Avon Grove graduates 429 in June 7 ceremonies06/12/2023 10:29AM ● By Richard Gaw
Photos by Richard L. Gaw The Avon Grove High School Class of 2023 saw 429 students receive their diplomas in ceremonies held at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark on June 7.
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
If there was ever a group of high school students whose educational paths have been spun so abruptly over the course of the last four years, it has been the 429 members of the Avon Grove High School Class of 2023, who endured not only a world-wide pandemic but a myriad of adjustments in the closing of one high school and their move to a newly-built school on the other side of West Grove.
All of those students – as well as their trials and their successes -- were celebrated at the school’s 95th annual commencement ceremony on June 7, held before an audience of approximately 4,000 friends and family at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.
“Class of 2023, the start of your high school career was the start of the pandemic and you learned how to be flexible, with little to no notice,” Principal Dr. Christie Snead told the graduates in her welcoming comments. “What makes your class unique is your ability to adapt and persevere. These two qualities have been tested while society shifted. You adapted to challenges and persevered through challenging times.
“Whether you excelled in the classroom, the shop, a lab, on the stage, on the court or on the field, you have experienced challenge and disappointment, but instead of throwing in the towel, you accepted the challenge by adapting and persevering.”
In her address “Jump In,” class valedictorian Rachel Enache said her greatest accomplishment at Avon Grove girls soccer team, who after the graduation of several senior members, were told to expect a few rebuilding seasons ahead. After an opening day tie, “we built upon our past successes and made improvements to capitalize on who we lost,” she said. “Rather than reconstruct our team from scratch, we reflected on the positives of the previous year. Pass by pass, play by play, game by game, we focused on what we could control -- our effort, our teammates and our actions.”
The commitment led the team to an undefeated season, said Enache, who encouraged her classmates to endure the unknown in the future in the same, deliberate fashion.
“By taking a step back, you will see you can break your problems into smaller, more manageable pieces,” she said. “Jump into this new chapter with confidence and optimism, and don’t be afraid to face obstacles head-on.”
In her speech, entitled “Words of Wisdom,” class salutatorian Mikaela Cavanagh encouraged her classmates to “stay in the present. It won’t be easy but life will pass you before you know it if you don’t pay attention. Be brave. Be kind.”
Additional speakers included “Mr. President” by senior class president Carlos Ochoa-Martin; senior speaker Gabriella Bellavaer, who delivered her address “Four Years of Bravery” and senior speaker Taylor Fox, whose speech was entitled, “Start Your Engines.” The opening and closing processional was conducted by the Avon Grove High School Graduation Band under the direction of Sam Stewart and Michael Daviano. The event also included two performances by the Avon Grove High School Senior Chorale Ensemble under the direction of Amanda Wilcox.
Eighty-three percent of the class will attend 121 colleges and universities, and will receive over $4.6 million in college scholarships.
Snead encouraged the graduates to be humble in their victories and resilient in their hard times.
“By embracing the uncomfortable, growth begins at the end of your comfort zone,” she said. “The one who wins the race in the long run is usually not the strongest or fastest, but the one who has worked the hardest.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].