Cheers to the Class of 2024! Graduation ceremonies honor students on a spectacular summer evening

graduation cap toss

The Class of 2024 celebrated its graduation on a gorgeous early summer evening featuring thousands of cheering family and friends rejoicing over the completion of the graduates’ academic studies and their moving on to their next steps in life.

Superintendent Brian Monahan reminded graduates of the importance of optimism, involvement and confidence.graduation ceremony

“The power of optimism will help you to keep focused and fulfilled,” he said.  Success comes from making something positive happen. That happens by being ‘involved.’ Often, that includes being pushed outside of your comfort zone, which is actually a good thing. And, not only is confidence contagious, confidence breeds personal and professional success.”

graduation ceremony

Superintendent Monahan stressed to graduates they should and will be working hard in life to achieve their intended goals.

“I want to suggest that you should want to always be proud of what you do,” he added. “And you want your families to always be proud of what you do and who you are becoming as a person. Live your life with grace, dignity, courage, good sense, good choices and above all…. kindness.”

graduation ceremony

In his remarks, Principal Kenneth Hauck reminded graduates to blaze their own pathways as they moved ahead.

“Let yourself shine for others to see how special you are,” he said. “You all have unique personalities and skill sets that set you apart from one another.  As you venture out of Minisink Valley, take note of who you are, what you have to offer and how you can make a difference.”graduation ceremony

He also reminded them: “It’s equally important to remember where you came from and remember all the people who helped you along the way. Your parents, siblings, friends, teachers, coaches, pastors, even strangers. They have all given of themselves to help make you successful. Their efforts have made you better people and have made our community a better place to live. You will impact the world with your successes, but remember how you got there and remember all the people who have helped you.”

graduation ceremony

In addition to the presentation of diplomas and the tossing of mortar board caps into the air, student speeches were also among the evening’s highlights.

“While I am sure many of you here are emotional, today is not a sad day, today is not an end,” said Senior Class President Lily Rodriquez. “Today marks the beginning of the rest of our lives. So, whether you are going to college, enlisting in the military, going to trade school, or going straight into the workforce, we now all have tool boxes full of the lessons and skills we need to succeed in the future.”

graduation ceremony

Salutatorian Olivia Loeven also reminded her peers of the need to thank everyone who played a role in their success.

“The future for all of us may look different; no matter what it entails, challenges are ahead of us,” she added. “We can choose to view these challenges as definitions of our futures, or we can focus on all of the good that will come of our futures.”

She added: “Using the Minisink moments that made us feel welcomed, entertained, and connected with others, we can positively illuminate our past. Remember Minisink fondly; use that good, those memories, and that love and support you felt to overcome any obstacles that dare face you. But for now, celebrate! Look back at the craziness with a laugh and look toward the future with a smile.”

graduation ceremony

And Valedictorian Ethan Hidalgo good naturedly reminded students that his role as a speaker is “to bid you all farewell.”

But, he still had an important message to impart.

“Right now, we’re getting ready to hit play on the next album of our lives,” Ethan said. “For some of you, the past four years have been absolutely glorious. I hope you can keep up the momentum. For the rest, probably the vast majority, something has gone awry and you are quite ready for a blank slate. To that I say, yes! Take this chance. Reinvent yourself. The one thing I will ask is to hold onto this feeling of reinvention. Remember that you can make a great deal of change long after entering the military or college. You don’t have to wait for another graduation or New Year’s or any other life shift.  The ability to grow is always in your hands as there are always more opportunities and passions to discover about yourself.”

graduation ceremony

And he also reminded graduates, as others in their lives are doing: “The world is yours now. Getcha head in the game! Class of 2024, let’s show ‘em what we can do!”

See more photos on the district’s Facebook page.