Home International New Trier Township High School Class of 2024 features approximately 950 graduates

New Trier Township High School Class of 2024 features approximately 950 graduates

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The 124th annual commencement for the New Trier Township High School Class of 2024 featured approximately 950 graduates on June 2 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates.

Graduates wore white and black formal garments. Handheld long-stemmed red roses and red lapel boutonnières were provided.

“I think a rose symbolizes beauty and new beginnings,” said second from right, Taegan Usher, 18, of Wilmette. Roses are on the table before the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)

“I think a rose symbolizes beauty and new beginnings,” said graduate Taegan Usher, 18, of Wilmette.

Holding red roses included Nora Niehus of Glenview and Claire Porwancher of Wilmette. It could be said the stem of a rose reflected on the budding STEM careers both Niehus and Porwancher are pursuing after graduation.

From left to right, Nora Niehus of Glenview and Claire Porwancher of Wilmette have just selected their roses and pose for a photo outside before the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
From left to right, Nora Niehus of Glenview and Claire Porwancher of Wilmette have just selected their roses and pose for a photo outside before the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)

STEM stands for the curriculum principles of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEAM adds the arts component but Niehus and Porwancher prefer the STEM model.

STEM is, “big time,” said Porwancher, who is, “headed off to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, I’m studying chemistry.”

Niehus will attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado to study environmental science.

STEM careers give women a voice which is, “fantastic,” Porwancher said.

“I want to do a lot of research,” Porwancher said of a STEM career. “I just want to learn more and chemistry, there’s always more to learn.”

Audience members react to seeing their graduates file into the arena for the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
Audience members react to seeing their graduates file into the arena for the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)

Niehus said the pair got to experience STEM learning while attending New Trier including a course in marine biology she said helped prepare her for environmental science

“I’m just really excited to be with more people who enjoy science and want to do science,” Niehus added. “Also, it’s going to be outdoors and it’s going to be really fun.”

The Class of 2024 started with remote learning as freshmen, said New Trier Township High School principal/assistant superintendent of the Winnetka campus Denise Dubravec.

“One of the things that I think about this class is, I think about it in terms that they show up,” Dubravec said. “They have shown up to everything.”

She said students showed up not only in the classroom but made sure to take advantage of outside opportunities.

“And they’re such a great, really tight knit group of students,” she said.

Right, facing, in a hug moment is Norah Clarke of Wilmette before the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
Right, facing, in a hug moment is Norah Clarke of Wilmette before the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)

During the Superintendent Remarks portion of commencement, New Trier Township High School District 203 Superintendent Paul Sally spoke of how the Class of 2024 moved past the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with resolve, finding the strength to persevere.

Paul Sally, New Trier Township High School District 203 superintendent, at the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
Paul Sally, New Trier Township High School District 203 superintendent, at the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)

“You should truly be immensely proud,” Sally said.

New Trier soon-to-be-then-graduate Ignacio Hampton of Wilmette stood behind the curtain on the floor of the arena before the ceremony, waiting to be a part of posting of the colors as the New Trier Symphony Orchestra performed.

Hampton looked back on freshman year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as difficult.

Center, Ethan Fogelson, a junior of Wilmette, performs on cello with the New Trier Symphony Orchestra at the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
Center, Ethan Fogelson, a junior of Wilmette, performs on cello with the New Trier Symphony Orchestra at the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)

“It was hard to make connections when everyone was virtual,” but, “I think that sort of united us as a class because we had a shared experience all together,” Hampton said. “So it ended up, I think, working out in our favor.”

Chad Bernstein of the New Trier Class of 2002, a member of New Trier’s Alumni Hall of Honor, was the alumni speaker. The ceremony included the presentation of the class gift as a commitment to philanthropy.

“It’s part of our motto which is, commit minds to inquiry, hearts to compassion and lives for the service of humanity,” Dubravec said about being a Trevian. “And the service portion of our school is really important to us. We want our students to understand what it means to not only serve in the school, but what does it mean to serve your community once you leave New Trier.”

The Senior Commencement Choir performs at the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
The Senior Commencement Choir performs at the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)

“High school is an opportunity for our students to be able to have various experiences and in those experiences, we hope that they find something of passion and interest that they can continue on,” Dubravec said, “and service is one of those.”

The Cannon family of Wilmette arrived one hour before the doors opened for general admission. The family was here to support graduate Guillermo “Billy” Cannon.

Second from the right, front row, holding up a rose is Claire Houlihan of Wilmette at the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
Second from the right, front row, holding up a rose is Claire Houlihan of Wilmette at the 124th annual New Trier Township High School commencement on June 2, 2024 at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates. (Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)

Parent Keki Cannon, with Guillermo’s siblings Charlie Cannon, nearly 16, an incoming New Trier junior and Lucy Cannon, 10, a rising fifth-grader, said to their graduate in a joint shout out, “We’re very proud of you and we know you’re going to do great in life.

“We wish you all the best,” Keki Cannon added, but, “Don’t forget to come home.”

Karie Angell Luc is a freelance reporter with Pioneer Press.

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