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Columbia Graduation at HVCCAfter a turbulent high school career, which involved an extended school closing, remote learning and a hybrid model due to a global pandemic, the Columbia High School Class of 2022 earned their rightful celebration at graduation on Saturday morning at Hudson Valley Community College.

More than 300 students walked across the stage and received their high school diplomas, beginning a new chapter in their lives.

“Each and every one of us will have a different definition of success, but there’s a quote that reads, ‘Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful,” said Salutatorian Justin Sapienza ’22. “So I encourage you to build your future around what makes you happy. Find your passion and pursue it because that is how dreams can become reality.”

The graduation program featured speeches from students and school administrators, a performance by the Columbia Chamber Singers, an inspiring rendition of Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time,” performed by LayVon Scott ’22 and accompanied by Conor Frost ’22 that ended with a standing ovation, and a poignant poem read by Gabriella Blaise-Coleman ’22.

Valedictorian Julia Hannum ’22 congratulated her classmates but also thanked all of the teachers who impacted her life.

“Teachers show us that someone will always believe in us,” said Ms. Hannum, who will be attending SUNY New Paltz in the fall with plans to become a biology teacher. “Even if you don’t believe in yourself, your teachers always do. Whether it’s a quick ‘Good luck!’ before their own test or offering their free time to stay and help you when you don’t understand something, teachers are constantly encouraging and motivating us. Their support also continues long after we have a class with them. We may have new teachers throughout the years, but our former ones are still always there for us, serving as a beloved continuity in our lives.”

Throughout their high school years, and especially over the past three, the Columbia Class of 2022 has showed its resilience and ability to overcome obstacles to achieve their goals.

“Through it all, you’ve been an amazing class and I’m very proud of each and every one of you,” said Principal Michael Harkin.

Congratulations to the Columbia Class of 2022!

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