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Hastings High School Valedictorian Reflects on Senior Year

valedictorian, Caleb PainterAs the seniors of Hastings High School graduate and move on to bigger and better things, many are looking back on the past year, noting how their high school career is ending on a high note. One of those students is valedictorian Caleb Painter, who summed up the school year for his class, which experienced the disruptions of Covid on top of the normal stressors of being a high school senior.

“I'm really proud of all of us,” he said. “I think we all should congratulate ourselves just for sticking through this year and really making the best of it despite this pandemic.” Painter, who has been accepted into Harvard University for the fall, believes that the extra stresses of the past year may even serve graduates into the future.

He applauded his peers for their attitude and flexibility. Despite being partially virtual for some of the school year, Painter said it did not stop him and his classmates from participating in their regular clubs and events. Instead, it taught them an important life skill: adaptability.

“I think we've learned how to adjust and to keep doing what's important to us,” he said.

“Despite the challenges that we faced, we found ways to continue our interests, so I think we've definitely shown our creative and adaptive sides and I think that's really going to be a great skill to use in college and life in general.”

While the future Ivy Leaguer expressed his enthusiasm for his upcoming experience, he acknowledged that it may take a little adjustment going from a small school to an internationally renowned university.

“I'm excited to be going somewhere new and meeting new people,” Painter said. “But going into a school with thousands of people in each grade is definitely going to be a big change.”

But Painter believes that the Hastings-on-Hudson School District has given him the resources and opportunities to set him up for success.

“I think Hastings does a great job at preparing students to go to these really fantastic colleges,” he said. “If anything, it speaks more about what the teachers and the administration is doing here and how good it is.”

With the class of 2021 graduated, Painter said he is glad that he and his classmates were able to come together at the end of a turbulent year for a few celebrations.

“A lot of the highlights came at the end of the year, when we were finally all in and I got to see everyone's faces,” he said. “The fact that we were able to come together and have these typical high school events that are really important, I think we finished on a good note.”

Looking towards the future, Painter said he is keeping his options and mind open and with the knowledge that he has gained from his hometown of Hastings-on-Hudson, he is ready to take advantage of the resources at Harvard University.

“I’m hoping to take a lot of classes my freshman year and kind of just explore a lot of different things,” he said.

Hastings High School's Class of 2021.