Former Sacred Heart Academy dean Beth Laurice, center greets students...

Former Sacred Heart Academy dean Beth Laurice, center greets students at the school's senior prom held at the Woodbury Country Club on Wednesday, June 1, 2016. The former dean left the school for a job in Tennessee, but returned to surprise the 2016 graduating class. Credit: Jennifer A. Uihlein

Sacred Heart Academy of Hempstead’s senior class got loud during their prom on June 1 at Woodbury Country Club.

But it didn’t just happen on the dance floor.

At the country club’s front gates, students were surprised by a familiar face — their former dean of class Beth Laurice, who was known to the students as Ms. Cassmer. (She married in 2013 after connecting with the Class of 2016, and many continued to refer to her by her former last name.)

Both students and faculty fought back tears as the students locked in on Laurice and zeroed in for hugs.

“I had to be here for this,” Laurice said in between the many embraces. “These girls are my babies. I welcomed them in freshman year . . .  this was my group for three years.”

Laurice left Sacred Heart Academy for a teaching job in Tennessee last summer.

“I felt horrible not being here for the past year,” she admitted.

But for the Sacred Heart Academy prom-goers, the important thing was that she was there for them at that moment.

“We would email and text, but I had to be here for this week,” Laurice said of prom night and the commencement later in the week.

Senior Megan Lynch expressed how much Laurice means to the class.

“We all love her. She was basically one of us for three years,” Lynch explained. “It feels like she really cared about us the whole way through.”

Maura Rossi, who teaches English at Sacred Heart, talked about the what the bond between students and faculty means to the learning process.

“It creates a much more comfortable atmosphere,” Rossi said. “Something as simple as asking a question is easier for the kids when people like Ms. Cassmer are around.”

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