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Hampshire Regional graduates ready for next ‘starting line’

  • Owen Leet, center, looks for the source of a voice hailing him as he lines up with Hunter Laurin, left, and Wesley Legowski outside John M. Greene Hall in Northampton for the start of the Hampshire Regional High School graduation on Friday. The friendly voice turned out to be coming from a balcony window. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Abbegale Connelly, right, trades high-fives with Barrett LaPlante and other Hampshire Regional High School senior class officers after receiving her diploma during graduation held at John M. Greene Hall in Northampton on Friday. Below, from left, Gage Fortin, Jade Gardner, Sarina Geryk, Jennifer Goodnow and Forest Graves process into the hall. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING PHOTOS

  • Hampshire Regional High School senior Samantha Tersavich, right, gets a hug from HRHS Life Skills teacher Alison Labrecque of Westhampton before the start of graduation exercises at John M. Greene Hall in Northampton on Friday, June 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional High School valedictorian Amanda Adams speaks to the other 100 graduates during the school’s commencement exercises, held at John M. Greene Hall in Northampton on Friday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Olivia Brennan makes her way into John M. Greene Hall for the Hampshire Regional High School graduation exercises on Friday, June 1, 2018, in Northampton. Brennan sang the National Anthem during the ceremony for the 101 graduates. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional High School graduates, from left, Gage Fortin, Jade Gardner, Sarina Geryk, Jennifer Goodnow and Forest Graves process into John M. Greene Hall in Northampton for the school's graduation on Friday, June 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Graduating seniors Olivia Brennan, left, and Beatrice Parent join the Hampshire Regional High School Chamber Singers one last time to perform "For Good" by Stephen Schwartz during commencement exercises held at John M. Greene Hall in Northampton on Friday, June 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Grayson Bennett lets out a silent yawn during Hampshire Regional High School graduation held at John M. Greene Hall in Northampton on Friday, June 1, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING



For the Gazette
Saturday, June 02, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — As they prepare for the next “starting line,” Hampshire Regional High School’s Class of 2018 on Friday celebrated the “true grit” that helped them get to one of life’s first finishing lines — high school graduation.

Friends and family of the graduates smiled proudly, cheering and clapping, as they watched their loved ones dressed in red robes walk across the stage of John M. Greene Hall on Smith College’s campus to receive their diplomas.

The graduating class celebrated their accomplishments at the commencement ceremony by reflecting on the years they spent together. Valedictorian Amanda Adams noted the benefits of going to a small high school like Hampshire Regional.

“Being a small rural school, many of us have known each other for close to 18 years,” she said. “It has given us the opportunity to comfortably embrace all parts of ourselves without the judgment of others, whether it be in the classroom, or on the cross country course, or up on the stage. I think our community has empowered us to be our authentic selves.”

Principal Kristen Smidy spoke about her adoration for how each student had persevered to complete their high school education.

“Many of you have encountered difficult and sometimes scary situations, academically, personally, socially, emotionally and ethically,” Smidy said. “Each of you, as all young adults do, have faltered but you have always always picked yourself up, held your head high and taken the next step. You always keep moving forward courageously with more strength and wisdom than before. I cannot deny the fact that this class collectively and individually has some true grit.”

Class Secretary Barret Laplante echoed Smidy’s sentiment.

“It was those tough moments that we had to push through to get where we are today,” said LaPlante. “Cherish these last few moments because the next starting line is right around the corner.”

Some of the 101 graduates will be going to college in the fall, like Amanda Myers, 17, who will attend Holyoke Community College’s Veterinary Technician program, while others will be going into the workforce or serving in the military.

Even though each graduate’s future looks different, salutatorian Lydia Touchette said that Hampshire Regional will always be a part of their identities. “It’s bittersweet because you’re leaving people you’ve known for so long,” said Amanda Pashista, 17. “But it’s exciting looking toward the future.”