Garden City High School’s Class of 2021 completed a significant chapter and looked forward to new journeys on June 26, when the annual Commencement Ceremony was held on the Warren King Field. Following the community’s longstanding graduation traditions, students walked through rows of flags and took their seats as the band played Pomp and Circumstance. The Senior Chorale performed the National Anthem and would return to the stage again later in the ceremony.
Principal Kevin Steingruebner shared that despite its obstacles, this year at Garden City High School yielded championship athletic teams, concerts, induction and award ceremonies and prom celebrations, all leading up to a successful graduation.
Student speakers included Valedictorian Ian Bailey, Salutatorian Jenna Matarazzo, Senior Class President Timothy O’Hanlon and Julia Maloney Scholarship essay winner Kyle Stevenson.
O’Hanlon presented the class gift to the school—a bench, which will be placed in the courtyard, in honor of Molly Madigan.
“This class has experienced many ups and downs, accomplishments and disappointments, lots of laughter and lots of tears, together,” O’Hanlon said. “And I am so glad that this is what our graduation looks like, here with family and friends, together.”
Stevenson read his award-winning essay, titled “Mr. Hakes, a Teacher Who Has Made a Difference in My Life.” He described the support he found in Garden City Middle School sixth grade math teacher David Hakes and the profound impact that their bond had on various aspects of his life.
Bailey discussed the importance of change and the need to accept that imperfections are part of growth.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kusum Sinha expressed pride in the graduating class and the strength that students demonstrated, and English teacher Amy Regis served as the Keynote Speaker.
“Life does not always go the way that we expect it to,” Dr. Sinha said. “The past 15 months actually parallel the rhythm of life. You have been on a journey and have navigated the ups and downs of life together. You gained wisdom, flexibility, patience—you prevailed.”
Members of the board of education presented diplomas as each senior’s name was called.
Amidst the excitement, the event also held an element of sadness as the class and community mourn the loss of Molly Madigan and her parents who died in a house fire back in May. Madigan’s graduation diploma was presented to her siblings and many heartfelt tributes were shared in speeches throughout the ceremony. A chair for Madigan, decorated in pink, was set alongside those of her classmates, and the senior girls held pink roses in memory of their beloved friend.
Following the chorale’s final performance, the recessional took place and the Class of 2021 exited the field.
—Submitted by Garden City Public Schools