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Congratulations to the Washingtonville High School Class of 2024!

Congratulations to the Washingtonville High School Class of 2024!

On a beautiful summer evening, students from the Class of 2024 celebrated their graduation from Washingtonville High School during the annual commencement ceremony on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Congratulations to the 365 Wizards who received their diplomas during the ceremony. 

A large crowd of family and friends gathered on the field, in the stands and on the hill, as the students processed along the track and to their seats. 

High School Principal Brian Connolly welcomed the Class of 2024, the gathered families and loved ones, and the dais of school faculty, administration, Board members and honored guests. He also recognized students entering the military and a Washingtonville class that earned a record amount in scholarships.

He told the students that he knew it was a good school year after walking the halls, being in classrooms, and attending concerts, plays and games. 

“Here are a few things I observed this year that prove just how amazing this class truly is,” he said. “Not only did our student athletes shine at the Special Olympics but we were the only school at the Special Olympics to bring along the students from our Best Buddies program to support our athletes. We were the only school to send our Odyssey of the Mind team and a member from our E-Sports team to nationals. We took Goshen to the finals in the mock trial…. These are just a couple examples of our success.”

Click here to see Class of 2024 Graduation Gallery.

He then referenced how all students should aim to be game changers. He said how he Googled the phase and that a game changer is a person who has the potential to change the course of history. 

“I thought to myself, everyone should strive to be a game changer,” said Mr. Connolly, “And, as I look out into the crowd, I can safely say that the Class of 2024 is full of students with the potential to inspire change.” 

He then called on some specific students that he sees as game changers already and recognized Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Barbara Quinn, who is retiring, for her dedication to the school district and the Washingtonville community.

Click here to see Class of 2024 Graduation Gallery.

Mr. Connolly then introduced the Class of 2024 President Madison Mobray.

She asked her classmates to recognize the people in their lives who influenced them and to go forward and influence others.

“Whether you realize it or not, we have all impacted each other’s lives over the last four years, in some cases even longer than that," Madison said. “A smile, a friendship, a lesson, a shoulder to lean on, or even a reason for growth. We have had the privilege of seeing each other in every light, being present for each other’s failures, successes, and everything in between. Because of this, we are one step closer to becoming the best version of ourselves. Just think about how we can affect the lives of those around us and change them for the better if we become intentional with the way we lead our lives.”

Class of 2024 Salutatorian Kiera Calovic addressed the class next, and shared her gratitude for the administrators for the resources and opportunities for students to succeed, for the teachers who created a safe learning environment where students could thrive, and family for always believing in her and giving her a strong support system to lean on. She also thanked everyone in the crowd for their unwavering support and encouragement as they have all played a key role in the success of each graduate.

She challenged her fellow students to balance the work and the fun over the next four years. 

“Class of 2024, I want to leave you with this. These next four years are going to be extremely challenging at times,” she said. “You will have to put in the work if you want to succeed. But you also have to find the time to do what makes you happy. Have fun. Let loose. Because, you can spend all your time saying “what if,” but the past is in the past. Become the person you want to be now and in the future.”

Click here to see Class of 2024 Graduation Gallery.

After a performance of “For Good” by the senior choir, Class of 2024 Valedictorian Gavin Chaing stepped to the podium and congratulated his peers. “You may feel that graduating high school was an inevitable event, just a milestone in your life that you were waiting to pass but it's more than that,” he said. “You faced highs and lows and overcame them. Whether it be in your academics, your sports, or your personal life, you triumphed over some tremendous hurdles and today we are here to celebrate that.”

He also talked about the importance of balance between academics and other experiences in high school and beyond. In preparing his speech, he asked his peers for advice they would pass on if they were giving a valedictorian speech, utilizing Jayden Glover, one of the high school’s star track runners; Isabella Sanchez, the vice president of the English Honor Society and a long-time dancer at NYPAC; Marykate Hambrick, an exceptional artist and stage manager for Mask & Mime; and David Gerdin, the captain of the soccer team and a track and field state champion. They provided Gavin with references to the students, such as: Speak and think positively about yourself and your experiences; changing your reaction to events can change the outcome and lead to a more fulfilling life; life is about learning from setbacks, so don’t let fear hold you back; and don’t give in to fear of failure and venture out of your comfort zone.

“I hope that by sharing the combined wisdom of Washingtonville’s Class of 2024 with you this evening, I’ve given you some pieces of advice that you can use in your life going forward,” he concluded. He then turned to his family, saying, “Words cannot express how grateful I am to have you in my life; thank you for your neverending support. Your encouragement has been my foundation, and I owe so much of my success to you. Lastly, congratulations again, Wizards. Never forget your roots and never stop learning.”

Then, Mr. Connolly introduced the evening's keynote speaker, a former student of his, Dr. Joy Romulus-Henssler. Dr. Romulus-Henssler is a Class of 2002 Washingtonville alumna who helped lead the cross country, indoor, and outdoor track teams to multiple championships throughout her Wizard running career. In 2006, she received her bachelor's degree in Chemistry with honors from SUNY Binghamton University, where she continued to compete as a Division 1 athlete. She then earned her doctoral degree in Chemistry from New York University in 2013, concentrating in Polymer Chemistry. She continued to conduct research as a postdoctoral fellow at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She began her professional career in 2014 as a chemist synthesizing polymers for personal care products and is currently the technical director at LBB Specialties, helping to lead the technical direction of their Personal Care division.

Click here to see Class of 2024 Graduation Gallery.

“I have four key takeaways,” said Dr. Romulus-Henssler. “And these were said by your peers but I will reiterate them because they are also true to me. The first one is, as you begin to achieve your goals, set new ones. Life is changing and life is evolving. I originally wanted to be a medical doctor and it led me to a new path, which ended in me becoming a doctor but a doctor of chemistry. Life evolves so keep setting goals and when you achieve them, keep making new ones because you’re not done with life. Keep going.”

“Number two is to realize, yes, you did not get here on your own. You have support systems so nurture those systems and say thank you. One thing you will encounter is opposition because, along the way, people will say no to you. It is important to recognize that even if people say no, you may be able to correct them and get them to say yes. Don’t miss out on the opportunities to encourage and inspire others even if it’s uncomfortable. Last but not least is to stay honest with yourself. Don’t envy others, because this is your journey, and we can get lost in watching social media. Your family gives you a lot of support and they help to encourage you. If you decide to change and do something else, and you believe in it, your family will continue to support you through it. ”

Following Dr. Romulus-Henssler’s keynote address, members of the Class of 2024 were called to the stage to receive their diplomas.  

“Witnessing the achievements of our Washingtonville High School graduates fills me with pride and inspiration,” Superintendent Dr. Larry Washington remarked. “This commencement marks a pivotal moment, celebrating the culmination of our students’ high school journeys. Each graduate stands poised to tackle future challenges and make significant contributions in their chosen paths. Their time here has equipped them with the tools needed for success in both their professional endeavors and personal lives. As they embark on this new chapter, I extend my heartfelt wishes for their continued success and fulfillment in all their future pursuits.”

Congratulations, Wizards! And best wishes.

Click here to see Class of 2024 Graduation Gallery.