The 205 members of the Byram Hills High School Class of 2018 hugged and cheered their classmates, listened to inspiring speeches full of reminiscences and well wishes, and finally, crossed the stage and received their well-deserved diplomas.
The commencement ceremony, held June 19 at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, began as the graduates filed onto the stage in royal blue caps and gowns to the traditional sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” performed by the high school band.
After a welcome from Principal Christopher Walsh, the salutatorian, Stella Li, and valedictorian, Jackson Deitelzweig, addressed their classmates with a mix of nostalgia and inspiration.
Ms. Li expressed her gratitude to all who helped the class reach the moment of graduation — parents, teachers, administrators, janitors, substitute teachers, interns and even the barista at the Byram Bean.
“Everyone in this community came together to make this incredible and vital educational experience possible,” she said. “Here’s to the 13 years that have passed, and to all the years that are yet to come. Graduating seniors, go out there and change the world.”
Mr. Deitelzweig highlighted the lifelong friendships that have been made at Byram Hills, and offered his own interpretation of the Dr. Seuss classic “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.”
“We all have different interests, different hopes and different dreams, but we all aspire to do something truly great,” he said. “What’s important to realize is that we all can and we all will.”
In the principal’s address, Mr. Walsh noted that the audience included members from at least five generations, and he recalled their contributions and challenges in an ever-changing world. He told the graduates that although their futures are unknown, they have already proven they’re unafraid to use their collective voice and that the one constant in their lives has been change.
“No generation has ever been better prepared to deal with the unknown than they are,” Mr. Walsh said. “Take what is the best from every generation that has helped to form you. Fifty years from now, some adult in a funny robe will be giving a speech about the graduates of this generation and how they changed the world.”
Giving her first commencement address as superintendent, Jen Lamia urged the graduates to continue the good work they’ve done at Byram Hills, to use their “strong, commanding voices” and to take “full possession of your strength and your conviction.” She also reminded them to take risks and to begin their next chapter with wide-open hearts and minds.
“You are thoughtful, curious, determined, energetic and, most importantly, compassionate human beings,” Ms. Lamia said. “We need you now more than ever to continue to build our beautiful world.”
Other highlights included the presentation of a class gift of a waterfall for the new wellness center in the high school library, the concert choir performing a moving rendition of “Home,” and of course, the cap toss. As Assistant Principal Kristen Sautner presented the Class of 2018, the blue caps went flying high, a striking sight against the bright red backdrop.
In the fall, 99 percent of the graduates are headed to college, and 77 percent of the class was accepted by a Tier 1 or 2 college or university. Six percent of the class will attend an Ivy League institution.