Forty-three students graduated from the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) on Friday, June 7. Of these 43, 38 are college-bound, with a large number entering Gallaudet University this fall. 

Hiruni Hewapathrinage-Mayadunne was class valedictorian, and Luke Florio was salutatorian. Hiruni shared several quotes from her favorite books and movies. One was “Nothing gold can stay,” from the poem by Robert Frost. She reminded her fellow graduates not to wait for tomorrow to do things that could be done today. Luke began his message with the word “resilience.” He stressed that resilience in school, life, and relationships with people was a significant factor in navigating life.

Dr. Lauren Berger, PhD ’21, a 2012 MSSD graduate, was keynote speaker at the MSSD graduation ceremony. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Rochester Institute of Technology in 2016, and her Ph.D. in educational neuroscience at Gallaudet University in 2020. She went on to complete a federally-funded postdoctoral fellowship at Boston University, researching language acquisition in deaf children of hearing parents. Pivoting to the technology industry, Berger currently works as a user experience (UX) strategist with Dell Technologies and also provides independent consulting services to other technology corporations for accessibility and product inclusion.

Berger reaffirmed what the new graduates learned during their high school years and encouraged them to continue to learn. She noted that they all began high school during the pandemic, taking virtual classes in stride as they were introduced to the rigorous high school curriculum. Berger put their journeys into context, making it known that they were groundbreaking individuals. They embodied their class mascot, the Hurricanes, in their resilience and action.

Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) held a promotion ceremony for four eighth graders on June 5, with alumnus and retired federal employee Gerald Miller as keynote speaker. Miller is one of the four children of Louise Burrell Miller, who was a champion for the rights of her three Black deaf children, and by extension, all Black deaf children everywhere. Gerald’s older brother, Kenneth Miller, was one of the 24 Black deaf students who attended Kendall School Division II between 1952 and 1954. Gerald attended three different public schools before entering  Kendall School in 1959. As a cartographic technician for the U.S. Geological Survey, a scientific agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior, he worked on U.S. maps. He retired from USGS after 39 years of service.

Miller congratulated the eighth-grade honorees and reminded them that they still had much more to do. Lauding their accomplishments, he invited them to take the next step towards joining the world at large.

Congratulations to the MSSD and KDES Classes of 2024!

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