Beacon High School Holds 2023 Commencement

By Jennifer L. Warren

WAPPINGERS FALLS – One dominating message rippled throughout each speech delivered at the Beacon High School Commencement Thursday night: Be grateful.

Whether it came from the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Matthew Landahl, in the form of appreciating teachers, staff, parents, Principal, Corey Dwyer, who affirmed the inspiration the Class of 2023 filled his cup with in his first year at the helm, or Valedictorian, Lila Quinn when she concluded her remarks with, “Gratitude changes lives,” deep appreciation was at the forefront of the evening. It was a night that included about 200 young men and women being awarded high school diplomas on the Heritage Financial Park grounds, where Dwyer proudly welcomed in guests, while paying tribute to his first graduating class.

“What inspires me most is the caring you have for each other,” said Dwyer as he looked out to the Class of 2023, clad in gowns and caps sporting the school’s trademark blue and gold. “When you cross this stage, you will be entering the next chapter of your life.”

Members of the 2023 Beacon High School Class eagerly await stepping out onto Heritage Financial Park field to participate in Thursday night’s Commencement.
Members of the 2023 Beacon High School Class eagerly await stepping out onto Heritage Financial Park field to participate in Thursday night’s Commencement.

That symbolic rite of passage was further elaborated upon by Dr. Landahl, who started and ended his words with quotes. In between, he urged graduates to pursue two things in life: volunteering and gratitude.

“If you already volunteer, keep doing it, and if it’s not your thing, please do it,” said Landahl, who further reminded students of the proven number one ingredient for happiness: positive relationships. “Be grateful often in life; I’m grateful for the amazing Class of 2023; thank you for everything you have done.”

Some of those lasting accomplishments were alluded to by Class President, Alexis Mastrantuono. In athletics, there was the Boy’s Basketball Section Finalist feat, the Girls Swim Team shattering several school records, the Boy’s and Girl’s Tennis Teams making Beacon history, and the Boy’s Soccer Team qualifying for the prestigious State Semifinals. Then there were the impressive achievements of the Beacon Players. The list continued, as Mastrantuono alluded to the formation of the Student for Gender Equality and Black Student Union Groups. The BHS Class of 2023 was also one that garnered 46 Local Awards and Scholarships, all presented at The Senior Awards earlier in the month. 31 students were National Society Members; while18 achieved Tri-M Society status. They have been accepted to 56 different colleges and universities; while several have already secured full-time employment in their chosen field.

The Class of 2023 Valedictorian was Lila Quinn, who is headed to Brown University to study Biology and Environmental Science on a Pre-Med track. She began her speech asking questions that have plagued her teenage journey as well as many of her classmates’: Who am I? Who do I want to be? What does define us?

“I have concluded we choose who we want to be; it’s about finding our internal validation,” explained Quinn. “I am filled with gratitude to be part of this Class, one that is so diverse and has learned from one another; carry gratitude, find it, because it changes everything.”
Salutatorian, Shepard Rodgers, who is headed to Tufts University in the fall, discussed the importance of embracing failure and cherishing relationships. He too relayed kernels of wisdom to his peers.

“High school, like most of your life, is what you make of it,” said Rodgers. “One thing I can guarantee: nothing is guaranteed.” He added, “If you know what you want in life, you are much more likely to achieve it; I encourage you to stand up for things you want to see and make them a reality.”

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