Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Class of 2024 is the high school’s 100th class

Westchester Counter Center will host June 26 graduation ceremony

Peekskill High School’s Class of 2024 is set to make history this June: students will have the distinction of becoming the 100th class to graduate from Peekskill High School. Last week, Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Mauricio announced that this year’s historic graduation ceremony will be held at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. Typically, the graduation ceremony is held at the high school, Torpy Field, or the Paramount Theater. 

The change of venue has raised questions and concerns from members of the Peekskill community on social media. A few worried whether the cost of the ceremony would increase. Some have commented that families might find it challenging to attend the graduation at the county center because of transportation issues. Others believed the district should stick to tradition and keep the graduation ceremony local. 

On Thursday (March 28), Dr. Mauricio elaborated on the district’s decision to move this year’s graduation ceremony to a larger venue in his superintendent message. “Due to the growing size of our graduating classes, we are unfortunately outgrowing the Paramount Theater for this event. While Torpy Field served us well during COVID times when an outdoor venue was required for ceremonies, it left us at the mercy of the weather. Last year we saw several days of rain in a row, which made a rain date difficult to determine, causing us to have two ceremonies at the Paramount due to the class size. Our graduates and families shared feedback that they wanted to graduate as a whole class and not have two ceremonies. We have listened to their feedback.”

Peekskill High School’s Class of 2022 lined up for the graduation ceremony on Torpy Field. Photo courtesy of the Peekskill School District.

Due to the size of this year’s graduating class, Mauricio said that if the ceremony remained at the Paramount Theater, the district would be able to provide each student with only two tickets for family and friends to attend. Whereas, at the County Center, the district will be able to offer eight tickets per student. 

In response to concerns that the graduation ceremony would cost more if held at the County Center, Mauricio said “Please know our district prides itself on fiscal responsibility, and when doing a cost comparison, the cost of hosting at the County Center was similar to the cost of hosting graduation at Torpy with the costs of rentals and staffing/security.” The Herald reached out to the Westchester County Center for a cost estimate for the graduation ceremony; they were unable to provide a number, stating it varies due to many factors. 

Mauricio’s message continued: “Transportation was also considered. We saw many families travel to a variety of distant locations for sporting events this year, including the County Center, which confirmed the venues’ accessibility.” The district is encouraging any student or ticketed audience member that anticipates transportation issues, to reach out to them. (The district’s number is 914-737-3300, ext. 1532)

The County Center will provide a designated photo area for families to take photos and a professional photographer will take photos of each graduate. 

In his message, Dr. Mauricio claimed that after discussion with the Superintendents Youth Advisory Council, students are in full support of the switch.  The seniors the Herald spoke to are on board with the new venue. 

2023 high school graduation ceremony conducted in Torpy Field. Photo courtesy of the Peekskill School District.

“Personally, I’m excited for the offer! The County Center is far more spacious than the Paramount. And with the student population growing, I feel that feature was very much needed,” said senior Damien Ritter. “Though the venue is big, and some might be seated far from the stage, the County Center has about four different monitors that will be recording each graduate’s walks live,” said Ritter.

Class President and Class of 2024 Salutatorian Janira Martinez shared similar thoughts on the graduation ceremony. “When I heard the news, I was over the moon to say the least, considering the sheer size of the place and the assurance that our graduation would not be split into two, like previous years. As class president, I am excited to be fully graduating with my class, despite it not being in Peekskill, the pros outweigh the cons in my book.”

Martinez added, “After asking some of my senior classmates, they all share the same sentiment as me, even the ones who don’t drive. After all, it’s our graduation, and somehow, some way, everyone will find a way to get there – even if it’s carpooling with friends.”

I think the district should consider having it someplace like the County Center from here on out.

— Janira Martinez

When the Class of 2024 walks onto the stage and receives their diplomas on June 26, they will be saying goodbye to an eventful high school journey. As freshmen, these students had to adapt to an ever-changing school system in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. They persevered and soon will be off to college and careers. In addition, the Class of 2024 got to enjoy a revitalized Peekskill High School, such as the new STEAM lab, the new turf field at Topry, and the improvements and remodeling of the cafeteria.

According to a district representative, this year’s graduating class has approximately 230 students. This year’s Valedictorian is Ariana Okoth and Salutatorian is Janira Martinez. 

About the Contributor
Jeffrey Merchan
Peekskill native Jeffrey Merchan is a 2022 graduate of Peekskill High School. He is the Collegiate Journalist at Peekskill Herald, funded by a grant from the DJ McManus Foundation. He is currently enrolled at Westchester Community College where he is studying journalism. As the inaugural recipient of the McManus grant, he will be covering city government, schools and feature stories with a focus on Peekskill’s growing Hispanic community.