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06/20/2023 08:00 AM

NHHS Class of 2023: More Accomplishments Ahead

North Haven High School held commencement exercises for the Class of 2023 on June 13 at the high school’s campus field. Graduates toss their carnations and hats into he air at the conclusion of the ceremony. Photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier

During an afternoon of June 15, what Principal Russell Dallai described as “what may be the most beautiful day we’ve ever had,” the North Haven High School (NHHS) Class of 2023 graduated with many accomplishments behind them.

Graduates walked out to their seats to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” before Dallai spoke to NHHS’ Class of 2023.

“As you stretch your branches to the sky and drink in the sunlight of your future plans, remember your roots. Remember the nourishment that North Haven High School and the town of North Haven have provided you through education, investment, and care. Remember that each of you, all of you, and all of us, are forever intertwined in the meadow of this North Haven High School and our town community,” Dallai said.

North Haven Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Stirk and Randi Petersen of the North Haven Board of Education also offered congratulatory remarks.

Class President Peter Harkins reflected on the previous four years of his and his classmates’ high school careers that led up to the big moment of graduation.

“Four years ago, we were just a group of wide-eyed freshmen, unsure of what the future held. But today, we stand before you as confident and capable young adults, ready to take on the world.”

Harkins spoke about the athletic and academic achievements of his classmates, the bonds they have formed through them, and how they should exemplify success for the future, what that may be.

“We must take these successes and use them as momentum for our futures. Let our accomplishments from our youth propel us into new ventures. We have all proven time and time again that with a little determination and perseverance, we can accomplish anything,” said Harkin.

He encouraged his fellow graduates to “believe in yourself and in your abilities. You are capable of achieving great things, and you have the support of your classmates and loved ones behind you.”

“I urge you to chase your dreams, to take risks and to never give up. Remember that failure is not the opposite of success but rather a stepping stone to it. Whether you are going right into the workforce, enlisting in the military, or going to further education, you will all make your mark. “

Harkin encouraged his classmates to stay connected to one another and to remember the school and the town that molded them into a successful student body.

Valedictorian Victoria Pachnik also reflected on her high school experience, and from it, I decided to share some valuable lessons that helped her along her path.

“First, work hard but remember to make time to have fun and enjoy life’s little moments. Keep track of your responsibilities, keep your promises, and never give up working towards your goals,” she said. “Don’t forget to relax, and take time to stop and smell the flowers.

As her second lesson, Pachnik also asked her classmates to remember their loved ones who supported them through their academic journey thus far and recognize their guidance.

“Third, stand up for yourself, your beliefs, and what you know is right. Don’t let others discourage you from pursuing your goals and dreams. Embrace the moment and write your own story.”

And the best way to embrace the moment and write the best story possible is to be good to one another, “no matter what happens in life…Kindness is a wonderful legacy,” she said.

“Let us take a moment now to remember all the memories we’ve made together, from the second we stepped through these doors in 2019 to today, when we leave as graduates. All of these tiny moments shaped us into who we are today.”

Selected Student Speaker Jonathan Chin spoke about the new adventures ahead for him and his fellow graduates and how they have the intelligence and determination to take what they have learned during their high school careers to demonstrate not only success but kindness, too.

“More than ever, the world needs people like you. The world needs people that are driven, intelligent, and compassionate, and I’m proud to say that our class embodies those qualities.”

To explain the need for kindness and compassion, Chin used a metaphor of shopping carts and how the selection of certain food items represents the ability of each graduate to write their own story, pick their own friends, career, and studies, and seek their own wellbeing.

But it could not be completed with compassion, even on the smallest scale. That can include returning a wobbly cart to the corral even when it seems unnecessary and can be left where it is.

“Returning a shopping cart is more than it seems. It is another one of those life choices that says something about you and to everyone else. It is a small act of kindness and respect that shows that you are willing to go the extra mile,” said Chin. “By returning that shopping cart to the cart corral…you are acknowledging that the world around us isn’t just inhabited by you, that actions have consequences, and that any simple act of empathy, no matter how small, is impactful.”

“We must prioritize kindness over convenience. Returning a shopping cart leads to no reward or applause, but it can lead you to feel a certain sense of dignity that reflects your character when no one’s watching,” said Chin. “Let’s go out and make the world the way that we want it to be. Let’s go out and make a difference, even if that means returning one shopping cart at a time.”

To see more photos from North Haven’s graduation ceremony, visit our from the event at: