Sunday’s summer-like weather—warm, breezy, and full of promise—was the perfect backdrop for the graduation ceremony that marked the end of high school and the start of all things new for the 250 members of the Class of 2022 from Holyoke High School North.
Salutatorian Jacqueline Jourdain reflected on the importance of owning one’s personal worthiness, telling her classmates they can all become the great thinkers of their time if they realize their own importance and value in the world.
Valedictorian Natalie Morris asked for 21 seconds of silence to remember the 21 shooting victims in Uvalde, Texas, and to acknowledge the many young people who will never get to walk across a stage and graduate high school because of pervasive gun violence in our nation. She also spoke of the hope she feels for this generation—coming of age during a pandemic, protests, and political division—who will make up the new face of this country with resilience, kindness, honesty, and empathy.
Perseverance speaker Jacob Sylvain told those assembled that he did not believe he would ever graduate high school, but one conversation with Principal Lori McKenna during his freshman year changed the trajectory of his life when he realized there was at least one adult at school who cared about him. He also thanked theater and media literacy teacher Bevan Brunelle for encouraging him to find his voice and his place on the stage; college and career counselor Anna Rigali for inspiring him to continue his studies past high school; and social studies teacher Kevin Bechard for helping him find the fun at high school.
Holyoke High School’s Opportunity Academy will hold its graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 16. The Dean Campus graduation ceremony was last week.