Life lessons given as Hopkins Academy graduates 53

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  • Hopkins Academy graduates Citlali Martinez, left, and Madiha Anjum each pick out a sunflower — the Class of 2019 flower — for the processional into the gym for the Hadley school’s 355th graduation Friday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hopkins Academy graduate Mikayla Lastowski waits with classmates outside the Hadley school for its 355th graduation on Friday, May 31, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kiernan Wackerbarth, left, and Sophie Berard prepare to lead the procession of 53 graduates at Hopkins Academy’s 355th graduation Friday in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Owen Taravella, left, Kyle Gido, John Soto-Guzman and Austin Bushey have their picture taken by Gido's father, Sam Gido, before the start of Hopkins Academy's 355th graduation on Friday, May 31, 2019, in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hopkins Academy valedictorian Sophie Berard gives the welcoming address for the school's 355th graduation on Friday, May 31, 2019, in Hadley. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hopkins Academy's 53 graduates head toward the school's gymnasium for the start of the Hadley school's 355th graduation on Friday, May 31, 2019. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Yen Ly, left, and Kaylynn Cortis coordinate the pacing of their processional steps together before the start of Hopkins Academy's 355th graduation in Hadley on Friday, May 31, 2019. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Aeden Cullen introduces Hopkins Academy Principal Brian Beck to announce the awards at the school's 355th graduation on Friday, May 31, 2019, in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hopkins Academy Principal Brian Beck announces the individual awards earned by the class of 2019 during the school's 355th graduation on Friday, May 31, 2019, in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hopkins Academy valedictorian Sophie Berard gives the welcoming address for the school’s 355th graduation Friday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 6/1/2019 12:31:14 AM

HADLEY — The night before her first day of freshman year started, Hopkins Academy valedictorian Sophie Berard ran away from home.

After her mother asked what she wanted for school lunch the next day, Berard, intimidated by the prospect of high school, bolted into the asparagus fields behind her house.

However, she told a joyful crowd of Hopkins graduates and their family members and friends gathered for commencement exercises at the school Friday evening, “I’m really glad my mom didn’t let me run away.”

Berard, a new kid in the school system who didn’t know anyone, was unsure of how she would fit in among her peers, many of whom had known each other since before they knew how to read, she said. But to her surprise, she found her place just fine.

“The class of 2019 taught me that there’s no right way to live a happy life. We should simply embrace our individuality and have fun doing what we love.”

Berard said she couldn’t be prouder of her class and all their accomplishments — the 355th class to graduate from Hopkins.

“Perhaps the most beautiful and admirable thing about our class is our uniqueness,” she said before listing some of her classmates’ achievements: the girls basketball team reaching state semifinals for the first time in school history, the Evolution Robotics team qualifying for the

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Championships for two years in a row, and one student hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Violet hydrangeas and golden sunflowers adorned the packed gymnasium Friday night. Blue and yellow streamers, the school’s colors, were draped from the basketball hoops.

If one thing was obvious at Hopkins other than smiling faces and an overall sense of relief, it was pride. This year, 85 scholarships were awarded to the class composed of just 53 students.

Longtime band teacher and class of 1971 graduate Edward Foreman was chosen by the class to deliver the Address to Graduates. With pride and a quivering lip at times, Foreman passed on some wisdom to the graduates, tips that will help them throughout life.

“First order of affairs, life’s not fair and get used to it,” Foreman said. “Also, congratulations on getting through the easiest part of your life.”

Foreman then turned the podium toward the students behind him, some of whom he has known for close to a decade. He emphasized the importance of passion, drive, and setting aside technology now and then.

“Put the future in good hands, your hands, and you will own it,” he said. “Dance like nobody’s watching, because they’re on their cellphones anyways. Put down your phones once in a while and look at people’s faces. Attitude is everything; take nothing for granted; and manners still count.”

Class President Zachary Jekanowski closed out the speeches with a proud tone, emphasizing that although Hopkins is smaller than the average high school, its graduates are not to be underestimated.

“If the legacy of the class of 2019 is on par with that of the 350 years of history at Hopkins Academy, then this community is set to continue to prove wrong anyone who ever counted out Hopkins Academy.”




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