William J. Dean Technical High School (DTHS) concluded its first year as a GRAD Academy on some very bright notes. DTHS hosted the inaugural Paper City Basketball Clinic and 3-on-3 Tournament with the support of new partners, the Boston Celtics. The following week, DTHS celebrated the class of 2014 during a beautiful graduation ceremony.
In the spirit of educating and supporting the whole student, Project GRAD orchestrated a partnership with the Boston Celtics and the South Holyoke Safe Neighborhoods Initiative to host a full day of basketball fun. On Wednesday, May 21, coach Ron Adams and his crew of six other Celtics coaches led students of all ages through skills stations honing shooting, defense, ball control, and much more. Then, while the Celtics coaches joined HPS and South Holyoke coaches for a coaching clinic, middle and high school students started the 3-on-3 Tournament. During this “round robin” style tournament, each team of three was able to participate in up to eight games.
Principal Barry Bacom was thrilled with the outcome of the day and the performance of DTHS students, sharing, “Everyone had a great time, and the level of mature, enthusiastic participation by our students was phenomenal.”
The clinic and tournament were truly community events. DTHS students designed flyers to advertise around the city of Holyoke; DTHS staff and faculty ran concessions and worked the registration table; the DTHS chef prepared dinner for all the coaches; Holyoke Public Schools superintendent Dr. Sergio Páez and GRAD CEO Dr. Daryl Ogden both attended the event; and HPS Media Center Director Mike Hines created a video to commemorate the event.
Just one week later on Friday, May 20, 2014, DTHS celebrated its first graduation ceremony as a GRAD Academy. The ceremony took place at the War Memorial Auditorium in downtown Holyoke. The graduation ceremony was the last event there before the War Memorial undergoes a substantial renovation.
The ceremony began with a series of meaningful speeches. Principal Barry Bacom, Superintendent Dr. Sergio Páez, and Mayor Alex Morse all spoke to the graduates and their families, wishing them well as they venture off into their post-secondary lives. Valedictorian John Connon and salutatorian Dylan O’Malley shared parting words with their classmates about the significance of the education they received at DTHS and the potential they have to succeed as they move forward.
“‘If you do something you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.’ This quote was a motivator of mine throughout high school,” Connon told his classmates. “I want the class of 2014 to never give up. If we want to pursue something, and do something that we love, we need to go and grab it and never let it go…Whether you’re an automotive technician, carpenter, machine technologist, cosmetologist, or whatever you are involved with. You all began to build a life, so continue building that life when you leave here, don’t forget the value of the choices that you make, and don’t stop believing.” O’Malley echoed Connon’s sentiment in his own speech, telling his classmates, “With whatever path in life you decide to carryout, I hope that you become the best at what you want to do. As David Frost once said, ‘Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.’”
96 graduates walked the stage in front of proud family and friends. As students were called up by their career tech programs, their career tech instructors stood to shake their hands as they crossed the stage. For the first time, this graduation ceremony included a booklet of senior biographies that detailed each graduate’s high school highlights, teacher and staff appreciations, and future plans. After the ceremony concluded, students and family remained at the War Memorial for pictures and celebration.
“Graduation Day is always my favorite day of the school year,” Principal Bacom shared after the ceremony. “We all get to share in the culmination of many years of hard work for these young adults. We also get to thank the parents and families of the graduates. We know that we all make it through life with the help of those that care for us and it is times like this that we should honor them for their support.”
We congratulate the DTHS graduates of 2014, and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors!