Holyoke High School graduates Brian Beltran, pictured at left, and Tyler Camblin consider the vast world that now lies ahead of them. Principal Susan Ortner tossed miniature globes to students as she addressed the Class of 2017 at the Sunday, May 14, ceremony. —Johnson Publications

44 graduates turn their tassels at HHS Sunday

“The tassel is worth the hassle,” valedictorian Logan Osborne joked with her peers at the 2017 Holyoke High School graduation ceremony held Sunday, May 14. And everyone who addressed the graduates and their commencement guests seemed to be in agreement.
    Superintendent John McCleary commended the graduates’ skills, ability, knowledge and power. He added that each of them is very capable, having been raised and taught well. Principal Susan Ortner confirmed that they are equipped to handle whatever comes their way, and she encouraged them not to settle but to invest in their dreams.
    Osborne told her classmates to be daring and try new things. She quoted Neil Gaiman, urging them to “leave the world more interesting for your being here.”
    Salutatorian Austin Herman acknowledged the tremendous education provided by HHS and the unique preparedness he and his classmates have for life after high school.
    Susan Roll Walters and Larry Stein of the American Legion Auxiliary and American Legion Post 90, respectively, recognized two students who have demonstrated responsible  citizenship and a spirit of service during their time at HHS. Juana Penzing and Alex Strauss received Citizenship Awards for their intentional selflessness, exhibited in extensive community service.
    During a special slideshow presentation and rose ceremony, members of the graduating class thanked those teachers and staff who played a vital role in their education. They also thanked family and friends for being there and showing support throughout the years. Sharing the spotlight with Mother’s Day, the graduation ceremony included many references and recognition of the mothers in attendance.
    As graduates closed this chapter, lasting friendships were on many people’s minds. Herman made sure his classmates knew they each hold a special place in his heart, saying, “you’ll always have a friend in me.”
    Class president Brook Prottsman reflected on shared experiences — both good and bad — that have shaped their relationships, and classmates laughed along, remembering some of the funnier high school moments.
    Ortner communicated the sentiment of enduring relationships well, reminding graduates, “once a Dragon, always a Dragon.”
    Graduating instrumentalists joined the high school band one final time to play “Joy Revisited,” directed by Chris Lampkin, and senior Select Choir members were featured in “I Hope you Dance,” directed by Marcia Dalton.
    When it was time for the Class of 2017 to receive the diplomas they worked so hard for, guidance counselor Angela Powell, Ortner and McCleary, along with school board members Kris Camblin and Dennis Herman, welcomed each graduate to the stage. There, future plans, earned scholarships and grant money were recognized.  
    At the conclusion of the event, Prottsman asked each peer to “find your passion and let it fuel you.” She finished by leading her classmates in turning their tassels, signifying a great milestone, and they exited HHS for the first time as high school graduates.
    Click here for a list of graduates’ future plans, scholarships and grants.

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