GCVS holds first in-person graduation ceremony since start of pandemic

  • Greater Commonwealth Virtual School board of trustees Chair Jennifer Reynolds speaks about her personal path through education during a graduation ceremony in Turners Falls. Contributed Photo/Schley Warren

  • Greater Commonwealth Virtual School Executive Director Salah Khelfaoui addresses the crowd during a graduation ceremony in Turners Falls. Contributed Photo/Schley Warren

  • Laila Itemere, recipient of the Susan D. Hollins Founder’s Award, speaks during the Greater Commonwealth Virtual School graduation ceremony in Turners Falls earlier this month. Contributed Photo/Schley Warren

Staff Report
Published: 6/20/2022 3:40:00 PM
Modified: 6/20/2022 3:39:38 PM

TURNERS FALLS — For the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greater Commonwealth Virtual School (GCVS) held an in-person graduation ceremony earlier this month at the Ja’Duke Center for the Performing Arts.

Opening remarks were given by Executive Director Salah Khelfaoui and board of trustees Chair Jennifer Reynolds, according to a GCVS press release.

“You’ve all put aside your worries and you conquered your fears to work hard and achieve the success you enjoy today,” Khelfaoui told the graduates. “When all of the celebrations are over, many of you will most likely experience new worries, anxieties and fears as to what lies ahead. Some of you may have already started feeling that way, and that is normal. But know this: beyond that cloud of uncertainty and fear, you will all discover purpose and success.”

Reynolds imparted several lessons to the graduates, including the importance of always being true to yourself and trusting your instincts, having good intentions and taking time to care for yourself, and never giving up in the face of obstacles.

Several students were recognized for achieving scholarships and awards.

Ella Pierce, of Greenfield, was honored with the Gauthier Memorial Scholarship. According to the release, the scholarship is named for Scott Gauthier, a beloved member of the GCVS community who worked directly with high school students as one of the school’s guidance counselors.

Recipients of the Susan D. Hollins Founder’s Award were also honored, including Laila Itemere. The award is in honor of GCVS’ original founder/superintendent, and is given to a graduating senior who exemplifies the characteristics of courage, scholarship, generosity and entrepreneurial spirit.

The valedictorian address was given by Jeremy Ruggles, who has taken part in GCVS’ dual enrollment option through the school’s partnership with Greenfield Community College. Ruggles plans to continue his education at GCC by studying liberal arts.

“No matter how you did or how high school treated you, you still made it. Even if you just barely scraped by, you should all be proud,” Ruggles told the graduates.


Pablo Alvarado-Cruz, Fausto Neto Andrade, Noah Arel, Nathan Berrios, Eliza Blakie, William Bohonowicz, Brooke Brunelle, Krystal Brunelle, Taylor Brunelle, Joshua-Mark Campbell, Ivy Canavan, Reid Carrier, Alainna Catino, Emily Clark, Amelia Collett, Xavier Cruz, Celia Curtin, Lydia Cutillo, Mickey DeMartino, Ariana Diaz, Cameron DiRusso, Libby Doyle, Grace Dunning, Alicia Emond, Marick Farina, Gianna Finkley, Carah Finn, Lydia Flagg, Angelina Frisoni, Savannah Frye, Hikaru Fujiwara, Matt Gayle, Anthony Gerardi, Morgan Gibney, Vanessa Gomez, Ally Gracia, Sofia Guadalupe, Cassidy Herbert, Jomarick Hernandez, Alexia Hubacz, Morgane Inhaber-Courchesne, Laila Itemere, Kiara Johnson-Ware, Kayleigh Kenney, Jayzon King, Olivia Knickerbocker, Kaylee Lee, Iraima Lopez Diaz, Nicole Lopez, Isaie Louis, Harley MacMullen, Shane Mahoney, Emma Matteau, Mariah Mayerhofer, Claire Mental, Holly Merrikin, Lacy Migliaccio, Caitlin Moran, Evelyn Mostovoy, Emma Nguyen, Jacqueline Nieves, Edita Nye, Fiona Peill-Meininghaus, Anna Pepper, Ella Pierce, Alexandra Pinto, Callie Poissot, Danielle Poole, Adrianna Power Callaghan, Sofia Price, Nathan Recchia, Joelyne Reyes, Courtney Ribas, Sean Roach, Julia Roberts, Ryan Roberts, Nolan Ross, Madison Roy, Jeremy Ruggles, Kasia Russo, Nolan Saito, Tasneem Shakir, Emma Sherman, Kayla Soeng, Melody Sousa Rebelo, Emilee Souza, Piper Stephenson, Jackson Sullivan, Rehan Syed, Emilia Tryon, Finn Trznadel, Yulianna Vale-Madsen, Adrian Vargas Rivera, Amandine Vereque, Gabriella Vigorito, Briley Wade, Lindsey Welch, Charles Williams, Tyler Williams and Owen Winters.


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