Column: Ending the school year on the best of notes

laura-SlackSpring is a season filled with celebrations of accomplishment in the Rye City School District, and there is so much to celebrate, including the varsity baseball team’s historic sectional victory last week. The last time the Garnets reached the sectionals was in 1984, when many of the current player’s parents were in college or even high school themselves.

May brought more good news. Our community overwhelming passed the annual budget and Jim Boylan was appointed the new principal of Midland School. He received a warm welcome during his first official visit.

The good news will continue this month. In June, the superintendent will recommend candidates for the assistant principal positions in the middle school and the high school. On June 10, we look forward to celebrating the tenure appointments of 11 teachers and two administrators with their families and colleagues at a tenure reception.

June will, of course, also bring us to the close of school, but not before the students in the middle school and high school will complete their finals and the district’s teachers complete 3,315 report cards. The district will have four moving-up ceremonies as fifth graders become middle school students and eighth graders become high school students.

There will be two commencement ceremonies, one for the Rye School of Leadership and the 83rd Rye High School commencement, on what promises to be yet another hot and sunny day. Fathers get a break this year as the ceremony is not on Father’s Day weekend for the first time in recent memory.

If the warm weather hasn’t put you in a celebratory mood just yet, I recommend watching the 2014 faculty video made for this year’s senior class. The faculty video, which has become a much-anticipated annual event, has the faculty lip-syncing songs like “Halls of Fame” and “Happy,” and it certainly makes you happy to watch it. How lucky we are to have a faculty that spends its free time creating such a gift for the graduating class and the whole community. The video captures the celebration of our graduating students moving on with the sentiment that we will miss them dearly.

Our students have accomplished so much this year with the support of their teachers, administrators and families. Eighteen Rye High School seniors earned recognition from the National Merit Scholarship Program. One hundred and eleven students were inducted into the National Honor Society. One hundred and twelve middle school students were inducted into the National Junior Honor Society.

All 10 fall varsity sports teams, six winter varsity teams and all eight of the spring varsity teams, received the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Scholar Athlete Team Award. Rye Middle School’s Science Olympiad Club took home 19 medals and earned second place at the Regional Science Olympiad Competition. Two high school students were named Con Edison Athletes of the Week.

Fourteen student musicians were selected to participate in the New York State School Music Association Area All-State and All-County festivals in chorus, band and orchestra ensembles. The annual Rye Arts Awards dinner honored 125 student artists. The Parson Street Players performed the amazing “Beauty and the Beast” to sold out audiences, and four participants were nominated for Metro awards for their work.

Rye High School earned top honors from U.S. News and World Report, which is a credit not only to our high school but also to the middle and elementary schools as well for preparing our students for high school. When looking at only open enrollment schools, Rye was named second-best high school in the state and the fourth-best in the country.

As a community, we can all be proud of our children, our teachers and our school administration for their hard work in delivering excellence year after year.

Last, we celebrate the immeasurable contributions of a number of valued members of our school community who are retiring.

Dr. Angela Grille, principal of Midland School, retires after 14 years. Dr. Grille has seen a generation of Midland students through the school system carrying with them their memories of being a Midland Bulldog with the accompanying spirit and character she has helped cultivate.

Joe DeRuvo, assistant principal of Rye Middle School began his career in the Rye City School District 45 years ago as an Osborn teacher. How we have benefited from his compassion and wisdom.

Carole Andreasen is retiring after 35 years. She joined the district as a math teacher and served as the director of technology, launching the district into the digital age.

Cynthia Weichert, an enthusiastic contributor to the senior videos, taught foreign language for seven years.

Janice Mottarella, guided students at the Rye School of Leadership for 23 years as a teaching assistant and has received many heartfelt thanks at the RSOL commencement as a result.

Ellen Slater, a Rye High School graduate herself, is retiring after 10 years as a Milton School teacher aide.

Lynn Ferguson Mastalli, an invaluable member of the central administration, is retiring after 28 years.

Dorothy Bykowski is retiring after working as a secretary in the district for six years.

Library clerk Melissa Mamangakis helped the Middle School/High School Media Center change with the times over her 13 years of service.

We wish all of them well and hope they have joyous retirements.

We look forward to June’s big celebrations, productive summer planning for the 2014-2015 school year and some time for everyone to relax and perhaps read a few good books.