NHS graduating class makes itself heard

  • Khushi Banga signs the hat of Sophia Marshall as the two wait for the Northampton High School graduation to start Sunday, June 2, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Khushi Banga signs the hat of Sophia Marshall as the two wait for the Northampton High School graduation to start Sunday, June 2, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hayden Feldscher makes walks with other Northampton Seniors into John M. Greene Hall for graduation ceremonies Sunday, June 2, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Gabe Nicotera takes a photograph of left, Jayden Dumas, Elly MacDonald, Devon Peterson, Jazmine Kasperzyk and Calista Lebron as theNorthampton High School seniors wait for graduation to start Sunday, June 2, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jazmine Kasperzyk waves as she waits to walk into John M. Greene Hall for Northampton High School graduation ceremonies Sunday, June 2, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Katie Lienert claps for a group playing “Free Bird” during Northampton High School graduation ceremonies Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hayden Feldscher plays “Free Bird” with Adam Ives during Northampton High School graduation ceremonies at John M. Greene Hall, Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Luca Lyons-Sosa blows a kiss to the crowd after receiving his diploma at the Northampton High School graduation ceremonies Sunday, June 2, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 6/2/2019 11:55:06 PM

NORTHAMPTON — From activism to academic achievements, the Northampton High School Class of 2019 has never sat quietly, speakers reflected Sunday afternoon.

“When we felt unheard, we screamed louder,” class vice president Cailin Young said to the audience. “When we felt small, we became bigger together.”

Around 220 graduates crossed the stage at Smith College’s John M. Greene Hall over the weekend, with students and Northampton High School staff recognizing the graduating class for a dedication to making a difference in the local community and the world at large.

“We are fiercely passionate about whatever we put our minds toward,” said class president Carolyn Jordan. 

Class treasurer Lily Urbank praised her peers’ generation — commonly known as Generation Z — as an “independent, hardworking, creative” group and a “generation of activists,” challenging criticisms that the cohort has received from some adults.

Northampton High School students embody “these values and drive to change the world,” Urbank said, citing various student-run protests throughout the year, including a walkout to support higher wages for faculty; a climate strike; a walkout to support Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who testified that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers; and the student-organized March for Our Lives, which attracted around 2,000 participants.

Students placed a particular focus on the walkout to support Northampton High School teachers in their fight for improved wages.

“We will not stand by while our teachers suffer,” class secretary Esther Daube-Valois said, remarking to faculty that the student body is “behind you 100 percent.”

“It would truly be a different school if we didn’t have each and every one of you,” Daube-Valois said of the teachers.

Daube-Valois also recognized Principal Bryan Lombardi, who will be leaving the district with the conclusion of this academic year.

Science teacher Dan Moylan was recognized as the Mary Gray Teacher of the Year, while students Jay-U Chung, Ezra David, Ella Strzegowski, Madelyn Subocz and Grace Zuchowski received Academic Excellence Awards.

The ceremony also featured performances by The Northamptones, Northampton High School Chamber Choir, Band and Chorus, including a band performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” that brought the audience to its feet throughout the hall.

Prior to the presentation of diplomas, student speaker Promise Ofori Okyere encouraged his peers to view his life as an example that nothing is impossible.

“Even the word ‘impossible’ has ‘possible’ in it,” Ofori Okyere said.

Ofori Okyere, who is from Ghana, said he initially struggled with loneliness and language barriers when he came to the United States. But with the help of his graduating class, Okyere said he “found a place to belong.”

“I’ve seen the class of 2019 give people hope,” Ofori Okyere said, adding that embracing this ability will create widespread change.

“We have the capacity to contribute to the goodness of the human race,” Ofori Okyere said.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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