Warwick Valley High School celebrated 326 graduating seniors during its commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 25, under sunny skies on the C. Ashley Morgan Field.
Principal Marguerite Fusco spoke about how much the Class of 2022 has been through together over the past four years, and how circumstances have made their high school experience unique, to say the least. She said she admires the resiliency the students have shown, noting that in her 30 years in education, she has never seen a class so connected to one another.
“When you returned to school this year, your senior year, you had the opportunity to be bitter, angry, even disengaged,” said Ms. Fusco. “Rather, you returned to school and relished the ability to be with your friends, to sit in the same classrooms together, to perform on the stage together, to play on the field together. You naturally and willingly built a strong support system among yourselves. You built each other up and made everyone around you better.”
Class of `22 Salutatorian Sarah Davis said that the most important thing high school can teach you is the importance of kindness, and how the kindness she experienced as part of the Wildcats basketball program helped shaped her sense of community at the high school.
“It’s important, especially now, to keep in mind how much kindness matters,” said Sarah. “It seems as though the entire world is full of hatred, divide, and selfishness. I believe that many of the problems we face today would disappear if each person made an effort to treat those around them with love, compassion, and kindness.”
Sarah will be attending Michigan State University majoring in environmental biology, and participating in the university’s prestigious Professorial Assistantship Program.
Board of Education President Keith Parsons, who pointed out that he is a proud parent of a graduating senior, also spoke about the resilience of this class. He recalled adversities from their earliest days of kindergarten through the last two atypical school years, pointing out that this group of students has always overcome it.
“No matter what this world threw at you, you beat it to be here today,” he said. “It’s these life lessons that have better prepared you for the real world and everything that it will surprise you with along the way. This is your time!”
Class of ’22 Valedictorian Arden Hallett took the time to individually recognize and thank some of the people who have made a meaningful impact on the high school experience she and her classmates have shared.
“Our faculty and staff have really gone above and beyond to create a positive and welcoming environment, and help us through some unusual years of online learning,” said Arden. “We are grateful for everyone here and so happy to share this day with you. Congratulations graduates, we did it!”
Arden will be attending the University of Iowa, where she plans to study actuarial sciences.
Anthony Roca, the senior speaker for the Class of ’22, talked about carrying the knowledge he and his classmates have learned into a wide-open future, but also recognized the odd path his class has taken through high school, and their perseverance.
“A class that has had one of the weirdest high school experiences of any class, ever,” he said. “To have the full experience of freshman year, to half of a sophomore year, to a virtual junior year, and then, welcome to your senior year! If you think about it though, we helped pioneer a new way of learning... that most people would say is impossible.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Leach talked about the unique and important talents and gifts of each student, and encouraged the seniors to apply them in pursuit of something in life that brings them joy – not just success – and which will lead to a sense of personal fulfillment.
“When you emphasize personal fulfillment over traditional conceptions of success,” said Dr. Leach, “you’ll be on a private path that allows you to accomplish what matters to you, and, in the end, will result in your pleasure and success. There is no predetermined recipe for fulfillment; rather, it is individualized. You must pursue fulfillment by doing something that provides you significant joy and something you actually care about.”
Class president Stacy Wansor shared a message of appreciation for the foundation that high school has provided, and how it will serve as a spark for new beginnings.
“It is the foundation for all bigger things you will accomplish,” she said. “You have to start somewhere, and this is our somewhere. The heart of your ambitions began here. Your resilience began here. And most importantly your determination began here.”
Stacy closed by encouraging her classmates to thank the person that has continuously supported them, whether a parent, guardian, or teacher.
“Thank them for encouraging you throughout your journey,” she said. “Thank you, Mom and Dad!”