Tappan Hill's first voter eyes a bright future Chris Thompson's passion for social issues and music is matched only by his empathy for his peers and appreciation for his teachers.

Advocacy Day 2021

Christopher Thompson is currently enrolled in Southern Westchester BOCES’ MD program at Tappan Hill School in Tarrytown. Christopher first joined Tappan Hill in 2013, coming from School 29 in his home district of Yonkers.

Chris is a non-ambulatory student. He was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and hypotonia. He has significant communication challenges related to his diagnosis. He communicates most frequently by using his iPad. He types his thoughts and feelings in sentences and paragraphs. He also has many ASL signs that he uses to communicate with other signers. Chris has a great deal to share with others, from his strong feelings about world events, to his passion for sports and rap music.

According to teacher Errol Rivera, Christopher has grown during his time at Southern Westchester BOCES into a mature, self-motivated, independent thinker and a caring individual. That growth is a reflection of the Tappan Hill program, Mr. Rivera said.

Specifically, Chris is more confident, positive and thoughtful, all traits that will benefit him as he moves on to his next chapter. He takes time to understand situations and demonstrates a capacity to step out of the situation and to use humor and patience. “This has made Christopher a leader in our class,” Mr. Rivera said.

“Chris has many promising attributes, and we look forward to learning about the positive contributions he will make in his family and in the community,” he added. “We are all privileged and proud to have been part of his development.”

Chris's political interest was on display last fall when he registered and voted by absentee ballot in the Presidential election as an extension of a school civics lesson. This was an important step into his adult life. Chris filled out the voter application online and became the first Tappan Hill student to become a registered voter. He was extremely proud of his accomplishment, as were his teachers and peers.

“He expressed how badly he wants to vote, so with mom’s permission, we guided him to the proper website, and he registered,” Mr. Rivera said at the time. “The assignment was to fill out the application, and he did it to a T. He filled out the entire thing by himself and put it on my desk. He even filled out the party affiliation. I am so proud of him and how he is giving himself a voice.”

Chris is well-liked and highly regarded student at Tappan Hill. His kindness and his sense of humor are observed daily in his interactions with peers and staff at school. Chris loves to write rap lyrics and wants to meet his lyrical heroes like Eminem and Wawa, a rapper who is deaf. As Chris looks to the future, his teachers and counselors speak with him often about his next steps and the most rewarding paths he might pursue.

“We have seen Christopher make so much progress in his time with us at Tappan Hill, from his growing interest in politics and social issues to his care and concern for his fellow students and for teachers and staff," Principal Phyllis Rizzi said. "Chris will be missed at Tappan Hill, but wherever his next chapter takes him, I know that his kindness and empathy will take him far.”

At left, Chris holds up his 2020 absentee ballot; top right, Chris reflects on his time at Tappan Hill with teachers via Zoom; bottom right, Chris is always all-smiles during the school day.
Created By
Brian Howard