South Orangetown Central School District

A small group of recent Tappan Zee High School graduates participated in the District’s first-ever Alumni Reconnect lunch on December 21. The aim of the Family Engagement Center-sponsored event was to reestablish connections with recent alumni, hear about their transition from high school to post-graduation life and gather feedback to inform future college and career preparedness initiatives.

“It was fantastic to talk with Mychal, Paige and Sasha! Based on what they’ve shared, our Pupil Personnel Services team will look into offering study skills workshops at South Orangetown Middle School and tutorials to introduce seniors to web-based college platforms. We’ll also consider ways to extend college exploration earlier with an expanded focus to include extracurricular, as well as academic, programs that are aligned with student interests,” said Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services Karen Tesik, Ed.D.

Principal Rudy Arietta noted that it would be helpful to formalize opportunities for current high school students to speak with alumni about navigating the transition to college. “All three alumni mentioned a variety of unanticipated challenges that they had faced. Mychal made the point that sometimes students need to figure out how to handle unpredictable situations on their own, even if that means making mistakes along the way. That really impressed me,” Arietta reflected. “There is no way to prepare our students for every experience they will encounter. But we can partner with families to build students’ resilience and real world problem-solving skills so that they can face adversity with confidence.”

“Bringing alumni together to reconnect with each other and with our team was meaningful and offered insight into what our graduates are experiencing in their first year or two after high school,” said FEC Coordinator AJ Walker. “We plan to grow our alumni network and create opportunities for our graduates to return and share their experiences with high school students as they are considering college and career options.”

The FEC will host another Alumni Reconnect lunch in early January; those interested are encouraged to email AJ Walker at

Alumni attending Reconnect Lunch