WAKEFIELD - It was a mixture of joy and somber reflection as the member of the 161st graduating class at Wakefield High received their diplomas in ceremonies at the Charbonneau Fieldhouse Saturday morning.
The class used a quote from author Anais Nin to send them into the world, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Senior Chris Rollins, who passed away from a heart ailment earlier this year, was remembered in a touching rendition of the Beatles “In My Life,” performed by Staci Butler, vocalist, and Timothy Cushing on guitar. His sister Alyssa accepted his diploma from School Committee Chairperson Cheryl Ford.
Salutatorian Jason Parad brought a smile to the faces of his classmates and the audience when he said he came to graduation with significant life questions on their minds ... “but if I said those out loud, I probably wouldn’t get my diploma.”
In a more serious vein, he added, “Together, we have celebrated the good and overcome the bad. Reaching this point in our lives was no easy feat and for that, I congratulate you. ... But most importantly, take a look at your parents and thank them for all their unrelenting love and support for the past 17 or 18 years. ... And without all these special people in such a special place, none of this would have ever been possible.”
Class Essayist Radmary Bernabel talked about her first days in the Wakefield School System as a METCO student. “I had no idea there was such a town on the map of Massachusetts. I had the choice of attending any of three high schools and now, looking back, I am glad to have chosen this one. This once in a lifetime experience has opened my eyes to see beyond the horizons.”
Valedictorian Michael Salvato reminded his classmates, “In a way, no one is an individual. None of us could grow up without the support of at least someone being there for us and as we all grow up we are constantly affecting one another. In this way, our whole class, the class of 2008 has grown up, at least in a small way, together, not only in our experiences but in how perceptions of life have been transferred unto each other.”
Class President Anthony Moccia pointed out, “Everyone that has assembled here today to celebrate you, to celebrate us, has helped us get to this point today. Now, it is up to us. It is up to each and every one of us sitting here to make the rest of our lives as wonderful as our parents, our teachers and our friends have made our lives to this point.”
Delivering parting thoughts, Vice President Holly Selvitella said, “I look to all of you, my classmates of the graduating class of 2008, and encourage you to capture this moment as one last memory of your high school career and carry it along with you, as you move forward with your lives.”
SC Chair Ford said she decided to keep her remarks short. “In my decision to be brief, what I will say is this: You have been given a wonderful gift, that of an education. Your challenge is to take this gift and use it not only as a starting point to achieve whatever you want out of life but to also make a positive contribution to society.”
Principal Elinor Freedman asked the grads what they would do with the talents they possess. “Be willing to take a chance on yourself, reflect on the outcomes of those chances you take and, by doing so, come to believe in your own potential.”