Resilience, hope define South Hadley High School Class of 2024

South Hadley High School Class of 2024 member Jack Maziarz smiles while awaiting for the graduation ceremony to begin at Mount Holyoke College on Friday.

South Hadley High School Class of 2024 member Jack Maziarz smiles while awaiting for the graduation ceremony to begin at Mount Holyoke College on Friday. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER EVANS

South Hadley High School Class of 2024 graduate Owen Dawson receives a hug prior his graduation ceremony at Mount Holyoke College on Friday.

South Hadley High School Class of 2024 graduate Owen Dawson receives a hug prior his graduation ceremony at Mount Holyoke College on Friday. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER EVANS

South Hadley High School Class of 2024 valedictorian Caleb Cox, left, and salutatorian Jaden Yeung descend the amphitheater steps during their graduation ceremony at Mount Holyoke College on Friday.

South Hadley High School Class of 2024 valedictorian Caleb Cox, left, and salutatorian Jaden Yeung descend the amphitheater steps during their graduation ceremony at Mount Holyoke College on Friday. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER EVANS

Members of the South Hadley High School Class of 2024 await the start of their graduation ceremony at Mount Holyoke College on Friday.

Members of the South Hadley High School Class of 2024 await the start of their graduation ceremony at Mount Holyoke College on Friday. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER EVANS

Members of the South Hadley High School Class of 2024 await the start of their graduation ceremony at Mount Holyoke College on Friday.

Members of the South Hadley High School Class of 2024 await the start of their graduation ceremony at Mount Holyoke College on Friday. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER EVANS

Nyemah Faniel of the South Hadley High School Class of 2024 waves to family while waiting for graduation to start at Mount Holyoke College on Friday.

Nyemah Faniel of the South Hadley High School Class of 2024 waves to family while waiting for graduation to start at Mount Holyoke College on Friday. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER EVANS

Class of 2024 graduates Ella Campbell, left, and Z’Nyia Rodriguez help with Aviana Rosa’s stole and honor cord prior to the start of South Hadley High School’s graduation ceremony at Mount Holyoke College on Friday.

Class of 2024 graduates Ella Campbell, left, and Z’Nyia Rodriguez help with Aviana Rosa’s stole and honor cord prior to the start of South Hadley High School’s graduation ceremony at Mount Holyoke College on Friday. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER EVANS

By ALEXA LEWIS

Staff Writer

Published: 06-01-2024 11:20 AM

Modified: 06-02-2024 1:19 PM


SOUTH HADLEY — Sunlight beamed into the basin of Gettell Ampitheater at Mount Holyoke College on Friday evening as South Hadley High School’s class of 2024 exchanged handshakes and marched, two by two, into the next phase of their lives. Gathered before family, friends and faculty, graduates reminisced on their high school careers donning bright orange stoles and caps decorated with everything from glitter paint to rubber ducks.

While smiling faces, balloons and bouquets packed the amphitheater’s grassy tiers, the class of 2024 entered high school in a world defined by socially distanced isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. South Hadley Principal, Elizabeth Wood expressed her admiration for the unparalleled resilience of the graduates, who managed to flourish in an uncertain, post-pandemic world.

“In the face of adversity, you have demonstrated a remarkable ability to find hope,” said Wood. She advised graduates that “the world you’ll step into is full of both opportunities and challenges,” that will require them to exercise the resilience they’ve displayed the past four years, and reminded them that “hope is the ability to see light,” even in the face of those challenges.

The class valedictorian, Caleb Cox, lamented the difficulty of saying goodbye to the students and faculty he’s grown alongside for so many years. He found the process of writing out farewells painstakingly difficult in the weeks leading up to the commencement ceremony.

“I’ve never been so quick or so glad to call somewhere my home,” Cox said.

Instead, he urged his fellow graduates to practice gratitude, self-love, and compassion for others as they begin to carve out their independent lives — things they should never say farewell to.

“At the end of the day, all that remains is you … the only person you have to put up with all hours of the day is yourself,” he said. “Selflessness is about as close to true self-love you can get.”

While Cox pondered his goodbyes for some time, the class salutatorian Jaden Yeung wrote his speech at 11 p.m. the night before it was due, much like a dreaded homework assignment. But he didn’t procrastinate speech writing because of the work it entailed. Instead, he waited until he’d made every last memory with his fellow graduates, culminating with a beach trip to Rhode Island where he said they “made memories as deep as the sea.”

