The Harborfields High School Class of 2021 were celebrated by family, friends, community members, faulty, staff and administrators at the school’s graduation ceremony on June 26. As the graduates processed on the field in the classic Harborfields green and white, joined by Principal Timothy Russo, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rory Manning and members of the board of education, the crowd cheered enthusiastically.
To start off the ceremony, senior members of the high school choir performed “The Star Spangled Banner” and the Harborfields alma mater. Then, Dr. Manning took the podium to kick off the speech portion of the ceremony. He welcomed attendees and congratulated the Class of 2021 and their families on making it to this point of celebration.
“Much in the same way your family has cared for you, we have also,” Dr. Manning said. “The staff of Harborfields has been your second family for the last 13 years and we selfishly don’t want you to go, and why would we? You proved to the world that you were capable of the unimageable, and despite countless odds against you, you thrived.”
Valedictorian Evan Ackerman also commented on the high caliber of the Class of 2021 and reflected on what him and his classmates fought through together during the 2020-21 school year.
“To the class of 2021, our high school experience has been crazy to say the least,” Evan said. “In all seriousness, our class has faced unprecedented times, and not only did we survive, but we excelled.”
Salutatorian Kaitlyn Waring addressed her fellow graduates and expressed that it had been an honor to grow together through an unprecedented school year. She cited Abraham Lincoln to express her sentiment.
“As Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘the best way to predict the future is to create it,’” she said. “So, go, remember what you have learned here at hf and use those lessons to create the future you want to be a part of.
Class President Melina Sandel addressed her fellow graduates with a humorous and upbeat speech. She spoke about her cherished memories of her time at Harborfields High School and how their final year was a challenge they all successfully faced together. Featured speaker Robert Franco, chosen specifically by the senior class, expressed how honored he was to speak at graduation. He also relayed some of his own experiences to the students, stressing how life can take many different paths.
“Life is a journey, and each one of my experiences has helped mold me and can be contributed to who I am,” he said. “Everything we do on a daily basis shapes our path, and the little things we might take for granted help mold us into who we are.”
Principal Timothy Russo then initiated a very special tribute to Gabby Cava, a beloved member of the Class of 2021 who passed away in January 2020 from cancer. Gabby’s family was in attendance to accept the first diploma from Mr. Russo.
Before continuing presenting diplomas to the graduates, Mr. Russo took some time to commend the Class of 2021 for their perseverance and ability to succeed in the face of huge challenges.
“You are an incredible group who will be missed by many as you go onto achieve whatever greatness is coming your way,” he said. “Your enthusiasm, kindness and respect for Harborfields has led us through a challenging year and I thank you for being the young men and women you are.”
Each graduate then received their diploma from a member of the board of education. After moving their tassels from the right to left, graduates tossed their caps into the air, officially marking them as Harborfields High School alumni.