GHS class of 2022 celebrates commencement

Guilderland High School’s graduating class celebrated commencement on Friday, June 24, in a ceremony that featured inspiring and uplifting music and words of hope, peace and encouragement. Commencement exercises took place at the MVP Arena in Albany.

GHS students wearing red and white robes celebrate and throw their caps in the air


Superintendent’s welcome address: “peace is what we need…our students are up to the challenge of promoting peace through their work.”

In her address to graduates, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Wiles, spoke about having recently encountered a mourning dove, a symbol of peace. She encouraged the GHS class of 2022 to do their part to make the world a more peaceful place by being good, open-minded listeners and active, thoughtful learners. “It is my hope that here in Guilderland we have given you the foundation to engage in these very things. I have seen evidence that our students are up to the challenge of promoting peace through their work. I have seen your art. I have heard your music. I have listened to you share your research. I have seen and heard you speak out against hate. I have seen and heard you advocate for more safety in school and safe storage of guns in our community. This kind of courageous, well informed, thoughtful advocacy gives me hope for better days ahead for all of us”.

Student welcome address: “we are the powerful and fierce class of 2022.”

Senbahavalli Ramasamy delivered the student welcoming address, acknowledging that during recent difficult times her energy and interest in school may have waned. She turned to her father who gave her the insight that despite having goals, it’s important to know when to rest, to come back stronger and not to quit. Ms. Ramasamy likened the class of 2022’s time during the pandemic as a time of darkness and, much like her father’s advice, they came back stronger, with more confidence. “We are the powerful and fierce class of 2022.”

Graduate address: “2022 is our year. It’s time to get our hopes up.”

Lauren Reilly delivered the graduate address. A strong believer in the power of words, she spoke about the power of the word “hope.” Having hurdled many obstacles, she felt hope is aptly applied to the class of 2022. Often told “don’t get your hopes up,” Ms. Reilly sees this advice as misguided. With countless opportunities in their lives, “it’s not only okay to get our hopes up, it’s wise to do so, wise to dream of all we can become. If we don’t get our hopes up, we end up defaulting to the most practical or simplest path, but not the one we are truly meant to aspire towards. If we don’t end up hoping for the best, we settle for less.” Ms. Reilly continued, “2022 is our year. It is time to get our hopes up.”

Principal’s comments: “it’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out.”

In his remarks, GHS Principal Michael Piscitelli recognized three students, Anthony Chen, Gabriella Cusato and Megi Hamza, members of the Class of 2022 who tragically lost their lives. He then recognized students who excelled to the three highest levels of academic performance, those who completed at least 150 hours of community service and those who have committed to serving our country through the armed forces. In addition, members of the audience who served or are serving our country through the armed forces were asked to stand to be acknowledged.

Mr. Piscitelli recounted a conversation he had with his daughter, also a high school graduating senior, in early spring, a time when high school seniors are choosing a college and a major. She was worried and stressed about making a mistake or the wrong decision. Mr. Piscitelli explained that many graduating students feel they have to have it all figured out at the age of 18. He let students in on a little secret: “there is no magic age when you have it all figured out”. No matter which path students choose, they should know it’s okay to not have it figured out or to change their mind along the way. “Right now you don’t know what you don’t know. As you move into the next stages of your life, be open to exploring new ideas and new passions. Don’t be afraid to change directions”. He explained that he worked as an engineer before returning to school to become a math teacher and has never regretted that decision.

Commencement address: “I know that our world is going to be better because of each and every one of you.”

After an introduction by Hannah Kovelman, Director for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Matt Pinchinat delivered the Commencement Address. A former high school social studies teacher, Mr. Pinchinat shared words of wisdom in a way that returned students’ to a time when their school lives began, with the ABCs. He delivered 26 nuggets of advice: A, always follow your heart; B, be the change you want to see in the world; C, create environments where all feel welcome and where everyone can succeed. Mr. Pinchinat continued through the alphabet, dispensing advice until arriving at Z, which he left undefined. “I won’t define Z because I can’t define what the end of your story is going to be; only you can choose and mold what comes next.” Known for rapping in the classroom as a way to deliver lessons, Mr. Pinchinat concluded his address with a short rap that ended with “I know that you are kind, I know that you are true, I know that our world is going to be better because of each and every one of you.”

The program included the senior class video produced by Audrey Cassella, Erilda Pengu and Summer Fedorov and a musical performance by the Guilderland High School Jazz Band, led by director John Fatuzzo. Their rousing rendition of “The Funk Stomps Here” by Richard DeRosa, featured musical solo performances by five graduating senior members of the band: William Angus, Nellie Cordi, John Giordano, Nathaniel Mussman and Brennan Reiner..

You can watch the 2022 Commencement Ceremony on the GHS Media YouTube channel.

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