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One of the things he realized while making these memories was that each of his classmates were special and passionate in ways that could never be quantified by a test or an essay.

“Contrary to what college applications might lead you to believe, we are more than the sum of our abilities,” he said.

Following Yeung’s trip down memory lane, Class President Jenna Bobrowski looked to the future.

“We’ve all put in hard work and dedication and it has paid off … we pushed forward and persevered to get to where we are today,” said Bobrowski, congratulating her peers on overcoming not only a global pandemic, but their varied personal struggles as well. “We’re stepping into a world that’s eager for our ideas, creativity and passion… Remember that the future is not simply something that happens to us — it’s something we create.”

Graduates

Mario A. Acosta, Bennett Allen, Wyatt Allen, Drew Alley, Andrew Ansanitis, Christian Jose Aponte, James Asselin, Bailey Marie Austin, Kayden A. Avisata-Taylor, Mia C. Beaulieu, Michael David Beaulieu, Jose DeJesus Beckett, Burke Mackay Belsky, Griffin Blackburn, Amelia A. Blasko, Kaitlin Blasko, Jenna Marie Bobrowski, Beau P Briere, Eliana Grace Britton, Molly Rose Brown, Erin Elizabeth Bullough, Ella Campbell, Devin Carleton, Brayden J Carlin, Michael John Cebula, Sandra Chepchumba Koskey, Jadyn Lois Christie,

Eric Maurice Cole, Shantel Colon, Sarah Clare Cormier, Caleb James Cox, Nolan Loughran Craven, Isaiah Jeremiah Crouch, Emily Elizabeth Cruz, Gavin Curley, Brady William Currier, Sly William Gregory Curto, Owen Patrick Dawson, Theah R. DeGray, Zuleyma Natalia Deras, Gracie May Deren, Brayden J. Diaz, Matthew C. Drobiak, Tyler C Dubuque, Amaya Margaret Dunn, Nyemah Marie Faniel, David A Flaherty, Quinn Taylor Francis,

Landin Nicholas Butler Gardner, Evelyn Gingras, Junoon Garv Giridhar, Jacqueline Giroux, Jonathan Grim, Ethan J. Haber, Kiya Marie Hackworth, Alexia Hall, Zhanna Joyce Hayes, Gabriella O. Hicks, Joie Elizabeth Holden, Kaleigh Houle, Marissa Lynn Jagodowski, Clara Jolley, Walter Joseph Jovan, Luis Eliel Jusino Mendre, Trevor King, Elijah Anderson Koppi, Jayden Krupa, Owen David Labrecque, Autumn Rose Lewinski, Victor Long, Nacere J Lopez, Martin D. Loughrey, Caleb Franklin Lundgren, Cody Lyons, Connor H. Lyons, Miller Michael Manly, Noah M. Marion,

Lauren Amy Marjanski, Jack Maziarz, Madelyn Faith McArdle, Madison M Mendoza, Nicole Moise, Dylan Hunter Molina, Alison Sally Montemagni, Rylee Analynn Moore, Samuel Morozov, Logan M. Murray, Ethan Alexander Niles, Aleysha Liz Otero, Amber Jade Patruno, Destiny Cheyenne Patterson, Nalani Aniela-Mae Peters, Andrew Rhys Phillips, Emily M. Piligian, Ryan J Poirier, Adriana Michelle Poreda, Rosamond Jacinta Goncalves Porter, Ara A Powers, Tobias Alan Powers-Santos, Vivien Isobel Prince, Connor John Racine-Rocheleau, Z’Nyia Rodriguez, Joseph A. Roman, Aviana Rosa,

Aiden Ross, Ethan N Roy, Gianna Kathryn Roy, Isobel Grace Roy, Trinity A. Roy, Jacob Isaac Saenz, Daishalys Marie Sanchez, Callia Beth Schaarschmidt, Dominic Daniel Scicluna, Matthew Scicluna, Jagmohan Singh, Karina Stefoglo, Marika Eileen Suchenicz, Brynn Lia Sullivan, Jayden Tauscher, Shane Lee Thompson, Kassidy Christine Tkacz, Lilly Tunstall, Mason Blake Usher, Jerry Velazquez, John Viola, Michael Walsh, Palmer A. Walton, Brennan Whalen, Rachel Yabra, Emma Lin Yee and Jaden Yeung.

Alexa Lewis can be contacted at alewis@gazettenet.com or on Instagram and Twitter at @alexamlewis.