Blessings, God and opportunities were the centerpieces of the first-ever Shulamith High School graduation as 11 seniors, founding students as inscribed on their sashes, received their diplomas in a nearly two-hour ceremony at the Cedarhurst building on Monday that once housed the Lawrence School District’s Number Five School.
It was also a goodbye to founding high school principal Rina Zerykier, in whose North Woodmere home, the plans were put into motion to establish the educational facility five years ago. Zerykier is stepping down as the Shulamith school year ended on Wednesday.
Hana Adler, Hadassah Allman, Sarah Berger, Yochehved Charlap, Shoshona Deil, Malka Guttman, Ariella Lax, Sela Pollack, Avigail Sassoon, Mindy Schreck and Nina Yurovsky marched in one by one and took their seats on the auditorium stage as family, friends, administrators and teachers applauded.
“These are milestones for our graduates, a milestone for our school,” said Shulamith Board President Ari Cohen. “Your hard work and courage will be forever imprinted on our school.”
Four years ago, the Lawrence Board of Education approved a one-year agreement to lease the Cedarhurst Avenue building to the Shulamith School for Girls for $500,000 for one year. For every year since the lease has been renewed for the same amount. The Shulamith School, which included nursery, kindergarten and grades first through eighth, leased space in Congregation Beth El, also in Cedarhurst, and Congregation Sons of Israel in Woodmere.
Though small in number, the high school students are not lacking in opportunities as the graduates noted. Schreck, the class salutatorian, said she has been with Shulamith for 14 years and the school has taught her how to be a leader. “Taking on responsibilities as seniors such as leading open house allowed us to forge paths and start new traditions,” she said.
Adler, one of two class valedictorians along with Sassoon, said that the phrases imprinted on the hallway bulletin boards and walls encouraged and empowered her. “They set the stage for our future,” Adler said. “With an education like ours all doors are open to us.”
Sassoon said that she did not want to miss the opportunity to be part of a new high school. “Four years ago Shulamith came knocking on my door,” she said. “God has helped open the door beyond my wildest dreams.”
With only 11 graduates there was an intimacy and warmth that much larger classes might not have as several teachers spoke about each student and presented them with the diplomas and parting gifts.
Zerykier stressed that as Jewish people the purpose and goal of working is for God and noted her pride that all 11 young women were headed for a year of study in Israel and then to college. “You will make choices in the next few years that will define your lives, choose wisely,” she said. “You truly radiate beauty from the inside out.”