Highland honors the Class of 2024

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 7/3/24

Last week the Highland School district graduated 129 students in the Class of 2024. High School Principal Dr. Kevin Murphy welcomed everyone to the graduation ceremony.

Dr. Murphy urged the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Highland honors the Class of 2024


Last week the Highland School district graduated 129 students in the Class of 2024. High School Principal Dr. Kevin Murphy welcomed everyone to the graduation ceremony.

Dr. Murphy urged the graduates to, “Never stop learning, the world is constantly evolving and there is always more to discover. Embrace curiosity and continue to seek knowledge in everything that you do. Be courageous, pursue your passions, take risks and do not be afraid to fail. It is through our failures that we learn the most and grow stronger. Remember the power of kindness. In a world that can sometimes be harsh and unforgiving, be the light that brightens someone’s day. A simple act of kindness can make a profound difference in someone’s life. Set goals for yourselves and finally, stay connected to each other and to our beautiful Highland community. Lean on each other, support one another and never forget the Highland community that helped shape you.”

Superintendent Joel Freer said the Class of 2024 has, “grown so much since their first days in kindergarten in September 2011. They have not been reduced by difficulties but have used them as stepping stones to greater achievement. The future holds boundless opportunities for those who believe in their strength and potential. Dream boldly, pursue your passions with relentless determination and let your actions be guided by integrity and compassion. The world eagerly awaits the contributions you are poised to make.”

Salutatorian Alice Dong delivered her address to the Class of 2024. In the fall she will be attending SUNY Binghamton and will major in Biological Sciences toward a career in medicine.

“Today we close a chapter of the last 13 years of our lives and enter a world of uncertainties and endless possibilities,” she said. “It is OK to not have every step of your life planned out and to not have a crystal clear image of where you will be in ten years. But I ask all of you to take risks in your lives and most importantly find happiness on your own terms, whatever that may look like. This very day wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication, love and support of our teachers, family, friends and community and to that I say thank you. And lastly, thank you to my fellow classmates and friends for making the last 13 years truly magical.”

The High School Band, under the direction of Daniel Shaut, performed “Fracas,” by Randall D. Standridge.
Alexander Vladimirov Papazov delivered the Valedictorian Address to the Class of 2024. He will be attending Harvard University in the Fall, majoring in Linguistics and Neuroscience toward his goal of becoming a Neurosurgeon.

Papazov said it is hard to predict what the Class of 2024 will become in a decade, saying the future is a bit overwhelming when contemplating who their friends will be, what jobs they all will have, “or even what we want to do with our lives [but] never be afraid to take up space, say your name, state where you’re from and don’t let them forget because you never know if that will land you a job internship in the future.”

Papazov concluded by urging his classmates, “to move forward, excited to expand your circle and invest in those connections that could make your career.” He urged his classmates “to pause when accepting their diplomas and feel the pride for all the work that led you to this moment. Congratulations.”

Commencement Speaker Dr. Frank Wilklow is a Highland High School graduate and was the Salutatorian of the Class of 1983. He is presently an Interventional Cardiologist at Touro Hospital in New Orleans.

Wilklow said he struggled through Organic Chemistry, “calling it a confusing mystery that I still know nothing about, but success is not measured by a grade, success is measured by the accomplishment of finishing.”

Wilklow said everyone experiences failure at some point but, “failure in life, when looked at in retrospect, almost always benefits you. When it happens, take a deep breath, recover and realize that in the future that failure was the best thing that’s ever happened to you, because it will change your life and that change is often positive.”

Wilklow acknowledged that we live in anxious times, “but standing before the Class of 2024, I have reason to feel optimistic. You are well prepared, you are diverse, you are hard-working and most importantly you are willing to work for a better world for all of us. Don’t give up, treat people well, there is nothing you cannot achieve. Good luck, be careful and take care of yourselves.”

Dr. Kevin Murphy awarded the diplomas to the Class of 2024 and then brought the Graduation Ceremony to a close.