Superintendent’s Spotlight: Cristina Ceglia


Superintendent’s Spotlight: Cristina Ceglia

June 18, 2024

Warwick Valley High School senior Cristina Ceglia was one of eight students to take on the high school’s Senior Project course, a nationally recognized program that combines project-based learning, real-world performance opportunities and professional networking. To complete Senior Project, students must meet the demands of the project’s “Four P’s”: choose a Project, write a Paper, build a Portfolio, and give an adjudicated Presentation.

Cristina’s project was a poignant documentary that delves into the lives of first responders affected by 9/11. The impact of her excellent production has extended beyond the walls of Warwick Valley, earning a place in the 9/11 Museum & Memorial archives, a recognition Cristina said she never could have anticipated or even imagined.

“I began reaching out to survivors and first responders last October,” Cristina explained. “One of my subjects is a survivor of the 9/11 attacks who worked in the towers. Once they saw what I had in mind, they encouraged me to aim even higher than just a school project.”

Cristina worked on her film from October through May, and her project culminated in a well-received presentation to the district’s Senior Project adjudication board in June. Cristina said it was the belief that people shared in the potential influence of her documentary that encouraged her to submit the film to the 9/11 archive for consideration. Despite lingering reservations about publicizing her project, she now reflects proudly on its journey, and said she felt overwhelmed when she got the news that her documentary had been accepted. “I got an email confirming that it was being placed in the archives, and it was such a surreal moment,” she recalled.

Cristina was an exchange student this year, born and raised in Italy to a family of non-English speakers, and the first WVHS exchange student to take part in the Senior Project! Cristina said that her journey to the states was initially driven by a passion for languages and cultural exchange. “Learning English became my goal at a young age,” she said. “I started attending language camps in Ireland when I was 10, and by the time I was in eighth grade, or maybe my freshman year, I knew that I wanted to try and study in the US.” But she also knew how expensive that prospect could be, so, without her parents’ knowledge, Cristina applied for – and won – a scholarship to study abroad. The award made her exchange year in Warwick possible.

Her documentary, meticulously crafted over months of interviews, research, writing, shooting and editing, aimed to highlight the critical role of first responders, and to never forget the gravity of their sacrifices. “Growing up with both of my parents in law enforcement, I witnessed firsthand the sacrifices they make,” Cristina reflects. She said her father had actually been called away on an emergency detail not long before she left for America. “I wasn’t sure he’d make it back in time for me to say goodbye, but he did. So, with the documentary, I just wanted to remind my peers of the importance of these roles, especially in times of crisis.”

Reflecting on her experience, Cristina acknowledges the challenges of coordinating interviews and navigating unfamiliar processes. “Organizing interviews was daunting, but the support of responders like Mr. Raph, Ms. Keneally, Mr. Fleming, and the 9/11 Museum made it possible. It all came together.”

Looking ahead, Cristina plans to attend Baruch College in New York City, where she will major in international and public affairs, with aspirations of becoming an attorney. Her dedication to her project and academic pursuits has been a testament to her passion for advocacy.

“I hope my documentary serves as a reminder that young people can engage meaningfully with global issues,” Cristina concludes. “We have the capacity to bring about change and foster understanding, even in complex and emotional subjects like 9/11.”

As she prepares to graduate and embark on the next chapter of her academic journey, Cristina remains an inspirational figure within the Warwick Valley community, leaving a legacy of empathy, determination, and cross-cultural understanding.


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