Grads reflect on their four years in high school

Commencement for Class of ‘22 touches on COVID effect

Moorestown High School’s graduation ceremony on June 17 began with salutatorian Bryan Wang encouraging his peers to cherish their time in high school.

“Well seniors, it’s been a rough four years,” he began. “Coming into high school as naive freshmen, none of us knew how difficult and challenging high school would be. From the first day, we were bombarded by a wave of new information. … By sophomore year, we former freshmen started to get the hang of high school. We now had some understanding of how to manage the academic load and the pressure put on our shoulders.” 

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Among the pressures Wang cited was COVID.

“We now, yet again, had to adapt, but this time to a situation that none of us had experienced before,” he explained. “ … I urge you all to cherish the experiences that we had in high school, and know that these past four years have been a blessing for ourselves and for those around us.”

After the school concert band and Madrigals performed the national anthem, valedictorian Maya Butani took the stage.

“ … Looking into the crowd today, I realize that so much has changed since we first came to this school,” she said. “ … As we look to the future, many of us are asking ourselves, ‘How can I possibly make an impact on the world?’

“ … There’s a theory that I love called the butterfly effect … ” Butani added. “This theory means that small changes can snowball into significant events. This means that the way we’ve all influenced each other has already changed the world.”

Butani then addressed what lies ahead.

“ … Class of 2022, I am not scared for the future, because I have had the honor to watch us all make those impactful choices over the last four years,” she noted. “Whatever a successful future looks like to you, it is within your grasp. 

The future depends on the change we embrace and the choices we make.

“ … Though I’m a mix of emotions, one thing I am not is scared,” Butani concluded. “I cannot wait to be a part of the future we will shape.”

Senior Class President Alex Berstein also reflected on the past and the future.

“ … Who can forget March of 2020, our sophomore year, where we unexpectedly left high school and were sent home, without realizing it, for a very, very long time,” he said. “Many of us did not even come back to school in person until our senior year. When we did return, it was to a very different world, a world of social distancing, restrictions and masks, but now here we are, getting ready to graduate Moorestown High School forever.

“Even though we have gone to school together for our entire lives, our paths may never cross again, but I have had the opportunity these past few weeks, and I can’t help but feel the excitement in the air,” Bernstein added. “ … Make no mistake about it, our youthful idealism will be tested. Not everything will go the way that we want it to. 

“We will strive to be successful and happy, but it won’t always be easy,” he concluded. “There are cynics and haters out there who will try and get in our way. Don’t let them.”

Superintendent Michael Volpe and board of education President Maurice Weeks commended the graduates after the announcement of class gifts and “The Irish Blessing”.

“ … As you move forward, I urge you not to simply chase achievement for the sake of achievement, or for other things that other people may see as achievement, (but) I urge you to find what you love,” he said. “Your calling, your vocation, your purpose … In the fast-paced world that we live in, taking your time is sometimes seen as a flaw, but actually it’s a virtue and an underrated one at that … 

“Wherever you go, whatever you do, no matter how long it takes you, remember to do it passionately and with purpose,” Volpe added. “Celebrate with the ones you love and lift up others where you can.”

“The journey that brought you all here, to this point, was challenging,” Weeks said. “In addition to a global pandemic, you survived learning to spend the whole day at school away from us. You learned how to make friends, how to play nice, how to be undeniably excellent, how to discover passion and focus on it, how to forget about that passion (that it ever existed) and focus on a different one.

“These past years in school were not intended to define exactly who you are,” he added. “Our hope and our desire is that it provided you a glimpse of who you can and want to be. It was meant to provide you a foundation to help you understand that who you are is enough already, and to give you the freedom to find the path that works best for you.”

After the awarding of diplomas and a performance of the alma mater, senior class Assistant Principal Robert McGough led students in flipping their tassels.

“Class dismissed,” he said. “Congratulations.”

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