Dr. Martin Florsheim Presides at School “47” Emotional Graduation
School “47,” American Sign Language and English School recently celebrated the second graduation ceremony since being reformulated, five years ago, from a school exclusively for the deaf to one in which any student interested in learning American Sign Language is welcome—a transformation made possible through the pioneering efforts of the Principal, Dr. Martin Florsheim, the school’s first deaf principal.
The recent graduation ceremony was ripe with camaraderie among students, staff and family, and a sense of pride in the attainment of the milestone of high school completion.
Reflecting the continual growth of the school, the ceremony began with a special performance by sixth grade student members of the school’s first ever band and chorus. The song “Hero” was beautifully performed by student Ciara McNight and signed by Esther Fass. The school’s expertise in the use of technology was evidenced by a multimedia presentation, entitled “Meet the Grads,” which consisted of a touching montage of childhood photos of students, from first smiles to the students in the present day.
Assistant Principal Yola Walker warmly addressed the students, recalling moments of guiding students along the road of achievement. Dr. Florsheim expressed pride in the accomplishments of the graduating class, some who will be entering productive fields of employment, and others who will continue their studies at institutions including John Jay College, Hunter College, LaGuardia Community College, SUNY schools, NTID, and FIT.
Special guest speaker, Dr. Pola Rosen, publisher and editor-in-chief of Education Update, reflected on the achievements of graduates and the open road of future possibility. “This is the time of your life and it’s up to you to make each day count. Just dare to experiment, dare to experience, have confidence, believe in yourself.”
Valedictorian, Heather Maher, who is also an intern an Education Update, related the power each of life’s experiences plays in shaping and defining an individual. She recalled the impact of School “47” in empowering her with a new language, ASL, and lasting friendships with inspiring individuals who have overcome life’s challenges. Looking to the future with respect to meeting new people at college and at work she stated, “What you learn from their story and they learn from yours will continue to broaden everyone’s lives.”
School “47” Teachers—some who spoke and signed simultaneously, and some whose words were interpreted by sign language interpreters—delivered achievement and recognition of improvement awards to well-deserving students. Graduating student Justine Rivera, an intern at Education Update, received an award for excellence in earth science and Heather Maher was awarded for her accomplishments in ASL.
Alumni Association members, Dorothy Cohler (‘57), Vice President Cheryl Mortensen (‘62), and Lloyd Shikin (‘53), who diligently work as volunteers to preserve the history and culture of the school, warmheartedly congratulated students. Alumni members are looking forward to 2008 when the school will celebrate its 100th year anniversary since its original inception in 1908.
The graduation ceremony concluded with the tradition, begun last year, of students presenting roses to teachers and staff members whose support and guidance was exemplary.#