CHESHIRE, Mass. — The 81 students graduating from Hoosac Valley High School on Friday gave thanks before starting a new chapter.
Hundreds packed into the hot gymnasium to see the class of 2019 off and salutatorian Suki Liang thanked everyone in the audience for being there throughout her years at Hoosac Valley and noted there were a lot of emotions swirling around in the room.
"There a variety of emotions that are being experienced and I can say that I am both thrilled to start the next chapter of my life in college, but also very unsure if I'm ready to leave everything behind," she said. "For some of us, it may be an easy transition and there's nothing to worry about, and I give kudos to you. Meanwhile, for the rest of us, we will be faced with the challenge of learning to live on our own and enter the real world as an adult, but I have faith in each and every one of you."
Liang told her classmates to be proud of themselves said she knew they were capable of great things. She added that they have a lifetime to continue to discover themselves.
"To the left of me right now are my classmates that I know will do extraordinary things in the future so my one final piece of advice to you is to keep doing what makes you happy," she said from the podium as her class sat in bleachers at the back of the gym. "If today wasn't what you wanted it to be, you will have tomorrow to be even better."
Graduate Dominic Acquista admitted that he was saddened about closing this chapter of his life.
"On the one hand I know that I am leaving to be able to learn more and become a more well-rounded person," he said. "But I can't shake the feeling that I'm about to close a chapter in my life that I've been sculpting for so long which will now end."
Acquista did have a solution for this feeling and after listing a number of his class's accomplishments urged his classmates to look ahead while remembering the past with pride.
"We must look to the future to stay successful, but we should also look to the past to remember the good times that we had in our last four years of high school," he said. "Anyways, this is your hurricane pride so cherish it. Don't however dwell on these things, especially the mistakes and missteps that you have felt that you've made, instead grow from them."
Valedictorian Cameron Wagoner was last to speak and said Hoosac Valley brought out the best in him.
"I feel like this school and many of the people in it have really brought out my best," he said. "I did not grow up around here and just four years ago I did not even know this school existed but I can certainly say now that I am happy I had to come here."
Even with the constant hard work, it takes to be a valedictorian, Wagoner said he had a lot of fun at Hoosac Valley and delivered a final message to his cohorts: do not dwell on regrets.
"So if you like yourself and are happy to be here now, as I am and everyone should be, do not ever embody regret," he said. "Do not ever think too hard about your past because nothing happens that does not contribute to who you are now and who you are now is all that matters."
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