HKSB News Release
Family and Friends Celebrate Helen Keller Services for the Blind’s Annual Preschool Graduation
July 7, 2010, New York — “Partnership” was the theme at this year’s Helen Keller Services for the Blind’s (HKSB) Children’s Learning Center graduation. The event was held on June 23 in Downtown Brooklyn at National Grid’s Auditorium.
Parents, teachers, siblings and loved ones united to celebrate in the achievement of 10 excited boys and girls. “Hilary Clinton says it takes a village to raise a child,” quoted legislative aide Edna Johnson, representing Brooklyn Congressman Ed Towns. “Well, look around this room - you are all the village!” Brooklyn City Councilman Steve Levin echoed those sentiments and said that everyone in the room made this day possible.
Thomas J. Edwards, President & CEO of HKSB opened the day’s festivities by welcoming everyone to the graduation, congratulating not only the students but parents and caregivers. “By working hand in hand with our agency, your children will be better prepared to reach their potential,” he said.
The procession of graduates followed, with Deacon Bill Powers of the Oratory Church of St. Boniface giving the invocation.
Musical performances led by music teacher Michel Gentile included the songs “Open the Circle” by Pete Seeger and “Pole Mze” by Mriam Makeba. Mr. Gentile said that Pete Seeger’s song was newly written and he was fairly certain that it was being performed live for the first time by the graduates.
Mr. John Adams, an 85-year old great-grandparent and primary caregiver of one of the students (and an inspiration to everyone connected with the school) was this year’s recipient of the Parent Award along with his wife Olive.
Among the graduates was Lina, visually impaired due to microphthalmia, a condition that results in abnormally small eyes. Because of various medical anomalies, Lina has a one to one aide with her at all times, uses a feeding tube, and travels to school in a wheelchair. Lina’s parents are immigrants from China and they were especially proud of her accomplishments at the graduation. “Lina loves to greet people she knows, “said principal Garth White. “She has made the most extraordinary progress through the use of music and loves to play the xylophone and strum the strings on a little guitar. After receiving occupational, physical, speech and language therapy, she can communicate in her native language Mandarin and in English.” Another shining star was Kimberly, a girl who has been attending the Children Leaning Center since she was 11 months old. Diagnosed with De Morsier syndrome, a rare birth defect that causes impaired vision and pituitary deficiency, Kimberly proudly walked independently down the aisle with her cane during the procession!
The 2010 graduates were: Elijah Carvajal, Michael Cornish, Tayjah Day, Deborah Hall, Delano Hamilton, Louisa Lopez, Istiaq Raihan, Kimberly Ramirez, Maria Velez, and Lina Zhang