Hopkins Academy grads cross celebration stage

  • Jessica Wilda and Ryan Gould smile after trying to smell daisies, the Hopkins Academy Class of 2021 flower, through their face masks at the Hadley school’s 357th graduation exercises. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • John Pipczynski, standing, looks up as Hopkins Academy Principal April Camuso, left, reads a list of his earned scholarships, awards and prizes during the school’s 357th graduation exercises in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hopkins Academy spanish teacher Ruthann Fitzgibbons made good on her stated goal of delivering a keynote address with humor as she recounted personal memories of the class of 2021 during graduation exercises Friday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Monday, June 07, 2021

HADLEY — Students at Hopkins Academy experienced a year with trials and tribulations like no other. But as the opening chords of Cold Play’s “Yellow” echoed through the school gymnasium at the end of the Class of 2021’s graduation, a familiar sight was seen: Senior caps tossed into the air in celebration.

The 42-member graduating class was celebrated on Friday, May 28, with a ceremony that included speeches, scholarships and ritual.

The graduates entered the ceremony two by two, holding flowers to “Pomp and Circumstance,” after which they were addressed by Principal April Camuso.

“One thing that I can say about the Class of 2021 is that they just keep moving forward,” Camuso said. “In a year where life looked unrecognizable, they showed up each and every day with a smile on their face, and I would expect nothing less from them.”

In his valedictorian address, Kieran Cullen spoke about being moved by reading Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman” and the importance of not focusing too much on the future.

“Find the work that you love in this world, whatever it is, and pursue it with all of your energy,” Cullen said.

Ruthann Fitzgibbons, the school’s Spanish teacher, also addressed the graduates, sharing stories of her experiences with them.

“I will you miss you all — visit us sometimes, and congratulations,” she said.

In the ceremony’s farewell address, class President Robert Klesch drew a connection between his experience getting his pilot’s license and what the class went through during the pandemic.

“All of my classmates, now graduates, have defied many of the odds, whether it was bad weather or a tough assignment, clouds getting in your way or a spark of creativity not quite showing itself,” Klesch said. “They are here and ready to make that leap into the next chapter of their lives.”

Strong emotions could clearly be felt from students interviewed post-ceremony.

“I didn’t think I would make it this far,” said Meghan Lloyd. “I’ve had a really rough year and I lost so many people, and I thought I wouldn’t be here and I am.”

Cade Lanzafame also said the past year has been difficult.

“We got a great class — we’re all close-knit and we helped each other through it,” Lanzafame said. “It went well, considering.”

He plans on studying mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Kathleen Regish said that she has grown up with her class her entire life, and is leaving to enter a pre-veterinarian program at Penn State.

“It’s my dream college,” she said.

Ryan Gould said graduating felt “bittersweet.”

He noted that he was tired from doing the senior prank the night before, which included moving benches, drawing on a building, stringing up a hammock and putting cones on a building.

“I wish all my classmates good luck in all their future endeavors and they always know that they have a home to return to here,” Gould said. “If they ever need help they can always call.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

*A special section with more graduation news about the Hopkins Academy Class of 2021 will be published in the Gazette on July 3.