YONKERS, N.Y. – They come from all walks of life and challenges and with some daily commutes to Yonkers from as far away as Staten Island. This year, 31 ninth graders celebrated years of academic and social determination on Friday, June 18, to a standing ovation by families, teachers, alumni and younger students as each received a diploma from the special-education ANDRUS Orchard School.
The graduates, some of whom live on the 106-acre ANDRUS campus in Westchester, were unable to thrive in traditional school settings. Through the efforts of a team of highly trained special education experts, small class settings, individualized attention and support, the youth have gained life skills, the art of managing emotions and academic competency.
“Prior to walking through our doors, these youth had been told over and over again, that they could not succeed. Imagine how this undercut their self-worth and self-respect,” said Dr. Raymond Effinger, Principal, ANDRUS Orchard School. “Much of our work centers on healing the students, unlocking their passion and abilities, building their skills, and nurturing their understanding that each could lead an amazing and beautiful life. This graduation ceremony is truly a testament and tribute to the hard work achieved by students, their families and our faculty and staff.”
Some students of the graduating class will enter mainstream education at their district high school and others will go to secondary schools specializing in working with youth who have learning, emotional and/or adjustment difficulties.
“It’s the goals of the youth we serve that matter — not their perceived limitations. Our students can do anything they are determined to achieve. That confidence shapes both our work and our commitment to each of them. We feel great pride when they believe in themselves as much as we believe in them,” said Bryan R. Murphy, ANDRUS president and CEO.
Located on the sloping hill of a former apple orchard, the nationally acclaimed and award-winning Orchard School embodies both the comfort of nurturing care and the promise of new opportunities. Approximately 155 students in kindergarten to ninth grade attend the Orchard School year-round.
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