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Fourteen VMS seniors graduate

Cindy Ramunno

Vail Mountain School has always been a safe haven for students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade, with the school graduating small classes each year. This year is no different ” the class of 2004 consists of 14 students, many of whom have been attending the school since kindergarten.

All students get special, individualized treatment at Vail Mountain, but seniors get extra special treatment. They have the option of completing a Senior Project in their last term, which allows seniors to focus all of their energy on an independent research project. The projects introduce university practices to the students, while providing them with in-depth information on a subject of their personal preference. Twelve of the 14 students opted to complete the project.

“Bob Bandoni (VMS teacher) was the motivating force behind the senior project,” says Vail Mountain Headmaster Peter Abuisi. Seniors report that it’s a way to celebrate the end of their career at the school, while also giving them a chance to put the skills they’ve learned to the test. Students write a weekly paper, which also serves as a ‘chapter’ for the longer paper, which must be a minimum of 25 pages long. “In addition, the students must defend their paper to board members, who will formulate questions for the students regarding their information in the paper,” explains Abuisi. Once the question and answer session is complete, the paper is presented to the public ” which usually means that it’s available for other students, parents and community members to read. This usually takes place the week before graduation. “It reflects the independent thinking that we nurture in our school environment,” adds Abuisi.

Another unique aspect for Vail Mountain seniors is the popular senior trip to New York City. This tradition started 15 years ago, and the 2004 senior class raised money during the entire school year to pay for the 4 day trip. Students learn about major urban environments in the classroom, but there is nothing like actually experiencing a place such as New York City. Abuisi explains that while valley students have adept experience of wilderness, New York City is the ideal place for them to experience the major urban setting. Another tradition within the tradition is that students visit the Columbia University Medical Center ” Neonatal Research. Here, the students listen to lectures and spend time with the babies in the unit.

In addition, seniors see the many museums that the city offers, including Museum of Natural History and Museum of Fine Arts. This year, they also attended the Yankees/Red Sox baseball game and watched 2 Broadway shows. Also, the trip provides students the opportunity to see different standards of certain areas, for instance the dress code for restaurants and events.

With graduation near, the seniors at Vail Mountain reflect on the great times they’ve had at the school. The class of 2004 consists of 9 boys and 5 girls and they are: Lauren Utzig, Alex Dulude, Ian Talbot, Josh Smith, Ray Bernardo, Ben Cope, Cassidy DeLine, Sean Eno, Blake Higgins, Christian Nagel, Duncan Robinson, Jennie Thorne, Nicole Trumpower and Howdy Tuthill.

“These 14 seniors are very different from each other in personality and learning styles,” says Abuisi. But the seniors also share some common threads. They have all grown into great leaders for the school and are quick to volunteer to serve the community. Abuisi adds, “They are all assertive learners.”

To learn more about programs and graduation events at Vail Mountain School, call 476-3850.


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