The Class of 2023 Flies Away


Photo Credit: Kate Wheatley

The 2023 CRLS graduation celebrated an unusual high school experience.

Elaine Wen, Nation Editor

As soon as you stepped onto the football field with the familiar “Pomp and Circumstance” tune, the chatter of families, and the occasional balloon floating off into the sky, you knew where you were. Cambridge Rindge and Latin’s graduation for the Class of 2023 happened at Russell Field on Thursday, June 8th, 2023.

Graduation is a monumental event every year, and 2023 was no different.

Graduation is a monumental event every year, and 2023 was no different. CRLS’ Falcon Band and String Orchestra welcomed the graduates into their seats followed by a greeting from Salutatorian Nicolas Valayonnopoulos-Akrivou written by ChatGPT. Other speakers included Principal Damon Smith, Superintendent Dr. Victoria Greer, and CRLS Alumni Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, who proudly declared, “Once a falcon, always a falcon.” Two moments of silence followed in honor of late students Sina Ball and Rodney Tariri. A nostalgic performance of the Gilmore Girls theme song “Where You Lead” by Carole King was then beautifully executed by seniors Jiaming Wang, Tavien Pollard, Tristyn Liu, Eli Kanner, and Cherace Lin after the Faculty Distinction Awards were granted. Once the attendees were welcomed, the spotlight turned to the students. 

Three student voices speak annually at graduation. Speeches first opened with Student Body Co-Presidents Ellie Harmon and Alif Sheikh delivering a speech that focused on CRLS’ community. Harmon highlighted the vast variety of clubs and opportunities at CRLS, while Sheikh reminded students, “Do not be afraid to take up space in environments where you may not feel you belong. The world needs your wisdom and light.” Her reminder calls attention to first and second-generation immigrants, women of color, and Muslims. 

Valedictorian Thomas Brewitt followed, encouraging graduates to solve present-day issues with innovations such as cancer cures and synthetic photosynthesis. 

The third speech went to Irene Hill, Senior Class Co-President, who emphasized the beauty of words while stringing them together to paint the story of the Class of 2023’s journey from individual isolation to a colorful community. Hill reminded students that, “True unity lies not in uniformity, but in embracing our unique identities,” while praising her peers for building “an ambitious, influential, and resilient class” despite being divided due to the pandemic that plagued their freshman and sophomore years. All speakers highlighted the fact that Rindge is made exceptional by its diverse student body that has formed a strong community.  The class of 2023 began their freshman years with what we would now have deemed as “normal,” only to be hit halfway through with a global pandemic that would change the course of their high school years. But as their black robes flowed, families cheered, and caps flew, one thing was certain: despite having been through a lot, the 2023 class resiliently, bravely, and beautifully came out on the other side.

This article also appears in our May/June 2023 print edition.