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‘Only The Beginning’

JHS Celebrates Class Of 2024 At 158th Commencement

CHAUTAUQUA — Jamestown High School celebrated the achievements of the 304 members of the Class of 2024 during its 158th Commencement exercises on Thursday, June 20 at the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater.

Following the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance,” performed by the JHS Concert Band and “The Star-Spangled Banner” by the A Cappella Choir, Senior Class Council member McKenna Schneider delivered the Invocation.

Platform guests were introduced by Stavros Singleton and Dr. Kevin Whitaker, Superintendent of Jamestown Public Schools, was introduced by council co-president Jaidan A. Lutgen.

“This remarkable and powerful ceremony, held in such a remarkable location was once again a moving and memorable experience for all involved,” said Whitaker. “Graduation is a celebration of the accomplishments of everyone in attendance-from the student to their parents and family members. It is an honor to be part of this moving event, and I wish the graduating class of 2024 the very best in their future endeavors.”

In her Salutatorian Address, Ella G. Storms spoke to her class of the obstacles they have faced through beginning high school amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the successes that have come along the way. Specifically, she recognized the accomplishments of many of her classmates in athletics, music, and academics — from record-breaking track athletes to students who were recognized with the New York State Seal of Biliteracy.

JHS senior Ella Storms delivers the Salutatorian address during JHS Commencement on Thursday, June 20 at Chautauqua Institution.

“What may be even more impressive is that when we were faced with these challenges, we not only took them on, but we excelled while doing so,” Storms said. “So, fellow graduates, I hope that you realize how much potential we have to make this world a better place. Walking across the stage tonight is a testament to our hard work and dedication to ourselves and those around us. This is only the beginning, and each and every one of us is destined for greatness.”

The 100 Member Club Award, given to the school’s two most outstanding graduating seniors by its alumni association, was awarded to Abrielle Monaghan and Carsen Bane by Cindy Lind Hanson, the organization’s president, and Matthew Kindberg, and Kirstie Lind Hanson, co-vice presidents.

Lutgen and Kenzie G. Carpenter, co-presidents, delivered the Presidents’ Address, reflecting on the seniors’ time and accomplishments at JHS. Specifically, they noted the changes that have occurred since their freshmen year — when the two presidential candidates had to “campaign” over video rather than in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to our resilience and ability to adapt and adjust, everyone was able to find where they fit within friendship, relationship, and school dynamics regardless of the unprecedented circumstances, and I firmly believe that we are all stronger because of our unique experience,” said Carpenter. “Clearly, we have not let our peculiar beginnings stray us from our successful course.”

“We have come so far and no matter what you did over these past four years we are all in the same place, here, today graduating and that is all that matters,” Lutgen said. “This is an accomplishment we should all be incredibly proud of. Every single person here has great things waiting for them in their future, and we are happy to have been able to be here to witness your great minds.”

JHS senior Carsen Bane delivers the Valedictorian address during JHS Commencement on Thursday, June 20 at Chautauqua Institution.

The combined musical organizations of Jamestown High School then performed The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Peter Wilhousky. Storms and Elliott Krudys, student council executive assistant, then delivered a tribute to the parents in attendance.

“From walking us to the door of our kindergarten classrooms to being here to celebrate this wonderful day of achievement, our dear parents and guardians have worked tirelessly to get us to this point,” Storms and Krudys said. “As we embark on the journey ahead, we carry with us the lessons you’ve taught and the values you’ve instilled. Your unwavering support has laid the foundation for our success, and we promise to make you proud as we step into the future you’ve helped us shape.”

Monaghan, a co-historian for the class and a student member of the JPS Board of Education, delivered further reflections on the Class of 2024’s time at JHS, notably acknowledging late classmates Lexy Hughan and Anthony Senske, who would have celebrated this achievement with them, before presenting the class slideshow.

“While looking back at our history, we should take pride in the good that we have done and all that we have succeeded in,” Monaghan said. “We have had a long 12 years of school, but we still have a whole lot of life left. Reflect on your history, reflect on everything you have done, but don’t let that stop you from succeeding even further in your future.”

Sydney M. Maggio, treasurer of the Class of 2024, then introduced JHS Principal Allyson Smith, who reflected on her own history with the class, whose career at the high school coincided with her own as a young administrator just assigned to serve as an assistant principal before becoming the building principal in January.

JHS Class of 2024 officers pose ahead of Commencement at the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater on Thursday, June 20.

“I will never forget sitting at my new desk, in a new job, learning what it meant to build a schedule for over 1,000 students,” said Smith. “I did it with pencil and paper. It was all I could wrap my head around at the time. It’s amazing how far we’ve come since those days — you’ve been able to experience all JHS has to offer, although during your ninth grade year we questioned if we’d ever be able to make that possible. It’s been an honor to grow and learn right alongside you over these last four years.”

Bane, the valedictorian, called on his classmates to “remember the importance of perspective in a world full of diversity, complexity, and constant change” as they “look to the future.”

“Because the way we view the world around us pretty much shapes the way we think, the choices we make, and ultimately our lives, let us remember the lessons we have learned within these hallowed halls,” he said. ” Let us never lose sight of the importance of integrity, compassion, and perseverance in everything we do. And let us always strive to make a positive impact on the world around us, using our talents and abilities to uplift others and create a better future for generations to come.”

Cole J. Joly, co-sergeant at arms, introduced Barbi K. Price, a beloved English teacher who retired from JHS in 2022, and was selected in a student poll to deliver the keynote address. In her “last lecture,” Price encouraged the students to be “A-plus people” by following her own variation of Deepak Chopra’s “five As”: attitude, attention, acceptance, appreciation, and affection.

“It’s so cliché to say, but as a teacher, I learned so much from you,” she said. “Through the years you showed me individual courage, emotional bravery and determination. … hard work on the above 5 As will inevitably boomerang and you will find yourself being the recipient of all the love you’ve been pouring out. That’s the universe’s little secret!”

2024 graduates from Jamestown High School process into the historic Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater to kick off JHS Commencement on Thursday, June 20. Photos by Cameron Hurst

Her remarks also included a special video message from a “close friend” — Snoop Dogg.

“Big Snoop and I wish you all straight A-plus futures, filled with love, given and received,” she said.

Class of 2024 advisors Kaitlyn Marsh and Christopher Maggio delivered a fond farewell to the class. Marsh and Maggio worked closely with the class to help produce dozens of student events and outreach activities.

“We want to thank every other person who helped make all of our events a success, whether you chaperoned a dance, volunteered at a car wash, or bought a ticket to one of our fundraisers, we couldn’t have done it without you!” said Marsh. “Lastly, we want to recognize and thank our class officers who are sitting on the stage today. They worked tirelessly to make the Class of 2024 a success. Our Tuesday mornings just won’t be the same next year!

“They say it takes a village to raise a child,” said Maggio, who asked the teachers and counselors, school staff, administrators, board of education members, parents and families, to stand and be recognized by the class.

“Good luck with whatever path you take, whether it be college, the trades, the military, or the workforce,” he continued. “Our time with you over these four years has now come to an end — now go out and make a difference in the world.”

Sydney Maggio then presented the class gift — completion of the “J” mural on the back wall of the high school — before the presentation of the graduates by Smith and the presentation of diplomas by JPS Board of Education President Paul Abbott and Vice President Joseph Pawelski, who were assisted by class council members Kaitlyn M. Kennedy and Avery K. Salvaggio.

The full ceremony is available for viewing at jpsny.org/graduation.

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