Panthers prepare for the world

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 7/3/24

The Wallkill community celebrated over 200 graduates on Friday, June 28 with the annual Wallkill Senior High School Commencement Ceremony. Smiles, cheers and tears were presented on the faces of …

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Panthers prepare for the world


The Wallkill community celebrated over 200 graduates on Friday, June 28 with the annual Wallkill Senior High School Commencement Ceremony. Smiles, cheers and tears were presented on the faces of graduates, parents, teachers and staff as the Class of 2024 steps out into the world.

Wallkill graduates processed onto the football field from two entrances as parents, family and friends of the graduates cheered on from the sidelines and bleachers. Members of the faculty and staff lined up on each side of the procession and students took a few moments to embrace their teachers.

Wallkill Senior High School Principal BJ Masopust welcomed those gathered to the commencement. “Family, friends, faculty and staff, administration and members of our board of education, it’s with great pleasure that I present the Wallkill Senior High School Class of 2024,” said Masopust.

Members of the audience applauded and graduating members of the Wallkill Senior High School Choir made their way to the side of the stage and performed the National Anthem with the Shawangunk Mountains as a backdrop for the celebration.

Masopust returned to the podium with further introductions of staff and other members of the school with further remarks to the graduating class. “Before we begin our ceremony, I would like to thank all of you for attending this very memorable and exceptional moment in these students’ lives. Graduating from high school is an achievement that should elicit great pride,” said Masopust . “Class of 2024, this ceremony is designed to recognize each of you as individuals and as a group. You’ve all worked very hard to make it to this event and I’m honored to be a part of it with you.”

Superintendent of Schools Kevin Castle followed Masopust with words of reflection and encouragement for the graduates. “Graduates, throughout history different generations have overcome adversity and now this generation has its own challenges that you must overcome. While adversity may bring sadness and doubt, it also builds strength and resilience,” said Castle. “In fact, you have been building strength and resilience since kindergarten. Over the years, you have persevered and beat the many challenges that are associated with learning. Learning is not easy.”

“However, with the help of your teachers, parents and guardians, you’ve been able to succeed. You were able to fight through the challenges and in turn you were able to grow. Your accomplishments today have proven to us that you have built the strength and resilience needed to beat the challenges you are currently facing and the unknown challenges you may face in the future,” Castle continued. “Milestones such as this should bring you hope and optimism that your future is bright.”

Wallkill High School National Honor Society and Student Government Association President Jayden Boafo was then welcomed to the stage. He will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall semester. During his comments, he reflected on the very early days of the pandemic, remembering details about the dismissal of students and reflecting on the way that the pandemic changed the lives of the graduating class during that period of uncertainty. His words also touched on the identity and the resilience of his fellow classmates.

“The special thing about the class of 2024 is that we experienced what I refer to as a time skip. In 2020, we left eighth grade as naive young minds expecting to return in two weeks, oblivious to the fact that our lives would never be the same again and here we are now,” said Boafo. “By engaging in a variety of interests, many of us have collectively learned to ignore the need for external approval and focus on discovering who we truly are. I encourage all of us to embrace this approach as we continue to navigate our lives together. As we step into the next part of our lives, let us remember to embrace the unknown, take risks and welcome the growth that comes with it.”

Wallkill Salutatorian Trevor Strano, who will be attending Yale University in the fall, was then welcomed to the podium to share his reflections. He extended his gratitude to his parents and family, his friends and his teachers who inspired his learning and made his academic journey worthwhile.

“It’s hard to believe we’re finally here. We spent the last four years walking these halls together, learning together and becoming friends with each other. Now, as I stand here today, I’m greeted not just by faces but by memories. Memories of time well spent and certainly memories I will not forget for the rest of my life,” said Strano. “Each of us is responsible for sharing our stories with the world and taking the time to listen to the stories of others. Let us make the story of our class one to remember.”

Wallkill Valedictorian Andie Psilopoulos, who will be attending Duquesne University in the fall, followed with her reflections, briefly comparing the movie Shrek to the journey of high school. “Life is just a bunch of moments. Some moments are small and seemingly insignificant like getting a bad grade on a test while others are monumental, altering the course of our lives forever like picking a college but it’s the sum of these moments, both big and small that ultimately defines our journey,” said Psilopoulos. “As we stand here today, ready to embark on the next chapter of our journey, it’s important to remember that the moments don’t stop here. In fact, they’re just beginning. From this day forward we will continue to encounter new experiences, new challenges, new opportunities that will shape us in ways that we can’t even imagine.”

Wallkill Senior Class President Alyssa Escudero, who will be attending Mount Saint Mary College in the fall, thanked her parents and loved ones, her friends and her colleagues on the board of education in her remarks. “Today marks a significant milestone in our lives. As we stand on the threshold of a new chapter, it is a time for reflection, celebration and anticipation of what lies ahead. This moment feels extremely surreal as I stand on this stage before all my classmates. I would have never imagined this day since we began online classes our freshman year,” said Escudero. “We were the less fortunate class that did not have an eighth grade graduation but we have earned our high school graduation today.”

Board of Education President Joseph LoCicero, shared remarks and also recognized members of the military, essential workers and first responders and shared words to the graduates. “This class exceeds all expectations and I believe that comes from not only great kids but great mentors,” said LoCicero. “You all now leave Wallkill High and move on to college, the military or the workforce. No matter which direction you go, I want you to always do your best.”

Finally, Masopust came for a final time to the stage, holding back emotions to the graduates. “As I reflect on our last four years together, I can say in confidence that the class of 2024 is one of the strongest that I can recall during my 16 years at Wallkill as an educator,” said Masopust. “As we send you off into the world to give your best, I have no doubt that you will have a positive impact on it and just as you improve Wallkill Senior High School, you’ll make the world a better place.”

With final remarks, Masopust welcomed Castle one last time to the podium to officially confirm the students as high school graduates. Once confirmed, Masopust and other administrators presented diplomas to the eager graduates. The diplomas were given, tassels were turned, caps were thrown in the air and applause rang out, thus concluding the journey of these Wallkill students, now alumni of Wallkill Senior High School.