‘Continue to make us proud’: Spirits high as Smith Voc grads step off


Staff Writer

Published: 06-02-2023 4:49 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Friends and family members joined the celebration Thursday evening as 126 seniors graduated under sunny skies from Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School.

Thanking his parents, family, friends “and my cat, Elvis,” salutatorian Seth Ostrowski quoted Michael Scott of “The Office” in wrapping up his speech:

“May your hats fly as high as your dreams!”

Ostrowski, of Goshen, a health technology student and certified nursing assistant, noted that class members had come to Smith Voc from small towns across the region, not knowing each other and many not knowing what they wanted to study. He praised the school’s “unique, hands-on learning” and the real-world experience it offered, and recalled some memorable moments.

“We watched a roof blow off a building just to have another one burn down the next day,” he said.

School Superintendent Andrew Linkenhoker relayed some advice he believed the students should take to heart, since it came from Adm. William McRaven, the Navy SEAL in charge of the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed.

The gist of the advice was that little things matter, and that one task completed will turn into many.

“Class of 2023, I’m telling you, make your bed,” Linkenhoker said, before the diplomas were handed out.

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After leading her classmates in the moving of the tassels, valedictorian Mandy Wright, an automotive technology student from Worthington, said the class was about to enter the unknown.

“It may be the biggest jump we’ll ever take,” she said, adding: “We’re allowed to take baby steps.”

Describing herself as a first-generation high school graduate, she said Smith Voc had given the grads the resources and knowledge to deal with what comes.

“We grew up,” she said. “We entered as strangers; now we leave as friends.”

Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra and trustee Julie Spencer-Robinson also wished the graduates well.

“Wherever you go in the world, continue to make us proud,” Spencer-Robinson said.