Attendees gathered outside at North Shore High School’s athletic fields last Friday for North Shore High School’s 2022 Commencement Ceremony.
The ceremony began with the senior class’s co-presidents Finn O’Sullivan and Noah Pastulla leading the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the “Star Spangled Banner” performed by North Shore High School’s Wind Symphony. The anthem was sung by Mia Crocco and conducted by Jason Domingo.
North Shore High School’s principal Eric Contreras, who became the school’s new principal on Aug. 3, 2021, congratulated the graduating class in his speech.
“Today we celebrate the monumental milestones and cherish the small moments,” said Contreras. “Both have defined you and will continue to provide inspiration, strength, and a place in your hearts. I am honored to serve you and will forever cherish you as a class. Please return to visit and continue to define all your spaces in big and small ways. And don’t be afraid to fly, even if it’s just ‘falling with style,’ as Buzz Lightyear put it, because you can always pick yourself up and dust off and try again.”
Salutatorian Emma Nelson encouraged the class to “be courageous” in her speech by highlighting her own struggles when choosing which sport to dedicate herself to in college.
“It felt like everyone expected me to play field hockey—even I expected it for myself,” said Nelson. “I kept thinking of younger me, all of her hopes and dreams, all of the times she devoted to the sport. The truth is I was scared to close that chapter of my life, scared to leave it behind and pursue something new.”
Nelson was accepted to one of her top college choices, Colorado School of Mines, which did not have a field hockey team, but a top cross-country program. Nelson made the decision to run for the school’s track team and will be studying geological engineering in the fall.
“It is that fear, that printed instinct, that we learned from Class of 2022,” said Nelson. As you move forward on your new path, find your courage. Be brave, stay strong, and embrace change. Don’t run from your fears. Instead, let them fuel you.”
Valedictorian Kate Gilliam, who will be attending Harvard University in the fall and will be playing for the school’s girls varsity lacrosse team, also expressed the hardships that came with the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the class’s school years in her speech.
“Not only did the start of the pandemic mark the influx of an infectious disease, but it also represented a significant life change,” said Gilliam. “It is natural for us to look at life changes in a negative light. They are difficult, and often require serious adjustments. The reality is all of us here today are embarking on one of the greatest life changes we have experienced thus far.”
Contreras ended the ceremony by thanking the families and parents of the graduating class and left the class with a few heartfelt messages.
“I have seen you grow, learn, make friends, and demonstrate a heroic level of poise and resilience as we navigated the challenges we faced as a country and community,” said Contreras. “My memory of the class is not defined by the challenges, but by the way you rose to the challenge.”