Houghton Academy Graduates Class of 2020

HOUGHTON, NY — On Saturday, June 6, Houghton Academy conducted its 132nd Commencement Exercises. The ceremony - a "drive-in" graduation - was the first commencement ceremony in the Academy's history to be held outside and of the drive-in variety. Family, friends, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and community members celebrated the graduates and their accomplishments with both applause and car horns.

The ceremony included live and pre-recorded segments. After the initial welcome by Head of School, John Nelson, attendees tuned into the recording which included an invocation and blessing, musical selections, salutatory and valedictory orations, and the commencement address. In her valedictory speech, Alexandra Tucker urged her classmates to "love and cherish those around us while being intentional about breaking barriers and setting aside differences," considering the difficulties many have faced during the pandemic and quarantine. Continuing, Tucker reminded her classmates, "if we have the ability to love and encourage one another while social distancing, we can stay unified with others throughout any situation thrown at us." 

Tucker concluded her oration by asking her classmates to follow the example set by all the positive influencers who offered encouragement during their time in high school. "I hope all the encouragement we have received inspires us to take care of others, because we have watched it make a difference in our own lives."

The United States Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, delivered the commencement address. In his speech, the Surgeon General asked the class of 2020 to "encourage each other and talk about what you may be feeling." Continuing, the Surgeon General reminded the graduates that "you are not alone during this challenging time, nor at other times you may face over your life. It is important that you lean on your faith. These are core principles that will help you get through the peaks and valleys in life, and I know that they have been central to your studies here at Houghton Academy."

The Surgeon General concluded his address by offering three pieces of advice to the graduates: 1. Strive to be good people; 2. Dare to be innovators and disruptors; and 3. Practice good self-care. "I know this is a challenging time for all of you, but I want you to know how proud I am of each and every one of you,” said Dr. Adamst. “Your time at Houghton Academy has served you well, and the world now needs your talent, your commitment to changing the world, and most of all, your compassion."

Following the pre-recorded segment, awards and diplomas were presented to the graduates in attendance. Faculty member and class advisor, Patrick Barringer, described the class of 2020 as leaving a "legacy of accomplishment, talent, and joy." As each graduate’s name was read, attendees cheered, clapped, and honked their car horns to celebrate the accomplishments of the class of 2020, whose dedication to their studies, in light of all they have faced this past spring, cannot be overlooked or understated. 

Representing four different countries on three continents, the Class of 2020 will join over 1700 as Alumni of Houghton Academy. Collectively, they received 82 college acceptance letters and earned 300 college credits. 

The commencement ceremony, including the Surgeon General’s address, can be viewed in its entirety on the Houghton Academy Youtube page or Facebook page. 

Members of the Class of 2020 are: Ayanfeoluwa Banwo, Lauren Burns, Maria Caputo, Levi Chamberlain, Bolin Chen, Minho Cho, Chuanming Feng, Carissa Hilsher (Salutatorian), Zifang Huang, Chujun Li, Josephine Lipscomb, Lexi Martino, Lee Murray, Alexei Nikolaev-Howard, Sadie Noyes, Naza Okafor, Isabella Paschalis, Matthew Pourteymaur, Sarah Retz, Heidi Sardina, Janée Sylor, Alexandra Tucker (Valedictorian), Kunling Wang, Yangjingtong Wang, Yuxiao Wang, Xin Yin, Zhengyang Yu, Lydia Zheng, and Zhanyi Zhou.

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