‘How united we are’: Hopkins Academy’s 35 grads defined by care and dedication to each other

  • Eve Lanzafame helps Hopkins Academy valedictorian Kyle Uchneat with his tassel as the class of 35 students gathers for a group portrait before the school’s 358th graduation. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Adelaide Bouthet gives the farewell address at Hopkins Academy’s 358th graduation last Friday in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The 35 members of the Hopkins Academy class of 2022 have their group portrait before the start of the school's 358th graduation on Friday, June 3, 2022, in Hadley. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Monday, June 13, 2022

HADLEY — Hopkins Academy’s 2022 graduating class has been defined by the love, care and dedication its members have shown toward each other, class valedictorian Kyle Uchneat said during his address at the school’s 358th graduation exercises in the high school gym last Friday evening.

“When I think of our class, I think of how united we are,” Uchneat said.

Observing that even as new students joined the 35-person graduating class throughout the years, they were quickly welcomed, whether at the lunch tables in the cafeteria or on trips to Six Flags, a principle Uchneat attributed to Sam Pollard, a classmate who died from a rare genetic disorder at the age of 11 in 2015.

“Despite his illness, he was always a ray of sunshine, inside and outside school,” Uchneat said, recalling the times that Pollard, in his wheelchair, reminded other students not to take life too seriously and to be kind toward others.

The class selected history teacher Jason Burns to give the main address. Burns described being successful as a “measure of our ability to change” and being able to show humility.

He cited President George Washington, who freed his own slaves later in life, as demonstrating how one can make change.

“When we recognize our flaws and seek to change them, it is at that point we are truly successful,” Burns said.

Hopkins Principal April Camuso told the graduates that their success was based on the efforts they put in as students. “Thank you for all your hard work that landed you here tonight,” Camuso said.

Camuso presented numerous awards to the seniors before cash prizes were given to eight students, from the trustees for Hopkins, for academic excellence and community service.

Uchneat concluded by expressing his confidence in the success each graduate will have.

“Whatever path we choose we will succeed as long as we do what is right for each of us,” Uchneat said.

Graduates gathered before the ceremony on the lawn in front of the school, having class pictures taken in their caps and gowns before posing for additional photographs with family and friends.

Many spoke about the pleasure they got in attending a small high school.

“It was really sweet,” said Fatima Anjum, a Hadley resident who will be going to the University of Massachusetts to study biomedical engineering in the fall. “I really loved it, meeting so many nice, friendly people.”

“There were lots of ups and downs, obviously with COVID, but never a dull moment because of that,” said Carter Beckwith, a Hadley resident who will be heading to UMass Amherst to study industrial engineering.

The class includes students who have made the trek to school daily from other area communities.

Katherine Rousseau of Holyoke came to Hopkins after attending private Catholic school.

“I’ll remember all the new people I got to meet and go to school with here,” said Rousseau, who will be going to Holyoke Community College for the next two years.

“Strange and eventful, I would say,” her sister Elizabeth Rousseau said of her time at Hopkins.

She will attend Salem State University to study nursing.

“It’s so different from what I knew and what I was expecting,” Elizabeth Rousseau said. “I never felt isolated. It’s been nice to intermingle with a lot of different people.”

Christopher Foster of Amherst, who will be taking a year off to play hockey before going to college, also cited the small-school atmosphere as appealing.

“You know everyone in the school, so it’s nice, and the teachers are nice, good people,” Foster said. “Whenever you’re walking the hallways you can say hi to everyone.”