WHS Hosts Class of 2023’s Graduation

For the class of 2023, a typical high school experience was far from what the past four years have been; yet, through a global pandemic freshman year, online and in-person cohorts sophomore year and a mask mandate junior year, this past year’s seniors had found ways to build new traditions, creating exceptional memories. On June 4th, Walpole High’s seniors were able to celebrate their endless resilience and dedication through an official graduation ceremony on Turco Field. Family, friends and loved ones attended despite poor weather conditions, continuing the well-deserved celebrations and reminiscence.

The culmination began with a welcome from principal Stephen Imbusch, thanking all attendees for coming out as seniors and inductees entered their seats. A singing of the national anthem from WHS Concert Choir students followed, allowing audience members to file in prior to personal speeches and such. The Choir consisted of multiple seniors, celebrating their success by singing together for one last time as the WHS band had played prior to the event.

This year, only two commencement speakers were invited to speak at the beginning of the ceremony, unlike recent years with multiple speakers. Senior class President, Stephen Bond, and Vice President, Sophia Brownsword, each spoke to an audience of peers and various loved ones, both discussing personal childhood stories with a surrounding theme of growth and individuality to reflect on their experiences. Both individuals have contributed greatly to the class of 2023 through community and academic roles, each with admirable accomplishments and great leadership strides.

In addition to speeches, the WHS community made sure to include an honorary diploma for a member of the class who had passed away. Johnathan Poupart had tragically passed away shortly after his sophomore year of high school, but was still honored as his mother and siblings walked across stage to credit his success. His honorary diploma receivement opened up for the award ceremony, where students stood and joined their classmates as they were honored for athletic, academic and scholarship achievements. Students were able to join Graduation Coordinators Zachary Okolowitcz and Kerry McMenimen as they distributed diplomas, both staff from WHS that have taught the group throughout their high school careers. 

Entering the most suspenseful component was the diploma ceremony, ending the graduation as seniors were able to proudly walk across the stage and receive their well-deserved recognition. Vice Principals Lee Tobey and Sean Powers had announced each student’s name, allowing a pause for each individual to receive their diplomas from Superintendent Bridget Gough or School Committee Chairperson Kristen Syrek as audience members cheered and clapped. Following, the moment had finally come for seniors to move their tassels and toss up their caps, marking the very end of their high school careers. Graduates were able to take pictures on the field after, happily welcoming a brand new beginning as they departed from the Walpole School System. 

Traditionally, high school forces prosperity and growth among students as they venture to learn more about themselves before going off into a high-paced work environment. It’s no question that the Class of 2023 had undergone one of the most peculiar four year journeys; regardless, the seniors left reminiscing on unique memories, friendships and personal capabilities that made the graduation all the more rewarding in the end. The Searchlight wishes all the graduates the best, whether going for a career within the military, workforce, two year or four year collegiate career. Best of luck!