Young graduates of The Morgan Center, an educational program for preschool-age children with cancer in Hicksville and Orlando, F.L., celebrated moving up with a virtual ceremony on June 9.
Most of the center’s 32 graduating students from both locations joined together in a Zoom event to be congratulated, participate in activities, and say goodbye to their teachers — 21 of them attended the Long Island location. The center’s founders, Rod and Nancy Zuch, and their 22-year-old daughter, Morgan, a childhood cancer survivor for whom the center is named, attended the ceremony from their home, as well.
“Nineteen years ago, my wife had a good idea,” Rod said during his remarks. “She wanted to make a difference in the lives of children with cancer, and we took action.”
Rod thanked the donors who helped support the center during the pandemic when fundraising dollars dropped dramatically. He also said that the center would use what it learned about technology in the pandemic to “exponentially expand” The Morgan Center going forward.
Graduating students enjoyed fun activities, as well as adapted traditions, during the ceremony. As “Pomp and Circumstance” played, photos of each child wearing their white graduation caps and gowns appeared in a slideshow. They then joined their teachers in playing a game, doing a craft, and participating in a music performance. Their teacher also read to them Dr. Seuss’s “Oh The Places You’ll Go.”
The Zuchs read out the names of each student and congratulated them as the children each took their turn waving at the screen in their cap and gown and showing off their certificates. They threw their caps at the end of the hour and said “goodbye” to their teachers.
The ceremony also recognized Morgan for graduating this spring from Marist College in Poughkeepsie with a master’s degree in educational psychology.
“Let Morgan continue to be your inspiration,” her father said. “She has taught us you can accomplish and do anything you want [despite any obstacles.]”