‘Never Forget The Power of Community’: Salem Public Schools Celebrates Largest Graduating Class Since 2015

Posted on: June 12, 2024
Salem High School Class of 2024 Graduation

Salem High School confers 236 diplomas

SALEM (June 12, 2024) – There was a common theme among the speakers at the Salem High School commencement ceremony, each lauding the special community that is home to the Class of 2024.

The City of Salem celebrated the graduation of the SHS Class of 2024 Friday night at which 236 seniors – it’s largest graduation class since 2015 – received their diplomas in front of a large crowd on the Salem Common.

With each speaker came praise for Salem: its impact, the opportunities the city and school district has presented, as well as reminders to never forget this community. The passion with which each spoke was emblematic of the core principles of the 2023-26 Strategic Plan – to elevate education, empower educators, center belonging and strengthen the foundation – are working.

Senior Class President Chloe Magee opened with the line, ‘It takes a village,’ and spoke deeply about her upbringing by a single parent though she never felt alone. “I had a village,” she said. “Friends, aunts, the collective support of my community. As I entered high school, my village began to grow. Every success story involves countless hearts together.”

Ms. Magee, who will enter a new village this fall at the University of Washington, encouraged her classmates to look around them and see their village. “Never forget the power of community,” she noted. “It was an honor to be your president and be a part of your village.”

Ms. Magee will study Environmental Studies and Philosophy with a minor in American Sign Language at UW.

Mayor Dominick Pangallo underscored Ms. Magee’s message, reminding the graduates of the uniqueness of their home city: “Never forget that we’re here for you,” he said. “Salem has your back and will always be your hometown.”

The Class of 2024 will forever be special to Superintendent Dr. Stephen Zrike, who became the superintendent in the graduates’ first year of high school during the throes of the pandemic. He reminded the class of its many qualities and offered subtle advice as they move on.

“Say hello to people and make them smile,” he said. “Never turn your back on someone in need. Try to see yourself from someone else’s eyes. Continue being you. And don’t forget your hometown.”

SHS Principal Glenn Burns cited the many accomplishments of the Class of 2024, such as 111 scholars enrolled in early college courses; the class earning more than $2.6 million in scholarships; seniors graduating with industry standard credentials through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, and the pride of SHS’s fine and performing arts program.

“Your efforts have fostered a vibrant school culture,” Mr. Burns said. “School spirit is alive and well at Salem High School. Don’t become complacent. Take your skills, energy and dreams to your next endeavor.”

Salutatorian and award winning artist Jessica Valatka, who will attend the University of Massachusetts to pursue Sustainable Urban Design, encouraged her classmates to see the good in everything. “It’s strategic and necessary,” she noted. “It’s how I learned to survive through everything.”

Valedictorian Tilda Rieder, who will study engineering at Dartmouth College, hailed the support she had growing up in Salem and the many folks who strive to make it better. “From kindergarten to my senior year, I was supported by a staff that cared about my success,” she said. “Take advantage of the opportunities afforded to you. Reach out to the community for help because it wants you to succeed.”

About Salem Public Schools

Salem Public Schools is an urban public school district in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is a small, diverse city with a proud maritime and immigrant history. Our leaders and our teachers are all passionate about education and understand the urgency of improving student achievement with equity and social-emotional needs as the lens we view all of our work through. We respect and value the racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of our students and their families, and have a strong commitment to the Salem community. Salem Public Schools staff serve all of our students, regardless of ability or language. Salem Public Schools enrolls approximately 4,000 students across its eleven schools.

Photos by Dana J. Quigley | DJQMedia.com | Facebook/Instagram: @djqmedia