‘Contagious spirit’ shapes Hampshire Regional High School’s Class of 2024; 101 graduates say goodbye

Kira Shutt fixes her cap while waiting to line up at the Hampshire Regional High School’s graduation ceremony Friday evening.

Kira Shutt fixes her cap while waiting to line up at the Hampshire Regional High School’s graduation ceremony Friday evening. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Ava Richards talks with friends while  waiting to line up at the Hampshire Regional High School’s graduation ceremony Friday evening. Left, Timothea Antonio,Harley Bean, Megan Adams and Andrew Brisbois.

Ava Richards talks with friends while waiting to line up at the Hampshire Regional High School’s graduation ceremony Friday evening. Left, Timothea Antonio,Harley Bean, Megan Adams and Andrew Brisbois. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Jacob Gruszkowski walks onto the soccer field  with the other Hampshire Regional High School seniors as the  graduation ceremony starts Friday evening.

Jacob Gruszkowski walks onto the soccer field with the other Hampshire Regional High School seniors as the graduation ceremony starts Friday evening. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Harley Bean claps after a classmates speech during the Hampshire Regional High School graduation ceremony Friday evening.

Harley Bean claps after a classmates speech during the Hampshire Regional High School graduation ceremony Friday evening. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

By Lily Reavis

For the Gazette

Published: 06-09-2024 1:16 PM

Modified: 06-09-2024 1:21 PM


WESTHAMPTON — Hampshire Regional High School’s Class of 2024 is a collective of 101 artists, athletes, musicians, leaders, and scholars who graduated on Friday evening surrounded by a sea of proud family and friends on the school’s Dorunda Field.

The graduation was a chance to reflect on and celebrate the class of 2024’s unusual high school experience, which took an unexpected shift to remote learning in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the class was in eighth and ninth grades.

“All I can remember is the feeling of how badly we wanted to grow up,” Class President Gavin DaFonte said during his speech. “Soon we were sent into the pandemic, scrambling to empty out our lockers and hand out high-fives and hugs celebrating our new vacation we just received, not knowing that it was our last day of eighth grade.”

When classes eventually moved back to in-person instruction, DaFonte, who will attend Westfield State University in the fall, said it was “a privilege to be in each other’s presence.”

In her speech, class Secretary Paige Galpin, who will study nursing at Westfield State, congratulated her classmates and urged them to “remember the courage we found during uncertainty, the resilience we constructed when facing challenges, and our contagious spirit that shaped the class of 2024.”

Hampshire Regional High School serves students in seventh through 12th grades, giving most students six years to grow and learn on the campus. Several students and teachers spoke during the graduation to the unique opportunities afforded by those extra years.

“We were wide-eyed children trying to navigate our schedules, trying to make friends and attempting to learn the unspoken rules of high school,” Galpin said. “We were all able to find friendship and unexpected places, and learn lessons in the classroom and beyond our walls. From the crowded laughter in the lunchroom to the impeccable student and fan section at home games, the voices of our community became the soundtrack to our shared stories.”

Other graduates found Hampshire Regional part-way through high school. Brennan Stortz, who transferred to the school in 11th grade, said his favorite memory was “being welcomed in” to the community. Next year, Stortz is planning to study sports management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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Graduates Anjou Edwards and Olivia Jones also transferred to Hampshire Regional during their junior years. Edwards described her high school experience as “chaotic,” but said that, “regardless of that, we still managed to finish high school off strong.” Next year, Edwards plans to attend Holyoke Community College and Jones will head to the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

The class of 2024 gifted the school with a new Raider mascot uniform, class Treasurer Claire Donahue announced during her speech. Tyler Hetu awarded the inaugural “Teacher of the Year” award to Sarah Pietrzak, who he described as the “precedent of good.”

After diplomas were handed out, DaFonte led the graduates in the ceremonial tassel turn, marking their transition from students to alumni.

Nicholas Tudryn, who plans to attend HCC to study aviation mechanics, said, “It’s very exciting being done, but it’s kind of sad watching all of my friends and everyone grow up.”

Abby Hennessy, who is planning to study health science at Springfield Technical Community College, added, “It was crazy to watch everyone cross the stage.”

Timothea Antonio, a member of the chamber singers who sang the national anthem at the beginning of the ceremony, said, “I’m really proud of how the graduation and everyone’s speeches went, and I was glad I was able to sing in it.”

Antonio, who plans to attend Smith College next year, said that a favorite memory at Hampshire Regional was making “sirop de neige” on the first snowy day in French class. The treat is “hot maple syrup and a little strip of snow and you roll it up and eat it,” Antonio explained.

“Most of us students walk through Hampshire’s doors as young and eager seventh graders just beginning to discover who we really are,” Hetu said in his speech. “Here we are today, living through one of the most bittersweet times in our lives. Somewhere in between, we got to grow up in one of the most special communities there is.”

Confetti covered the field and celebratory music filled the air at the end of the ceremony, as graduates embraced loved ones and posed for pictures with their new diplomas.

Graduates 

Megan Adams, Emma Allyn, Timothea Antonio, Hailey Bean, Rachel Beaulieu, Kiara Black, Owen Bourbeau, Maisie Bowler, Jack Boyle, Andrew Brisbois, Nickolas Brisson, Matthew Brouillard, Amelia Brown-Martin, Timothy Cahill, Olivia Cameron, Maura Campbell, Curtis Casey, Owen Connor, Jesse Connors, Chase Corbeil, Cailee Corley, Ashley Cortis, Brandon Couture,

Lauren D’Astous, Gavin DaFonte, Theodore Davis, Claire Donahue, Lydia Donatelli, Jonathan Dunn, Dominick Dybacki, Anjou Edwards, Nicholas Elias-Gillette, Jonathan Falco, Daniel Farrar, Timothy Florek, Ava Gaida, Paige Galpin, Adam Golasinsil, Gabrielle Goudreau, Evan Graham, Jonah Graves, Jacob Gruszkowski, Julia Guiel, Sean Halpin, Deanna Harry, Abby Hennessy, Tyler Hetu, Aidan Hocking, William Hogan,

Tinsley Hutchinson Tinsley, Alice Jenkins, Luke Johndrow, Olivia Jones, Zachary Jones, Emma Kraus, Jaiden Kudelka, Misty Layman, Owen Lech, Devin Lemay, Kassandra Littlefield, Kaylee McConnell, Aidan Miklasiewicz, Owen Millay, Aidan Moynahan, Rosa Musante, Evan O’Malley, Owen Paquette, Alaina Pellegrini, Diana Perez, Audrey Perrone, Emily Phelan, Benjamin Pierce, Benjamin Plumer, Liam Pond,

Caitlin Potts, Anna Puttick, Aoife Reynolds, Ava Richards, Paola Rodriquez, Makena Rogalski, Kaylee Rooney, Zachary Roy, Kira Shutt, Kyle Smith, Alina Solomonyuk, Jacob St. Pierre, Ambria Stine, Brennan Stortz, Josephine Taylor, Dante Ternullo, Andrew Thompson, Michael Thompson, Nicholas Tudryn, Olivia Urbanek, Sedona Williams, Hailey Wodecki, Elena Wojcik, Natalie Wojcik, Ashton York, Olivia Young, Jason Zonoi