Dressed in their caps and gowns, members of Irvington High School’s Class of 2020 received their diplomas during a special drive-through celebration on June 20.
Along the procession route, which began at the Riverfront parking lot, the students and their families were escorted by police cars with flashing lights and sirens. They drove up the festively decorated Main Street and Broadway before traveling up Heritage Hill Road, which had been lined with a gallery of personalized lawn signs honoring each senior. Having decorated their vehicles with balloons and signs, the students waved and smiled at spectators along the route.
Once at the high school campus, they were greeted by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kristopher Harrison and Principal Juliet Gevargis-Mizimakoski, who handed out the diplomas and posed for photographs with each student. One by one, and after years of hard work and dedication, the students took hold of their diplomas and drove off as Irvington High School alumni.
Following the event, Irvington High School released a graduation video that included highlights from the car parade, prerecorded speeches and a slideshow with each graduate’s picture. In the video, students heard from Board of Education President Brian Friedman, class president Katie Spencer, class valedictorian Sarah Garcia and class salutatorian Zoe Jacobs, as well as from their principal and superintendent.
In her remarks, Gevargis-Mizimakoski spoke about the students’ strength, resilience and unity. She thanked them for welcoming her as a member of the team and making her first day as principal special.
“I know this pandemic has been challenging, but you have come together in a number of ways during this time,” she said. “Many of you have shared that you have learned to appreciate connections with others and with yourself, and that you have taken time to think about what is important to you and what you value. Please carry this new learning and awareness with you in your next chapter.”
In her valedictory address, Garcia reflected on her classmates’ outstanding achievements and expressed her gratitude toward all of the teachers, coaches, counselors and staff who have impacted their lives over the years. She also urged her fellow graduates to make their voices heard and take responsibility for transcending not only the long-lasting ramifications of the pandemic but the many previously ignored problems in our nation.
“Together, we will work for a more just society,” she said. “One where the promises nominally made to all are actually granted to all. The job ahead may be daunting, but I am confident that a class that has already shown such fortitude is up to the task.”
In her salutatory address, Jacobs spoke about how unique the Class of 2020 is – their births being marked by 9/11, and having witnessed multiple terrorist attacks, countless school shootings, the Great Recession of 2008, political and social divisions and social unrest over racial inequality.
“While we were born into a time of fear and uncertainty, it was also a time of unity and strength,” she said. “It should be no surprise that we are graduating in a similar environment, during a worldwide pandemic.”
Jacobs also reflected on the last 13 years she spent as an Irvington student and expressed her gratitude toward the administrators, teachers and staff, as well as her friends, parents and family for all of their constant support and dedication.
In his remarks, Dr. Harrison encouraged the students to be brave, act boldly, and demonstrate selfless acts of kindness and courage to promote social justice and equity.
“Because of the education that you have received, you have developed a wealth of knowledge and skills, and through the pandemic, you have reminded us of the strong dispositions you possess, such as your resiliency and your ability to be effective problem-solvers and talented communicators,” Dr. Harrison said. “These traits will help you lead our nation to a new, healthier, more peaceful and compassionate future.”
Specials thanks to the Irvington High School Parent Advisory Council, Parent Teacher Student Association, Irvington Education Foundation, Irvington Boosters Club, iASK-CAB, the Irvington Police Department, Bridge Street Properties, Recreation and Parks Department, Irvington Printing, Irvington High School Student Council and members of the school community for their partnership and support.
To further celebrate its graduates, Irvington High School will host an in-person, student-only graduation event at Meszaros Field on June 27. It is designed to be a brief, safe and personal celebration for the Class of 2020 and allow students to share the special moment together.