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Small class earns rousing support at Smith Academy

  • For the Smith Academy Class of 2017, the school's scoreboard shows the year during commencement Friday. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Christopher Yossri Mahir, right, who is the class salutatorian, speaks during commencement Friday at Smith Academy. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jason Archambault, who is the class valedictorian, speaks during commencement Friday at Smith Academy. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Smith Academy Class President Julian Zapata speaks during commencement Friday at the school. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Chelsea Schurch, who received third honors in her class, speaks during commencement Friday at Smith Academy. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Smith Academy Class of 2017 applauds after a speech by Jason Archambault, the valedictorian, during commencement, Friday at the school. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Smith Academy Band Director Kenneth Longstreeth conducts during commencement Friday at the school. He is retiring. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



For the Gazette
Saturday, June 03, 2017

HATFIELD — “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all,” read the banner hanging over the stage at Smith Academy’s 145th graduation. 

The class of 2017 had chosen the adage as their motto and, true to the phrase, individuality and community support were evident Friday night as the 29 seniors celebrated the end of their high school careers.

The ceremony was held in the school’s gym, which was festooned with the school colors of purple and silver. Several hundred siblings, parents, teachers, students, cousins, staff, alumni and grandparents packed the room.  

Class president Julian Zapata nervously awaited his turn on stage.  He said his parents and extended family would be watching him from the crowd. “It’s gonna make me cry that they’re gonna cry,” he said.  

In his address, Zapata thanked the “community, staff, coaches and each other for all of the help they have bestowed upon us.”

Third Honor student Chelsea Schurch also spoke. She acknowledged that sleepy Hatfield is a “Norman Rockwell type of town,” but, she continued, “I can’t wait to see how the experiences we had in Hatfield will lead us to the adults we will eventually become.”

In his speech, Valedictorian Jason Archambault addressed the stress that comes with graduating and starting a new chapter. Many of the Smith Academy students are headed for large colleges and larger communities.

He quoted filmmaker Casey Neistat, saying, “The most dangerous thing you can do in your career, the most dangerous thing you can do in life, is play it safe.”

Class of 1960 alum Sanford Belden gave the commencement address fittingly titled, “What I Wish I’d Heard at my Smith Academy Graduation.”

He urged the graduates to follow their hearts in their careers and find work that is truly fulfilling to them, whatever that might be.  He also encouraged them to seek balance and perspective in their personal lives.  

School Principal Andrew Berrios announced the awards and scholarships won by the students.  Each received at least one.  Berrios said that the 2017 seniors “embody kindness, mentorship and friendship.”

Three students achieved special academic distinction, Third Honors for Chelsea Schurch, Salutatorian for Christopher Mahir and Valedictorian for Jason Archambault.

After diplomas were awarded, the students gathered to sing their class song, “I’ll Be There For You,” the theme song from the TV show “Friends.”