June has been a banner month at JCCA. From our magical, record-setting Tree benefit, to our Juneteenth Jubilee and Pride parades, the early summer has been filled to brim with festivity and celebration.
To top it off, the last two weeks have seen graduation ceremonies across our programs and affiliate schools: the Edenwald and Mt. Pleasant Cottage Schools on our Pleasantville Campus, and Liberation Diploma Plus High School in Brooklyn. The events were all joyous and overflowing with pride. Our graduates have overcome many obstacles to reach this milestone and it was thrilling to see them buoyed by such a robust community of support, proudly clutching fresh diplomas while thinking ahead to college and career.
Graduates from Edenwald school stand to be recognized
First up were Edenwald and the Mt. Pleasant Cottage School, which held ceremonies on back-to-back days. The gym was festooned with balloons, streamers, and flowers––and of course packed with family, teachers, and campus volunteers eager to cheer on the this year’s graduates. NY State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins joined the Edenwald ceremony to deliver a rousing address, and Assembly Member MaryJane Shimsky, who represents Pleasantville, joined the next day.
Assemblymember MaryJane Shimsky sharing the love with the LEAP team and graduate Skylyn
Proud moment with MPCS grad Messiah, Principal Jessica Harris, and Assistant Principal Michael Pompa
Last Monday’s ceremony at JCCA’s Liberation Diploma Plus High School, was the most raucously celebratory of all. The auditorium was decked out in the school’s trademark purple hue and so crowded that people had to be turned away at the door for lack of seats. Lakeisha Bowers, the mother of two Liberation students and the event’s MC noted that, “when you walk through the doors at Liberation, it’s nothing but love.” That love was certainly in the room on Monday.
Liberation is a transfer high school that gives young people the support and second chance they need to flourish. In a year that saw challenge and tragedy in the Liberation community, the school nevertheless graduated 81 students. In the words of class Salutatorian Anthony S: “At my old school they said I’d never make it. At Liberation my voice was heard. I wasn’t just a grade, I was a person.” JCCA’s Director at Liberation, Lisa DeCastillo, sent the grads off to the next chapter of their lives with words of optimism and hope: “May today be the start of you becoming your best selves.”
Liberation’s Class of 2023 Valedictorian Christopher B.
“Barely enough hands for all these awards!”
On Friday, JCCA’s LEAP division held a block party in the parking lot of our Brooklyn office to celebrate this year’s cohort of high school grads as well as younger students stepping up to their next grade. It was a great summer hang––featuring karaoke, BBQ, face painting, games, and, of course, cake.