HINSDALE — As Hinsdale High School’s class of 2019 filed into Heritage Park Saturday — the hue of their blue and white commencement robes nearly identical to that of the sky — the emotion was plain on their faces.
Some were smiling, others serious, but all with an air of possibility as they prepared to mark the end of their time as students at this small, tight-knit school. And as the day’s ceremony began, salutatorian Daniel Roberts told the crowd that though the class may be small, with about 40 graduates, its potential to make an impact should not be underestimated.
“My best friend Bryce is going to enter law enforcement. Lexi and Naomi will become nurses. Alexis is going to become a teacher. Donovin is going to become a Marine. The list goes on and on,” Roberts said. “I have no doubt in my mind that whatever career all of us decide to pursue, we will give nothing short of our best, and that the shoes that we fill will be in great hands.”
English teacher Glenn Hammett, who was selected as this year’s commencement speaker, encouraged the graduates not to be intimidated by the uncertainty of new opportunities.
Quoting from the children’s book “The Pout Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen, he told the graduates that though their confidence may sometimes falter, they should trust that “they are smart enough, they will get it, they do belong.”
“It’s only natural to feel nervous at the sight of a new path that comes our way. You are all about to have exciting paths present themselves to you, be it college, the military, or some other plunge into the real world,” he said, “and some of you may wonder if you are ready.”
Hammett told the graduates of his experience hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. After an unfortunate mishap his first day on the trail — in which his mac and cheese dinner unceremoniously ended up in the dirt instead of on his plate — Hammett worried that he wasn’t cut out for the journey; that he didn’t belong.
But roughly five million steps later, atop Mount Katahdin at the end of the trail in Maine, he realized that, as the children’s book said, he was smart, he did “get it” and he did belong. And for Hinsdale’s class of 2019, embarking on a new path would be no different, he said.
“It’s exciting to think of your paths, class of 2019. Many of them are unknown to you,” he said. “Embrace them with an open mind and heart, believe in yourself, don’t cry over spilled mac and cheese — at least not openly — and accept the guidance of helping friends, family and mentors along the way.”
Several students were recognized Saturday as the recipients of local and regional scholarships. During the ceremony, the Guy X. Bouchie Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Garrett Carrier. The Michael D. Abbott Scholarship was awarded to Alexis Johnson, class president and valedictorian, and Ciera Youmell received the Matthew P. Snyder Memorial Scholarship.
Hannah Lynch was honored as the recipient of the Royal Bonnette Memorial Scholarship, the Kristin L. Wilson Memorial Scholarship and the Joshua J. Perkins Memorial Scholarship.
As the ceremony came to a close after nearly an hour, graduates of the small class of 2019 could be seen hugging, crying and commiserating on the green of Heritage Park. For these 40 or so classmates, it was the close of more than a dozen years together — a bittersweet farewell, noted valedictorian Alexis Johnson in her speech.
“We are saying goodbye to people that many of us have been saying hello to for the past 13 years. We are saying goodbye to our friends, colleagues, teachers and the halls of Hinsdale High School,” she said. “ ... However, even though we are saying goodbye, the memories that we have built within the walls of Hinsdale will live on forever.”
Cameron Ryan Adams, William Edward Bruns, Garrett Michael Carrier, Makenna Sue Cassavaugh, Kelsi Noel Clement, Christopher Douglas Covey Jr., Christian Andrew Currier, Ryan Richard Dowley, Tiona Rose Edson, Branden Alexander Farr, Carter John Finnell, Jensen Brie Fisk, Leopold James Fleming, Victoria Goslant-Files, Zachery Aaron Gassett, Joseph Charles Harris, Shelby Lee Isabelle, Alexis Brianna Johnson, Scott Harrison Kemp, Kane Isaac Kenny, Alexis Ann LeClair, Ryen Nicolas LeClair, Breonna Michele-Louise Levasseur, Bryce Gabriel Lindsell-Kraus, Hannah Mary Lynch, John Peter Edward MacDonald, Shelby Rose Martelle, Sydney Ryan Martelle, Jason Dylan Maxfield, Julia Ryan Merkle, Naomi Labelle Molin, Mandara Raine Mullins, Syrena Elizabeth Nielsen, Nathan Ryan O’Melia, Daniel Foster Roberts, Alexander Jacob Schwartz, Valerie Margaret Simeon, Brenden Tyler Sisko, Mariah Lee Smith, Kian Andrew Tarbox, Donovin Xavier Castro Villagomez and Ciera Lynn Youmell