The Class of 2022: Region’s High Schools Celebrate Successes

JHS 2021 graduate, Jayden Sisley, celebrates receiving his diplomas with JHS Principal Dana Williams.
Contributing Writer

Walter W. Pickut

All across Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties in Western New York, and Northwestern Pennsylvania’s Warren County, high schools are sending this year’s graduates into a wider world that needs them. The Class of 2022 has learned to overcome challenges.

The new skills and insights gained by educators and students over the last two pandemic-scarred years is the focus of Mayor Eddie Sundquist’s messages to the graduating class of 2022.

“First, congratulations to all of our new graduates who have spent the last couple years working in really different conditions, and learning under conditions unlike any one else ever had. I have a lot of hope for this new generation. I know they’ll go out and do great things. It’s my sincere hope they’ll come back at some point and do the same thing for Jamestown.”

Back to Normalcy

Probably speaking for every high school principal in the region, Jamestown’s principal Dana Williams told the Gazette, “The students of the class of 2022 have seen it all.” But best of all, he added, “for the last half of this school year they were able to get back to some normalcy.”

Students and teachers were forced to discover new ways to teach and to learn, Williams added. “I’m really proud of our students and our teachers. They bounced back—they did what they had to do to succeed. They are resilient, and that’s how it’s supposed to work.”

Coordinating Support

Dr. Kirk Young, vice president of student affairs at Jamestown Community College, reports that JCC continues to welcome local high school graduates well prepared for success at the higher levels of education. “Jamestown high school does a wonderful job. They are our biggest single feeder-institution.”
That support, however, extends beyond Jamestown. “The students who graduate in the top 20% of the class anywhere within our service region—Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties can attend JCC essentially tuition-free.

Many of Jamestown’s seniors are graduating in 2022 with almost an entire year of college credits already completed thanks to a cooperative education program between JHS and JCC.

Student Testimonials

Cecelia “Cece” Eklum, Jamestown High school’s valedictorian for the class of 2022, told the Gazette that she attributes much of her success the fact that “in Jamestown the teachers are super helpful, they will always try to help you, especially when a student reaches out to them.”

Cece’s advice to students in graduating classes yet to come is clear. “Get involved in a lot of school activities, sports, and clubs you like. That really makes high school a lot more fun.” Attending Washington and Lee University next year in Lexington Virginia, Cece will study biochemistry on a pre-dental track, just the kind of graduate that Mayor Sundquist is inviting back home someday to pay forward what Jamestown once gave.

Salutatorian Siena DeAngelo, headed for Belmont University in Nashville Tennessee next year, majoring in psychology on a pre-med track, offers her advice, too. “Branch out beyond your close circle of friends,” she urges students, “and meet new people. It will help you academically to see new learning styles and new ways of thinking. It will give you a more empathetic view of the world.”

Siena’s thanks go especially to her parents and teachers who helped along the way, “especially for showing me that I’m worth more than just my grades.”

She plans a career in the helping professions, in particular as a pediatrician to “help make children’s illness less frightening to them and their parents”

Lessons Learned

Graduating classes across the region this year share the experience of a common challenge—two years of Covid interruptions and hardships. Yet by all accounts, new lessons and greater resiliency have grown out of it for both students and educators.

Principal Williams expresses great optimism. “The best thing about graduation is when I stand up on that stage and look out over those students, especially the ones who had a hard time. But there they are with their cap and gown. They did what they had to do, they made it. And that’s the best feeling an educator can have. This opens doors for them in a way that will last a lifetime.

I’m very optimistic about their future whether it’s moving on to college or filling critical needs of other kinds here at home or anywhere in the world.


The Jamestown Gazette offers our best wishes and greatest confidence to all of the graduating classes of 2022 throughout our region. The world is waiting for you.

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.