South Kingstown SK school officials commend class of 2022 for perseverance | News

KINGSTON, RI — The graduates of South Kingstown High School’s class of 2022 tend to defy being labeled, and that’s a good thing.

The first class of Rebels to return to a “typical” senior year since 2019, it was also a class that had to jarringly move to online, remote learning more than halfway through its sophomore year.

Unprecedented circumstances strengthened the bond among the seniors and produced a unique student body, speakers at Friday’s graduation said.

“During my time in high school, I have seen football players act their hearts out on stage, track stars with Bob Ross level artistic abilities, and an orchestra member who can swim laps around just about anyone and is on her way to the Naval Academy ,” class valedictorian Stella DeSimone said in her commencement address at the University of Rhode Island’s Ryan Center.

“In this class, I see future journalists and artists, politicians and scientists, healthcare providers

and teachers, but above all, I see the passion and determination to change the world,” she added. “Even though our time at SKHS was nothing like anyone could have imagined, we made the best out of every situation.”

Daniel McGovern, class president, said graduation was a testament to the strength of the class.

“We are ‘strong in will – to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,’ a line from Lord Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ which exemplifies our endurance in pursuit of a high school diploma. It has not been easy for any of us,” McGovern said.

From adversity came strength, he added. The class was able to enjoy an “action-packed” final year that included a senior barbecue, the annual SKpades show in the fall, and many other senior traditions, McGovern said.

Life is like a good trail, I have concluded.

“There are lots of ups and downs, winding paths and jagged rocks,” he said.

Principal Chip McGair compared the class to the Goonies, the group of childhood friends in the 1985 movie of the same name that McGair saw as a third-grader.

“Think Stranger Things with cleaner language and less gore,” he told the seniors. Individually, the friends weren’t impressive. But together, they complemented each other and believed they could do anything despite the doubts of others.

“It was that belief in themselves that enabled them to persevere and save the day despite the many obstacles they encountered along the way,” McGair said.

This class is a lot like the Goonies, he said.

“The adults underestimated your ability to persevere and save SK, despite the many obstacles you encountered along the way,” he said. “While we were focusing on making it up to other graduating classes, you believed in yourselves, matured as a group and quietly led our school through this back to normal school year largely without a complaint.”

Supt. of Schools Mark Prince offered the graduates three rules that have helped guide him: Find your passion, feed your soul, and don’t run away when your mettle is tested.

“Don’t you dare run away,” he said. “You read in. Lean in to your values. Read in to what your family taught you, to your faith, to your honor, to your parents who helped you and encouraged you, to your teachers.”

The graduation ceremony featured musical selections – “Genesis” performed by the high school’s symphony orchestra, and the choral group eSKape’s rendition of “Light of the Clear Blue Morning.”

During each performance, several graduates joined the orchestra and eSKape to take part in what would be their final high school performances.

“My heart breaks a little knowing this is goodbye,” DeSimone said. “At the same time, this sadness is a comfort. The fact that I, and so many of you, have the honor of knowing people we don’t want to say goodbye to, means we did it right. Despite the distance and fear, the cancellations and closings, we found a way to be together.”

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