The 2023 senior class graduates in style


Arden Ray

CAPS ON: With their hands in the air, the graduating seniors gather together during the ceremony to celebrate the completion of their high school education. This year, the graduation was held at Burger Stadium.

Emerson Traugott, News Editor

The sea of black caps and gowns swarms Burger Stadium, the turf almost completely covered as hundreds of students sit in symmetrical rows waiting patiently for their names to be called to accept their diplomas. 

Cameras flash and parents wipe their tears as the last 18 years have all led to this moment of academic closure. From track and field days to senior skip day Bowie’s class of 2023 embarks are their last tradition.

“To me, graduation day itself shows the end to this pretty big chapter of your life, and the beginning of another one,” NHS Co-president Shabbir Akhtar said. “I guess for so long we’ve kind of had our parents there to hold out hands, but now as we enter adulthood and seek out whatever our futures may hold we have to be ready to do it on our one, to pave our path, if you will.”

This class was sent home in the middle of their freshman year and returned as juniors to finish off high school.

“Since we are one of the classes that jumped right back into “normal” high school after the pandemic and I think a lot of my peers felt boxed in and less social than in previous years but again people found a way to come out of their shells,” Akhtar said. “And overall, as a class, I feel like we have grown so much and have managed to become more social and tight-knit than before COVID.” 

I hold these ceremonies in a special place in my heart because it’s one of the happiest days for our students as well as staff!

— April Giuffre, School Counselor

In three months when summer comes to an end, many students will leave the security blanket of home to either a new state or city or even just a new place to live. Where the boundaries between academic and social life become intertwined. 

“I think the part of college that terrifies me the most aside from being truly on my own for the first time is the heavy workload I am about to face,” recent graduate Shelly Kleinerman said. “Especially as a STEM major at UT [University of Texas].” 

Graduation day is heavily planned by a group of staff members who meet regularly throughout the year to ensure that the day runs smoothly. 

“The graduation committee (consisting of an assistant principal, counselor, registrars, and other members from our staff) usually meets for the first time in the fall semester, but we have multiple meetings in the spring semester starting in January, to meet upcoming deadlines,” A member of the planning committee and school counselor April Giuffre said. “[Though the biggest struggling in planning is} for the staff members finding time to plan it.”

However even after the plans are made and deadlines are met, there must always be a contingency plan in place to reduce the level of panic if something goes wrong on graduation day itself. 

“Our district creates an inclement weather plan for each high school, so we normally do not have to do much planning in regards to that other than clearly communicating it to families,” Giuffre said. “This year, for instance, students were given wristbands in case we had to move from Burger Stadium (outdoors) to the Burger Activity Center (indoors) to limit the number of guests allowed in.”

Graduation is a day filled with excitement from seniors and parents alike, happy to see the 12 years of hard work pay off. However, some teachers have seen countless graduations, sending their students into the next phase of life. 

“I love planning and working on graduation because this is the culmination of all our students’ work and efforts and is such a celebratory sendoff to all of them,” Giuffre said. “I continue to hold these ceremonies in a special place in my heart because it’s one of the happiest days for our students and their families, as well as staff!”

Every class has the opportunity to leave a legacy of their impact and the differences made to their campus. 

“I think that the class of 2023 is a group of strong learners and that we can really get through anything. We have been through so many weird years, but we have still adapted,” salutatorian Sienna Szczesny said. “Since going to online school was really hard to get used to, and then quickly adapting back to in-person, we have shown everyone we can overcome adversity and be stronger because of it.” 

Graduation day itself shows the end to this pretty big chapter of your life, and the beginning of another one

— Shabbir Akhtar, NHS Co-president

The 1,461 days that include the time an average American spend in high school shapes a student’s life and determines where they will spend the next four years after high school, whether that is entering the workforce, a gap year, trade school, or the traditional universities or colleges. 

“There are a lot of irreplaceable experiences that I have had in high school that have changed my life and made me the person I am today. But I would say that one of the most valuable of those experiences was meeting all of my wonderful teachers. A lot of the time people come to class, they just sit there do their work, and get out as fast as they can. But really, if you sit there and you like, ask questions, you get to know your teachers,” Akhtar said. “You can get truly learn from them. My own teachers helped to guide me down my own path because they’ve been through it all themselves, so they can help anyone go through it as well.” 

After endless hours of homework and hundreds of classes over the years leads to a single day that signifies the end of a 12-year-long journey, and a symbol of the major milestone that has just concluded. 

“Everyone’s grad day is different but for me, I was so happy to run across the field to go and hug my best friend,” Kleinerman said. 

The last piece of high school is held on the same field where countless football games took place, where the homing court crowned the king and queen. And where students say goodbye to well-known acquaintances and hug tightly the close friendships will soon become long-distance ones. 

“It’s kind of a bittersweet feeling leaving a school you know so well but I differently learned a lot from my teachers, as well as my peers,” Szczesny said. “But if I were to go back and give my freshman self one piece of advice it would be to work hard, but don’t take everything too seriously.”