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Mount Vernon High School and Rebecca Turner Academy award diplomas during commencement ceremony at Memorial Field

Mount Vernon High School and Rebecca Turner Academy award diplomas during commencement ceremony at Memorial Field

For the first time in 27 years, Mount Vernon High School held its commencement ceremony at the newly renovated Memorial Field alongside the first-ever graduating class from Rebecca Turner Academy, which just completed its inaugural year. Two hundred and sixteen students graduated from MVHS and RTA’s Class of 2024 on Tuesday, June 25, 2024.

Students in grad caps

The ceremony began with a processional of “Unwritten,” by Natasha Beddingfield, followed by the RTA and MVHS class presidents reciting the pledge. After performances of the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” School Counselor Peggy Williams, the mistress of ceremonies, introduced MVHS Principal Dr. Pauline Pearce and RTA Principal Troy Newbey.

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“As you venture out into the world beyond the walls of MVHS, I challenge you to live a life that reflects the values and lessons you have learned here,” said Dr. Pearce. “Be agents of positive change, advocates for justice and equality, and champions of progress and innovation. Lead by example, inspire others with your actions, and leave a positive lasting impact wherever you go.”

Mr. Newbey giving award to student

“On September 7, 2023, we started the school year off with so much uncertainty: a new school building and a new principal,” said Mr. Newbey. “These uncertainties have turned into triumphs, which is why I am able to stand here today, beaming with pride at all your accomplishments.”

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City of Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard stood before students and stressed the importance of staying focused and planning for their futures. She also encouraged students to keep good company and relationships that are productive and supportive of their higher goals. 

Student Smiling and shaking hands

“High school is a time where hopefully you've not only acquired knowledge but you've developed authentic friendships and relationships because that is important,” said Mayor Patterson-Howard.  “You want to make sure that the people you are surrounding yourself with are telling you how to go in the right direction, that they’re your tribe, that they’re telling you not only when you are right, but they’re helping you redirect when you’re wrong.”

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Board of Education President Lorna Kirwan then greeted the graduating class and congratulated them on their accomplishments, noting the hard work that got them to graduation.

President Kirwan shaking hands.

“Graduating from high school is no small feat, and today, you celebrate not only your academic achievements but also the personal growth and resilience that have defined your high school experience,” said Ms. Kirwan. “It’s essential to take a moment to pause and reflect. Don’t forget to breathe and savor all that life has to offer. Recognize all that you've done and the people who have been by your side along the way”

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The salutatorians from MVHS and RTA welcomed the students to their graduation and encouraged them to continue on their journey while remembering the support they received along the way. 

“As we prepare to part ways, it is essential that we remember the support we provided one another during the most trying times,” said Britaney Sinclair, MVHS salutatorian. “My journey through senior year would not have been possible without the unwavering support of my peers, teachers, administrators and family.”

Student hugging administrator.

“Do not let your journey stop here! We are on our way to a new journey,” said Blessin Allen, RTA salutatorian. “Maybe you are working or planning to go to college or trade school. Whatever your plan is, don’t stop grinding!”

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Acting Superintendent Dr. K. Veronica Smith shared a message of perseverance with the students, who have come from a variety of backgrounds and challenges to reach the graduation stage. She led the crowd in a singing of “The Greatest Love of All,” and gave most improved awards to Millyon Blackwood from MVHS and Jose Valdivia-Rosales from MVHS.

“Throughout your life, you will face crossroads and challenges,” said Dr. Smith. “Remember that you can overcome anything. You can and will rise up, just like you always have. Congratulations to the Class of 2024! As you embark on this new endeavor of your life, remember to stay true to yourself and be proud of who you are.”

Student hugging administrator and smiling

The valedictorians from each school then gave their final message to the graduating class and families, and they encouraged their classmates to continue working to achieve great things. 

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“As graduates of Mount Vernon High School, Class of 2024, we carry the responsibility and the privilege of shaping the future narrative of our community,” said Eric Lu, MVHS valedictorian. “We are the evidence of its potential, the proof of hope, and the seeds for the future generation.”

“Parents, thank you for every sacrifice you have made for us to get here,” said Marlene Coronado, RTA valedictorian. “Your words of encouragement, your hugs and your constant support have been our strength. They have contributed greatly to our academic and personal success. We dedicate this achievement to you, dear parents, and promise to move forward with determination and gratitude!”

Patrice Wallace-Moore was the ceremony's keynote speaker. She graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 1981 and went on to become the CEO of Liberty Behavioral Management – Arms Acres, Inc., in Carmel, NY, which focuses on addiction and substance use disorder treatment. She urged students to remember who they are and what they stand for as they move through life. 

Keynote speaker giving speech.

“You were born to shine. You were born to be great. You were born with a purpose,” said Mrs. Wallace-Moore. “When you look at somebody next to you, tell them to shine on. If you shine and you do it right, they’ll remember your name.” 

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Before the awarding of diplomas, Ms. Williams asked for a moment of silence and a focus on Kayla Green’s chair, sitting in front of the stage. Kayla would have graduated with this class but tragically passed in 2022. Ms. Williams also shared a message from the parents and family of Kayla, congratulating graduates and asking them to continue honoring her legacy. 

Dr. Pearce and Mr. Newbey then affirmed to Dr. Smith that the candidates for graduation had met their New York State requirements, and Dr. Smith presented the graduating class to the Board of Education. 

Students then walked across the field, shook administrators' hands and received their diplomas to cheers from the stands. 

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Memorial chair for student who tragically passed away.


Picture of Dr. Thomas with maroon on sides.

Dr. Albert “George” Thomas, M.D., M.S., graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 1975. He studied medicine at ICAHN School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and became an obstetrician and gynecologist following his education.  

Mr. Jose Formoso

The Mount Vernon City School District named Jose Formoso as its new Assistant Superintendent for Business during the Special Meeting of the Board of Education on Tuesday July 9, 2024. Mr. Formoso brings over a decade of experience in finances to this role, having earned a Bachelor of Science in business economics from SUNY Oneonta in 2003. In 2009, Mr. Formoso received a Master of Business Administration in financial management from Pace University. 

Students holding stuffed animals

The pre-kindergarten students were buzzing with creativity and excitement, showing off their new stuffed friends to staff and classmates. These children were given the chance to assemble their own personalized stuffed animals by hand during yesterday’s summer camp session on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. 

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Greetings MVCSD Community, 

As we conclude this school year, I am filled with immense gratitude and pride for all that we have accomplished together.

I want to commend our hard-working students, faculty, staff, families, and administrators on a wonderful and successful school year. Our teachers, who are the backbone of this District and essential to our children’s education, are role models for our children and exercise courage, passion, patience, and love daily. Our teachers played a pivotal role in the success of the 2023 -24 school year.