Hopewell Valley Central High School (HVCHS) Class of 2023 closed the book on a “rollercoaster” four years that saw them navigate through a pandemic.
Dressed in black caps and gowns, seniors from the Class of 2023 walked together for one final time as they grabbed their diplomas at Ackerson Field to mark the end of their high school journeys on June 15 in Pennington.
“Our time here at HVCHS has been a lot like a snow globe,” said Commencement speaker Camille Rosenthale. “In this moment sitting here in our caps and gowns together it feels like we are the settled snow.
“We are in the calm after the storm and a sense of peace as we have decided our post-graduation plans. Like a sheet of snow, we are connected together on common ground.”
Rosenthale noted that she and her fellow graduates are about to enter a time of discomfort.
“No longer grounded together,” she said. “Like a snowflake we may feel like we are aimlessly floating with all new experiences coming at us from all directions, but even though we will be making our way through a swirling storm it is important to remember that people choose to shake snow globes to see the beauty.”
Rosenthale urged fellow seniors to make room for the unpredictable.
“When we shake things up, we are embracing a chance to go further into our unique selves,” she said. “Remember when things are shaken up, they still have to land. Like snow, things will settle, but they will settle differently each time and that is ok.
“Make room for the unpredictable, because that is where you will find the most valuable opportunities. Go out there, put your footprints in the snow, and shake up your own globe.”
Under the setting sun, Senior Christian Barnes referred to life as a difficult game.
“The question is whether or not you can play that game,” he said. “The game is not about gaining popularity or clout, but rather the reputation you want for yourself. When you find that you will be able to see how far you want to go.”
Barnes stressed to his fellow graduates to not choose to believe the reputation people give them as it will stunt their vision for themselves.
“That pain will hurt the most,” he said. “You need a strong mindset, because it is difficult to believe in yourself. So, the question is whether or not you can play the game of life.”
Reflecting on the past four years with the Class of 2023, Principal Patricia Riley described the image she had of those years as a rollercoaster.
“If there is one word to describe HVCHS Class of 2023, it is definitely ‘fun.’ she said. “I know that the rollercoaster of high school may have had a lot of ups and downs, but I hope that when you look back on the ride you remember the fun as well.”
Riley asked that the seniors remember three things from her as they go through the twists, turns and fun of life.
“I want you to remember you are loved, I want you to remember that you will be missed, and I want you to remember you will always have a home here at HVCHS,” she said.
Superintendent Rosetta Treece has no doubt that the Class of 2023 will go out and make a difference in the global community.
“All of you will seek to find your true calling in your voice,” she said. “You are bound to stumble. You are bound to change directions and are occasionally going to fall down along the way. I know you have figured out by now how to get back and find the path again.”