By CHAZ PLAGER
Most graduations are special. For the graduates, it means that a new chapter in their life has begun, and to say goodbye to the past four years of their life. For the parents of the graduates, it means that they’ll soon be watching their children enter adulthood.
But the Class of 2022’s graduation was extra special because it was the first fully in-person graduation Palisades High School has held in two years because of the Covid pandemic.
The graduation took place June 9, on a foggy, gray evening. Throughout the stadium, a unique sense of relief could be felt– not just because students were finally done with school, but because they were lucky enough not to be graduating – last year.
Thousands of spectators crammed into the seats on either side of the football field at the Stadium by the Sea, whistling, cheering, and holding up signs as the 850 seniors filed in on both sides of the field, eventually rejoining in the center where they sat before a large stage. The Palisades High School orchestra played “Pomp and Circumstance,” as seniors entered the field from the tunnel under Bowdoin Street.
Certain “troublemakers” broke out of line to “show off” to the crowd as they entered the stadium, but eventually all seniors were seated.
The ceremony began with Chris Clauson, the student body president, leading the pledge of allegiance.
That was followed by an electric guitar cover of the national anthem. No, I am not joking. It was performed by Mateo Mazariego, a PaliHi senior.
Students of the diverse Pali community were then welcomed in each of their native languages, from Hindi, to Korean, to French.
Speeches began with Valedictorian William Rene, speaking about his opinions on the future. The salutatorian this year was Mia Kulinsky.
Several students gave speeches and politics, past tragedies, and pandemics permeated nearly all the messages.
Jacob Accardo went for a lighter approach, discussing his feelings on graduating during the pandemic through stand-up comedy in an exaggerated Boston accent and ended with “get out there and kick ‘em in the tuchas!”
Director of Academic Achievement, Monica Ianessa, praised the students on overcoming “unprecedented challenges and changes.”
The Palisades Choir sang a “Graduation Medley” that included “Wayward Son” and “Everlasting Love.”
Next, AcaPali, as the name implies, sang an acapella rendition of “What a Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke.
Then students came up to receive their diplomas. After all had returned to their seats, they turned the tassels on their caps from right to left in order to signify “entering the next chapter of their lives,” and hurled them into the air to the tune of “Celebrate Good Times.”