Pleasantville's David Todaro felt fortunate to be able to address his fellow graduates at Thursdays commencement ceremony for the Southern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services Valhallas campus.
The ceremony, held at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, honored 300 students for completing a technical education program.
"This makes me feel important," said Todaro, the only student speaker. "It's a really good feeling to be here."
Todaro, from Pleasantville High School, graduated from the school's Emergency Medical Services program and will be going to Westchester Community College in the fall to study criminal justice.
Students who studied a range of specialized career courses walked across the stage to receive diplomas signifying their years of work at the school. Many of them will be graduating high school later this month.
"Today is a happy day," commercial art teacher Damian Powers said. "But it's also bittersweet. I'm glad to see the students move on, but I'm sad to see them go."
Center for Career Services Director Linda Suarez said more than 90 percent of the graduating students were taking their skills to higher levels by attending college in the fall.
"I'm very proud of everyone here," she said. "The word is getting out that career technical education is the answer."
The large number of students honored was higher than recent years, according to members of the BOCES faculty.
Suarez said many of the students participated in the program to graduate with college credit before they've even stepped foot into a college classroom, giving them a head start.
BOCES provides shared educational and management services to schools and school districts throughout the region.