Irvington High School celebrated its Class of 2022 during a commencement ceremony at Matthiessen Park on June 18. The students marked the milestone of completing their secondary school experience before an audience of friends, family and faculty.
The ceremony began with a processional to “Pomp and Circumstance,” as performed by the high school band, before Acting Principal Michelleann DeFilippis welcomed the guests and honorees. In her speech, she reminded the graduates that what they do matters.
“All the learning in the world is meaningless unless it’s put into action,” DeFilippis said. “Action that makes our world a better place for all. Take a deep breath, look around and find a way to be of service to another person. Take action when you see injustice, no matter how big or small. Never stop caring no matter how bleak the news of the world may seem.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kristopher Harrison reflected on the students’ educational journey in Irvington and their contributions as scholars, positive school citizens, athletes, musicians, artists, performers, responsible classmates and friends. Despite the challenges of experiencing a pandemic, social crises, political unrest and international conflicts, he encouraged the graduates to take proactive steps to make the world a better place.
“Life is analogous to driving a car in so many ways,” Dr. Harrison said. “You can take it as it comes and head down those straight roadways, or you can challenge yourself by seeking out the less traveled roads, applying your skills and knowledge to navigate them. As you move on from Irvington High School, you will head in many different directions. Wherever your next stop may be, take your spirit – the one that lifted our community – to the next community that you will call home. In doing so, there is no question, you will make it a better place.”
Students were also addressed by Board of Education President Brian Friedman, as well as class president Thomas Flanagan and co-valedictorians Joshua Chang and Alexander Lee. In his address, Flanagan reflected on his high school years and encouraged his fellow classmates to cherish the memories they’ve created together and remember the strength that lies within each one of them.
“It is my firm belief that we all don’t have to live a life dedicated to service, but we should all live a life filled with service,” he said. “I hope we can all fill our lives with people who bring out the best in us. I hope that we can all strike a balance between the strength it takes to stand up for what we believe in with the strength it takes to stand up for others.”
In his remark, Chang expressed his fascination for weather and its unpredictability and compared it to life in general. He encouraged his classmates to have the power to revel in the uncertainty.
“Despite the routines, [life] is endlessly complex and difficult to predict,” he said. “But that is what makes it fun; that is what makes it exhilarating. We are going to remember the times when things didn’t go as planned, when we tried something new or met someone new or went somewhere new and didn’t know what to expect. Those moments – they are what we live for. They are the moments that make us happy and fulfilled and help us learn and grow.”
In his address, Lee celebrated his peers’ accomplishments from art to athletics, from music to science research. As they embark on their journey, he encouraged them to explore new terrains, get out of their comfort zones and to never suppress their curiosity out of fear.
“Our diverse accomplishments prove that we are inquisitive thinkers by nature, curious about the world around us,” Lee said. “As we turn the page and begin to write the next chapter of our lives, I hope that that curiosity continues to guide our narrative. Replace judgment with curiosity, and there will be no limit to what we may learn. And if there is no limit to what we may learn, there certainly is no limit to what we may become.”
Signifying the conclusion of one chapter and the beginning of another, the students crossed the stage and took hold of their diplomas. After moving their tassels to indicate their graduation, they tossed their caps in celebration.
Photos 1-5: Irvington High School celebrated its Class of 2022 during a commencement ceremony at Matthiessen Park on June 18.
Photo 6: Acting Principal Michelleann DeFilippis addressed the graduates during a commencement ceremony at Matthiessen Park on June 18.
Photo 7: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kristopher Harrison addressed the graduates during a commencement ceremony at Matthiessen Park on June 18.
Photo 8: Irvington High School class president Thomas Flanagan addressed his fellow graduates during a commencement ceremony at Matthiessen Park on June 18.
Photo 9: Irvington High School co-valedictorian Joshua Chang addressed his fellow graduates during a commencement ceremony at Matthiessen Park on June 18.
Photo 10: Irvington High School co-valedictorian Alexander Lee addressed his fellow graduates during a commencement ceremony at Matthiessen Park on June 18.
Photo courtesy of the Irvington Union Free School District