On Thursday, June 7 at 6 p.m., six students graduated from Simon Youth Academy (SYA) at Burlington during the school’s formal ceremony.
Students donned their red and white caps and gowns and entered their graduation ceremony to the sound of the Burlington High School students Christopher Costello (senior) and Rayna Parry (junior) playing the iconic “Pomp and Circumstance.” BHS senior, Ivy Saltsman, sang the national anthem.
The academy’s Class of 2018 graduates were:
Georgina Lopez Silva
Georgina Lopez Silva
SYA Director Jill Graham welcomed everyone to the ceremony as SYA teacher Gerard Coughlin performed as master of ceremonies.
Burlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Conti greeted all in attendance and said, “We are so proud of our Simon Youth Academy at Burlington graduates and teachers. Congratulations!”
Sofia DeMacedo delivered the student address. On attending the academy, Sofia said, “I quickly realized that this was the place for me and that the program, the teachers and my peers would eventually be great supports to me during my journey toward a high school diploma”.
Following her address, Simon Youth Foundation (SYF) President and CEO Dr. J. Michael Durnil and Associate Director of Programs Jonathan Shapiro presented scholarship awards to SYA students Sofia DeMacedo and Evan Yancy.
SYF partners with Burlington Public Schools and other public schools to build Simon Youth Academies. Simon Youth Academies and Simon Youth Scholarships provide opportunities for meaningful education and professional development, ignite hope and serve as a starting point for students’ journeys toward lifetime success and achievement.
Durnil reflected on the students' achievements when he said, "Sofia and Evan represent what SYF is all about. They are students who recognized the importance of a high school diploma and - rather than letting circumstances define them - persisted and persevered to reach their graduation day. As Sofia and Evan set their sights on earning their college degrees, SYF is humbled to play a small role in helping them achieve their goals and pursue their dreams”.
“SYF believes all youth, no matter their personal circumstances, should have the opportunity and resources to pursue their dreams through education, and that financial reasons should never prevent students from achieving their goal. We are humbled to have the incredible support of our corporate partner, Simon, and its Simon Supports Education movement, in our effort to help all students reach their full potential,” Durnil said.
Jill Graham, director of the SYA at Burlington, said of the evening, “We were able to celebrate the accomplishments of six young men and women who were each presented with some difficult circumstances in reaching graduation day; we celebrated this milestone in their education with their friends and families in a memorable ceremony that recognized each individual student”.