‘We can overcome, grow’: Belchertown grads reflect on class bonds

  • Members of the Belchertown High School Class of 2022 applaud Sarah Sedlacek after she delivered the salutatory address for the school’s 151st commencement on June 2. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amy Mas straightens the cap of fellow Belchertown senior Danish Humayun. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown High School senior class President Sophia Poissant leads the processional into the stadium for the school’s 151st commencement on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Sarah Sedlacek gives the salutatory address for Belchertown High School's 151st commencement on Thursday, June 2, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Monday, June 13, 2022

BELCHERTOWN — Under dark clouds that, as if out of respect for the day, failed to open up, the Class of 2022 graduated into a bright future on June 2.

Members of the 148-student graduating class of Belchertown High School sat in the bleachers of the track at the school, facing a big crowd full of families and loved ones. And in describing the class, Principal Christine Vigneux pointed out that the atomic number for the ultra-strong metal titanium is 22.

“What a perfect metaphor for this Class of 2022,” Vigneux said, acknowledging the challenges the class has faced. “You have been the titanium that your 22 suggests, demonstrating an unbelievable strength relative to your size and number.”

Fittingly, the class song was the Taylor Swift bop “22,” which the class sang along with as part of the ceremony.

In her speech, salutatorian Sarah Sedlacek noted that she lost her brother, whom she described as her favorite person in the world, in January, and she acknowledged the support she received from her friends and the Belchertown community.

“I now know that in any scary or painful situation we can overcome, grow, and rediscover happiness,” she said. “In times of hardship, allow yourself to feel all the emotions, but make sure to lean on those you love and those who love you.”

Valedictorian Lexi Bourgeois-Meausky noted how when the class couldn’t go to school together in person, they would hang out in the high school parking lot.

“We could not yet be in school together, but we could gather there,” she said.

She also described their high school diplomas as “brand new keys.”

“Never forget that the places and people which were once so important to you are often only a drive away,” she said.

Class President Sophia Poissant took those assembled through the school careers of the Class of 2022, from kindergarten to senior year, recalling swimming tests, matching masks to outfits, college admissions and Bieber Fever. As she did so, she interspersed these narratives with the 19 names of the children murdered in the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

“Three thousand and forty-four students who should have graduated high school this year instead lost their lives to gun violence,” Poissant said.

She also noted that in her first speech for class vice president in eighth grade she called their class “movement makers.”

“People who have the ability and want to change the world,” Poissant said. “I still believe this to be true.”

She also said that it is the class’s responsibility to the students who follow to make what Rep. John Lewis referred to as “good trouble.”

Geoffery Farrington, an attorney and a member of the Class of 2004 at Belchertown High School, gave the commencement address. Farrington said the members of the class need to earn their passions, and urged them to challenge and push themselves to discover them.

He also urged the class to learn skills in their professional careers, and that when they have these valuable skills they will ask themselves how to better the world with them.

“In your answer, I guarantee you will find your true passion,” he said. “And you’ll earn it at that point.”

He also urged the class to not strive for perfection.

“Just strive to be perfectly you,” Farrington said.