Northampton grads focus on social justice, equality

  • Graduate Juliana Hathaway, center, smokes a cigar with her peers Sunday following Northampton High School’s graduation at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Graduate Jaileen Rivera's mortarboard is shown June 10, 2018 prior to Northampton High School's graduation at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

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    Graduate Galen Winsor drums with the Northampton High School Chorus as they perform "Come Sail Away" by Styx June 10, 2018 during the school's graduation at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton High School Principal Bryan Lombardi, left, congratulates graduate Joshua Rivera, who received his diploma while holding his niece Ava Hernandez during the school’s graduation Sunday at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton High School graduates and their loved ones gather for photographs June 10, 2018 following the school's graduation at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Graduate Leo Harrison, right, receives a diploma from Northampton High School Principal Bryan Lombardi June 10, 2018 during the school's graduation at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton High School junior Michael Diaz, left, graduate Elena Frogameni and technology teacher and 2018 class advisor Jeromie Whalen share a laugh June 10, 2018 following the school's graduation at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

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    Graduate Graduate Caleb Galko sings with the Northampton High School Chorus as they perform "Come Sail Away" by Styx June 10, 2018 during the school's graduation at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Speaker and graduate Eva Gerstle addresses the class June 10, 2018 during Northampton High School's graduation at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Graduate Julius Ne, right, receives a diploma from Northampton High School Principal Bryan Lombardi June 10, 2018 during the school's graduation at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Class president Anna Connly speaks June 10, 2018 during Northampton High School's graduation at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Graduate Molly Daniels, center, hugs Carly Scalzo of Northampton while fellow graduate Matt Mongeon looks on, at left, following Northampton High School's graduation June 10, 2018 at John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

Staff Writer
Published: 6/10/2018 10:19:33 PM

 

NORTHAMPTON — Graduating Northampton High School seniors celebrated the end of their high school careers with ceremony and song in John M. Greene Hall on Sunday afternoon, while hundreds of families assembled to watch 213 graduates receive diplomas.

Principal Bryan Lombardi gave the welcoming remarks and left students with three wishes: that they find happiness and success in all their endeavors, that they maintain strong and curious minds, and that they keep their hearts filled with empathy, kindness and love.

“More than ever, the world today needs people like you who care about one another and treat each other with kindness and respect,” Lombardi said. “This is the class of 2018. Know that there is much love and hope for all that you do.”

The graduating seniors chose Eva Gerstle to be the featured student speaker. She shared her passion for social justice and equality, and told her classmates they have an obligation to use their privilege to make their communities stronger, more diverse and more accepting. It is important, she said, to practice moral integrity wherever life takes them, especially when it is uncomfortable.

“We must try to have a dialogue about issues of diversity and inclusion, even when they’re difficult,” Gerstle said. “We must look around and decide if each community we belong to is truly doing the most it can to create equitable spaces.”

Gerstle was part of a network of students who helped plan the March for Our Lives rally against gun violence in Northampton in March. Proudly raised by two moms, she expressed her gratitude for the acceptance they all feel in the Northampton community, but said there is still work to be done to ensure a more inclusive society.

“In many ways, the school environment is a microcosm of society at large,” Gerstle said. “Sexism doesn’t always get checked at the door, but these teachers have the ability to create gender-equitable learning spaces through thoughtful group work and targeted encouragement.”

Three students presented Latin teacher James Bridgman with the Mary Gray Teacher of the Year Award to commemorate his retirement after 28 years of teaching. A contributor to the Gazette with “A Look Back,” Bridgman was known by students for his friendly and engaging classroom demeanor and passionate approach to language studies.

Superintendent John Provost presented five students with academic excellence awards, including Elena Frogameni, founder and editor of the school’s online news source The Transcript, and two swimmers, Quinn Nortonsmith and Nicholas Whitcomb, members of the school record-setting 400-yard freestyle relay team. Hazel Ethier and Robert-Innes-Gold also received the awards.

“The youth has power, and I can see in the Never Again movement and in all the student-led activism the world where students just like us are standing up for what they believe in,” said class president Anna Connly during her speech. “Northampton High faculty and staff have created a place for us where we can express ourselves and speak our minds and have taught us how to be strong individuals that will continue to fight outside the comfort of Northampton.”

Musical performances by the high school band, chamber choir, chorus and a cappella group punctuated the afternoon with familiar songs arranged by performing arts teacher Beau Flahive. The Northamptones sang an a cappellaversion of Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down,” after which the chorus sang a version of “Come Sail Away,” with the help of Flahive on the keyboard, Galen Winsor on drums, Isaac Bond on bass and Hayden Feldscher playing guitar. The class of 2018 chose to close its graduation ceremony with a rendition of “Africa” by Toto.

“As we embrace the next chapter of our lives we have to decide how we are going to use this foundation that Northampton has provided,” Gerstle said. “We have an obligation to take the privileges of our lives here and use them to make our own communities the best they can be.”

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@gazettenet.com.
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