By Amarnauth Samaroo, Ph.D.
New York, July 14, 2022 — Each year, graduation, like spring, brings with it the spirit of youth and unbridled anticipation. What an exciting time, spring is, in the life of a high school graduate! Indeed, it is the season of celebration and plans for the future. Do you remember your high school graduation? What were your plans, hopes, dreams at 18? This summer my grandniece, Sarah Ramnauth, of the Queens Gateway Class of 2022, experienced just such a thrill with dreams of promising tomorrows. Raised in a home filled with love, Sarah observed and learned the social graces: common courtesies, honesty, etiquette, kindness, good manners. She also learned to show understanding, quiet dignity, and empathy for those among us lacking in such graces.
In the elementary grades, Sarah attended the Notre Dame School in New Hyde Park where each school day began with morning prayers. Under the leadership of the kind, caring, and esteemed principal, Ms. Caryn Durkin, Notre Dame prides itself on offering “an education of academic excellence and the formation of sound moral and ethical consciousness”. Like every true educator, Principal Durkin understands that educational leaders are charged with the dreams and aspirations of children, and that one should not want to control dreams: They must be allowed to soar unfettered under the guiding hand of a beloved principal. These experiences helped Sarah to transition to public school and navigate, successfully, its many challenges. She came to Queens Gateway in 2015 in the sixth grade, and I had the pleasure of being both her assistant principal and her teacher. Sarah’s secondary school years brought her enormous personal growth, and it was quite awe-inspiring to watch her rise to meet each new challenge.
In her first year at Gateway, we caught early glimpses of such potential when, still a shy and somewhat introvert sixth grader, Sarah performed Bach’s Minuet in G from the Anna Magdalena Notebook at our 2016 graduation ceremony. Sarah told me that playing the piano was a way to express herself and her emotions. “From the age of six, my parents enrolled me in piano lessons and music became my refuge. I began attending the Long Island Music Festival at LIU Post since I was eight years old”. Where words failed, her music spoke. “I look back and think how afraid I was to speak up in class. I now take risks that I would never have taken before”. Music empowered her, giving her the confidence to take on new challenges, and the courage to stand by her convictions. The high school years saw her blossom into a confident, capable, and admired leader both in school and her community, assuming such responsibilities as Co-editor of the yearbook, and participating in the school’s annual Breast Cancer Walk, and the annual Blood Drive.
In her senior year, Sarah won a place on the Principal’s Honor Roll – the school’s most prestigious academic accolade for students with an average of 95 or above. She graduated with an Advanced Regents diploma securing offers for the Presidential scholarship at LIU Post, the Scholars Program at Adelphi, and the Deans award at St. Johns University. Sarah is someone whose spirit became gentler and tenderer as her successes multiplied. I had the good fortune of seeing her in action both at school and in her family and community. Just this past April, when her eldest grandaunt passed away in Guyana, though in the midst of “senioritis” (celebrating senior year), Sarah took time away to travel to Guyana to pay her final respects to her grandaunt. Such thoughtfulness, such selflessness in a teenager is a breath of fresh air in this self-absorbed, self-serving world in which we live.
Congratulations Sarah on your wonderful successes! You have chosen to pursue a career in Business and Finance; of that I am particularly happy for reasons you know. Let your music continue to inspire you as you embark on the path to college and career. Continue to walk with Him beside you, and your happiness and successes will overflow, for He is the way, the truth, and the life.