It was a beautiful day as the AHS Class of 2022, over 380 strong, followed the bagpiper onto the field for the 156th Arlington High School graduation. This was the first group to have been able to attend classes in the new high school, and as Principal Matthew Janger put it, one that “...has had more than its share of disruptions, between remote learning, masking, construction, and world events.” In his remarks, he encouraged the graduates to be safe without focusing on fear, be empathetic while not absorbing the trauma, focus on the joy of learning rather than the recognition, and to connect with others.
Dr. Janger was followed by School Committee Chair Elizabeth Exton who congratulated the students on behalf of the town of Arlington and recognized them for their activism and philanthropy. APS Superintendent Elizabeth Homan, speaking at an AHS graduation for the first time, talked about the numerous achievements and accomplishments of this class–in academics, athletics, and activism–in spite of the hurdles. She encouraged the class to “...never view your challenges as a disadvantage…” as she talked about the learning and strength that comes from overcoming obstacles.
The graduates heard from their classmates as well. Gabe Rothenberg, Class Council Representative, spoke about the bittersweet nature of attending school while pieces came down to make way for a new building. The structural changes led him to reflect on the accomplishments of the class, the service they have pursued, their desire to make an impact, and how each one will carry their memories of AHS with them as they follow their individual paths. President of the Student Council Tade Kotyan was inspired by the words “seek discomfort”, defined as getting out of one’s comfort zone as often as possible so that one can become a more experienced version of oneself. The graduates are leaving their “...cage of comfort..” as they depart AHS, and Tade urged his classmates to free themselves from what they know and try new things for the sake of learning
Honors speaker Gus Donaldson-Gaul delivered his remarks in the form of a poem that reflected on the meaning of success, the importance of failure, the futility of the search for perfection and the importance of reflection on childhood years. Honors speaker Beatrice Croteau, the final speaker of the event, acknowledged that at 18 years old, she had no great life story to share. Instead she turned to the future, encouraging her classmates to remember to use the upcoming years wisely, and remember that “You can’t win at everything and you can’t be a genius at everything. Know your strengths, but it is better to learn from others than to try and do everything solo….There are very few things in life worth doing alone.”
This year, 98.8% of the graduates leave AHS with a postgraduate plan. Of these, 87.4% will be attending four year colleges and 4.7% will be at two year institutions. A small number of students, 1.7%, are entering the trades and 3.1% are going directly into jobs. Less than 1% of the class are entering the military, choosing to take a gap year, or going onto post graduate schooling.
AHS graduates will be attending 150 institutions of higher education in the fall. Most are in the United States, but France, Canada, and the United Kingdom will also be receiving students. The range of sizes and types of schools is vast–from Harvard to the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, MIT to the New England Culinary Institute, Vassar College to the United States Military Academy, for example. Some will go close to home, to Boston University, Bentley, Brandeis, and Bunker Hill. Others will head west, to the University of Denver, UC Berkeley, Brigham Young University, and the University of San Francisco.
All of the students leaving Arlington High School this year will take the flexibility and resilience they have learned over the last four years and apply them to their future endeavors. We wish everyone in the Class of 2022 great success and joy as they enter this exciting new chapter in their lives.