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New Hartford grads look forward to future

Posted 6/28/22

The New Hartford Senior High School Class of 2022 looked forward to their future and all that comes with it before a packed crowd at the Stanley Theatre in Utica.

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New Hartford grads look forward to future

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NEW HARTFORD — The New Hartford Senior High School Class of 2022 looked forward to their future and all that comes with it before a packed crowd at the Stanley Theatre in Utica.

With friends, family, and classmates in attendance, graduate Francesca Azzarito spoke at the commencement ceremony. She congratulated the Class of 2022 on their hard work and asked them to think back to an earlier, simpler time — first-grade class. More specifically, her first-grade class.

“Along with an abundance of level one chapter books that were and worksheets that were completed, there was one particularly challenging assignment,” she said. “I distinctly remember a colorful, small-scale arts and crafts project that took the form of a personal questionnaire packet.”

The questions posed to a young Azzarito included her favorite movie and the name of her household pets, to name a few.

“[But] there was one particularly challenging thought,” she said. “On the pink construction paper stared at me the most challenging question of my existence up until then: what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Azzarito said her young mind conjured thoughts of possibly being a teacher, a police officer, an astronaut, and so much more.

“How could I possibly know what I wanted to do when I was an adult?” she asked. “It all felt so far away. Though I understand that they didn’t expect me to have my whole career path figured out at seven years old, I didn’t realize that at the time.”

So, she put down something she thought of the time for the sake of completing the project. And this answer would change over the years as Azzarito was asked it again and again, but the discomfort of the question stuck with her.

“But I had the freedom to explore worlds that opened me up to new possibilities,” she said. “And despite all these rash revisions, I figured out not what I wanted to be but who I wanted to be.”

Azzarito said instead of focusing on the what, she focused on the who. Who she wanted to be and how she would make a difference.

“[But] if I could go back in time and offer my wide-eyed self sitting in that first-grade classroom some advice, it would be not to get caught up in the question of absolutes,” she said. “Embrace the freedom to explore … and allow your character to develop.”

Class President Deen Kaakour congratulated his fellow classmates and all the teams who competed in various state, section, and region competitions.

“To all the teachers, parents, administrators, coaches, custodians, secretaries, and bus drivers: thank you,” Kaakour said. “Without your support for most of our lives, none of us would be here today.” Kaakour continued, saying that no one knew what to expect when they first started school.

And as time went on and graduation was right around the corner, Kaakour felt a longing to remain 17 forever and not graduate.

“I wanted to stay 17, so I didn’t have to leave all the great teachers and friends behind that I’ve seen every day for the last 13 years,” he said. “I’m so grateful for the last 13 years with you all. And I’m excited to see what’s to come.”

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