Class of 2013

On June 1st, 2013 we celebrated a very special occasion: the very first Galileo School Graduation.  Payton McHugh completed three   wonderful years at The Galileo School, earning her Eighth Grade Diploma, the highest honor of suma cum laude and the title of Valedictorian of The Class of 2013.  We held a lovely ceremony in the garden outside our home to commemorate the day.  It was attended by our closest relatives and friends who all took part in celebrating Payton’s accomplishments.  Following the ceremony there were carnival games, square dancing and partying late into the evening.  It was a great way to celebrate a great girl. We wish her all the best as her journey continues to a new school and we hope she brings with her the compassion and critical thinking that she developed at The Galileo School. Payton’s  accomplishments are many. Even though this website holds only a fraction of the amazing adventures Payton has experienced during her time here,  it is an impressive collection of memories. Take some time to search the site and re-visit some of these wonderful highlights of Payton’s journey.  Below are some of the speeches given at the graduation ceremony. Enjoy!

Jack’s Speech:

“Today, after three amazing years at The Galileo School, Payton is moving on.  In a figurative sense she is moving on to a higher level of education.  In a literal sense she will no longer be with us at The Galileo School everyday.  Payton, I am very happy to see you go to Dominican Academy because I know that it is the kind of high school you wanted to go to since you were in first grade, back when we talked about how cool we would be when we were teenagers.  We imagined being on our own. Texting all of our friends on our awesome cell phones… that seems so long ago now.  I couldn’t be happier for you now that it is all turning out exactly the way we imagined.  I will miss being your schoolmate. The way you would shoot your hand up into the air just before mine to answer the question will be my fondest memory.

When I was writing this very speech I thought about all the hours you’ve studied and all the hours you didn’t want to study. All the times you got 100 on a test and all the times you fell short. After all of your ups and downs, you truly deserved that great moment when you opened the acceptance letter with the big Blue YES on the front. So let’s celebrate tonight before Payton moves on to high school. Good luck and I love you.”


Ava’s Speech:

“We are so proud of your accomplishments. We can’t wait to see you have a great life and have so many great adventures. We love to see you so happy and excited to make something of yourself and we will all be behind you in everything you choose. No matter how far away you go, wherever your journey leads, we will always be with you. Each of us will have left our mark on your heart.”


Payton’s Speech:

” The past three years have been an explosion of excitement and wonder. Like something out of a movie! I’ve learned so many things, not only about math and history, but about the world. One of the most important things I learned is to be bold.

“Excuse moi monsieur, ou sont les champignons?”

For those of you here who don’t speak French that might have sounded like a quote from Voltaire or an inspiring French saying, but I actually said, “Excuse me sir, where are the mushrooms?”  I remember when we were in France, Jack and I went to the little grocer on the corner.  The man behind the counter did not speak any English and was not very friendly, but we thought we knew enough French to get by.  We were looking for mushrooms for the dinner we would make that night.  There was just one problem: once we reached the store, I forgot how to say the word ‘mushroom’ in French.  I decided to just go for it and ask the man behind the counter in the best French I could.  I tried saying ‘fungi’ and making the shape of a mushroom with my hands. He just stared at me with a scowl. I eventually resorted to just saying ‘mushroom’ with a French accent.  It was extremely frustrating and the grocer seemed to enjoy my suffering.  When I got home I cried because I was so embarrassed.  I said that I was never going back to that store ever again.  But I did go back.  And when I went back, I knew how to ask for butter, cheese, milk, bread and even mushrooms.  Even though I wasn’t able to remember that first time, I walked away from that experience with a bit more courage than I had when I started.  In life there are going to be times when you are scared or nervous, but the last three years at The Galileo School have taught me to put myself out there no matter how scary the world may seem.  I have learned not to be afraid to ask the world for what you want. I have learned not to be afraid of taking risks. Who knows? Maybe you could sit down and have a conversation with Noam Chomsky about human rights, or climb Mount Etna? Maybe you could feed 4,200 people after a major natural disaster and get interviewed on Good Day New York? Maybe you could put Thomas Jefferson on trial or star in an Off-Broadway musical?  If you are not afraid, you could even learn how to say ‘mushroom’ in French.  I’ll always remember how good those mushrooms tasted in the omelettes we made that night in France, the lights from the castle sparkling outside our window.  I’ll always remember looking down at the bright lights of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower at midnight and getting kicked off the Paris subway because we were out so late. I’ll never forget the time we turned ‘The Iliad’ into a musical and performed it in the dining room.  And I’ll never forget all of the great memories I made here at The Galileo School.  I would like to thank Jack and Ava for being the best classmates anyone could ask for. It’s sad to think that I’m moving on without you guys. And last, but certainly not least, thank you Mom and Dad for being the best teachers and parents in the world. Thanks to your bravery I am here today graduating from The Galileo School. Thank you, I love you.”


2 thoughts on “Class of 2013

  1. What an educational adventure you have had over the past three years. Time for the next great adventure… DA awaits you and Manhattan is calling your name. Best of luck! Xo

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