Members of York's choir program "Holding on" in the class of 2019 perform for their senior class right before diplomas are given out. The song is sung every year at graduation. May 19, 2019.

Photo by Paige Szipszky

Graduation practice and senior barbeque

Seniors+Anna+Morley+and+Sarah+Pinkowksi+get+pumped+up+to+participate+in+the+bungee+run+at+the+senior+barbecue.+May+17%2C+2019.
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Graduation practice and senior barbeque

Seniors Anna Morley and Sarah Pinkowksi get pumped up to participate in the bungee run at the senior barbecue. May 17, 2019.

Seniors Anna Morley and Sarah Pinkowksi get pumped up to participate in the bungee run at the senior barbecue. May 17, 2019.

Photo by Grace Moriarty

Seniors Anna Morley and Sarah Pinkowksi get pumped up to participate in the bungee run at the senior barbecue. May 17, 2019.

Photo by Grace Moriarty

Photo by Grace Moriarty

Seniors Anna Morley and Sarah Pinkowksi get pumped up to participate in the bungee run at the senior barbecue. May 17, 2019.

In preparation for the seniors’ big weekend, York hosted the annual graduation practice in the Campbell gym. During the practice on Friday, May 17,  the seniors prepared for one of the biggest days of their lives, their high school graduation. After going through the rules and procedures in the gym, the seniors relocated to the Joe Newton field house where the actual ceremony was to take place. A few hours later, as a prize for their patience, the seniors were rewarded with the annual senior barbecue in the South gym.

 

“The senior picnic is important to me because it’s the last time all of the senior class will be together and be able to have fun and enjoy ourselves before graduating,” senior Abby Ross said.

The scent of the barbecue wafted through the halls and attracted everyone to come inside, where there were many fun activities to entertain the seniors. From the blow-up basketball hoops, the obstacle course, to the bungee run, seniors spent the afternoon having fun with their fellow classmates.

“I had the most fun at the bungee run where you’re attached to a bungee cord and you have to run and put your bean bag down and see who can get the furthest,” senior Anna Morley said. “I did it with my besties Jamie Killian and Sarah Pinkowski which made it even better.”

Although the weather wasn’t ideal, the seniors made the most of their barbecue (just like they did for prom) hosted inside and enjoyed their time together nonetheless.

“Today is just amazing because all of the seniors are having fun together everyone is going to college and I am just going to miss them so much,” senior Cyril Kappen said.

Many seniors were feeling sentimental as they realized this event would be the last activity with the entire class of 2019 all together

The barbecue is a great event because it helps you reconnect with people you haven’t seen in a long time, and it’s a great way to say goodbye to some people in our grade we will sadly probably never see again,” senior Olivia Gifford said.

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Graduation

As school days feel longer and the school year gets shorter, the final year at York has come to an end for the class of 2019. Class sizes are getting smaller, leaving senior sized holes for the last two weeks of school. This Sunday, May 19, the seniors entered York and walked over to the field house, home of the pacer and the infamous marine workout, for one last lap.

“I was walking in [York] from my car today,” graduate Chloe Gomez said. “I was looking at York and reflecting because this is one of the last times I’ll walk into this school as a student.”

The bittersweet graduation ceremony happened for the hundredth time this weekend, May 19, yet this commencement was unique in its own right. Part of that was thanks to the talented performers who helped punctuate the chapter that has been York for this year’s seniors. Graduates Mike Bindeman, Bridey Costello, LJ Galdo, Helena Koczur and Jake Rehling all added music to the ceremony.  

“It felt really, really flattering [to be selected],” said Rehling. “You grow so much with your senior class, and you get to be able to sing in front of them. People may remember that through their lives. I’ll remember that forever. It was a really good moment.”

That growth inspired his and Bindeman’s song choice, “Grow as We Go” by Ben Platt, sung as a duet and accompanied by Costello on guitar.

“We found the song a couple of months ago because we were gonna sing it for our senior concerts,” Rehling said. “We fought over the song so we decided to turn it into a duet, and we loved it so much we decided to audition for graduation and then we got picked. It’s going to be really, really exciting.”

Koczur also graced the stage. Accompanied by Galdo, she took the senior class back in time during the ceremony that celebrates them growing up.

“I am singing The Climb by Miley Cyrus, which I consider a perfect fit for graduation,” Koczur said. “Not only is the song about how life throws obstacles at you along the way and the journey ahead, but it is also a song from all of our childhoods. Everyone in our grade grew up in the Disney Channel/ Hannah Montana era, so singing this song brings us all back to our childhood and is a true reflection on how far we have all come and how we have all grown up.”

Similarly, Gomez and fellow graduate Samantha Kao made the hundredth York graduation as unique as the class itself. Selected from approximately 20 seniors, each gave a speech during the ceremony

“My speech is about how when I came to York I was super shy and quiet and I was scared of voicing my opinion because I was around all these brand new people that I had no idea who they were,” Gomez said. “It’s about how York changed me into a new, confident person. I’m speaking at graduation and that’s something I would’ve never even wanted to do freshman year.”

York, and the faculty that support it, has changed every single senior who has scanned their IDs and walked through the doors. Some lessons have been broad, such as gaining strength and confidence, but others have shown seniors exactly what they want to become.

“Mrs. Marianetti is one of the reasons why I’m going into choral music education,” said Rehling, who will be majoring in choral music education at North Central College with a minor in theatre. “She is one of my biggest inspirations. She’s taught me so much.  All the opportunities I’ve gotten at York are absolutely astounding. No other high school would have these kinds of opportunities, and that’s definitely something I’m going to miss the most about high school.”

College and Career Counselor Amy Thompson, perhaps one of the most well known staff members, wanted to leave the graduating Dukes with one final lesson.

“Have a wonderful life,” Thompson said.”Take good care of yourself. Remember to thank those who help you every step of the way. And if things ever seem dark, remember it’s always darkest before the dawn.”

Emotions ran high at graduation as speeches, videos, and performances brought out tears from the front row back. For some, it was pride, joy, and excitement. For others, it was sadness and nostalgia. For most, it was some combination or the two polar opposites. Either way, some things were bound to surface.  

“I hope I won’t cry when I’m giving my speech because that would be awkward, but that’s something I would do,” Gomez said.

And while this graduation was special for everyone involved, some things never change. Including what is really the essence of the ceremony, transferring a hard earned diploma into the hands of a student.

“My favorite part was shaking my counselors hand one last time as I received my diploma because he has been the biggest influence for me in high school,” graduate Jared Kinney said.

This event, as it has for the century before, marks the first moment of a new start.

“As sentimental as it is to move on,” Rehling said. “I’m so excited for new adventures and for new friends and really getting my life started.”

 

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