With excitement in the air, members of the Class of 2019 arrived on the graduation stage to the traditional melody of “Pomp and Circumstance,” heard inspiring speeches packed with words of wisdom, and finally crossed the stage as graduates.
Byram Hills High School’s 51st Commencement Ceremony was held on June 18th at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, where seniors said goodbye to high school life and welcomed the start of their next chapter.
Principal Christopher Walsh welcomed the graduates, their relatives and friends and the Byram Hills faculty by declaring that all of the graduating seniors have fulfilled the mission of the District. “I am very happy to report that on stage tonight we have assembled 213 productive and responsible citizens ready to face the world and all of the challenges that come with it.”
Salutatorian Emma Lucchino questioned how, at age 18, high school graduates are supposed to have their lives all figured out. “It’s exciting and freeing to not know what’s going to happen,” she said. “Now is our time to experience new things, take chances and find our own paths.”
“This is one of the few times when not knowing could be seen as a good thing,” she continued. “That’s why we have a high school graduation, to declare that none of us know what we’re doing, and that’s something worth celebrating.”
Valedictorian Alan Chang told the story of himself as a 16-year-old boy who thought he could solve his problems by reaching a goal one summer. He discovered that it was finding the confidence to be himself that led to happiness.
"We are all capable of such great change, yet sometimes we’re too hung up on trying to change our self rather than change the world,” he said. “In reality, every single one of us is, and should stay, their own person.”
In the principal’s address, Mr. Walsh recalled the Oscar-winning documentary, “Free Solo.” It’s the gripping story of renowned rock climber Alex Honnold’s “free solo” climb of El Capitan, an ascent up the 3,000-foot, vertical rock face in Yosemite National Park he made alone and without a rope or other safety gear.
Mr. Walsh believed that Mr. Honnold was lucky to find his life’s purpose at a young age, and he urged the graduates to spread their wings in search of their own.
“My hope today is that each of them will find a purpose, which they will pursue with as much passion as Alex Honnold did, and that those of us in their lives have the courage to support that pursuit,” Mr. Walsh said. “Graduates, what you’ve earned here today is the opportunity to become what you have the potential to be. That can only happen if you’re willing to take those risks and remain vulnerable in life.”
Superintendent Dr. Jen Lamia reminded the graduates that she had seen most of them learn, struggle and bloom since they were 5-years-old. “Through the years, you have defined the Byram Hills student,” she said. “You are brilliant, committed and independent. How can you use these attributes in the next chapter in your lives?”
“Remember that your motivation to be who you will be is within you and must be true to you,” she said. “That is what you have shown us thus far. Seniors, thank you for the way you have defined yourselves and for the lessons you’ve taught all of us about brilliance, commitment and independence.”
Other highlights included the presentation of the senior class gift, the concert choir’s performance of “A Million Dreams,” the presentation of the diplomas and the cap toss.