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Cheshire Academy Presents Diplomas to 87 Graduates

Find The Good founder Jack Tarca ’18 reminds grads to “embrace the challenge and enjoy the journey”

Cheshire Academy held its 230th annual Commencement exercises June 1 in a festive ceremony that celebrated community, connection, and interaction. The nation’s 11th oldest boarding school, Cheshire Academy awarded 87 degrees and several awards under picture-perfect blue skies on the campus’ Slaughter Field. 

“Find the good, find the good, find the good. It’s everywhere,” said Commencement Speaker Jack Tarca ’18, who founded the aptly named Find The Good, an apparel brand that promotes healthy habits and positive wellbeing and donates 10 percent of profits to Mental Health America. A BetterHelp partner, Find the Good grew out of Tarca’s response to the negativity he saw around him in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“From someone who knows a thing or two about the pursuit of it, and every now and then finding it, if I can be certain of one thing, it’s that good is out there,” Tarca said. “If you’ve already found it, find more, and lead others to it. If you haven’t found it yet, you will. Just remember to look, every day and wherever you go.” 

Other speakers echoed Tarca’s theme, including Valedictorian Joonghan Kim, of Seongnam-si, South Korea, a member of the National Honor Society, golf team, and international student union, who earned his full International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma. He challenged his classmates to give their all to their pursuits after high school. 

“Think about how much collective potential and talent we have as a class under this tent. Think about how much good we could do after graduating from this school,” he said. “If everyone commits to sticking at what they’re good at and supposed to do, just like I tried my best not to make any regretful decisions to reach my goals through my journey in this school, our futures and our career paths as the Class of 2024 will be promising and bright.”   

Kim was one of many international students who have come to study at CA, which offers the prestigious IB program, a challenging curriculum aimed at developing a capacity for inquiry, research, collaboration, and problem solving in globally minded students. The Class of 2024 included students from Turkey, China, Mexico, Philippines, Bahamas, Ukraine, and Nigeria.  

The class also heard from Student Body President Shreeya Gomathinayagam of Cheshire, CT, a dancer and basketball player who earned her full IB Diploma. “Embraced by the unwavering support and unconditional love surrounding us today, let us set sail into our boundless futures as we celebrate our hard work and determination,” she told her classmates. 

Salutatorian Yanyi “Amy” Zhang, of Shanghai, China, a DEI intern and Writing Fellow who earned her IB Diploma and is headed to Cornell University in the fall, gave a moving speech. “I hope that with our very kind hearts, we never lose the ability to appreciate the accomplishments of others no matter how accomplished we become,” she said. “I hope when we meet new people in the future, we move our sight from where people end up to where people come from and from how far they have come.” 

Cheshire Academy bestowed several honors on members of the Class of 2024. They were: 


      • Jennifer Hawke-Petit Recognition Award: Danaejah Bell, of Plantsville, CT 

      • Cheshire Academy Alumni Association Cup Award: Leo Ehrenfels, of Cheshire, CT 

      • Michael A. Vanacore Award: De’Naya Rippey, of Brooklyn, NY 

      • Jeffrey Thomas Marshall Scholarship Award: Oleksandra Nikanova, of Kyiv, Ukraine 

      • Karen J. Smith Scholarship Award for Scholastic Improvement: Lidia Generali, of Cheshire, CT 

      • Costin Cup Award: Danaejah Bell, of Plantsville, CT 

      • Nicholas J. Susla ’48 Book Prize: Leo Ehrenfels, of Cheshire, CT 

      • Ralph Morgan Griffiths Award: Bryce Hrubiec, of Berlin, CT 

      • Frederick Vollrath Richmond Award: Philip Warren, of Old Saybrook, CT 

      • Bevan Loree Dupré Award: Eliana Orlinsky, of Cheshire, CT 

      • John J. White ’38 Leadership Award: Shreeya Gomathinayagam of Cheshire, CT
      • Sheridan Plaque: Elise Lurix, of Burlington, CT 


    At the ceremony’s conclusion, Head of School Julie Anderson harkened back to Tarca’s message, challenging students to “fight for the good, find the good, and be the good. 

    “You are strong, bright, courageous, open-minded, and bold,” she told the new graduates. “Stand for yourself, for others, for the environment, for peace and for justice. Make a difference through words, gestures, and actions—big and small.” 

    You can view photos from Commencement on CA’s Flickr gallery, a reel from the event on Instagram, and the full Commencement video on Vimeo.

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