Excitement was in the air on the morning of Saturday, June 25, as 112 students from the class of 2022 gathered at Cohoes High School for the commencement ceremony inside the Alumni Gymnasium.
Jubilant graduates received their diplomas cheered on by family, friends, teachers, administrators, members of the Board of Education, Mayor Bill Keeler and Assemblymember John McDonald.
Principal Laura Tarlo welcomed the crowd and introduced Senior Class Vice President Zachary Loucks, who led attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. Following that, the Cohoes Choir sang the National Anthem and Alma Mater, under the guidance of music teacher Mr. Christian Gunn.
Principal Tarlo spoke to the parallels of growing up and gardening. “Each and everyone of you here today has the ability to flourish. Just as fruits and flowers are unique, so are your stories,” she said.
She told the students that whatever path they choose to take after graduation – whether it’s the pursuit of college and higher education, trade school, the military or directly entering the workforce – will be okay as long as they continue to grow. “Everything you do in life, every experience that you encounter, prepares you for the next step in your journey.”
Superintendent Peggy O’Shea compared the metamorphosis of butterflies to graduating. “As individuals and a class you have gone through many changes and many challenges to get where you are today. Now it is your time to soar.”
She thanked the students for being excellent learners and classmates, and for their service to others. She also thanked parents and family members for the support and encouragement they provided to their children, ensuring their success at Cohoes High School.
Reflecting on the challenges the students faced due to the pandemic during their sophomore year, CHS English Teacher Leader Heather Ball commended them on their resiliency of spirit.
“You are a group that have demonstrated determination in the face of adversity. You have adapted to a constantly changing world – a world even the adults had never seen,” she said. “But, most importantly, you are a resilient group of people that will make the future better for the next generation.”
Class Valedictorian Sara Thaqi, who is heading to Siena College where she will major in pre-med, told her classmates that it is okay to be afraid of the next chapter that lies ahead.
“Do not let that fear control you. Use this fear to drive you to pursue your goals despite the consequences that may arise from it,” she said. “This diploma that you will receive today is your first step into adulthood that will give you a key to many future opportunities.”
Senior Class President Alexius Smith, heading to Russell Sage College this fall as a sociology major, took a short trip down memory lane, describing the feelings they all had at the beginning of each new school year in high school.
“I hope all of your futures contain luck, fortune and everything you’ve ever dreamed of, because it starts right now. One of your first dreams is about to happen,” she told her classmates.
There were joyous cheers and happy tears as each student was called on stage to receive their diplomas. After Principal Tarlo officially declared them graduates, students moved their tassels to the side and threw their caps into the air to much applause.
Congratulations to the Cohoes High School Class of 2022! We wish you nothing but the best!
The entire ceremony was live streamed. You can view a recording of the ceremony here.