The Queensbury High School Class of 2023 learned three important lessons during graduation Friday night.
Retiring science teacher Patrick Smith told Queensbury graduates to look up from their phones and listen to each other.
“We all listen to the news, we listen to podcasts, our playlists, the weather forecast, TikTok to get our life instructions for the day,” Smith said. “I’m asking that you get better at listening to people — the people that you know.”
He also told graduates to think before they speak, judge or act and to be nice to people.
“Contrary to what might seem to be popular belief,” Smith said, “it’s still OK to be nice!”
Dressed in blue gowns, 246 seniors became Queensbury High School graduates during an evening ceremony at the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls on Friday, June 23. As is tradition, the ceremony started with a bagpipe introduction before the seniors marched into the arena to “Pomp and Circumstance,” played by the school’s combined orchestra and band students. The QHS Madrigals sang the National Anthem and the school’s alma mater.
Superintendent of Schools Kyle Gannon took the students back to their days at Queensbury Elementary School, where they learned the phrase, “Work hard, do your best, achieve your dreams at QES.”
He recalled their days at the William H. Barton Intermediate School, Queensbury Middle School, and finally, their last four years of high school.
“What a journey it has been for each of you thus far,” Gannon said.
At the end of his speech, Gannon held over his head a sign with the word “Believe” painted on it as the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’” played. He shared 12 leadership lessons gleaned from the show “Ted Lasso.”
“I want the Class of 2023 to know that we here at Queensbury Union Free School District believe in you,” Gannon said. “We believe you will be happy. We believe you will succeed. We believe you are prepared to go out into the world. We believe in you.”
Queensbury senior Carter Olson told his classmates that going to school was a lot like the lifecycle of a frog.
“For the longest time, many of us measured our progress through life like a frog hopping across a pond,” Olson said, “advancing from one lily pad to the next. The only thing that mattered was successfully completing each grade level and making the leap to the next lily pad on the journey to the end.”
Olson reminded his classmates to look for the joy buried beneath the surface of their brains.
“This is one of the great ironies of growing up,” he said. “That with all the new knowledge and skills and critical thinking that we are acquiring, we can sometimes leave the most important stuff behind. We are frogs who have forgotten how to swim because we are too busy stretching our legs.”
Senior Meredith Montgomery thanked Queensbury for being her refuge for so many years.
“I encourage you to think of the people and things that have decorated your mind with possibilities and comfort these past years,” Montgomery told her fellow graduates. “I encourage you, on the path to your future, to make your mind the most interesting place in the world to live, with paintings of memories and a kitchen of smells that remind you of everything that makes this little room in your mind so special.”
Queensbury High School Principal Andrew Snide encouraged the graduates to be kind.
“Kindness is the thread that weaves together the very fabric of our humanity,” Snide said. “It’s the gentle touch that can heal wounds, the words of compassion that can lift spirits, and the acts of empathy that can change lives.”
It only takes 30 seconds to truly make a difference, Snide said.
“Building culture 30 seconds at a time, requires intention. It requires us to be present, to be aware of our impact on others, and to choose kindness over indifference,” Snide said. “It is the collective effort of every individual within our community that shapes the culture we hope for.”