The Valley Central High School Class of 2017 touted 365 graduating seniors in bright blue cap and gown for the proud audience to see.
The June 24 graduation was held on the football field at the high school, with innumerable spectators sitting and standing on the outskirts. Honorary announcers of graduates, chosen by graduates, were Michele Sinn and David Miller.
Class President Francesca Scuadroni welcomed students, faculty and family to the invocation. She thanked the Valley Central School District Board of Education and high school administration for helping the students reach this day.
“We can grow to understand what we are worth,” Scuadroni said. “But with that, we cannot forget where we came from.”
Following Scuadroni’s speech, class Salutatorian Grace Ciabattoni stepped up to the podium to share her thoughts on graduation.
Ciabattoni emphasized the importance of having community within a group of classmates. She expressed her gratitude in being able to live a fun and carefree childhood, while also being serious in her studies.
While she harped on more emotional notes of growing up, she did not forget to honor the funny moments too.
“There are traditions here that have created memories,” Ciabattoni said. “And those memories are moments that will last forever.”
High School Principal Jayme Ginda-Baxter thanked the board, PTA and Valley Central Scholarship Council and donors before presenting scholastic awards available to graduates.
The East Coldenham Children’s Memorial Paintings Award was presented to Holly Horan, Gabriella Mendelowski and class Valedictorian Katherine Cavalucci. All three students received $500 in scholarship money.
The Victor W. Haggar Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Valerie Giordano. This scholarship is in memory of Victor W. Haggar who formed the scholarship council in 1964 as principal of the high school.
Rigorous requirements must be met for receiving a scholarship from the council, of which include “an essay, anticipated first year educational costs, academic merit, participation in the community, extracurricular participation, reliability and dependability.”
The graduating seniors racked up an impressive $135,000 in total of scholarship money from various donors and foundations.
Cavalucci began her valedictorian speech by expressing her feeling that the measure of success is not counted in numbers.
“We are minimized and defined by numbers,” she said. “But in reality, our success is born from passion and work ethic.”
Cavalucci became teary-eyed when referring to her mother, who stood in the very spot she did 32 years ago.
“We finally get to choose who we are, what we want to do and who we want to be,” Cavalucci said. “Be immeasurable.”
As Superintendent of Schools John Xanthis presented the class to the board of education, he commented on the insightful speeches made by Cavalucci, Ciabattoni and Scuadroni.
“No high school does it better than Valley Central High School,” Xanthis said. “Acknowledge the kindness around you, remember your roots and know that those who formed your foundations are here for you.”
The presentation of diplomas were executed by Shelia Schwartz, president of the board of education, and Sonia Lewis, vice-president of the board of education.
By Melanie Zerah