Shrewsbury High School celebrates graduation 

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SHS students rise for the National Anthem during graduation on Thursday. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – With a turn of a tassel, the Shrewsbury High School Class of 2022 graduated on Thursday evening. 

“It feels like a perfect night to recognize the Class of 2022 for your hard work and perseverance that enabled you to meet the requirements to earn a Shrewsbury High School diploma,” Superintendent Joseph Sawyer said in comments during the ceremony. 

Among the speakers were salutatorian Penelope Crosby, valedictorian Dixi Han and School Committee Vice Chair Jason Palitsch. 

Han said one of her most memorable moments from senior year wasn’t pandemic-related. Instead, it was a “Band-Aid crisis” during freshmen orientation, when a freshman got a papercut. 

“When someone did finally find a Band-Aid for a kid, the relief that washed over his face made me realize that what he really needed wasn’t the Band-Aid at all but comfort, support and connection,” Han said.

As a freshman, Han said that comfort was what she needed. 

She said she can look at freshman memories like accidentally walking into a Latin class with only secondhand embarrassment because of her classmates and the “sense of security and support we’ve managed to create at SHS.”

‘You can all be heroes’

Families and loved ones gathered in the Shrewsbury High School stadium on Thursday to watch SHS’ 454 2022 graduates receive their diplomas. 

The day was special for Sawyer, who was able to hand his daughter, Allison, her diploma. 

Parents and caretakers, Sawyer said, never imagined that their students would be coping with the impact of the pandemic.

While he acknowledged the ways COVID-19 impacted the students’ high school experience, Sawyer said it wasn’t a topic to dwell on during graduation.

He highlighted one of the positives that emerged from the pandemic – the understanding of what it means to be a hero. 

He said that, over the past two years, people have made sacrifices for the good of others. 

Sawyer recalled that on the first day of school at the new Maj. Howard W. Beal Elementary School, a student told him that the school “looked like a place where we can all be heroes.”

“I think he was right,” Sawyer said during graduation. “Your strong education has provided you with the foundation to act heroically when the circumstances require it. I’m confident that you all have the ability to honor truth, promote justice and advance our nation’s values.”

This is not easy work, Sawyer said. He added that the students need to demonstrate the “everyday heroism” of persevering when they face challenges.

“I believe that you have what it takes to make that difference in our community, our nation and our world,” Sawyer said. “So, I’ll conclude by paraphrasing that first grader – this looks like a class where you can all be heroes.”