By Christopher Roberson
After starting at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School in the fall of 2014, approximately 360 students made it to the end.
During the June 1 graduation ceremony, interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Herbert Levine shared an experience he had on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. That day he had been on the phone for 90 minutes with a Comcast representative in an attempt to restore Internet service to his home. The call was interrupted when a serviceman arrived to fix Levine’s pool motor. At the same time, a dozen roses were being delivered for Mother’s Day.
“I have a 100-pound dog who wanted to eat both of those guys,” he said. “I was home by myself and I yelled out a word that I cannot share with you.”
His point in telling the story was to convey that losing one’s temper is “one of the worst things you can do.”
Levine also called attention to the female graduates, saying women, not men, will go on to become the chief executives of insurance companies, banks and pharmaceutical companies. “Do better than we have,” he said.
Levine said that in May, Stacey Cunningham became the director of the New York Stock Exchange, the first woman to hold the position in the 226-year history of the Big Board. In addition, Levine said that in April, Gina Haspel became the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). “There is no greater men’s club than the CIA,” he said.
Levine then asked the graduates to give a “senior salute” to 12 of their classmates – Anxhelo Ripa came to the United States three years ago from Albania, has graduated 12th in his class and will be attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the fall. A member of the wrestling team, Noah Freedman tore his anterior cruciate ligament in both his junior and senior years. However, Levine said, Freedman was able to recover from both injuries and will attend the University of Maine. Levine said football captain Eric DeMayo earned a reputation for “being especially kind to underclassmen” and will be going to Wagner College.
For the class gift, Senior Class President Ann Manning said $500 will be donated to Ella’s Army, which is a change from prior years when classes would spend “hundreds of dollars” on water bottles. “We decided we should do something more effective with that money,” she said. “Hopefully, donating this class money to a charity becomes a tradition.”
Manning also urged her fellow graduates to “live life in the moment.” “We cannot get wasted time back,” she said.
Senior Class Co-President Tabbitha Bono looked to the future as she read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss. “We’re all bracing ourselves to take on a whole new perspective on life,” she said. “I know this class is going to be successful.”
Principal Eric Buckley said how proud he was of the entire class, as he had gotten to know many of them over the years. “It’s not just my daughter Sarah graduating,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure to see you grow and mature into fine young adults.” Buckley also remembered the words that were spoken to his class when he graduated from Bishop Fenwick High School in 1985. He said his class advisor, Robert Tierney, asked Buckley and his classmates to look to their right, look to their left and wish those individuals good luck. Now, 33 years later, he asked the same from the Class of 2018.
Valedictorian Ryan Cormier urged his classmates to never judge someone too quickly, adding that the Salem Witch Trials were based on the sole premise of “guilty until proven innocent.” “Seemingly harmless misconceptions can result in tragedy,” he said.
Cormier said the person who is now his best friend came into his life as an annoyance. “I remember freshman year, I was extremely displeased when he sat next to me on the bus for a school trip,” he said. “I wanted no part of him.”
However, that all changed during the next three years. “He is one of the few people I can talk to earnestly because he is a true friend,” said Cormier.
Salutatorian Sarah Buckley spoke modestly. “I do not believe, by any means, that I am the second-smartest person here wearing a graduation cap,” she said.
Like Cormier, Buckley also harkened back to the “new everything” that defines any freshman year. “It was all foreign to us,” she said.
In addition, Buckley urged her fellow graduates not to get hung up on technology. “Do not live your life through a lens or behind a screen,” she said.
Senior Essayist Sarah Abdulghani said learning does not end at graduation. “We still have a long way to go from here, we have a lot to get done,” she said. “We’re sitting here with future doctors, lawyers, nurses and maybe even a president – I’m sure she will do a fantastic job in the White House.”