Graduating together: PVCICS Class of  ’22 emphasizes strength of bonds

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  • Ada Nystrom, center, is greeted by Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School teacher Marsha Liaw as she and the other 38 seniors await the start of the school’s sixth annual commencement ceremony, held Friday at the Young Men’s Club of Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Aine Doherty was one of two seniors to address the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School's sixth annual commencement ceremony, held at the Young Men's Club of Hadley on Friday, May 27, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School seniors Odin Moore, left, Lukas Nuesslein and Daniel Ni get ready for the processional of the school’s sixth annual commencement ceremony Friday in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School seniors, from left, Ella Aldrich, Grace Molano and Aine Doherty gather before the start of the school’s sixth annual commencement ceremony. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Graduates Nur Aksamija, left, and James Aas look back at their classmates during the PVCICS commencement. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School senior student speakers William Tuttle and Aine Doherty deliver remarks during the school's sixth annual commencement ceremony, held at the Young Men's Club of Hadley on Friday, May 27, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School graduate Tyres Kiputa returns to his seat after receiving his diploma at the school's sixth annual commencement ceremony, held at the Young Men's Club of Hadley on Friday, May 27, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kevin Brown was the faculty speaker at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School's sixth annual commencement ceremony, held at the Young Men's Club of Hadley on Friday, May 27, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Members of the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School class of 2022 line up to receive their diplomas during the school’s sixth annual commencement ceremony, held in the pavilion at the Young Men’s Club of Hadley on Friday, May 27, 2022. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 5/27/2022 9:16:44 PM

HADLEY — Friendships made by the 39 Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School graduates during their time at the Hadley school should ease the transition to the next stage in their life journeys.

“The world is a very scary place right now,” senior William Tuttle said as he addressed his peers during graduation exercises Friday afternoon at the Young Men’s Club pavilion. “I’m personally very nervous.”

Yet Tuttle is also confident because of the connections he has built.

“I’m not going out in the world alone, but I’m going out into the world with all these loving people,” Tuttle said.

The theme of how close the seniors are carried through the address by fellow senior Aine Doherty, who said the students will always be there for each other, whether they arrived, as she had, as a kindergartner, or come in middle school or during high school.

“The hardest part of online learning was being away from friends for so long,” Doherty said, who reflected on when the playground was a pile of dirt and children twice broke their fingers while smashing rocks.

“I am looking forward to seeing what you all become when we are apart, and I have no doubt you will become utterly amazing,” Doherty said.

Kathy Wang, the school’s principal, began by addressing the skills for adapting and confronting fears and isolation.

She said the lessons imparted at the school include giving support to others, asking for help when needed and building community, and she is confident the newest graduates will take those from school as they continue to grow.

“My point for all of you: You have all grown while you’re here,” Wang said.

The sixth annual commencement exercises recognized the school’s largest class yet — and one that was able to experience all learning together at the Route 9 campus this academic year.

“We were glad to have you all back in person, in the flesh, in 3D, because we wanted to make it as normal a year as possible,” Wang said.

“Soar like an eagle,” said Cynthia Farmer, a member of the school’s trustees. “Basically that’s all that can be said.”

Farmer then had the graduates rise to their feet and turn around to applaud their loved ones.

Before entering the pavilion, graduates and their families gathered in groups for photographs on the lawn and under the trees.

“The community here is amazing and it will be sad to leave these people,” said Juliet Scott of Holyoke, who has spent her entire 13-year academic career at PVCICS.

Scott will spend the next year in a U.S. State Department’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship program, an intensive nine-month language instruction in Chinese. She will then head to Yale University in the fall of 2023.

Scott said the school has been a tight-knit community allowing her and others to succeed in most everything, crediting support from faculty, staff, administrators and families.

Unlike Scott, Nur Aksamija of Hadley came in her freshman year.

“All in all, the Chinese language learning has been a very new experience,” Aksamija said. “It’s a fairly rigorous application of culture, and I really like the integration.”

Aksamija will be heading to New York University’s Shanghai campus in the fall, with hopes that the pandemic has subsided so she will be able to be at the site with newly built dorms for freshmen. If not, then she will instead take classes from NYU’s campus in Manhattan, expecting to concentrate on social sciences and, in the future, international law and diplomacy.

“I’m very excited to be graduating and moving halfway across the world,” Aksamija said.


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