In their speeches to the graduating seniors, the speakers emphasized themes of sacrifice and preparedness, of gratitude, patience and inquisitiveness, to highlight what had gotten them through their school years in Verona and readied them for the world ahead.
VHS Principal Joshua Cogdill told the audience that both of his grandfathers had served in World War II, in some of the war’s toughest and deadliest battles. But what they took away from the war, he said, was not the pain it had caused, but the gratitude they felt when those around them, even enemies, showed them kindness. Cogdill, who has encourage the displays of kindness messages around the high school, asked students to not lose sight of kindness as they head into the uncertainty of the future. There was also mindfulness in the speech given by Brian Feury, the class valedictorian. “Always take pride in what you do and appreciate the moment,” he said.
Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio stressed the important of preparation and optimism, both of which are necessary for dealing with life’s inevitable challenges, and of making sure that the Class of 2018 always champions the truth. “Always do the right thing,” he said, even when no one is looking.” Andrew Siegelin, the class salutatorian, said he believed that his classmates had benefitted from the support of their family and community, which has prepared them for their next steps. “Our wings grew because of the roots our community established for us,” he said.
Board of Education President John Quattrocchi urged the class to remain open to new ideas and to not take criticism too harshly. “You might be the best peach on the tree, but you can still come across people who don’t like peaches,” he said. Grace Gault, the senior class president, used National Watch Day–also June 19–as a departure point for her remarks, connecting how fast the school years have gone by with the patience that her classmates will need to navigate the world ahead. “Remember that you have the time,” Gault said. “Everything takes time to get used to.” Michael Daggett, the Student Council president, asked graduates to embrace the three-part philosophy laid out by basketball great Jim Valvano after he had been weakened by cancer: laugh, think cry. “It can make each and every day a better one,” Daggett said.
The featured speaker of this year’s graduation was Erik Lynch, the director of bands at VHS, who recalled the sacrifices that his mother, a single working parent, had made for him in his early years and asked the students to think about everyone who had made sacrifices for them. “Thank everyone who sacrificed for you,” he said, “again and again and again.”
“Be passionate in what you do and who you are,” Lynch said. “When you believe in yourself, others will believe in you.”
The graduates of the Class of 2018 are:
Brenna Alfano, Margaret Ashley, Max Batson, Daniel Ben-Israel, Daniel Biimyrzaeva, Hannah Boyle, Daniel Burkhart, Julia Cambreleng, Michael Carsillo, Samuel Chambers, Julianna Chanley, Robert Coppola, Francesca Cortese, Cecilia Courter, Tyler Czupak, Michael Daggett, Sean DeCandia, Natalie Dente, Alexandra Deutsch, Ludmyla Diaz, Matthew DiDia, George Du Laney, Marwa Elessawy, William Fauerbach, Christine Feeley, Delayna Feurzeig, Brian Feury, Adrianna Fierro, Olivia Fiore, Aaron Flores, Anthony Freda, Victoria Fuentes, Cameron Fuentez, Frank Gabriele, John Gabriele, Sierra Gagnon, Timothy Galdieri, Dylan Gallagher, Nicholas Galluccio, Dominique Garcia, Grace Gault, Baturay Genc, Daniel Gibson, Lauren Gruskin, Lucas Hamson, Shea Herko, Alexandra Holland, Evan Huaman, Tyler Jackson, Caitlin Janoff, Michael Johnson, Isabella Josephson, Adam Kazanfer, Mitchell Kiwior, Caitlin Klose, Celina Koellhofer, Lucas Konrad-Parisi, Margarita Kousoulou, Emma Kubacki, Isabel Latorre, Charles Lavery, Carli Lavoie, Shannon Lawless, Giulia Licitra, Jon Love, Daniel Lucinese, Andrew Luehs, Beshoy Mankarious, Jaclyn Marrese, Sara Marriott, Madisyn Matthews, Alexander McLaughlin, Erin McNally, Andrew McPhail, Angelica Medina, Dayanara Merced, Ian Metzger, Henry Molloy, Jonathan Mottola, Justin Munjack, Matthew Nagy, Angelina Natalini, Leonard Natalini, Taylor Neumann, Alexander Ng, Ashley Nigro, Brian T. Nolan, Henry Noren, Gwynneth O’Donnell, Clare O’Farrell, Eamon O’Farrell, Kitty Pagano, Karishma Parekh, Cullen Pelfree, Garrett Percevault, Michael Petillo, Zoie Petronzo, Rinn Posner, Celia Poueymirou, Renata Primmer, Steven Priscoe, Constantino Quagliata, Dean Ramsthaler, Amber Reed, Amy Renzulli, Julia Rigney, Anna Rosinski, Maxwell Ruddy, Dylan Ruggiero, Christopher Sabo, Evan Saleh, Daniel Sandoval, Kevin Scanlon, Olivia Schecter, Anna Serra, Jordan Shaffer, Michael Shamouil, Artur Shum, Aydin Sidali, Shane Siegel, Andrew Siegelin, Jason Siegelin, Emily Sime, Shayla Sims, Nicolas Slawski, Cole Smith, Kyle A. Smith, Kyle S. Smith, Victoria Socci, Julianna Spina, Kate Stanisci, Jenna Staranka, Alexandra Stone, John Swanstrom, Hope Sweeney, Olivia Symczak, Victoria Tedesco, Julianna Tuorto, Ava Vasalani, Salvatore Vassallo, Colin Vega, Alexa Vivona, Nicholas Vivona, Sam Volpe, Mark Walsh, Carly Waterman, Rachael Weir, Isabella Williams, Michael Willner, Cianna Winkler, Olivia Wynn, Darian Yakhnis, Owen Yarmo-Gray, Lauren Zanders, Joseph Zecchino, Alexander Ziolkowski, Ian Ziolkowski