Disabled Program graduates its largest class
Students receive diplomas and awards during special ceremony
trappings of graduation were all there; caps and gowns, excited
and proud parents, photo arrays of the students’ school years,
speeches and special presentations of awards and diplomas. The
2008 End of the Year Celebration for students in the HFM BOCES
Special Education 12:1:4 program was held June 19 in
Mayfield Central School’s auditorium.
Brooke Caraco, Andy Loveless, Chris Phelps, Rene Rando, Dan
Romano, Janice Seeley and Samantha Simzer made up the procession
of graduates, accompanied by the strains of “Pomp and
Circumstance.” They are the largest graduating class from the
12:1:4 program. After the students found their seats, the
audience was welcomed by Mayfield High School Principal Robert Husain.
His remarks, and much of what followed, commended the students’
achievements, and also reflected on the strong commitment and
collaboration of the parents, teachers, staff and students. The
audience was told that “the journey is what brings us
satisfaction, not the destination.”
“Today we recognize students and representatives from Amsterdam,
Gloversville, Johnstown, Mayfield, and Fort Plain schools, as
well as HFM BOCES,” Special Education Teacher Barbara Hatcher
told the large audience.
“The interesting thing about this graduation,” said Mrs.
Hatcher, “is that four of these students have been together
since they were 5 years old, and have been together in this
specific program. Typically our program graduates only one to
The BOCES 12:1:4 program is designed for students age 5-21
with multiple disabilities who require the varied services of a
team approach. This team, which includes a special education
teacher, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech and
language therapist and nurse, creates an individualized program
of instruction that develops the student’s motor skills as well
as language abilities, social skills and daily living
The program is housed at Mayfield Central School and serves
students in HFM BOCES’ component districts. Its name,
12:1:4, represents the student-teacher-aide ratio in the
classroom. Besides Mrs. Hatcher, who teaches students of high
school age, BOCES special education teachers Lisa Lane, Cheryl Ostrowski and Nancy Turnbull work in the program at the
elementary level. Approximately 40 teacher aides support the
Pomp and Circumstance
Like any graduation, there were speeches and special music. The
comments and song lyrics reflected the compassion and support of
a true community that had achieved something important together.
Noticeable was the sincere relationship between
teachers, aides and students. Speakers’ voices often trembled
with emotion while acknowledging a students’ achievement, or
recognizing a staff member who had been teamed with a student,
frequently for several years.
Music teacher Cathy Cole performed a Carole King song,
“Brighter,” that clearly underscored the bond between the
teachers and students.
“We've been knowing each other
For many a year, it’s true
And I can't think of anyone else
Can make me feel as good as you
Yeah, you make my day
A little bit brighter in every way”
Paul Meher, a relative of one of the program aides, was invited
to perform “Pomp and Circumstance” on his electric guitar. He
readily agreed, not realizing until the day of the ceremony that
his cousin, Dan Romano, was one of the graduates.
Teacher aide Lori Robinson performed another Carole King song,
“You’ve Got a Friend,” accompanying herself on the
Photos, set to music, were projected large behind the
podium, highlighting the students’ school years. Presentations
recognized “fantastic” attendance, good character, good
citizenship and other noteworthy achievements. Parents
enthusiastically applauded every student’s accomplishment. Banks
of cameras and video equipment - manned by proud moms, dads and
grandparents - recorded everything that happened.
BOCES Director of Special Education Michael Jacob reminded
everyone to look ahead to the future. “Be proud of the work you
have done,” he told the students and their parents. “But
whatever time you spend looking back, spend twice as much
looking forward to your next adventure and accomplishment.”
Finally, assisted by representatives from the student’s home
school districts, Mrs. Hatcher and Mrs. Ostrowski presented each
graduate a diploma and commendations from New York State Senator
Hugh Farley and Assemblyman George Amedore.
“Through the years all of these students have grown and matured
into wonderful young men and women,” said Mrs. Hatcher. “They
have survived the trials and challenges, along with their
successes. Their families have supported our program and have
allowed us to share in the lives of their children. It’s a
wonderful day to celebrate the completion of the school year for
all of us, and the new opportunities ahead.”
The HFM BOCES 2008 End-of-the-Year Celebration graduated seven
• Brooke Caraco, Gloversville
Enlarged School District,
• Andy Loveless, Greater Johnstown
• Chris Phelps, Greater Johnstown
• Rene Rando, Fonda-Fultonville
Central School District,
• Dan Romano, Gloversville Enlarged
• Janice Seeley, Greater Amsterdam
School District and
• Samantha Simzer, Fort Plain
Central School District.
In addition, four students, Julia Pasquarella, Catherine Cramer
Thomas, Austin Lander and Joshua Horstmyer, were recognized for
moving up to new programs.
Teacher aide Joseph Cirrillo, who is retiring this year, was recognized for five years of service. One-on-one aide Lisa Lawless was
honored for six years of service. Her student is graduating, so
she will leave the program and return to Fonda-Fultonville
Central School, her
Several certificates were presented for outstanding student
achievement in the program.
Attendance awards were presented to Scott Hartvigas, Andy
Loveless, Dan Romano, Erik Ozea, Briahna Marshall, Michael
Aquino, Sean Ovitt and Austin Lander.
Good Citizenship awarda were presented to Brooke Caraco, Dan
Romano and Michael Aquino.
Work Study awards were given to Chris Phelps and Samantha Simzer.
Samantha Simzer also received the HFM BOCES Teacher Association
for Aides, Nurses and Interpreters Unit Award.