Haddonfield Memorial High’s Class of 2023 finished its senior year amid a gentle rain that fell steadily on June 21 at the Haddonfield Memorial High School stadium.
Due to a change in the honors system, there were no valedictorians or salutatorians this year, but rather a voluntary submissions process where students who graduated summa cum laude were offered the opportunity to present graduation speeches.
This year’s speaker lineup included summa cum laude graduates Charles Webb, who also served as a student representative to the board of education; senior class President Rex Cottone; Ian Talty; Principal Tammy McHale and school Superintendent Chuck Klaus.
Webb reflected on the memories the class made at the gravel Bancroft lot – a parking spot for student cars – and how they overcame bumps on the road over four years.
“That’s the best part of our grade, no matter where we are, in every class, during sports, on the stage, at a rainy graduation or anywhere outside of school, the sense of community built by this class can be seen,” he noted.
“This class has not defined itself by their plans for after graduation, but by our character and bonds created throughout our four years at HMHS and also, of course, our ability to make a great parking lot.”
McHale called the class of 2023 – at 220 students – one of the best she’s seen in her 24 years of education.
“There are so many things I reflect on while addressing a class prior to graduation,” she acknowledged. “What stands out to me is how proud and hard-working they are … I would like to thank this class for never giving up, demanding more, making a difference and caring about others.
“You are all resilient,” she continued. “Many, if not all of you, faced your own battles throughout high school, and fought your way through them.”
Klaus highlighted some of the 220 graduates’ achievements, including 111 students in the National Honor Society, 102 with an A+ average, and 51 who graduated with the Seal of Biliteracy.
“You’re a group of young adults who have coalesced and expressed determination and cleverness,” Klaus remarked. “You seem to love that space between testing limits and breaking rules. It’s an exciting space, it’s a dangerous space.”
Klaus also recalled finding a horse in the school courtyard when he arrived – a first for him.
“As I approached, it must have been clear by the look on my face that this might have been problematic,” he said. “With absolute confidence and certainty, it was made clear to me it was not a problem, it was necessary. It was Western-themed; we needed a horse. We got a horse, and technically, only the head … entered the school building, so everything was okay.
“I felt it made sense, but moreover, the level of assuredness could not be denied, and I think that level of assuredness encapsulates the Class of 2023.”