CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- An evening downpour failed to stop Horace Greeley High School's 84th annual graduation on Sunday, as speakers carried on despite the inclement weather.
Attendees entered the ceremony's tent amid sunny weather; sunshine returned once the ceremony ended and as people exited.
This year's graduation was unusual, as the class of 2015 included seven valedictorians and no salutatorian. The valedictorians were Jennifer Semler, Divya Gopinath, Amanda Rota, Elizabeth Hart, Bernadette Grant, Riya Verma and Michael Doppelt.
Of the seven valedictorians, only Gopinath, Rota and Verma delivered speeches. Assistant Principal Andrew Corsilia, who also served as class principal, noted that the three were selected by their fellow valedictorians.
Gopinath, whose speech placed an emphasis on questioning the status quo, was briefly interrupted when the storm peaked. Gopinath was able to finish and speech; the crowd repeatedly chanted her name and clapped before she did so.
Rota thanked her fellow students for years of time together.
“To all of my classmates, thanks for making these last 13 years so memorable.”
Rota's speech focused on fears of things, cited the ocean as her example. Striking a contrast, Rota concluded her speech by encouraging people to “jump into the oceans of our futures," adding to the class that she hopes they find their voices.
Verma, who took a selfie before starting her speech, recalled an anecdote of a fellow Greeley student giving her a ride home from the school's parking lot after she was unable to start her car. She cited her experience as a positive example of the school's community.
Semler still spoke, although in another capacity, as it was on behalf of the Student Leadership Council. In her speech, Semler praised the use of nicknames.
“They represent unique and personal relationships.”
Semler talked about how people go by their real names when they enter some place new, whether it is high school or, in looking ahead, to college.
“This class has done amazing things," said Dev Jhaveri, president of the Student Council.
School officials had plenty of praise for the graduates.
“You, the class of 2015 have left Greeley with a lot of spirit and richer for it," said Greeley Principal Robert Rhodes.
Chappaqua Schools Superintendent Lyn McKay noted the significance in life of getting feedback from people, whether it was a first-grader who called her "Mrs. Grandma" during a class visit or from responses she got for handling snow-day decisions.
The Chappaqua school board, meanwhile, broke with precedent. Traditionally, the board's president would deliver its speech. This year, the role went to board member Victoria Tipp, whose daughter was among the graduates.
Tipp recalled the various changes in life that the students have encountered.
“Through it all, you have thrived and succeeded as you expected, and sometimes life changed and you changed interests and directions in ways you did not expect.”
Tipp was one of three current and former board members with children in the graduating class. The others were current board member Jeffrey Mester and former board member Janet Benton, who served from 1999 to 2011. All three of them hugged their kids when they came on stage for their diplomas.
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