Three Times the Celebration at Mill Neck Manor’s Deaf Education Center

Three Times the CelebrationThe end of the school year is always bittersweet. Tears of joy roll down the faces of parents who have watched their child flourish, and down the faces of the dedicated teachers, filled with pride for their students who will be greatly missed as they begin a new year.

The Mill Neck School’s Deaf Education Center (DEC) wrapped up the school year on a triumphant note with three graduation ceremonies this past week. Over 20 little scholars marched across the stage with grins a mile wide to receive their hard-earned diplomas during the preschool graduation on Friday, June 16. Joyfully singing songs like “This Little Light of Mine” and watching a slideshow of their accomplishments captured in pictures, these vibrant preschool graduates made everyone in the audience gleam with joy.

Honoring the sixth grade class of Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, 11 bright-eyed students officially “moved up” to the middle school on Tuesday, June 20. After congratulatory remarks from DEC Principal Katie Kerzner, the Moving Up Class of 2017 sang the class song “Do I Make You Proud?” by Taylor Hicks. Parents, staff and friends were all in attendance, cheering on each deserving student who walked across the stage to receive their certificate.

Five astute seniors walked into the auditorium for their graduation on Thursday, June 22, with their heads held high: Edwin Alfaro-Ulloa, Matthew Jordan, Karen Jose, Kevin Perez-Navarro and Karlvin Raju Sonny. The grads began the ceremony with a powerful performance signing the “Pledge of Allegiance” and “The National Anthem.”

Superintendent Francine Atlas Bogdanoff addressed the students saying, “Be kind, be careful and, most of all, be yourself. You are wonderful, unique people and amazing students, and I know as you leave these doors you will contribute greatly to the rest of the world.” Special guest speaker Alumna Janice Buonincontri also spoke, urging the young graduates to go out and educate people to bring awareness to the Deaf community. The conferring of scholarships and awards commenced followed by the Farewell Address given by Edwin Alfaro-Ulloa. “My advice to Deaf students is to be motivated, work hard and never give up,” he said. The auditorium roared as each graduate accepted their diploma.

Among the several awards handed out was the Shameka Edwards Character Award in memory of Mill Neck Manor’s 2001 Valedictorian, and former teacher assistant Shameka, who passed away suddenly in 2013. The awarded recipient, Edwin Alfaro-Ulloa, displayed all of the required criteria of being a role model to her peers; demonstrating empathy for others; and, always striving for excellence. Alfaro-Ulloa also received the ASL Massapequa club scholarship, which awarded him $1,000. Other awards included Kevin Perez for the Brian Sosnowski Memorial Award for the most responsible worker; Matthew Jordan for the James McCarthy Memorial Award for community service and also for the Marcia Lynn Petering Award for school spirit; Karlvin Sonny for the Mill Neck Services’ Perseverance award; and many more.

The Mill Neck Family is proud of all the accomplishments by our little preschool scholars, our elementary students, and our seniors. Congratulations Grads!

Founded in 1951, and a part of the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf provides the highest quality of services to children who are Deaf and have other special needs from all social and economic backgrounds. Children are bused to Mill Neck daily from 49 Long Island School Districts, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan with the hope that one day they will have an opportunity to leave their mark on the world, just like everyone else. For more information, please call 516-922-4100 or visit