Class of 2023 graduates say “so long” at NPHS


New Palestine’s Class of 2023 walks onto the field during the start of graduation ceremonies Friday, May 26, 2023.

NEW PALESTINE — On a nearly perfect spring evening, despite a steady wind, hundreds of families and friends filled Kelso Stadium at New Palestine High School to watch the Class of 2023 graduate on Friday, May 26.

The Class of 2023 was composed of 284 students who picked up their diplomas while dressed in flowing bright red gowns with matching red caps. The class valedictorian was Alyssa M. Kauchak, and the class salutatorian was Jack R. Rossell.

Rossell was the first student to speak and thanked NPHS teachers for guiding the students into safe spaces when they needed help before sharing a poignant moment from his childhood about the fear of growing up and moving on.

“The answer in the war against time lies in the meaningful connections we make with others,” Rossell said. “Time unites this whole class in this moment.”

Kauchak then spoke and congratulated her classmates and told them she imagined many of them must have had moments when they wanted to give up on high school, but through the help of teachers, friends and family who motivated many, they should all be pleased to be in the moment. She then shared three quotes to inspire her classmates, including a simple one.

“It’s nice to have a friend,” Kauchak said. “Find your people and stick with them.”

Principal Jim Voelz started the ceremony thanking Mother Nature for the beautiful evening then calling the Class of 2023 the definition of “Awesome,” due to their admirable traits.

”I’ve admired this class and for their hard work and their determination,” Voelz said. “What truly makes this class so awesome is getting through two years of COVID and three years of construction.”

Each of the graduates surprised Voelz and gave him a golf ball when he shook their hand during the ceremony while capturing a keepsake photo. Voelz joked that he now had over 280 range golf balls.

“Just another reason why you are all so awesome,” he said to the students.

This year’s class motto stated, “Striving for success can come from many different places,” and was created by NPHS senior class president Ethan Galster, who also spoke during the ceremony.

“We always grow from inconveniences,” Galster reminded his classmates in talking about dealing with COVID and the construction going on at the high school.

The turning of the tassels is always the best part of graduation and is saved for last. As expected, the moment brought, tears, cheers and smiles from the graduates, and those watching who said “so long” to the Class of 2023.