Expanded FR&A Photo Gallery: Franklin High School Graduates Class Of 2023

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE – Students make their way into the gymnasium for the FHS Class of 2023 commencement exercises.

There are now 609 more young men and women who can call themselves graduates of Franklin High School.

The threat of bad weather forced the Class of 2023 commencement ceremony indoors to the gym on June 23, but impending rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the graduates or their friends and family who came to watch them get their diplomas.

Both grandstands were packed, and people lined the balcony for an in-person view of the proceedings. There was also overflow seating in the cafeteria, in which large television screens were set up and the ceremony broadcast in.

The graduates and their guests heard from four speakers: Valedictorian Christopher Liem, Salutatorian Ryan Kpamegan, Class of 2023 President Aastha Patel and FHS Principal Nicholas Solomon.

Liem told his classmates that they should plan their lives much as they would plan a road trip by car.

Referring to Solomon’s penchant for telling students to “find your Why,” Liem said: “Let me pose a different question: How will you get to your ‘Why’?”

“We often concern ourselves with the 5 W’s, Who, What, When Where and Why, but often forget the How,” he said.

This dilemma perplexes me because I believe the How is the most crucial of the six,” he said. “Sure, the five ‘W’s allow us to describe something, but the ‘How’ explains how to take us to a certain destination, and we use our ‘How’ to measure progress. It motivates us to act rather than be idle with inaction.”

“Plan your route, but I caution to make sure that every step you take is meaningful,” Liem said. “It’s just like finding your route to your destination while driving; you want every turn you take to get you closer to your destination efficiently.”

“It’s OK to take detours, in fact, it’s inevitable,” he said. “You are embarking on a road trip that takes the rest of your life, and you are the driver.”

Kpamegan told his classmates that “(w)hile today is a day to celebrate our personal achievements, we must also acknowledge the invaluable support we received along the way. Our families, teachers and mentors have been our rocks, offering us guidance, belief and encouragement.”

“They stood by us through thick and thin and we owe them a debt of gratitude for helping us reach this momentous day,” he said.

“As we embark on our individual journeys, let us never forget the strength we possess when we come together as a unified force,” Kpamegan said. “Collaboration and unity have the power to bring about transformative change in our communities and beyond. Let us seek out opportunities to work together, to lift each other up and to make a lasting positive impact on the world.”

Let us carry forward the torch of knowledge, resilience, and compassion,” he said. “The road ahead may be uncertain but armed with the skills and potential that we have developed, I’m confident that we will rise to any challenge.”

“I have no doubt that we will leave a lasting mark on the world,” he said.

Patel told the students they should remember the people they met during their careers at FHS.

“These are the people who you have lived wand loved with throughout high school,” she said. “These are the people who you have lived and loved with throughout simple and difficult times.”

“As a class, we have created remarkable moments with one another,” she said/ “Try to remember this time that you have created with these extraordinary individuals and continue to live and love as we part ways today and endeavor on our own path.”

“Today we have reached such an important milestone in our lives, but graduating from Franklin is just the beginning to our aspiring future,” Patel said. “We’re going to come across many unfamiliar and uncomfortable moments, and this is the time to let your passions and motivation speak for itself. Show them what this Warrior from Franklin is truly capable of.”

Solomon’s speech focused on three aspects of life: resilience, reflection and relationships.

“Throughout your high school years, you have demonstrated incredible resilience,” he said. “The transitions from traditional learning to hybrid models, then returning to the daily routine of in-person classes were not without their challenges.”

“Yet, you persevered and thrived, and as an educator, I’ve always been astounded by the unwavering resilience of students at Franklin High School,” he said.

“Why should you reflect upon the obstacles and challenging times you have encountered? The answer lies in the fact that we learn and grow through our pain, our experiences and even our mistakes,” he said.

“Take time to reflect not only the hardships, but also the joyful moments spent in the halls of FHS, during the lunch periods, games, pep rallies, trips, the connections you made with people,” he said. “Each of these experiences contributed to your growth and learning.”

“I implore you to reflect upon your personal journeys, celebrate the victories and acknowledge the setbacks,” Solomon said. “Consider what you had to overcome to be sitting in your graduation seat today.”

“One of the remarkable aspects of being in a school community is witnessing the profound relationships that develop among students; the bonds you have formed with the peers and classmates, teammates, club members or even through the shared moments in the cafeteria are precious and irreplaceable,” he said. “Cherish the memories created through these interactions.”

“Let us remember to uplift others, to be bridge builders, to give back and above all, to be exemplary individuals,” Solomon said.

“Embrace resilience, engage in reflection foster the meaning of relationships,” he said.

The Franklin High School JROTC honor guard presente3d the colors, and Student Government President Akeira Faulknor lead in the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The National Anthem was sung by Sanika Chaturvedi, with accompaniment by Andy Lam on the viola.

Torie Schenck sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

An a cappella group comprised of Sanika Chaturvedi, Erica Rice, Rebecca Russo, Torie Schenck and Artaisha Woodson sang the FHS alma mater.

Here is an expanded photo gallery from the day:

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