West High School: After 4 years of perseverance, Class of 2024 walks the graduation walk

MANCHESTER, NH – West High School Principal Richard Dichard acknowledged the persevernce of the Class of 2024 as their high school days will forever be marked by the many twists, turns and pivots of the pandemic.

“However, it goes without saying that the pandemic did not define this class. I see the prospect of greatness from all the members of this class and no matter what the future holds, please know that I, and the entire West community, will always be there for you,” written words Dichard offered up to his students in the commencement program.

And that sentiment was echoed by valedictorian Sara Addir, who said the quiet part out loud – that because of the pandemic she – and so many other students – had to overcome academic struggles.

“It was such a stressful time in which none of us knew where things were headed, and between the online classes, the social restrictions, and the fear of catching a deadly disease, it all became too much. And even after the pandemic, many of us still struggled, but I am glad that we were able to push through and make it to graduation,” she said.

And her remarks echoed her generation’s emerging sense of urgency as survivors of the pandemic, in demanding that the quality of life should not ever be compromised again, no matter what the circumstances.

“To those who feel scared for what is to come after you walk out of this stadium today because you do not know what your next step should be or what it is that you even want in the future, I want you to know that that is okay and that you are not alone. It is perfectly normal to have not yet figured out what it is that you would like to do for the rest of your life, especially at this point in your life. But if you are truly adamant about finding this special job or career that you are passionate about, then I implore you to try different things. If you end up in a position in which you are unsatisfied with your job or yourself then you have every right to leave that position and move on to find one that will make you truly happy.”

The Class of 2024 co-presidents Carina Richard and Erin Murphy summarized the high school experience in their address.

“High school, for most of us, was more than going to our classes and getting good grades. It was about finding ourselves, pushing our limits, and finding our friends. It was the very halls of West High School that we laughed, we struggled, and we grew into the people we are today. Although we are all excited to leave high school behind and start the next chapter, the memories that we have created will last a lifetime. These very memories will be something that we will continue to look back on and grow from whether they were good or bad,” Carina said.

‘It’s been a long four years and we should all be proud of ourselves for making it this far, what we’ve accomplished, and who we’ve become. The beginning of our high school career was nothing compared to a typical freshman year that students before us had, and students after us will have. Starting off online was a difficult challenge and has affected all of us in some way, but we were able to push through and overcome this challenge,” Erin said.

Ushika Thipa also addressed her classmates, reflecting the pride they share in being a small but mighty closeknit school community.

“West may be one of the smallest schools in Manchester but it taught us perseverance through adversity and hardship, an experience that has uniquely impacted each of us in our own personal ways, as did our parents,” Ushika said. “I’d like to take a moment to also thank my own; the people from whom I received my name and my life’s blood. As an immigrant daughter, I saw the value of hard work through them; my father who came to this country with nothing but the clothes on his back and my mother, who has juggled a variety of jobs her entire life. If I could amount to half the woman you are today, I know I could accomplish anything,” she said.

Assistant Principal Jerold White delivers a diploma along with some dance moves. Photos/Stacy Harrison