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Rising to greatness – RCS seniors learn skills to propel them past graduation

students sit and listen to speaker“I want you to leave here today knowing that you can do, be or have anything you want,” Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Principal Lisa Patierne, Ed.D said to students during the “Rising to Greatness Workshop.” The workshop was part of a brand new day-long event for RCS seniors. The Senior Symposium, held on Friday, Nov. 2, focused on propelling students beyond graduation with the skills, knowledge and confidence to succeed after high school.

three students work together, one writing on paperThe morning session focused on setting and achieving goals. Seniors participated in a self-reflection and group reflection, writing down their strengths and the collaborating to help peers realize more strengths.

“I had no idea that I had so many good qualities,” one senior said to the group.

The uplifting experience then gave way to goal setting and habits of success. Patierne was joined by Rear Admiral June Ryan who is retired from the U.S. Coast Guard. Ryan was the first woman to serve as the Military Advisor to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the third woman in our nation’s history to serve as the Military Aide to the President of the United States.

Rear Admiral Ryan stretches her arm as students behind her follow and do the same motion.Ryan was also the first woman in the Coast Guard to begin as a deckhand and rise to a two-star admiral.

“I did it one step at a time,” Ryan told students. “You need to dial in your goal like an address in a GPS. And, you need to write it down.”

She then asked the seniors to write down their goals and to be very specific. They were encouraged to think beyond their comfort zone and take risks with their goals, setting their sights high.

“The reason you write down goals is to tell you brain ‘this is important,’” Ryan explained. She continued by teaching students how to turn goals into affirmations and visualize their final destination.

While the morning workshop focused on beliefs and goals, the afternoon breakout sessions focused on skills and insights students may need after graduation.

students stand around the front of a car and watch as trainer holds oil stickThe skills sessions gave seniors the opportunity to learn and inquire about basic auto and cooking skills, to find what passions drive them, and to understand how to quiet and calm their mind in stressful situations. Allison Clark and Madison Dutton were part of the first group learning basic car maintenance.

“It’s not something a lot of people know how to do,” Clark said. Both seniors were interested in learning new skills that will help save them time, money and headaches in the future.

The Albany County Sheriff’s Office hosted two demonstrations for students, one giving a first-hard look at impaired driving through a simulation and the second, a K9 response presentation.

student drives go-cart in gym K9 bites into perp dressed as clown as officer dressed as batman holds leash





“It’s all about the kids,” Investigator Thomas Praisner said. “We have to develop that camaraderie and relationship with the kids so that they’re not scared of the police. We’re here to help them and we’re here to educate them.”

Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation were also on hand to talk about their experiences and answer questions. Community agencies including the Bank of Greene County; a  TCI of New York, a renewable energy company; and RAD, a women’s self defense group also spent time with the students.  

RCS senior Demetreus Todman said it was a day he will remember as students came together to talk and set goals. He was impressed at the empathy his classmates showed during the “Rising to Greatness” workshop as each student opened themself up to be vulnerable with one another. But, what he will remember most, “If you say something enough, you’ll eventually get there with goals.”