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RCS graduates look to the future

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

The top 10 students of the Class of 2023 at Friday’s commencement ceremony. Michael Hallisey/RCS Central School District

RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — The Class of 2023 at RCS High School celebrated their graduation Friday evening and now will look to the next chapter in their lives.

For many, the commencement at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center was a bittersweet celebration as they concluded their high school careers and next look ahead to college, the military or the job market.

Students filed into the convention center to the traditional tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” as family and friends looked on.

This year’s valedictorian is Sulamita Voronko and the salutatorian is Howard “Brady” Engel IV.

In her valedictory speech, Voronko thanked faculty and family for helping to guide and support her throughout her school years.

Voronko, who had the highest grade-point average of the Class of 2023, said her parents encouraged her to strive to achieve in the classroom, but while she and her peers worked hard academically, some of the greatest lessons learned in high school came outside the classroom.

“We learned that life is not simply just about facts but about the friendships and relationships we build with each other,” Voronko said. “We learned the value of perseverance, adaptability and determination.”

“And yes, we may have learned that Fg=mg and the chain rule, but we have also learned that knowledge is a lifelong pursuit and true wisdom comes to those who persevere,” Voronko continued.

Graduates file into the convention center at the start of the ceremony. Michael Hallisey/RCS Central School District

Engel, the Class of 2023 salutatorian, urged his fellow graduates to move into the future fearlessly, and to pursue their passions without hesitation.

He said that in the future, he wants to be able to look back on his life and know that he worked hard to achieve his dreams and goals.

“I want to watch my children walk across their graduation stage and look back on my life to when I was an eager and motivated 18-year-old and be proud of everything that I accomplished,” Engel said. “And if you are one of those older people I am talking about, and you’re looking back on your life thinking, ‘I should’ve tried harder,’ then take these words as advice: Today is a new beginning.”

Voronko and Engel, as the students with the top two grade-point averages in the class, sat in seats of honor on the stage alongside the rest of the top 10 ranked students in the class.

Along with the valedictorian and salutatorian, the students with the top grades throughout their four years of high school, ranked No. 3 through 10 were, respectively, Jenna Grogan, Ian Brisco, Elizabeth Robertson, Colin McDermott, Maximilian May, Emily Robbins, Sara Hotaling and Elizabeth Baldes.

Seniors perform during the graduation ceremony. Michael Hallisey/RCS Central School District

High school principal Ryan Funck offered parting words of advice to all of the graduates to trust their intuition and make goals for the future.

“My final piece of advice to you would be to sit down and set a few goals for yourself and ways in which you plan to achieve those goals and a timeline for each,” Funck said. “Put those goals into an envelope — or notes section on your iPhone, because who uses paper anymore anyway? — and revisit those goals from time to time. Having something personal to work towards is the ultimate motivator.”

Here are more photos from the graduation ceremony. Special thanks to Michael Hallisey from the RCS Central School District for providing the images.

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