Student leaders cite classmates’ resilience in coping with COVID-19, transitioning to a new building and four years of challenges
When Valedictorian Jay Patel takes the stage tonight to deliver his commencement address to nearly 180 classmates who will be graduating from Saugus High School, his main message will be to “persevere and find your own path,” he said.
“I would say our resilience to face the changes and challenges that we had – like COVID-19 and changing buildings – define us as a class,” said Patel, 18, who achieved a 4.8 grade point average to finish as the top scholastically ranked student in his class.
“We spent our freshman year in the old building. And the second year, we had COVID and the last two years in the new building. It’s been a bumpy ride,” Patel said.
“But my class is very individualistic. They have their own goals and career paths and worked hard to achieve those dreams. I’m obviously proud of my class. And I feel like we’re very resilient,” he said.
Patel said he plans to study Computer Science at Boston University in the fall, with aspirations of starting his own company.
Commencement exercises are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in Christie Serino Jr. Memorial Stadium.
Class President Joshua Farmer said he agrees with Patel that the Saugus High Class of 2023 “should be remembered as a very resilient group of students.”
Farmer, 18, plans to attend McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where he will study Political Science.
“In our four years together, we went through COVID, remote learning, hybrid learning and mask mandates and we still continued to keep our spirits high,” Farmer said. “The biggest accomplishment of this class was making it here to graduation happier, smarter and stronger than our freshman year. We’re finishing together.”
Farmer is thinking about a career in politics or going to law school after getting his college degree.
“I think it’s interesting how much the diversity has grown at Saugus High,” he said, noting that the Class of 2018 was about 70 percent white. “Now, it’s down to about 60 percent this year, and the whole school is about 55 percent,” he said. “We have people graduating from many different countries – Brazil, Hatti and Albania,” he said.
Salutatorian Afnan Tuffaha, the second highest scholastically ranked student in the Class of 2023 with a 4.78 grade point average, celebrated her 18th birthday yesterday (Thursday, June 1). Today, she plans to further her education at Northeastern University, where she will study computer science. “I want to work as a software engineer in some big company – Amazon, Microsoft or Apple,” Tuffaha said.
“We had our freshman year cut short. We had to do remote learning. This would actually be our first normal year,” Tuffaha said.
“What’s been great about us is that we’ve been able to adapt to all of these changes swiftly and we’ve been very open to them,” she said.
“My favorite moment during High School was Color Day. And that has always been a great time for students to come together and do something together,” she said.