Twenty-eight Briarcliff High School alumni visited the school today to share advice about high school, college and careers with students.
A long-standing tradition at the school (with a short break over the past few years), Alumni Day gives students a chance to get a glimpse of what life is like after high school and the alumni were thrilled to share their unique paths in choosing a college and a career.
The event began with a welcome breakfast at the Maresca for the alumni. Next, juniors and seniors gathered in the auditorium to meet the alumni.
“We are so grateful that you are here with our students to share your experience at BHS in hopes that we can learn from, and be inspired by, their paths,” said Principal Diana Blank.
She introduced Briarcliff’s 2023 Distinguished Alumni, Mark Levitt.
“A true measure of a school’s success can be found in the actions and contributions of its alumni,” she said. “over the years, Briarcliff High School graduates have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments and services to their community and to our country in all walks of life. The tradition of an award began in 1995 and since then, the school has celebrated the lives and careers of 48 esteemed graduates, with the oldest alumni hailing all the way back from the class of 1927. Mark Levitt is our 49th honoree, who graduated in 1983, and is the recipient of this year’s award.
“The purpose of the award is to recognize individuals who have made their mark and by example offer our present-day students inspiration and a positive vision for their future,” she said, as she invited Mr. Levitt to speak.
Mr. Levitt, who is a local pharmacist, went out of his way to administer the COVID vaccine during the pandemic, by keeping his pharmacy open every day and even met people outside of his pharmacy or in their car to administer the shot. He has vaccinated over 1,000 people and is one of the first pharmacists to receive the vaccine.
“I am very honored to be here today,” Mr. Levitt said. “I have always seen the importance of giving back. During the pandemic, I have had the opportunity to build on this. Giving COVID vaccines day by day, month by month, contributed to the health and wellbeing of people in the community. I can’t take all the credit, however. My wife, Carol, helped me by doing all of the paperwork for the vaccines.
“In your life, you need to lay the foundation of your path, brick by brick, step by step, and keep going forward. Little things can make a very big difference, so whatever you decide to do, keep going forward. Thank you very much for this honor.”
Supervisor of School Counseling & Student Services Erin Ryan introduced the alumni who, in turn, introduced themselves one by one, and shared where they are in life, either working or still in college
Ryan hosted a Q&A panel and asked the alumni a variety of questions relating to their time in Briarcliff, their transition to college life, and for some, about working in the “real world.”
The alumni were eager to share their experience and provided valuable advice to the students.
“The biggest advice is not necessarily not caring, but worrying a little less,” said alum Matt Alfarano. “There is always something to worry about: the SATs, college, and in my field – medical school and everything that comes with it. I wish I just kind of enjoyed life a little more, so appreciate what you have in the moment. Learning is a struggle. You are going to struggle and fail, and that’s okay. It’s part of life and you get better for it.”
“I felt very prepared,” said alum Ella Culotta, in response to the question if the school has prepared her academically. “Time management is very important and the work ethic I learned in Briarcliff definitely helped me in the long run.”
“Not only study methods, but even the content of Briarcliff’s education helps in college as well,” said alum Angela Cao. “I felt very well-prepared with a difficult curriculum in chemistry. The only difference for me was the size of the school, in comparison to Briarcliff High School. That is something you have to transition to, in terms of the learning experience.”
“In high school, you know exactly what is going to come next, but after that, things are uncertain,” said alum Cynthia Constantinou. “At first, I felt overwhelmed by all of the options in college, but then I felt like the world was my oyster. It’s impossible to have everything figured out all at once and plan out all your years down the line. Focus on what’s immediately in front of you and what feels best right now. You can always shift course. No one has it all figured out, so just do your best.”
“Put yourself in the position to have internships and be in the real world to see what you want to pursue and maybe base what you want to study off of that,” said alum Madeline Plank.
After the Q&A, students met the alumni in small groups, with each student visiting four classrooms.
In the classrooms, students were able to ask the alumni specific questions, with many focusing on the subject of college choice and career path.
“College is what you make it. It is up to you to find the opportunities that you think are going to be the best for you,” said Jon Gold in one of the sessions.
“I liked the advice the alumni gave,” said junior Nathaniel Rohde. “It’s really nice to hear that I shouldn’t worry too much about high school and to just let the piecesfall into place. It’s really cool to see how everyone who comes from the same place has spread out and taken their own path in college and life and changed as a person since high school.”
This event is in line with the district’s commitment to personal agency. Students can take responsibility for their circumstances that surround them, competently to take action to improve their lives and achieve their objectives.
These are the alumni: