By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
GREENVILLE — The Class of 2023 at Greenville High School took to the stage Friday evening to accept their diplomas and move on to the next chapter in their lives.
The graduates entered the high school auditorium to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” as their families and loved ones cheered them on.
Principal Kristy Goergen opened the ceremony and thanked the teachers, faculty and families that made it possible for the graduates to get to this day — and to look ahead to the future that lies before them.
“Graduation marks the end of one era and the beginning of a new one,” Goergen said. “This bittersweet moment is filled with all kinds of emotions for the graduates and their loved ones. Today you stand on the threshold of a new chapter — a chapter filled with endless possibilities and uncharted territories. As you prepare to step out into the world, armed with knowledge, resilience and plans for success, remember that you have the power to shape your own future.”
Goergen offered advice as the newly minted graduates step out into the world beyond high school — take calculated risks, overcome your fears, build friendships and stay in touch with old friends, don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help, and keep an open mind when planning for the future, among others.
“You are the architects of your own destiny,” she concluded.
Salutatorian Benjamin Reinhard thanked the staff and teachers, and congratulated his fellow graduates.
“At the end of the day, it is your hard work that put you on this stage this evening,” Reinhard said. “As we all progress in this new phase of our lives, I think we all share one similar goal, along with the vast majority of people on this earth — to be happy. Happiness will look different for all of us. Some may chase wealth, others may strive for success. Some might simply start a family. Whatever it may be, we all want to be happy.”
He also shared advice his father impressed upon him, and advised his fellow graduates to follow it as well.
“Work hard and have fun,” Reinhard said.
Class valedictorian Nuala Kappel said leaving high school and friends behind was difficult, and the idea of leaving their comfort zone was daunting, but is “necessary for each of us to reach our full potential.”
“We must be bold enough to leave our comfort zone behind in order to live our lives to the fullest,” Kappel said. “The beginning of the rest of our lives begins today, with letting go of all that is familiar.”
She advised her fellow students to transform fear into excitement.
“Follow your dreams and passions to the fullest extent possible, be true to yourself no matter the circumstances,” she said. “The future is uncertain and while it may seem scary, I hope that each of you will turn that fear into excitement for all that you will accomplish.”
District Superintendent Michael Bennett addressed the crowd before the graduates lined up to accept their diplomas.
Bennett said the Class of 2023 was an “amazing group” of young people who worked tirelessly to get to this day.
“Today marks the culmination of your years of hard work, resilience and personal growth,” Bennett said. “It is a testament to your determination, dedication and the countless obstacles you have had to overcome. Each one of you has faced unique challenges and yet, here you stand, poised and ready to embark on the next chapter of your lives. As you reflect on your high school journey, remember the moments that have defined you — the friendships forged, the lessons learned, and the experiences that have shaped your character.”
Bennett urged the graduates to cultivate a thirst for knowledge, embrace the power of curiosity and intellectual exploration, foster empathy and compassion, and advocate for equality.
“The world you are about to enter is filled with immense possibilities and challenges, but do not be disheartened for within each challenge lies an opportunity for growth,” he said. “Embrace the unknown, for it is in stepping out of your comfort zone that you discover your true potential.”
Here are more images from Friday’s graduation ceremony: