NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – The Westchester Exceptional Children’s School (WEC) held its 43rd annual Stepping Up ceremony on Thursday. The entire student body was seated on the stage, where they launched the event by singing the national anthem and their school song, “Inch By Inch.”
Every WEC student received an award for improvement during the year, such as better reading comprehension, socialization skills and following directions. Among the Special Award winners were: Stephanie Cabral - School Spirit Award; Robert Seeland - Most Improved Behavior Award; Rachel Apollonio - Principal’s Award for Social and Emotional Growth; Ryan Beattie - Most Enthusiastic Singer Award' and Matthew Kesselman - Always a Good Day Person Award (given by the Edwards family in honor of 2006 graduate, Brett Edwards).
Special tribute was paid by the faculty, students and administration to WEC founder and director, Linda Murphy, who died last fall. WEC Director Linda Zinn said, “The fact that we’re here today and moving on as we move up, that life goes on and WEC will move forward, is testimony to the legacy she has left us.”
Although this was the first Stepping Up Day without Murphy, “her soul touched us all and still does. It permeates the brick and mortar that holds this school together. She will always be a part of WEC because she is a part of all of us,” Zinn said.
Four students graduated from the WEC school on Thursday. Each made a brief speech to the audience of family, friends and faculty.
“I realized right away that this is a special place,” said Martin Sullivan. “There are great teachers and students. I wish this school good luck in the future. I hope to make you all proud.”
Nicholas Scarnati said, “Wow! I’ve been thinking about this for so long. I’ve been here for 14 years. I'll miss everybody. Thank you all. I thank my family and I’m thankful for this place. I hope I get a job soon.”
Stephanie Cabral said, “When I came to this school I felt very scared and nervous. I am proud of myself and how well I’ve done. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for all your support.”
“I’d like to thank my Mom and Dad for making sure I get out of bed and get to school,” said Matthew Kesselman. You’ll all miss me and I’ll miss you.”
The ceremony concluded with the student body singing for the graduates, “We Sing This Song for You,” followed by the school’s traditional winding-up song, “Together Tomorrow.”
WEC is a nonprofit, year round state-approved special-education day facility, serving 80 students with autism, and communication and behavior disorders and medically fragile children from 36 school districts in nine counties of New York, Connecticut and New York City.