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Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Stevenson High School Class of 2024 ‘proved they were worthy’ of graduating after starting during pandemic – Chicago Tribune

By Vaseline May26,2024
Stevenson High School Class of 2024 ‘proved they were worthy’ of graduating after starting during pandemic – Chicago Tribune

As a freshman, the now-graduated Adlai Stevenson High School Class of 2024 got off to a challenging start, starting high school in the midst of a global pandemic, isolated and guided by national, state and local public health orders.

Now, having overcome the challenges of the time, the graduates and their families filled the NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates on Friday for the commencement ceremony that the superintendent said the students are well worth attending.

Kendell Williams is a senior speaker at the Adlai E. Stevenson High School graduation at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates on May 24, 2024. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
Kendell Williams, a graduate of Adlai Stevenson High School, was one of the senior speakers at the commencement, held May 24, 2024, at the NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
Graduation from Adlai E. Stevenson High School at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates on May 24, 2024. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
The Adlai Stevenson Class of 2024 had 1,100 students. The commencement took place on May 24, 2024 at the NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
Kashyap Rajesh is a senior speaker at the Adlai E. Stevenson High School graduation at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates on May 24, 2024. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
Kashyap Rajesh was one of the student speakers for the Adlai E. Stevenson High School Class of 2024. The commencement was held on May 24, 2024 at the NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)

“I think it’s pretty safe to say that no class in Illinois history has had a more inauspicious start. It was a challenge for them,” Eric Twadell, superintendent of Stevenson High School District 125, told Pioneer Press. “They learned great skills of resilience and adaptability and kind of tenacity, and they did a great job.”

The superintendent said the 1,100 seniors in the graduating class “proved themselves worthy of a four-year journey and graduated today. It’s impressive.”

Stevenson mascot Pat Riot entertained the crowd Friday as people took their seats for the afternoon ceremony. The Stevenson Graduation Orchestra also performed.

Kendell Williams and Kashyap Rajesh were the keynote speakers and both gave speeches. Rajesh spoke about the past four years and Williams spoke about the future for her fellow students.

“So in the class of 2024, we started high school in an era of TikTok addictions, a Chiefs Super Bowl win and two presidential candidates in their late 70s,” Rajesh said. And now we’re entering an era of TikTok addictions, a Chiefs Super Bowl victory and the same two presidential candidates.”

The audience laughed.

School leaders boast that 96% of this year’s graduating class will attend college or trade school. Thirty-seven are National Merit Scholarship finalists.

Many continue their education at schools such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Indiana University, Purdue University, The Ohio State University, Illinois State University, University of Iowa, DePaul University and Loyola University, according to district officials.

Twadell said the graduates collectively excelled academically, in extracurricular activities and in sports. He also noted their philanthropic efforts.

“Over the past four years, they have raised over $100,000 for various charities and organizations. So I think the initial setbacks (of the pandemic) and the challenge and adversity turned into something positive for this particular group of kids,” the superintendent said.

Graduate Alexis Trojan, 18, from Hawthorn Woods, reflected on the pandemic and said, “It’s so much better to be able to be in person and really connect with my peers, it’s just been a dream.”

Shreya Patel, Ishita Tyagi and Medha Mamidipaka, all from Buffalo Grove, agreed with Twadell that Stevenson sends a solid message about philanthropy.

“I’m really proud to be in Stevenson,” Patel said. “I really like how they really help the community around them and care for others.”

Tyagi said, “If you have the privilege, you should give back to the community.

“I think it’s very important,” Tyagi added.

Mamidipaka said at Stevenson you learn a lot for the future because I think, especially in college, there are a lot of ways you can give back.

In her speech as senior speaker, Williams also talked about TikTok’s influence, but put pop culture aside: “Guess what? You are the author of your story.”

“Don’t regret anything you’ve done or haven’t done yet,” Williams said.

Karie Angell Luc is a freelancer.

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