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Touching Testimonials: High School Students Honor Board of Education

By Robin Shum

On the evening of Jan. 28, students, faculty, and community members from South, North, and the Village School gathered at North for a district-wide ceremony to commemorate Great Neck’s Board of Education members: Donald L. Ashkenase, Barbara Berkowitz, Monique Bloom, Lawrence R. Gross, and Susan Healy. Students from throughout the district performed an original song and gave speeches in honor of the Board.

“The Garden Bed” was a song specially written for the event by North Principal Mr. Bernard Kaplan, who wrote the lyrics originally as a poem, and former North Choral Director Mr. Roger Ames, who set the poem to music.

“The Garden Bed” was intended as a metaphor describing students and their “gardeners,” the Board of Education. In between choruses, speakers from all three schools rose one by one and read statements about what high school meant to them. Senior Cindy Jiminez said, “If someone asks me, ‘What are you thankful for?’ my honest answer will be that one of the things that I am the most thankful for is being part of Great Neck South High School.”

Several seniors from South were invited to speak at the event, including Anoush Baghdassarian, Aaron Brenner, Jenny Hwang, Cindy Jiminez, Christopher Koo, Meghan Punjabi, Raquel Serruya, Lauren Shum, Sam Sommer, Daisy Xu, and Benjamin Zander. Many students described their meaningful experiences participating in extracurricular opportunities.

South Music Department Head Mr. Michael Schwartz was invited to conduct the orchestra and chorus. “This year was really special,” he said. “This was really performed as a tribute for the Board of Education.”

At the end of the performance, the Board was called to the stage and personally thanked by Student Government representatives from each school. “We didn’t know what was coming and we also didn’t know how to prepare for this,” said Barbara Berkowitz, teary-eyed. “A night like this brings it home for us — and we do what we do for all of you…What you’ve given us tonight is immeasurable and will leave us with a lasting impact that will remain with us always.”

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