Ulster BOCES celebrates Class of 2021’s top three students

Aliana Cupo, Ashley Thacker and Arianna Moore.

The Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Center recognized 442 Ulster County students who completed their trades’ technical endorsement requirements during 23 live Senior Tribute Ceremonies held on June 15 via Zoom. Friends and family are invited to view the celebratory industry-related commencement ceremonies via YouTube Premier. Links to access the tribute recordings will be posted at www.ulsterboces.org.

The sendoffs featured business-related keynote speakers and included words from the valedictorian, salutatorian and Principal’s Award recipient, as well as school administrators who inspired the students to leave school ready to embark on life’s exciting new adventures.

Alaina Cupo, a Cosmetology student from the Highland Central School District, is the valedictorian of the Career & Technical Center’s Class of 2021. Cupo is president of the National Technical Honor Society and has also served as secretary and treasurer of the Ulster BOCES chapter of SkillsUSA. She recently participated in the SkillsUSA State Cosmetology competition, where she came in third place.


Outside of academics, Cupo is very busy participating in many clubs, athletics and the performing arts. She is a member of the girls’ varsity soccer team, Interact Club, Tri-M Honor Society, Yearbook and PERIOD, a youth-driven organization that distributes feminine hygiene products to those in need. She has played percussion in a school band since Grade 4 and has performed in multiple school productions and at a local acting studio.

Highland High School principal Bill Zimmer had high praise for Cupo. “Everyone at Highland High School is extremely proud of Alaina’s accomplishments. Not only is she dedicated to her academics, but she also is involved with so many other school activities,” he says. “Moreover, Alaina Cupo is a really nice person. She is the epitome of a well-rounded student. We wish her well with all her future goals!”

The 2021 salutatorian is Arianna Moore, from the New Paltz Central School District. Moore has earned top honors by excelling in the Graphics Visual Arts program. Moore has been drawing for as long as she can remember and says that honing her graphic arts skills during this most unusual year allowed her to focus on the good in people and to look forward to the next chapter in her life.

“I wish to thank my teachers here at Ulster BOCES, especially Mrs. Lord, who was able to see my passion for my work and not only encouraged me to give my best work, but has also allowed me many opportunities to showcase that work within the BOCES community,” Moore explains.

Moore is a member of both the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. During her freshman year, she received a student recognition award. She has also been awarded the College Scholars Scholarship from SUNY Ulster for being in the top ten percent of her class. Moore has been invited to apply to the Honors program at the college, where she plans to earn an Associate degree in Fine Arts before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Arts.

Along with a busy academic life, Moore participates in many activities at New Paltz High School, including choir and band. At the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) music festival, she performed with the NPHS choir. Moore has received a Silver Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition for one of her art pieces, as well as multiple Honorable Mentions. She takes Advanced Placement (AP) Studio Art, and as a member of the Yearbook Club, she even designed this year’s yearbook cover for New Paltz.

Principal’s Award recipient Ashley Thacker, also from the New Paltz Central School District, has spent her junior and senior year in the Cisco & Cybersecurity program where she maintains an A average in her curriculum and is already earning college credits at SUNY Ulster. Thacker is the 2020/21 SkillsUSA president, a member of the National Technical Honor Society and worked with school administration to ensure that students were getting the most out of the hybrid learning experience. Thacker managed all of this while maintaining her homeschool and career and technical classwork. Thacker says it was hard work, but worth it. “I was excited to build my résumé by earning multiple technical certificates and certifications and many college credits.”

As an “intern technician” at Ulster BOCES, Thacker plays a critical role in solving technical problems for staff and students. She is the president of the Career & Technical Center’s chapter of SkillsUSA and treasurer of the National Technical Honor Society. In her role as a SkillsUSA officer, Thacker has led many efforts that demonstrate caring for the community, including volunteering at the Happy to Help Food Pantry in Kingston.

In addition, she participates in BMX bike racing and is an umpire for Town of New Paltz Minor League softball games. She graduates with four computer certifications – PC Pro, Linux Pro, Security Pro and Networking Pro – and has already been hired for a summer internship at the New York State Bridge Authority. In the fall, she plans to attend Norwich University and study Cybersecurity.

Principal Amy Storenski hopes that students will remember all that they have navigated and overcome and use those accomplishments to become the best versions of themselves, both personally and professionally. “We have had to be innovative in ways we didn’t even know existed,” she said. “We came together as one BOCES: students, teachers and administrators united, creating new possibilities that were never considered before.”

To learn more about the Ulster BOCES Career Technical Center, visit www.ulsterboces.org.