WILMINGTON, MA – The Wilmington High School Class of 2018 received lots of advice before receiving their diplomas during Sunday afternoon’s graduation ceremony inside the WHS gymnasium.
Town Manager Jeff Hull encouraged graduates to seize opportunities, try something different, live with purpose, be resilient, have an “attitude of gratitude,” and be present in the moment.
“You’re leaving the safe harbor of Wilmington and entering an ocean of opportunity and adventure. This is unchartered waters for all of you,” said Hull. “Sail on with purpose. You may be unsure of your direction…Take the helm and chart your course… Sometimes you’ll have to batten down the hatches… Test the waters… It may take a few course corrections before you’re comfortable in your direction.”
School Committee Chair Julie Broussard, harkening back to the elementary schools’ tradition of mystery readers, read a few passages from Dr. Seuss’s “Oh The Places You Will Go,” and offered some brief congratulatory comments.
“On behalf of the School Committee, congratulations and best wishes,” said Broussard. “Graduation is the event we look forward to most each year. The Committee considers it an honor and privilege to celebrate with all of you.”
Interim Superintendent Paul Ruggiero argued that Wilmington Public Schools provides graduates with the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to pursue their dreams. He invoked the famous words of both Nora Ephron (“Your education is a dress rehearsal for the life you leave”) and John Maxwell (“Life is a matter of choices – every choice you make makes you”).
“You must know your own character, build on your strengths, work on your weaknesses, realize your abilities, and set goals that match your interests and talents,” recommended Ruggiero. “Always surround yourself with people who share your values and who lift you up, not bring you down.”
Wilmington High School Principal Linda Peters shared her hopes for this year’s class of graduates — being independent, finding their voice, and discovering their true selves.
“Your choices matter – the small ones and the big ones, the good ones and the bad ones. Use your knowledge. Use your heart. Take on the world and follow your dreams. Always be proud to be you,” advised Peters. “Use your voice with respect, with courage, and with your heart…. Words are powerful. Use your words to open hearts, offer forgiveness, and show gratitude.”
“You truly matter to us. You made a difference in our lives,” Peters told her graduates, prior to reading a poem entitled “From Me, To You” she wrote about them. “Remember, we are here if ever need anything.”
Class Essayist Fariah Haque offered her thoughts on several aspects of life, including hard work and friendship.
“To quote the movie ‘Coco,’ if you want it, you have to earn it – that A on a report card, a spot on the varsity team, the lead in the play. Nothing will be handed to us. Nothing will come to us easily or quickly,” said Haque.
“We’ve made some amazing friends and memories here in Wilmington,” she added. “Good friends are like stars – you don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there. Make sure to hold on to your friends.”
Salutatorian Aditya Gautham relayed a story about how, for 8 years, he looked forward to watching a scene from the 1985 film, “Back to the Future.” Gautham wanted to watch the scene where the Delorean’s clock reads “October 21, 2015 at 4:29pm” on October 21, 2015 at 4:29pm.
“When it hit 4:29pm, something felt off. There was no feeling of satisfaction or closure. I expected to die and ascend to heaven. I was left disappointed that the experience didn’t meet my expectations,” said Gautham.
“We live our lives looking forward to things… This can become dangerous when we discount our current lives. We get so preoccupied with the future, we miss what’s in front of us and get taken out of the present,” continued Gautham. “And if we find ourselves idealizing the future so much, maybe it’s time to change something in the present.”
Valedictorian and Class President Vittorio Iocco encouraged his classmates to embrace their imperfections and learn from their mistakes.
“Society expets perfection. This popular way of thought is detrimental to the development of the person; a recipe for a world where people are afraid to make mistakes,” said Iocco. “The brutal truth is – we’re not perfect. Being human means having flaws… When you remove the filters, photoshop, and lighting, everyone is the same – beautifully imperfect.
“Think about mistakes as opportunities. Every time you fail, focus on what you did wrong and mentally record how you’ll avoid the same mistake in the future. You’ll wind up with a list of principles to live your life by,” added Iocco. “Don’t live for the calm end, but for the struggle in between. Fail. Learn. Succeed. In that order.”
Congratulations to the WHS Class of 2018.
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