Four Rivers Class of 2024 ready to make its mark

Senior Isaiah Goleman speaks at the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Senior Isaiah Goleman speaks at the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Principal and Head of School Jenni Manfred holds a painted rock as she pays tribute to former student Ursula Snow who died in an accident in 2019 during the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Principal and Head of School Jenni Manfred holds a painted rock as she pays tribute to former student Ursula Snow who died in an accident in 2019 during the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Ella Sutton walks to the podium to speak at the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Ella Sutton walks to the podium to speak at the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Seniors walk into the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Seniors walk into the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Student Anna (Velveth) Smith speaks at the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Student Anna (Velveth) Smith speaks at the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Seniors Kya Rose Josephs, Tessa Nicholas Tully and Sierra Patch Upton get ready for the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Seniors Kya Rose Josephs, Tessa Nicholas Tully and Sierra Patch Upton get ready for the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Students applaud during graduation ceremonies at the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Students applaud during graduation ceremonies at the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Seniors stand at the beginning commencement at the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Seniors stand at the beginning commencement at the Four Rivers Charter Public School graduation ceremony on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 06-01-2024 5:53 PM

GREENFIELD — As the 26 graduates at Four Rivers Charter Public School marked the end of their high school journey Saturday afternoon, they were asked a simple question: How will they make a difference in society?

“How will you leave your mark on the world? Will you be a leader who inspires others? The innovator who brings about change? A compassionate individual who makes a difference in the lives of those around you?” Principal and Head of School Jenni Manfredi asked. “The choices you make and the paths you take will shape not only your future, but the future of our world.”

As they enter this new world of opportunity, Manfredi reminded the graduating class that the lessons and skills they have learned at Four Rivers can be lifelong tools to help them find success.

“Each of you has the potential to make a lasting impact on the world,” she said. “Think about the values you have embraced here and how you will carry them forward into your future endeavors … I encourage each of you to embrace life opportunities, enthusiasm and determination.”

In their six years at Four Rivers, the students have faced more than their fair share of challenges and obstacles, but, graduate Liam Black said, those difficulties have only served to make them one “damn resilient group of young people.”

“The tribulations that have marked our high school experience — namely fire, flood, disease and death — are undoubtedly greater than what most young people face,” Black said. “Though these hardships have left their scars, I’m convinced that they have built our character, strengthened our will and made us unwavering in the face of adversity.”

While Saturday afternoon served as a celebration of their accomplishments, there was also a somberness to it, as the school remembered student Ursula Snow, who was a seventh grader at Four Rivers when she died in an off-road vehicle accident in 2019. Snow would have graduated this year and she was honored with her own seat and gown next to her classmates. Her mother also was in attendance.

“Her spirit continues to inspire and guide those who were touched by her kindness and her courage,” Manfredi said. “This chair symbolizes her presence with us and serves as a reminder that she is still very much a part of this class.”

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The final student speaker, Willa Punches, also paid tribute to her friend.

“While my life keeps moving forward, hers is still … I so badly want to know who she is, instead, I get to wonder, which can be really beautiful sometimes,” Punches said. “What I know for certain, is that the Four Rivers 2024 graduation is just as much hers as it is ours.”

Punches capped her tribute off by reading “Those Rare Moments,” a poem written by Snow exploring the times where you are truly living in the present.

“In those rare moments, when you’re in the present moment only, and not caught up in your head, those rare moments. I used to have those moments a lot more, now my brain gives way to new things: homework and plans and weird worries only a teenager has,” Punches read. “I wish I could find those moments again. I think everybody should be able to find those moments again.”

Graduates

Caleb Anthony Richards, Liam Edward Hunter Black, William Burnett Cowie, Alexsandria Renee Curtin-Banks, Isaiah Thomas Goleman, Georgia Blossom Harris-Hendry, Alexander James Hazel, Kya Rose Josephs, Audrey June Kaiser, Phoenix Mast-Lippmann, Atticus Albion Michael Peters, Elias Bodhi Scott Provost, Willa Katherine Punches, Ethan Atticus Sandberg, Gretchen Mike Selva, Alexander Michael Shutta, Sophia Marlee Slade, Aaron Jackson Sliva, Ana Kathleen Smith, Ella Judith Robey Sutton, Tessa Nicholas Tully, Sierra Patch Upton, Delia Joy West, Samuel Cushman Whitney, Stella Penelope Anderson Williford.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com.