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‘Unique and well-round individuals’ graduate South Hadley High School

  • Graduate Julia Miele, left, greets friends and 2017 South Hadley alumni Sarah Lacey, front right, and Marley Medina, during South Hadley High School’s graduation ceremony Friday at the Richard Glenn Gettell Amphitheater at Mount Holyoke College. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Handwritten banners celebrating new graduates line a railing June 1, 2018 during South Hadley High School's graduation ceremony at the Richard Glenn Gettell Amphitheater at Mount Holyoke College. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Valedictorian Joseph Werenski walks to the podium to address his class June 1, 2018 during South Hadley High School's graduation ceremony at the Richard Glenn Gettell Amphitheater at Mount Holyoke College. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • A crowd fills the Richard Glenn Gettell Amphitheater at Mount Holyoke College June 1, 2018 for South Hadley High School's graduation ceremony. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Salutatorian Julia Sarrazin, left, and class vice president Matthew Loughrey hug before processing in Friday at the start of South Hadley High School’s graduation ceremony. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • A graduate reacts Friday to a speech during South Hadley High School’s graduation ceremony at the Richard Glenn Gettell Amphitheater at Mount Holyoke College. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY



For the Gazette
Saturday, June 02, 2018

SOUTH HADLEY — For the 139 graduates who filled the Gettell Amphitheater at Mount Holyoke College, Friday night was about looking back over four years of high school — but also about looking forward.

“I will miss having a place where we all know each other,” said graduate Julia Miele of her friends in South Hadley High School’s Class of 2018. “I won’t be ‘South Hadley Julia’ anymore, but we will be rebuilding ourselves.”

Close friend and National Honor Society member Eilis Hellyar found herself fighting back tears as she remembered what her Leadership Club “Best Buddies” trip meant to her.

“It really opened my eyes, and it was an incredible time with friends that really sticks out to me,” Hellyar said.

As the evening — muggy, but with clear skies, the quintessential summer night — closed in on the 6 p.m. start of the ceremony, Nathan “Nate” Giroux was happy to point out what high school allowed him to do, jokingly asking his friends for help choosing his favorite part.

“Shop class with Mr. O’Neill made me realize I have an eye for perfection,” Giroux said. “Making things with my hands is something I have a passion for.” Giroux plans to become a union carpenter following his graduation, and he grinned from ear to ear as his family members cheered him on down the aisle.

In the next few months after their final summer at home, the graduates will move on, but not without the memories from the last 18 years as South Hadley Tigers.

As valedictorian Joseph Werenski described his classmates as “daring,” he was not shy about their successes, or their frequent antics — to the bemusement of Principal Diana Bonneville.

“If you’re looking for inspiration to be daring, look no further than your classmates,” Werenski said. “We should dare to test the limits of ourselves.”

Salutatorian Julia Sarrazin then spoke about the fond memories she had with the closeknit class. The National Honor Society member found herself surprised by the “unexpected friendships, unbreakable bonds,” that formed in four short years.

The last to address their class before the moment they all anticipated, the presentation of diplomas, was Student Council President Angela LeBel. Keeping with the theme of nostalgia, she recounted how simple things were before high school, but reminded the class that they would adapt to change once again. She earned chuckles from the crowd when she recounted Werenski’s field day skills — “He could beat anyone in the cross jump” — and did not hesitate to smile and show her pride for the “139 unique and well-rounded individuals before me.”