4 | June 6, 2019 | The highland park landmark news hplandmark.com Students reflect on high school experience after HPHS graduation Olivia Vallone Editorial Intern More than 500 Highland Park High School students walked across the grand stage at Ravinia Park on May 29 to receive their well-earned diploma. At the beginning of the ceremony, principal Deborah Finn announced the recipient of the 112th Medal of Honor as Amir Ahmed Saeed Fakhari. This Medal of Honor is awarded to best all around student during his or her senior year chosen by the staff of HPHS every year since 1907. “The moment they called my name for it, it was as if time froze,” Fakhari said. “It was a very joyous moment for me.” The 2019 class is one of the biggest graduating classes the high school has ever seen. Out of the 515 graduates, 287 of the students were a part of the HPHS Honors Society. Samuel Dincin, a graduate part of the HPHS Scholars and Honors Society, gave a speech about the power of simple acts of kindness. Dincin shared a story about how a compliment he received on his T- shirt meant so much to him that he felt more confident every time he wore that shirt. As he was recounting this story, he opened his graduation gown to reveal that very shirt. “It can truly just take one sentence to make someone’s day,” Dincin said. Highland Park High School graduate Glenn Sherman walks across the stage, May 29, at the school’s graduation ceremony at Ravinia Festival. Erin Yarnall/22nd Century Media “So as we all leave high school behind, remember that you will always have the power to create happiness in the lives of others and in the world around you.” Principal Finn announced the salutatorians (Joshua Gross and Jacob Hersh) and valedictorians (Natalie Abreu, Joshua Gross and Jacob Hersh) while she was presenting student honors. This year was the first year that a student could be recognized as both a salutatorian and valedictorian. Finn later elaborated on the HPHS motto of dream - believe - achieve by offering students advice and words of encouragement about each core value. “Fine is never good enough if you’re not giving it all you’re effort,” Gross said when describing how he saw HPHS values. Gross went on to outline the programs he had been apart of and loved at the high school. The most impactful organization for him was the HPHS band in which he played the saxophone and grew closer with everyone in the band. When asked what one word would describe his class best, Gross chose ‘broad.’ Gross explained that everyone in his class came from different backgrounds and had different interests and he was grateful to get to learn about all of them throughout his four years at HPHS. Being one of the biggest classes in the high school’s history, some people were concerned about the seating arrangements before the celebration. There were people standing in the back of the pavilion but, for the most part, everyone who wanted a seat had one available. After the ceremony to celebrate their successful four years, all graduates were invited to Enchanted Castle in Lombard and a sunrise breakfast at Park Avenue Beach to celebrate.