Tagged: awards day

“Work hard, play hard, learn hard” – Graduation 2017

Posted on June 23, 2017. Category: Uncategorized, WCS News

2017 graduation and awards ceremony at waterford country schoolOn June 16, 2017 the Otto Graham Gymnasium was packed full. Over 25o people were there to watch the Waterford Country School Awards and Graduation ceremony. With the 60 kids from the Levine Education Center (the ‘school’ at Waterford Country School) looking on and cheering, numerous awards were given, each of the 6 Seniors was given the opportunity to say a few words and special guest speakers commemorated the day.

Sharon Butcher, WCS School Principal, said “When people find out I work at Waterford country School they inevitably say, wow, that must cap and gown decorated for high school graduation ceremonybe hard work! Some days its hard, but most days it’s great. This is the fun part. Today I am SO proud of these students…your children.” After calling all the staff to stand and be recognized as part of the team that makes WCS great…awards were given out to all the Lower School (K-5) and Upper School (6-12th grade) students. Awards like “Good sportsmanship,” “Extra-Ordinary Effort,” “Acts of Kindness,” “Class Olympian,” “Word Wizard,” “Creativity in Writing,” “Music Enthusiasm”, “Most Improved,” “Industrial Arts”and “School Spirit” just to name a few. Vice Principal, Pam Giannelli, broke into the programming to shout out some “I Caught You’s” which were unique things she caught students doing over the year. Things like antique bottlecapping, peer mentoring, creating a lunch delivery service, impersonating staff, recycling, and impressive records for scrabble, dodgeball, basketball and the walking challenge (One student walked 51 miles in the month of May…the highest record in walking challenge history!) If you think this kind of recognition is strange, think again. Waterford Country School touts the motto “Where Everybody is Somebody” and nowhere is it more evident than a day like awards day. When everyone gets recognized because they each have unique strengths and obstacles they’ve overcome. We celebrate each of our students and their success.

senior poses with high school diploma at commencement ceremonyEmotional Seniors gave speeches thanking their families and the those who supported them through their school career. Nick said “When I came here 7 years ago, I was a defiant little punk with no dreams or aspirations. Here…I’ve made family.” Eric wrote “For 5 years, WCS was the place I called home.” CJ greeted the crowd with “Konichiwa!” and called 2 special teachers up on the stage “I bought you presents!” Ryan talked about looking back and being shocked to realize that “For a kid who had such distrust for everyone, I genuinely connected with staff here…developed family-like bonds.” Ashley state matter of factly “I didn’t see myself finishing high school” but credited the support and love and security she found at Waterford Country School. “Thanks for the pep talks, even when I rolled my eyes!” She echoed what many of the other Seniors realized, “Obstacles can’t stop you, problems can’t stop you, other people can’t stop you, the only one who can stop you is yourself. Thank you for believing in me.”

proud african american female in white cap and gown at graduation ceremonyGuest speaker, Danny Miller, spoke about being a former WCS student, struggling with a learning disability and behavioral problems. He told the students “overcoming obstacles is a lifelong pursuit…you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.” Danny recalled stories of his time at WCS and the obstacles he faced in his academic life. Humbly, he recognized how much the skills and strategies he learned spurred him on to the place he is now, just completing a Master’s in Social Work degree. What he considers his “greatest achievement.” He encouraged the class of 2017, “Barriers do not limit your potential to achieve. It takes perseverance and determination.”

“We work hard, play hard and learn hard at Waterford Country School,” claims Sharon Butcher. It’s evident from the  overwhelming feeling of hope and pride that filled the gymnasium, Waterford Country School is not just dispensing knowledge to its students but strengthening children and families that desperately need compassionate care.

Congratulations Class of 2017!

For more information about our private special education school, visit the Special Education Page

An emotional Graduation Day

Posted on July 8, 2016. Category: WCS News

DSC_0385Before he could get a word out, one graduating Senior, started by warning the audience “This is emotional for me…” Looking around the gymnasium filled with Waterford Country School staff, families, kids, founding family members, caregivers, special advocates, DCF workers, foster families and friends…it was obviously emotional for everyone. Not a dry eye in the room.

What do you say about kids who come to a special school with incredibly tough backgrounds, both personally and academically? What do you do when you realize without this little school with about 70 kids nestled in the woods of Quaker Hill, these 3 young adults would not be holding diplomas and moving on into young adulthood with success? You find yourself getting emotional.  The Director of the WCS Residential Treatment Program, Emily Thomson says, “It’s pretty remarkable…coming in, you see a child who doesn’t want to be here…and you get to watch them grow right before your eyes.” On June 16th, awards were handed out for achievement in the lower school, 8th grade graduates were recognized and the 3 high school graduates received their diplomas. You could see how proud they were and how close they had become as a group as younger children hugged and congratulated their older peers.DSC_0228

The beaming smile that never left graduating Senior Magan Alejandro’s face all through the procession, ceremony and picture-taking says it all. “Magan is incredibly resilient, she is a young lady now, she advocates for herself, she knows what she wants and she’s going after it.” From her time in the WCS Residential program to the Therapeutic Foster Care Program and her year with us at the Special Education Progam…”She’s a success story. We hope she comes back in a few years and speaks to our kids.”

DSC_0243On hand to watch Magan and the other graduates were her mom, foster parents, DCF worker, a CT judge and founding family member Herb Schacht (at 93 years young!).  She invited everyone who played a part in her arrival at this momentous day…and they came. Over 250 people came to give testimony to the work that WCS endeavors to do. Shaking hands with WCS Executive Director, Bill Martin, to receive her diploma you could hear Magan exhale excitedly, “We did it!” To which he replied “No…you did it.” Our deepest congratulations to the 3 graduating Seniors. We are so proud of who you are and how far you have come.

“This day shows the spirit of Waterford Country School, that we CAN help kids.”

 

For more information about the WCS Special Education Program visit this page.