Taking the North Salem Mission Into the Real World

HS Commencement Ceremony photo

The 89 members of North Salem High School’s class of 2018 braved heat and downpour to celebrate the school’s 59th annual commencement ceremony on the evening of June 18.

The tightknit group, many of whom have been in the district together since kindergarten, reminisced about their favorite school memories as they helped each other zip up their gowns and adjust their caps before the celebration. The alumni-to be were welcomed into the venue at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts by a processional of “Pomp and Circumstance,” courtesy of the high school band and conductor Stephen Austin.

Class of 2018’s own Isabela Ohana Caetano sang the national anthem before Principal Vince DiGrandi welcomed guests. He read a special “look back” authored by valedictorian Kaitlyn Thayer and salutatorian Claire Bonzani, which recalled some of the group’s favorite memories – including hatching chicks in first grade, a middle school class trip to Medieval Times and soccer and baseball state championships.

In her remarks to her peers, Bonzani noted that the class is made up of “more than just students,” citing her classmates’ skills that include science, cosmetology, engineering, writing, activism, athletics, mechanics and much more. The Colgate University-bound senior added that her peers are dedicated volunteers and she implored them to stay true to themselves in the future.

The evening also included recognition of collegiate and community scholarship awardees, including students whose earnings totaled more than $2.2 million toward the former based on academics and athletics, DiGrandi said. Community scholarships added some $45,000 more to the accolades bestowed upon the class.

Thayer offered a colorful analogy in her speech, reminding attendees that volcanic soil, although the product of extreme conditions, is among the most fertile on earth.

“Go forth joyously into this volcanic garden,” she said of the world ahead. “After all, it only takes one seed in a layer of volcanic ash to start a forest – be that seed.”

Following the certification of the class by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Freeston and Board of Education President Andrew Brown, Assistant Principal Dr. Kathleen R. Murphy presented each student to receive a diploma. The graduates celebrated with cheers and a cap toss at the end of the ceremony.

In his remarks, DiGrandi offered advice that encourages the students to take a piece of their education with them: “...to live the North Salem mission and embrace the idea of continuous learning.”