Hats off! Riverdale Class of 2023 throws their caps in the air at the conclusion of their graduation ceremony.

As the 2022-2023 school year drew to a close, we joyfully commemorated special milestones for many of our students. From our 5th grade Moving On Ceremony to the Eighth and 12th grade graduations, our School community came together to honor our students. Throughout the three ceremonies, there emerged significant themes, including the importance of being yourself and taking risks. 

During remarks to all three classes, at separate ceremonies, Head of School Dominic A.A. Randolph encouraged students to embrace their individuality by sharing one of his favorite metaphors, the duck-rabbit, illustrated below.

Holding up a postcard, he encouraged students not to define themselves as one thing or another but rather, “Remain mysterious. Remain indecipherable and uncategorizable. Do not fall into the trap of either believing you have to be a metaphorical rabbit or a duck. Be duck-rabbits, rainbow unicorns, and other mythical beasts such as griffins or gorgons.”

At the Class of 2023 graduation, math teacher and active Guardsman with the New Jersey Air National Guard Rudy Nunez urged students not to be afraid to take chances, “You will be faced with situations where uncertainty will cloud you, but don’t let fear decide your fate.”

The mythical duck-rabbit
Each member of the Class of ’30 carried a pennant with their name on it.
Dr. James Duval, Head of Lower School and Associate Head of School, shook the hand of each student with his congratulations as they leave Lower School for Middle School.

On the River Campus, Riverdale’s Class of ’30 celebrated their 5th grade Moving On Ceremony, marking a significant milestone in their academic journey. Dr. James Duval, Associate Head of School and Head of Lower School shared inspiring words with the students: “As individuals, your talents are immense. As a collective, your power is profound. We truly could not be more proud of all of you for the ways you have impacted our lives and our community. Your spirit keeps us grounded and connected with the School’s mission to change our world for the good.”

The day was filled with joy, highlighted by uplifting speeches from members of the Class of 2023 Daniel Choi and Tia Williams who assured the rising 6th graders that they are ready for Middle School. Tia said, “It’s natural to be nervous and I encourage you to embrace this change head on. I leave you with three things: cultivate relationships, stay positive, and be curious.” Following the speeches, the 5th grade class sang a heartfelt rendition of “A Million Dreams” before walking across the stage to receive their certificate.

Assistant Head of Middle School and Eighth Grade Dean Mike Sclafani shakes a student’s hand.
Head of Middle School and Assistant Head of School for School Life Milton Sipp fist bumps a student from the podium.

Riverdale’s Class of ’27 celebrated their Eighth Grade graduation with a memorable event featuring music, speeches, special faculty awards, and an enthusiastic turnout of family and friends. Students Audrey Kalikow and Will David delivered thought-provoking remarks, while class presidents Jesse Horowitz and Charlie Greenberg presented faculty awards – chosen by the students – to Lexie Frare, Theater, Dance, and Film; Tyler Perry, also from Theater, Dance, and Film; and Toni Barbour, Math.

A key element of Eighth Grade Graduation is Assistant Head of Middle School and Eighth Grade Dean Michael Sclafani’s speech, who spoke of kindness and thinking of others. Another highlight was Head of Middle School and Assistant Head of School for School Life Milton Sipp, who encouraged the students to embrace possibilities, urging them to ask themselves “What if?” and to bridge divides in search of common ground. 

Keith A. Grossman ‘98 addresses the students and families
During his final graduation before retirement, Head of School Dominic A.A. Randolph congratulates a student as they graduate

The members of Riverdale’s Class of ’23 celebrated their graduation surrounded by proud families, friends, and faculty members under the Frankel Field tent. The ceremony began with a warm welcome from Mr. Randolph, who encouraged the graduates to maintain their curiosity as they venture beyond Riverdale. Keith A. Grossman ’98, President of Enterprise MoonPay, delivered the official alumni speech and spoke of navigating change and uncertainty, “The future belongs to optimists. My challenge to you is to hold onto that optimism and cherish it.”

Also, graduating seniors Charlie Berger and Isis Rodriguez shared thoughtful reflections on the lessons learned at Riverdale, followed by Senior Class Dean Jannely Almonte Ortiz, who expressed pride in the students’ growth and accomplishments throughout their four years in Upper School. Before Head of Upper School Tom Taylor handed out the diplomas, members of the Class of 2023 showcased their talent by performing “What I Did for Love” from A Chorus Line. The ceremony concluded with the presentation of two honorary diplomas to the outgoing Assistant Head of School for Operations, Dr. Kelley Nicholson Flynn, who leaves Riverdale to become Head of School at Princeton Day School, and our retiring Head of School, Mr. Randolph, in recognition of their remarkable service to our community.

All of us at Riverdale send heartfelt congratulations to all the graduates, to the rising 6th Graders, and to the rising 9th graders for reaching their many accomplishments!