‘Counting on you’: Newton South Class of 2024 graduates

The Newton South High School Field House was packed with graduating seniors, their families and their educators on Thursday night, as the Class of 2024 took flight into the world.

As with the Newton North graduation a few days before, a word heard throughout the evening was “resilience.”

“I am so grateful to have watched you all flourish,” Principal Tamara Stras said. “The kindness you showed to others and the perseverance you demonstrated when faced with adversity will play a role in defining who you are.”

The Class of 2024 started their freshman year of high school via Zoom in the midst of a global pandemic and have spent the years since pushing through school while the world erupts into turmoil on a seemingly weekly basis.

And their senior year included a two-week teacher strike.

Superintendent Anna Nolin said living through such tensions will serve the graduates well in the future.

“You have the opportunity to be better models for peace and conflict resolution than generations before you, and I’m counting on that,” Nolin said. “I’m counting on you. And in many cases this year, I have seen you reach out to us, to each other, and choose peace and collaboration over high-conflict and strife in ways many that adults could learn from.”

Student Grace Sousa gave the senior address, recounting her years as an out-of-district student, able to attend Newton South because her father worked as a custodian in Newton schools.

Sousa lived in a small town an hour away from Newton, and since her only ride to school was her father, she had to leave for school every day at 4:30 a.m. and hang out in the school from around 5:30 a.m. until the first bell rang three hours later.

“Many days, I stayed at school until 8 p.m. waiting for my dad to finish overtime work,” Sousa recalled.

Eventually, her family moved to Newton and she was able to attend her senior year as a resident, freeing up more time to be a Newton teenager.

“And on those days I got out of bed at 4 a.m., feeling like the world wanted me to give up, I’m so glad I didn’t,” Sousa said. “Because my journey helped find a community that comes with perseverance.”

More Photos: Newton South Graduation

Newton South High School Class of 2024 graduated in the school’s Field House on June 6, 2024. Photo by Bryan McGonigle
Superintendent Anna Nolin speaks at Newton South High School’s graduation on June 6, 2024. Photo by Bryan McGonigle
Newton South High School Principal Tamara Stras speaks at the school’s graduation ceremony on June 6, 2024. Photo by Bryan McGonigle
Students hold up banners for Newton South’s fields, featuring the school motto and four school houses, which was this year’s senior class gift to the school. Photo by Bryan McGonigle
Grace Sousa speaks at Newton South High School’s 2024 graduation ceremony on June 6, 2024. Photo by Bryan McGonigle
Sassacus Hiawatha Brown shakes Superintendent Anna Nolin’s hand on stage after receiving his diploma on June 6, 2024. Photo by Bryan McGonigle
Newton South High School graduating seniors look on as classmates get their diplomas. Photo by Bryan McGonigle