‘We are unstoppable:’ Shelton High Class of 2022 graduates

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Graduating seniors gathered to celebrate their time together with an eye toward the world that awaits during Shelton High’s 133rd commencement ceremony Thursday.

The Class of 2022 — made up of 289 students — walked the stage at Finn Stadium to accept their diplomas, bringing an end to four years of academic and athletic achievements, all in a world that demanded social distancing, remote learning and shutdowns.

“Your generation has faced unforeseen tragedies … yet you continue to persevere,” Superintendent Ken Saranich said to the class. “You have faced more adversity in your short lifetime than many of us older than you have or will face in ours.

“Your positive attitude on life and your ability to demonstrate kindness made the difference,” Saranich added.

Class of 2022 President Arvin Islam said without the impact the class made on each other, they would not be ready to prosper and chase their dreams.

“Chase your goals, take those risks and reach for the stars,” Islam said. “This is not a goodbye, but rather a see you later. We are unstoppable and together I hope we make a positive impact on the world.”

Principal Kathy Riddle said the graduation’s theme — anything is possible — was born after watching the SHS Drama Club’s award-winning spring musical Seussical.

“Even though we faced a year of unthinkable tragedies and loss, you came together as a class, we came together as a school, we rallied together as a community,” Riddle said. “We have all truly demonstrated that ‘anything is possible’ when we stick together and support one another.”

Riddle praised the class, noting that 88 percent of the graduating class will continue to post-secondary education next year, with five committed to military service.

She recognized the drama club’s Best Musical award, the Gaelhawks robotics team being named New England champions, and that two students earned national art awards.

Saranich called on the Class of 2022 to “go out and make the world a better place.

“I need you to know that our greatest achievement is you,” Saranich said to the class. “You need to be better than us. I believe you can because anything is possible.”

Valedictorian Ashley Jacob said this graduation day is the time to tell the world “We are ready. Ready to choose our own path ... ready to reach our full potential ... ready to take our place in the next generation.

“Do not fear what is to come for we are the future,” Jacob said. “We will brave the storms that come our way, only to emerge stronger than before.”

Islam praised his classmates for coming together and forging a bond that will be long lasting.

“We often forget to appreciate the minor ways we influence each other,” Islam said. “From countless hellos to the smiles in the hallway and all the common struggles we face, the small things really do add up. In our time in high school, we dealt with a huge amount of hardship, way more than any of us were prepared for. But look at us.”

Islam said the class came together, helping each other.

“We got through all of it, becoming stronger, both individually and as a unit,” Islam added. “We continue to thrive off each other.”

Salutatorian Diya Patel called on her classmates to chase new dreams and strive for new goals — and live a life dedicated to making a positive impact on others’ lives.

"The world is ours for the taking,” Patel said. “Ten, 20, 30 years from now, I hope we can look back at these four years and value their role as the prologue of our lives. This is just the opening chapter, and we still have hundreds of pages to fill.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com