Grafton Class of 2024 reflect on the journey to graduation

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Grafton Class of 2024 reflect on the journey to graduation
Musicians Zoe DePaolo, Griffin Cooper, Elisabeth Knowlton, Lily Often and Benjamin Zinkowsky perform during graduation. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

GRAFTON – To Grafton High School Principal Kevin Carney, the Class of 2024 will be remembered as the class that helped reconnect them as a school community.

“By this, I mean showing genuine curiosity and interest about the people around you, and seeking opportunities for engagement,” Carney said during graduation on May 31 at the Hanover Theatre. 

The class helped revive organizations like the Social Justice Club and National Honor Society. Carney said they bonded with adults “better than I could hope for.”

“The journey to get here tonight was no doubt a rigorous one, filled with numerous ups and downs and shaped by our experiences,” Valedictorian and Class President Liam Schaker.

He recalled that half of the class’ freshman year was virtual and half-days on Fridays. Staying six feet apart was a poster on every wall, said Carney.

“Thinking back to the conditions that you entered GHS, I’m even more impressed by your maturity to take control of your high school experience to get there,” said Carney. 

Carney said the graduates possess the ability of connectivity and have learned to appreciate the value of different points of view and work to help others reach mutual understanding. 

“I cannot tell you how powerful this trait is, given the polarizing world that we live in today,” he said. “… To me, everything about you is the antidote to polarization.” 

This class and their generation see the problem and will have the solution, Carney continued. 

Salutatorian Rohita Nookala shared that she never realized how fast time flies by. 

“When we were younger, all we wanted to do was grow up. Now, I reminisce on the days where my biggest worry was choosing what Disney show to watch,” she said. “So, I encourage everyone to take this moment in as we graduate from high school. We have all waited for this moment for the past 18 years, and we have finally made it.”

As the graduates enter the next phase of their lives, Nookala encouraged her fellow classmates not to forget the people who helped them get to where they are and embrace everything that is yet to come.

“There are hundreds of adventures, thousands of places and millions of people waiting on the other side of a handshake and piece of paper. So, we will strive for better,” said Schaker. 

The journey is not over, he said. 

“Congratulations, Class of 2024. May you forever strive to create the best version of yourself,” Schaker said.

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