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Seniors cross stage as newest HHS graduates PDF Print E-mail
Written by Darci Tomky   

Emotions ran high Sunday afternoon, May 12 as the Holyoke High School Class of 2013 celebrated a successful high school career at their graduation ceremony. Clad in black caps and gowns, 38 seniors crossed the stage in the HHS gym to receive their diplomas.

After proudly marching in to a processional led by director Miko Martinez and the senior high band, graduates nervously and excitedly began their graduation exercises.

“We are confident you are ready,” said Superintendent Bret Miles as an introduction to an anxious senior class. “We are proud of you.”

Valedictorians Molly Brandt, Brett Cumming and Rachel Schneider were honored for their perfect 4.0 grade point averages.

Molly Brandt

Molly Brandt, Brett Cumming, Rachel Schneider: Valedictorians

Schneider quoted G.K. Chesterton in her valedictory address, saying, “Fairy tales are more than true—not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

“I know my fellow classmates have the ability to defeat their dragons,” said Schneider.

Brandt also commended her classmates for their big dreams. “The young adults you’re looking at have huge aspirations,” she said. “I’m telling you, these people are brilliant!” She encouraged the Class of 2013 to “Go for it!” because “every single one of us has the capability to change the world.”

Citizenship awards recognized one senior girl and boy at Sunday’s graduation ceremony. Richard Brown and Susan Roll Walters of the American Legion Post #90 and Auxiliary presented the awards to Molly Brandt and Ben Martinez.


2013 graduates Ben Martinez and Molly Brandt were honored at Sunday’s commencement ceremony when they were awarded the American Legion Post #90 and Auxiliary Unit #90 Citizenship Awards.   —Enterprise photos

Special music Sunday afternoon featured seniors in the high school choir and Select Choir’s “Home,” under the direction of Marcia Dalton, as well as the high school band’s “Afterburn,” under the direction of guest conductor Patricia Wiebers.

HHS Principal Susan Ortner presented the Class of 2013. In a day of mixed emotions and great pride, Ortner said what strikes her the most is the long-term commitment to education in this community, noting the roots and strong foundation the community gives to its students.

“The community of Holyoke has formed you into the person you are,” she told the graduates. “Show gratitude and live with integrity!”

After showing a clip from the “Last Lecture” from Dr. Randy Pausch on Oprah, Ortner challenged students to “choose to play the game hard.”

“What a ride it’s been with this group,” she said, recalling all the interesting times spent with the Class of 2013 since they were seventh-graders, her first year as principal at HHS.

The graduating seniors wore smiles on their faces as they crossed the stage to receive their diplomas from Miles, Ortner, HHS counselor Summer Maloney and school board members Dr. Jeff Tharp and Dennis Herman.



Graduate Troy McAtee is surprised with silly string after Sunday’s graduation ceremony at Holyoke High School.

—Enterprise photo

The class chose a wide variety of paths after high school, which were announced as they crossed the stage. Scholarships were also announced, which totaled $897,227 for the graduating seniors. Click here to read about the class of 2013 scholarships and future plans. 

An emotional rose ceremony and special presentation gave students a chance to recognize family and friends with roses, often accompanied by many hugs and tears.

After an enthusiastic introduction for himself, senior class president Ben Martinez had his classmates and the audience laughing as he gave his farewell speech—his opportunity to “make fun of my classmates one more time.”

But on a serious note, Martinez thanked his teachers, who “don’t get enough thank yous,” noting, “They have helped us conquer ourselves.” Martinez also recognized parents, the community and God for what they have allowed the class to accomplish over the years.

YOLO, or “You Only Live Once,” has been quite the phrase of the year, but Martinez challenged his class to really take it to heart. “If we only life once, let’s live it great.”

With their hats flying in the air, the HHS Class of 2013 proudly walked out to “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root. The rest of the afternoon was spent celebrating their graduation with family and friends.



Holyoke Enterprise May 16, 2013