Seniors Look Back and Move Forward


In the spring of 2011, Sonnie Kirschbaum, then an 8th grader at Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy, received her high school acceptance letter.

“[Frank McCourt] was my first choice, so I was really excited,” said Kirschbaum. “I really liked that it was a small, humanities-based school.”

As a senior, Kirschbaum is readying herself to leave her second home, FMHS, behind and join the Great Dane family at SUNY Albany.

“It’s been an amazing learning experience both academically and personally. I’ve taken some of the most amazing classes, ranging from Genocide to Race Studies,” said Kirschbaum. “I’ve learned so much about myself, [and] I’ve made amazing relationships with teachers and friends that will continue after school.”

Senior Keiyana Christie shares Kirschbaum’s appreciation for her FMHS experience.

“There’s no high school like this one, [and] not just because of the weird grading system,” said Christie, “but because of the teachers and environment. I wouldn’t have been as motivated or ambitious had it not been for FMHS.”

“I wouldn’t have been as motivated or ambitious had it not been for FMHS.”

– Keiyana Christie, senior

Christie will be attending Penn State next fall, where she hopes to study journalism.

“FMHS pushed me to be more independent,” she said. “While that’s something that comes with being a teenager, FMHS definitely pushed it by challenging me to think and preparing me for college and the real world.”

Although most seniors will be attending college in the fall, several members of this year’s graduating class acknowledge that college is not the only route to success.

Ms. Houlihan, college counselor, said that “[some] students who have opted to not go to college have joined a branch of the military.”

Senior Andreas Skladany decided to enlist in the United States Marine Corps in order to “protect [his] country.

“I feel like [the Marines] is more of a place for me,” he said. “I know it’s what I want to do, [whereas] I never really knew what I’d do in college.”

However, Skladany, who is eager to work and fight with the Marines, added that college might be an option for him after his time in the USMC.

“I’ll want to live a normal life at some point. I don’t plan on becoming a General,” said Skladany. “I’ll probably go to college then for free,” he added, referring to the G.I Bill, which grants educational opportunities to servicemen and women.

While some students have opted out of going to college in order to join the military and pursue other paths, college remains the primary option among this year’s graduating class.

Students will be attending a variety of public and private universities, such as SUNY Binghamton, Ithaca College, CUNY Hunter, and University of Vermont, next fall.

Despite being excited to attend their new schools, seniors will always remember FMHS.

Lenin Lopez, who will be attending SUNY Cobleskill next September in order to major in culinary arts, admitted that what he loves most about FMHS is the relationships and bonds he has built.

“I wouldn’t have made the friends that I made and I wouldn’t have had the great teachers that I have now [if it weren’t for FMHS],” he said.

However, students are not the only ones who have built great bonds with their peers.

Ms. Gates, who teaches humanities in the upper house, said that she will truly miss the seniors when they graduate.

“I love them,” she said. “I am going to have a really hard time saying goodbye.”

What advice can you give Lower House students?

Victoria FINAL

“The thing I learned is that you need to find a balance and really understand yourself and how you function. I learned that really quickly when I started to get bad grades. So my advice to upcoming Upper House students is to make sure you set priorities, know what you have to do and just do it, even if you don’t want to. Then everything will fall into place. So the lesson is do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.”

– Victoria Del Rio, Wagner College

Riley BW

“Even though you might think that doing poorly on a test or not doing a couple of homework assignments doesn’t really matter, it does in the long run. I wish I knew that back then because I wouldn’t have been scrambling to get my life together and had an easier time getting into college. Even though I got into my first choice, I only got into one more school and waitlisted at another out of ten schools. My advice to other students is if you don’t do the work when you’re supposed to, be prepared to face the consequences later on because everything has a purpose.”

– Riley Rappaport, Ithaca College