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Cohoes High School Class of 2023 celebrates commencement 

Cohoes High School seniors celebrated their graduation on Saturday, June 24, and even the rain couldn’t dampen the festive mood.

Principal Laura Tarlo welcomed the large crowd of family, friends, teachers, administrators, members of the Board of Education, Mayor Bill Keeler and Assemblymember John McDonald, who gathered in the Alumni Gymnasium to celebrate the 111 seniors.

Senior Donald Cesare, who is enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps., led his classmates in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Following that, members of the high school chorus sang the national anthem and alma mater under the direction of music teacher Christian Gunn.

During her speech, Mrs. Tarlo reminded the students that time is fleeting. She, too, thought she had so much time at their age, but as an adult realizes that time is “the most precious commodity we have.” 

She asked the students to keep their high school memories alive as they move through their coming years. “Life is too short to be anything but happy,” she said. “Love deeply, forgive quickly, take chances, give everything with no regrets, forget the past, except what you have learned, and remember that everything happens for a reason.”

Superintendent Peggy O’Shea reflected upon the recent elementary and middle school promotion ceremonies. 

“We celebrated students’ growth and accomplishments, but knew we were still holding on, still keeping them with us,” she said, stating how high school graduation is a different type of ceremony. 

“Today we are celebrating your growth and your accomplishments, but now we are also celebrating letting you go – on to wherever your next steps might take you. You are ready!”

CHS special education teacher Keith Fischer addressed the students with a top 10 list of useful tips he wished he knew when he graduated high school. 

He told the kids to make the most of their time when stuck in traffic. “Enjoy whatever free time you have, even if you’re sitting in traffic,” he said, while encouraging them to not take everything personally. “You may be faced with challenging emotions and behaviors from a colleague or family member. Don’t take it personally and separate yourself from overreacting.”

He also touched on the importance of investing in their skills and setting long and short-term goals, encouraged them to always respond to texts and emails and stressed how important it is not to let social media define them. 

“You are a great person in the real world and you don’t need others in the virtual world to validate that.”

Class Valedictorian Quincy Hytko, who is heading to Miami University to major in communications this fall, shared a mantra her mother saw her off with each morning: “Be good. Be kind. Be careful.” She hopes those small phrases will inspire her classmates throughout their lives.

She also reflected on the passage of time and recalled how just yesterday she was a little girl playing soccer and today she is a high school graduate. 

“And now we are walking across this stage, leaving high school and closing one chapter of our lives,” she told her classmates. “But where one chapter ends, another begins. Our story is not over, and we have only amazing opportunities ahead of us.”

She closed her speech by thanking the teachers who inspired and influenced all of them.

Class President and Salutatorian Carissa Shanahan, who will be studying at SUNY Fredonia this fall, noted the benefit of being in a small city. “We have been together since the start of our schooling days; we grew up together,” she said. “So many great memories were had with all of you that I will never forget.”

Families and friends clapped and cheered as students were called up to proudly accept their diplomas. And just like that, the seniors of the Class of 2023, are now new graduates, ready to conquer the world.

Click here to view photos from photographer Terry Burns Jr. of Bashert Photography.

Click here to view the list of Scholar Awards.

Preparing our students for success in tomorrow’s world.

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