By Rick Pezzullo—
Irvington High School celebrated its Class of 2021 graduates during an in-person commencement ceremony at Scenic Hudson Park on June 19. Irvington High School Principal Juliet Gevargis-Mizimakoski welcomed the guests and honorees before seniors Josiah Acheampong and Chloe Edwards acknowledged Juneteenth with remarks and a poem reading.
In her speech, Gevargis-Mizimakoski reflected on the past year that encouraged teachers and students to support one another in a new learning environment, demonstrating flexibility, perseverance and resilience.
“You have been through unprecedented times that began in your junior year and continued this year, and you have persevered like no other,” said Gevargis-Mizimakoski, addressing the graduates. “You have each learned so much during this time that will shape you as you move forward. We are so incredibly proud of your strength and resilience.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kristopher Harrison paid tribute to the students’ growth, achievements and experiences they’ve engaged in throughout their educational journey at Irvington.
“Remember what helped you to be successful and then be an agent of change,” Harrison said. “Lead with your heart, your mind, your conscience, be an example to others through your actions to not only advance your own goals but to benefit those around you.”
Students were also addressed by class president Grace Thybulle and co-valedictorians Henry Demarest and Esha Shenoy.
In her speech, Thybulle reflected on facing adversity, including a global pandemic and racial reckoning, and encouraged her classmates to deeply reflect on faults and consider what they can do in the future to create warm, welcoming environments grounded in respect and education.
Demarest expressed his gratitude towards teachers, administrators, coaches and family members for keeping them safe throughout the school year, providing them with different senior experiences and supporting them in all endeavors. He also reflected on the past four years of high school and his peers’ ability to confront and solve problems.
“As our Irvington High School Class of 2021 spreads out around the country, and even the world, we must hold onto our drive to solve problems and continue to tackle these big issues,” Demarest said. “Our society needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regulate polluters and embrace renewable energy to reverse global warming before it’s too late. We need to combat income inequality, protect voting rights and support representation in places of power to ensure that everyone’s voice can be heard and is valued. In general, we need to create a just world where we respect our planet and each other.”
Shenoy described her fellow graduates as a group of perseverant, empathetic and courageous people who represent the strength of a community and are an indicator of brighter days ahead. She reflected on her peers’ successes in music, art, athletics and academics, as well as their commendable work in health care, community service and the fight for racial justice.
“To the Class of 2021, I leave with this: Don’t be afraid to branch out of what you currently limit yourself to be,” Shenoy said. “Have the courage to take that leap, and I guarantee you’ll go far.”
Irvington High School Class of 2021 Graduates
Daly, Killian J
Dhanoolal, Bobby K
Edme, Elisha A
Hanna, Kate R
Hanna, Ruby R
Haynes, Austin J
Kostelny Nunez, Susan Elizabeth
Lewis, Allister X
Mays, Clifford W
Mitchell, Odane S
Smith, Thomas J
Song, Yoseop Joseph
Stein, Jacob D
Striano, Brandon M
Talty, Benjamin P
Taubenfeld, Zachary L
Thomas, Jared S