6-5-19 PRESS RELEASE: Holyoke High School’s Graduates Speak of Perseverance, Hard Work, and Dreaming Big

6-5-19 PRESS RELEASE: Holyoke High School’s Graduates Speak of Perseverance, Hard Work, and Dreaming Big



June 5, 2019

Holyoke High School’s Graduates Speak of Perseverance, Hard Work, and Dreaming Big


HOLYOKE, Massachusetts – “Never give up in reaching for the stars,” shared Dante Angelini, a member of Holyoke High School’s Class of 2019.  The school celebrated its 154th commencement on Sunday, June 2nd. District and city leaders joined faculty, staff, families, friends, and community members to celebrate the graduates.  Key messages from speakers at the ceremony highlighted the importance of hard work, perseverance, and pursuing goals.

Dr. Stephen Mahoney, Executive Principal of Holyoke High School shared remarks about how the class is a “model of resilience, determination, courage, and compassion.”  He described the class as, “Generous and committed, fiercely loyal and open-minded, responsible and courageous – they are the young men and women our neighborhoods, our city, our state, our nation, and our world need.  This class leaves Holyoke High School a far better place.”

This was the first time in Holyoke High School history that one graduation ceremony was held for both the Holyoke High School North and Dean campus seniors.  “This class has made their mark with many firsts attached to their legacy,” stated Superintendent/Receiver Dr. Stephen Zrike, Jr.  “Members of this graduating class are the first in Holyoke to receive the Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy and almost 50% of the graduates have been enrolled in at least one college course while attending Holyoke High School.  You have taught all the adults in this community a valuable lesson, a lesson about the power of a unified city where each individual’s perspective is respected and their assets and strengths celebrated.”

Mayor Alex B. Morse, a former Holyoke High School graduate and Brown University alumnus, reminded students that, “Graduates of the Holyoke Public Schools are well equipped, if not better equipped than high school students from across our state and country.  Your challenges, your lived experiences make you smarter, stronger, and bolder.”

After district and city leaders spoke, valedictorians and perseverance speakers from each campus provided speeches, many of which focused on the importance of following dreams and working hard to achieve goals.

Highlights from student speeches:

  • Amber Brueshaber (North Campus Valedictorian) spoke of the importance of hard work and dreaming big, “So no matter how big your dream is or how impossible it may seem, remember that if you really want something and are willing to work for it, anything can happen.  And most importantly, never let anyone or anything hold you back. If you persevere and don’t get distracted by trivial things, your path to greatness will practically be paved for you.” She also shared a quote from Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  Amber will be attending Georgetown University.
  • Mariany Ramos (Dean Campus Valedictorian) shared her fondness of her high school memories and thanked all who supported her.  “Be strong, hang on, you’ve got this.” Mariany will be attending Westfield State University in the fall.
  • “Never give up in reaching for the stars,” stated Dante Angelini (North Campus Perseverance Speaker) who will be attending Sienna College in the fall.  He shared, “The word perseverance means to continue the course of action in the face of difficulty.” Dante conveyed the importance of hard work and spoke of overcoming some of the challenges that he faced, “The more I challenged myself, the more I accomplished.”
  • Taisha Doiron (Dean Campus Perseverance Speaker) who is graduating with her Certified Nursing Certificate and will be attending American International College in the fall, shared,  “What I have gone through does not define who I am. Because of what I went through I am a smart, passionate and strong person that believes everyone is strong enough to get through the storms that they face day to day.”  She provided a quote from the film Kung Fu Panda, “Your story may not have such a happy beginning but it doesn’t make you who you are. It is the rest of your story, who you chose to be …”

More Information:


American International College 16
Anna Maria College 1
Asnuntuck Community College 1
Assumption College 1
Baypath College 2
Boston College 1
Bryant University 1
Dean College 1
Draughons Community College 1
Elms College 4
Emmanuel College 1
Fashion Institute of Technology 1
Fitchburg State University 2
Framingham State University 1
Franklin Pierce University 3
Georgetown University 1
Greenfield Community College (GCC) 1
Holyoke Community College (HCC) 84
Johnson and Wales University 1
Manchester Community College 1
Massachusetts College of Art and Design 1
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health 1
Massachusetts Maritime Academy 3
Merrimack College 1
Roger Williams University 1
Saint Anselm College 2
Siena College 1
Southern Connecticut State University 1
Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) 23
UMASS Amherst 3
University of Hartford 2
University of New England 1
University of Puerto Rico 1
Valencia College 1
Western New England University 10
Westfield State University 10
Wheaton College 1
Worcester Polytechnic Institute 1
Military 16
Trade/Technical School 2
Transitions Program 9
Work 47
Undecided 4



4-Year College 30%
2-Year College 41%
Other Post-Secondary Education 4%
Military 6%
Work 18%
Undecided 1%


Judy Taylor, Communications Director, (413) 493-1605, jtaylor@hps.holyoke.ma.us