As the proud seniors of the Harborfields High School Class of 2022 walked out on to the football field on the morning of June 25 for the school’s 63rd commencement ceremony, the warm summer sunshine perfectly matched the warmth in their hearts.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the choir saluted the school with the singing of the Harborfields alma mater.
Superintendent Dr. Rory Manning began by recognizing outgoing Principal Timothy Russo for his dedicated 20 years of service. “Harborfields High School is in a better place because of your leadership,” he said, before presenting Russo with his own honorary diploma.
Turning his attention to the seniors, Dr. Manning gifted them with his personal list of “five little things for success” for the new graduates to do daily: “Take care of yourself, be on time, make your bed, be kind and hug your family. If you remember those five little things, you’ll be happier and more successful. You have the Dr. Manning guarantee on that.”
In his address, salutatorian Christopher Qi quoted President John F. Kennedy, telling his fellow seniors, “Embrace any obstacles you encounter head-on and welcome opportunities to fly outside your comfort zone. There’s far more in our lives to discover.”
Class President Anna Gosselin nostalgically reflected on the seniors’ experiences throughout their years together in Harborfields, leaving them with a quote sent to her by her grandmother: “Remember yesterday with pride, live today with enthusiasm and look to tomorrow with confidence.”
In an unconventional but entertaining speech, valedictorian Jacob Siegel discussed the “organized chaos” of his infamous backpack before relaying wisdom gained by observing his family’s new puppy. “The best advice, in my opinion, is that given to us by our dogs,” Siegel said. “They have no bias and they never try to trick or mislead us. I implore every one of the graduates of the Class of 2022 to listen to my dog, and try to do things you enjoy for the sake of doing them, not for a reward and surely not to please others.”
The day’s featured speaker, as chosen by the students, was English teacher Casey Sturm. Focusing on concepts of time, he told the seniors, “Don’t lose sight of what you’re capable of. Don’t limit your future because of your perception of the past. In the words of the great Ferris Bueller, ‘Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.’”
In an emotional final address to the students he nurtured for four years, Russo lauded them for embracing change and taking risks. “Throughout the years, your enthusiasm, kindness and respect for Harborfields has led us through some really challenging times, and I thank you for simply being the young men and women that you are,” he said.
After members of the Harborfields Board of Education presented the green-and-white-clad seniors with their diplomas, the new graduates turned their tassels and threw their caps skyward, ready to move on to new chapters in their lives.