment throughout the day, a traditional educational setting option that provides rigorous academics and opportunities for personal growth and leadership development. Its specialized, accessible educational setting provides a fully enriched academic program, a variety of therapies, assistive technology, and medical supports to students who may otherwise need to receive instruction in their homes or at a hospital.
About The Viscardi Center
Founded by Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who served as disability advisor to eight U.S. Presidents and became one of the world’s leading advocates, The Viscardi Center educates, employs, and empowers people with disabilities. It serves children, adolescents, and adults with a wide variety of disabilities, providing Pre-K through High School education (up to age 21), school-to-work youth transition services, vocational training, career counseling and employment placement, and assistive technology. On a national level, it advances inclusive business cultures through the National Business & Disability Council and connects aspiring entrepreneurs to self-employment success at the National Center for Disability Entrepreneurship. Its Project Accessible Oral Health initiative leads access to quality oral health care for the global disability community.