‘Do what you love’: Turners Falls High School’s graduating class celebrates vibrant return to in-person togetherness

  • The Turners Falls High School community celebrates the graduating Class of 2022. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Principal Christopher Barnes speaks during the Turners Falls High School graduation on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Class Vice President Dylan Burnett prepares to walk during the Turners Falls High School graduation on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • The Turners Falls High School community celebrates the graduating Class of 2022. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Class President Emily Young speaks during the Turners Falls High School graduation on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • The Turners Falls High School community celebrates the graduating Class of 2022 on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Salutatorian Paige Sulda speaks during the Turners Falls High School graduation on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Principal Christopher Barnes hands Class Vice President Dylan Burnett her diploma at the TFHS graduation. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 6/3/2022 9:51:13 PM
Modified: 6/3/2022 9:49:14 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Dozens of proud families brought bouquets and jumbo-size balloons to Turners Falls High School’s gymnasium on Friday to celebrate this year’s graduating class.

The 35-member class made up for what they lacked in numbers with spirit, presenting a wealth of student performers to complement three student speakers. Accompanying student speeches were words of congratulations and encouragement from Principal Christopher Barnes, Superintendent Brian Beck and Gill-Montague Regional School District School Committee Chair Jane Oakes.

Beck began his speech comically, joking about how he hadn’t spoken with Barnes prior to graduation to plan the matching suits they showed up in. He said it reflected the like-mindedness of the two before extending a comparable sentiment to the graduating class in the body of his address. Showering praise upon the students for their activism, involvement with school programs and for how they “all laughed together as a school,” Beck highlighted the students’ sense of initiative as their greatest quality.

“What stands out most to me about the models of the Class of 2022 is the capacity for exceptional leadership,” he said.

Barnes’ speech celebrated the class for similar reasons, drawing on the “small, but mighty” moniker consistently invoked by staff regarding the school. He particularly recognized their resilience returning from the pandemic with a hunger to learn and contribute to a vibrant environment.

“Among their accomplishments as a class, right at the very top is their investment in Turners Falls High School,” he said.

Barnes, who consistently infuses his public speaking with a trademark silliness, made it a point to praise the graduates for their knack of having fun. He reminisced on emerging from pandemic-induced isolation to enjoy Spirit Week, a pep rally, a talent show and even dunking their principal in a tank of water.

“It’s been a crazy four years filled with funny turns, crazy laughs and unforgettable memories,” Salutatorian Paige Sulda said in her address.

A common theme within the student speeches was the acknowledgement of how each student was able to turn their eagerness to enjoy the company of their peers into strength. Barnes credited the class for seeing “what was lost” during the pandemic and reclaiming it.

“This environment has not only provided me and my classmates with an education,” Sulda said, “but also with a close-knit and supportive community.”

Concluding his address, Barnes implored the graduates to hold onto the attitude that made their high school experience fruitful.

“Remind yourselves of the great and positive impact you have had on our school and remember how much you matter,” he said.

Heeding the status quo, each student ended their speech with a simple wish for their classmates.

“I ask you all to reach high and to never think less of yourself or your ability to achieve your dreams,” Class Vice President Dylan Burnett said.

“I know that sounds cliche,” Sulda said, “but do what you love.”

Reach Julian Mendoza
at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.


Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
 

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy