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Irvington High School Celebrates Class of 2024

Irvington High School celebrated its Class of 2024 during a commencement ceremony at Matthiessen Park on June 15. The students marked the exciting milestone before an audience of friends, family and faculty. 

The ceremony began with a processional to “Pomp and Circumstance” and performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by the high school band. Principal Jon Hirsch welcomed the guests and honorees and emphasized the inevitability of change, using the Palisades and the Hudson River as metaphors. He encouraged the graduates to maintain their core values and identity, to embrace change and become better versions of themselves. In his speech, Hirsch also advocated for a balanced approach, combining stability with flexibility, and highlighted the importance of core values, such as kindness, curiosity, and courage. He concluded by encouraging the graduates to embrace the journey ahead with confidence and readiness.

“Embrace the rugged flexibility that life demands,” Hirsch said. “Hold onto the core values you’ve cultivated here. Let them be your anchors, your solid foundation as you navigate new and uncharted waters. As you leave Irvington and step into the great unknown know that you carry with you the best of what this place has given you. Your journey is just beginning, and it will be filled with both constancy and transformation.” 

During his remarks, Hirsch expressed his gratitude to the Board of Education and the district leadership team for their support of students, as well as teachers, staff, PTSA members, Acting Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joel Adelberg for his partnership and retiring Superintendent Dr. Kristopher Harrison for everything he’s given to the community. He also welcomed incoming Superintendent Dr. Mara Ratesic, who was present during the ceremony. 

Acting Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joel Adelberg reflected on the past year of getting to know the exemplary class members who have impressed him with their accomplishments from athletics, to art, music and academics, as well as the first 30 Irvington High School graduates to have earned the prestigious Seal of Biliteracy. He encouraged the students to follow their passion, stay true to their conscience and keep an eye on the prize. 

“Know that you are ready and equipped to conquer all that awaits you,” Dr. Adelberg said. “You are a talented, committed class, a class that will surely leave your mark and that has created a new bar for others to meet. While each of you has already begun identifying your own North Star, as important as that path is, don’t be so focused on looking up that you never look around, because that is where life happens, offering you unplanned opportunities that could change the course of your lives.”

The students were also addressed by Board of Education President Brian Friedman, who encouraged them to travel, connect with people and take advantage of all opportunities. They heard remarks from class president Gloria Song, salutatorian Hanna Reich and valedictorian Ciara Lyons. 

In her address, Song’s main message was from the song “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen.” She spoke about letting go of expectations and pressures of being better than others, and paid tribute to the support of her amazing parents and the strength of her grandmother. She encouraged her classmates to thank their loved ones and express their love to them. 

“Once you let go of comparison and begin to appreciate all the big and little things in life, you’ll be one step closer to achieving the greatest fulfillment,” Song said. “Let us all look back on the precious memories we made, and now look forward to our next chapter with a new perspective.” 

In her remarks, Reich reflected on the definition of good through an acronym of grateful, omnipresent, open and delighted. She encouraged her classmates to appreciate what is in front of them, live in the present without regrets and work to accomplish all they desire, to be open to trying new things and meeting new people, and to find what makes them happy.

“I want us all to be grateful, omnipresent, open and delighted to those around us, and I hope we all fill our lives with people who epitomize these traits just as much as we do,” Reich said. “I leave you with this message: enjoy life, seize all opportunities and always remember where you came from.”

In her address, Lyons shared that no pursuit of any goal or accomplishment should come at the expense of special moments with loved ones. She reminded her classmates that they’re not defined by their resume, but rather by the people they surround themselves with and by their heart; and encouraged them to not lose sight of what’s important in life – friends, family, faith and service. 

“The truth is, nobody will remember how many goals you scored or what your GPA was. They will remember your laugh, your smile, and how you made them and others feel,” Lyons said. “They’ll remember that time you took them to get ice cream when they were feeling down. They’ll remember that joke you once told them that made milk come out of their nose. They’ll remember how you spent every Friday night working in a soup kitchen to help others. They’ll remember you.” 

Lyons expressed gratitude to her classmates for making her experience in Irvington memorable, and looked forward to seeing the incredible, generous and world-changing people they all will become.

Signifying the conclusion of one chapter and the beginning of another, the students crossed the stage and took hold of their diplomas. After moving their tassels to indicate their graduation, they tossed their caps in celebration.