Congratulations, HPHS Class of 2024

Highland Park High School celebrated the graduation of 550 students on May 24 at SMU’s Moody Coliseum.

The class of 2024 includes 12 National Merit Finalists, 30 National Merit Commended Students, 11 National Hispanic Scholars, seven National Indigenous Scholars, and three National African Scholars. 

HPHS students have performed impressively in academics, athletics, and the arts. But speakers at this year’s graduation praised the high school as much for its kindness and commitment to service as for its academic and athletic achievements. 

“At Highland Park, we strive not only to better ourselves as athletes, scholars, and leaders, but also to better our community as well,” 2024 senior class secretary Owen Hillesheim said. 

Class of 2024 valedictorian Benjamin Martin, who graduated with a GPA of 4.782 and plans to attend Princeton University, advised graduates to be kind to themselves and others, and to “take some time to think and (not) be too hard on yourself for not knowing everything.”

“I am very hopeful for us all. I believe in our capabilities,” he said. “And if you’re worried that times are uncertain and people are fallible, I just want to let you know that we’ve literally always been.”

HPHS Principal Jeremy Gilbert spoke about the story that he’s shared with this year’s graduates. He was almost a quarter of the class’ principal during their years at Hyer Elementary. He was their principal again at Highland Park Middle School, when the class ended its time in the Raider building early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gilbert told the graduates that in May 2020, “I was provided with the chance of a lifetime to continue to serve as your principal. But this time, it was at Highland Park High School. And now I do realize that probably some of you were excited, while others of you might have said, ‘Really, this guy again?’ Regardless of what camp you were in, I could not be more proud of you and all that the class of 2024 has accomplished in our time together.”

Gilbert, who will leave Highland Park High School to serve as HPISD’s new athletic director, reassured graduates that he will not be following them to college.

Class of 2024 salutatorian Luke Ting, who had a GPA of 4.755 and plans to attend Princeton University, was praised in an introduction by HPHS teacher of the year Wenzen Chuang.

“I want to tell you about his humility and his kindness,” Chuang said. “In spite of all of his academic achievements, in spite of all that he’s done, you’ve never heard Luke brag on himself. He’s never trumpeted his own horn.”

The winners of the Blanket Award were Anna Kate Albritton and Harris Sands. Albritton and Sands, who were recognized at the May 23 Senior Honors Day Assembly, jointly accumulated more than 900 hours of community service and were involved in upwards of 20 different activities. Despite typically spending almost three hours every day on extracurricular activities, they maintained an average GPA of 4.25.

Near the end of the May 24 ceremony, past and present HPHS graduates stood in honor of head athletic trainer Jay Harris, who retired this year. Harris has announced graduates’ names as they walk across the stage since 1997.

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