WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington High School held its graduation on Sunday, June 4 at 2pm in the WHS Gymnasium. The ceremony featured EIGHT speeches.
Class President Russell Abbott led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a moment of silence for former Superintendent Joanne Benton. Abbott began his speech by agreeing with something he remembered former Assistant Principal Dennis Mahoney told him when they first met — high school will be the fastest four years of your life. “Back then, graduation was a tiny light at the end of the tunnel, but today, that light shines bright on all of us.” Abbott focused his remarks on the favorite part of his experience at Wilmington High — the people. “High school has taught me it’s not just what you’re doing, but the people you’re doing it with. It’s important to surround yourself with people you care about and with people that care about you.”
Town Manager Jeff Hull centered his remarks around relationships. He urged graduates to maintain strong ties with their family and friends. “Keep your family close and stay in touch. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home… Make it a point to call your friends from Wilmington High School…. Stay strong. Stay positive. Stay healthy. Stay connected.” At the same time, Hull advised graduates to build new relationships. “Establish new friendships at school, work and the places you live… It’s not always the brightest or best educated that live their goals, but those rather those that sustain relationships. Few lasting and meaningful achievements occur by flying solo.”
School Committee Steve Bjork implored members of the graduating class to focus their energy on being positive. “Don’t be a habitual complainer. The world is full of complainers. What the world needs is problem solvers. It’s so easy to point out the problem and expect others to fix it. I urge you to resist that easy path. Instead, maintain a positive attitude and harness your energies towards solutions.” Upon seeing a student’s graduation cap decorated with the phrase “I still have no idea what I’m doing,” Bjork assured the graduates that even the adults in the room, including himself, are in the same boat. “We’re all just doing the very best that we can… It’s OK if you don’t know what you’re doing. Just keep moving forward.”
Superintendent Paul Ruggiero encouraged graduates to reach for their dreams. “It’s never to late to find the right place, right job, right life you want to live. Whether you’re 14 and just starting high school, or 17 and graduating, or 27 and starting a family, or 45 with your kids leaving the house, or 60 and becoming a grandparent, the power to change your life is always within your reach. All you need to do is reach.” Ruggiero also stressed to students that they should live their own lives and not the lives that others may want them to live. “Live the way that makes you happy…. Live your life, not someone else’s. And always remember to be kind in everything you do… Be the choices that are right for you.”
Principal Linda Peters imparted wisdom about the “real world” to the Class of 2017. Life can be scary. Life can be fun. Life is many beautiful moments — each a treasured memory. Life is giving. Life is kindness. Life is precious. “When signing out, many of you said to me, ‘I don’t know where these four years have gone.’ Don’t wait too long to treasure these moments.” After reciting a poem she wrote (“To Your Life”), Peters thanked the class for four wonderful years. “Thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s truly been a pleasure. You’ve made your teachers proud. Your parents proud. I hope you made yourselves proud… As always, you know where I am if you ever need me.”
Class Essayist Donald Kenney advised his classmates to never forget where they came from. “We’ve all grown up together for the past 18 years… If you take on thing from this speech, never forget your roots… Wilmington has shaped us in so many ways… Wilmington has helped us grow into who were are today.” Kenney also reminisced about the past four years, noting that his class had to transition to two different buildings. He recalled watching the old high school be demolished with his classmates.
Salutatorian Jason Dunn stressed the difficulty in conveying his message in just three minutes. He noted the most valuable thing he’s gained from his high school career is the friendships. “Life will present you with endless opportunities to be hateful and angry, it’s up to you to embrace happiness and love.” Dunn said he’ll remember the simple things, like a high school pep rally, the most. “I’ll always value my time in Wilmington and it will define myself.” He cautioned his classmates no to linger after graduation, but to move forward and have “pride and passion in always progressing in your life.”
Valedictorian Cecilia Chase wished her classmates well. “We’ve all grown up together and helped each other make it here today…. Congrats to all of you for surviving high school. Celebrate your accomplishments with your family and remember to thank those who helped you get here today.” Chase pointed to her friends, her favorite teachers, her soccer and track teams, and Spirit Week when discussing what she enjoyed most over her past four years. “I hope you think of similar things that bring a smile to your face… You’ve had memories with people you love that will last a lifetime.”
Peters and Assistant Principals Christopher Phillips and Jonathan Merenda then distributed diplomas to the 230 graduates. After the cap toss, graduates exited the gymnasium to ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ from the Wilmington High School Marching Band.
(NOTE: Cover photo is from School Committee member Jenn Bryson All other photos are screenshots from WCTV’s broadcast.)
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