For 20 graduates, time to move on from PVCICS ‘family’

Members of the class of 2024 leave the gym through a receiving line of faculty and on-stage guests at the end of Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School’s graduation ceremony Wednesday.

Members of the class of 2024 leave the gym through a receiving line of faculty and on-stage guests at the end of Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School’s graduation ceremony Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/JAMES PENTLAND

Class speaker Nina Zorzi turns to speak to a classmate during a group photo shoot following graduation May 29 at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley.

Class speaker Nina Zorzi turns to speak to a classmate during a group photo shoot following graduation May 29 at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/JAMES PENTLAND

Graduating seniors enter the gym for Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday.

Graduating seniors enter the gym for Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/JAMES PENTLAND

Graduating seniors enter the gym for Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School’s commencement ceremony Wednesday.

Graduating seniors enter the gym for Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School’s commencement ceremony Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/JAMES PENTLAND

By JAMES PENTLAND

Staff Writer

Published: 06-06-2024 7:25 PM

HADLEY — With cheers and flowers, thanks and praise, the 20 members of the senior class and their families celebrated graduation on May 29 at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School’s eighth commencement, held in the school’s gymnasium.

“It’s crazy to think our school is younger than every single person who’s graduating today,” said class speaker John Cleary, who gave some of his remarks in Mandarin Chinese.

The charter school, established in 2007 with kindergarten and first grade, became a K-12 institution in 2016.

Fellow class speaker Nina Zorzi said she had grown up with the school, having started in kindergarten. The school’s small size and unique qualities created a bond over 13 years, she said.

“We’re like a family, and not necessarily in a sweet way,” she said, alluding to the kinds of conflicts common to any family.

Arguments aside, she said, “this little family has been a comfort” with which she learned many things, “like how to get a mouse out of a second grade classroom.”

“Remember,” Zorzi said in conclusion, “your community is what you make of it.”

Principal Kathleen Wang acknowledged that the 720 days that high school faculty members had in which to educate the new graduates may have felt like forever to the students.

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“We’re ready to actually let you go,” she said.

Change can mean opportunity, Wang said, and she counseled the seniors to be adaptable.

“Some of you were tested this year because you had to find parking,” she said to laughter.

Parking, always limited at the school itself, became a hot topic in December, when the owner of the neighboring Mountain Farms Mall ordered students and school visitors to stop using the mall parking lot, and stationed a tow truck at the site on weekday mornings and afternoons to remove vehicles violating the rule.

The prohibition meant that students sometimes had to park at the Hampshire Mall, almost half a mile away.

Having lost her voice the day before, trustee Cynthia Farmer kept her remarks brief, employing “one of the great Dr. Seuss quotes”:

You’re off to great places

Today is your day

Your mountain is waiting,

So get on your way!

Teacher Kevin Brown recalled having the senior class for sixth grade English, the first class he taught at the school.

To illustrate surprise, twist endings in the short story form, he decided to show them episodes from “The Twilight Zone.”

Brown gave a synopsis of an episode called “Eye of the Beholder,” which he said contained a few lessons, one of which was, “Unwrap life slowly — it will go faster than you think.”

After receiving their diplomas, the seniors each presented a flower to members of the audience in an expression of gratitude, and then they were on their way to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Graduates

Graduating were Lydia Allen, Macy Campbell, Azalais Capitaine, John Cleary, Tanaiya Davis, Nina Dejnak, Maeve Doherty, Clayton English, Audrey Fruean, Malie Geery, Mahri Hayden, Steven Jay, Lexi Krieger, Darien Marden, Sarah Nicolson, Theodora Parigian, Henry Pope, Theodore Sun, Owen Tuttle and Nina Zorzi.