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The Class of 2023 Promises to Pay Forward "the Best of Hastings" at 115th Commencement Ceremony

Graduates throwing caps into airIt was cloudy with a chance of rain on Thursday evening, June 22, but that didn’t stop families, students and staff from celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2023. 

The graduation ceremony for Hastings High School seniors, held this year in the Cochran Gymnasium, began with a processional medley. 

Cloaked in emerald green caps and gowns, the grinning graduates, with their heads held high, filed into the gym to the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” played by their classmates in the High School Band and Orchestra. Cheers from the packed bleachers echoed through the room as the Class of 2023 took their seats. 

The commencement program that followed included a performance of the "Star Bangled Banner" by the Hastings High School Chorus, for the last time, "The Pledge of Allegiance" led by junior Barney Smith, and inspiring speeches and congratulatory remarks from Hastings High School Principal Louis Adipietro, Class President & Salutatorian Julien Amsellem, Guest Speaker Dr. Kern Mojica (Class of 1999), Valedictorian Gus Renzin, and Superintendent of Schools Dr. William McKersie.

The importance of leaning on each other through good times and bad, carrying forth traditions while leaving room for the unexpected, and the unconditional love that serves as a path to one's success, were just a few of the ceremony’s themes, as administrators and student leaders commended the graduating class for their courage and perseverance.

“You have embodied the very best of humanity,” Adipietro said. “Let the lessons you’ve learned guide you. And remember, in times of crisis, great leaders emerge. You all have the potential to be that leader.”

Class President & Salutatorian Julien Amsellem also focused on togetherness and humanity, quoting the legendary song “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King. 

“To the friends and family who made this journey worthwhile, I love you. Thank you,” he said. 

Continuing towards the presentation of graduates and awards, guest speaker Dr. Mojica, a three-sport Hastings High School alumnus turned educator and coach, spoke of personal experiences when he addressed the students, crediting the countless efforts of his mentors, friends and family, for getting him to where he is today. 

“It takes a village to achieve all your hopes and dreams,” Mojica said. “You cannot do it alone, and please know you don’t have to.”

Moving through the program, Valedictorian Rensin touched on the special community that is Hastings. 

“Thank you just isn’t enough,” he said. “It will be our job to pay forward the very best of Hastings. So, let’s get to work.” 

Superintendent McKersie rounded out the program's remarks, and, inspired by all that he heard, shared two key takeaways.

"First, traditions matter," McKersie said. "Second, find peace, make peace, embrace peace, and lead for peace."

For the full measure of the ceremony's magic, watch a photo montage below created by the district’s Communications Consultant Jackie Saviano.

Click here to view the formal commencement program. 


Click here to view the live-stream recording.


A special thanks goes to Graduation Coordinator Nancy Gagliardi, and to the Building and Grounds crew for all of their hard work in executing the ceremony.


And last but certainly not least, on behalf of the entire Hastings-on-Hudson Union Free School District community, congratulations to the Class of 2023!