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Back to Communications Home

Albany High celebrates the Class of 2018

536 grads marks the school's largest class in more than 12 years

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 24, 2018) -- Albany High School valedictorian Max Heller on Sunday reminded his classmates that Albany High taught them lessons that will last a lifetime.


Heller, who heads to Brown University in September, addressed the 536 members of the Class of 2018 who gathered to celebrate graduation with family and friends at the Times Union Center. This year’s graduates, members of Albany High’s largest graduating class in more than 12 years, were accepted at more than 180 colleges and universities throughout the country.


Check out our Facebook page for the first round of pictures, along with this second Facebook album containing additional shots. You can also view the senior slideshow that played prior to the ceremony here.


“We aren’t spoon-fed opportunities at Albany High,” Heller said. “We aren’t groomed to appear ‘perfect’ college applicants who do all of the right things. We are trained to be ready for a world where things don’t always go our way, where we have to work with people who come from different backgrounds and often have different goals in mind. We are taught a lesson that will last longer than any other: how to take the hurdles before us in stride and push on, more determined than ever.”


He ended with, “You can’t hide that Falcon Pride!”


Read Heller's full comments here.   


Also addressing the Class of 2018 was SUNY Geneseo-bound salutatorian Gail Cabahug, who urged her classmates to be open to new opportunities and write their own success story.


“Because in this story,” Cabahug said, “you are your own main character and your own writer. So as you move on, write yourself a good ending but more importantly, don’t forget to write yourself a super fun journey along the way.”


Read Cabahug's full comments here.


Class President Shafiyq Grady, who will attend Barry University, also spoke. Quoting Albert Einstein, he said the only source of knowledge is experience. He cited lessons he learned at Albany High, and urged his classmates to stay true to themselves and learn from their experiences.


“No matter what the experience is, negative or positive, there is always something you can take from it,” Grady said. “People tend to look at overcoming adversity as an accomplishment rather than a lesson. Yes, you overcame an obstacle but what did you learn in the process? What did you take from this experience that will prevent it from happening in the future?”


Read Grady's full comments here.


First-year Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams told the graduates they were “drippin’ with FINESSE,” an acronym to which she assigned each letter an important attribute for success in life.


“And finally, be empowered – to go out and use the knowledge, attitude, and skills you have gained through your education and collective support to change the future and make a difference in the world around you,” Adams said. “In the words of T’Challa, the marvel hero from the movie Black Panther, ‘What happens now determines what happens to the rest of the world!’ This is YOUR beginning!!!!”


Read the superintendent's full comments here.


Board of Education President Sue Adler urged the graduates to never stop working together to change the racial inequities that exist in America.


“Twenty years ago, civil rights leader James Farmer urged: ‘The fight for freedom is combined with the fight for equality, and we must realize that this is the fight for America – not just black America but all America,’” Adler said.


“Graduating Class of 2018, we believe in you,” she concluded. “And we believe that together you can change our country for the better.”


Read Adler's full comments here. 


The mission of the City School District of Albany is to work in partnership with our diverse community to engage every learner in a robust educational program designed to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for success. The district serves more 9,600 students in 18 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.

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