QUINCY - Approximately 380 students graduated in the new Quincy High School gymnasium Wednesday evening, a sea of blue and white walking among more than 800 relatives and friends.
Although the skies were blue Wednesday night, a week of rain and cold weather prompted organizers to postpone the ceremony from Monday and move the ceremony indoors. Still, spirits were high Wednesday evening, with speakers wishing attendees and graduates the best as they move on to their lives after high school.
Principal Frank Santoro remarked on the accomplishments of the class, with 80 percent of them going on to higher education in the fall at such schools as UMass-Amherst, Northeastern, Suffolk, and Duke, with scholarships exceeding $5 million.
In addition, 61 students will receive free tuition due to high MCAS scores, 85 students made the honor role, and three are national merit scholars. Not to mention the countless clubs, performances, athletic accomplishments, and community service work performed by students.
“Class of 2012, you stayed when other left [during the high school construction]. You put your fears behind you, and left your mark of excellence,” Santoro said.
Santoro jokingly pulled out his phone for a moment, pretended to talk to his wife, and proceeded to remind the class to use technology to better themselves, and not just to stay connected.
“Use that technology to find what’s in your heart,” he said.
Staying in touch will be important, especially as the class has grown so close, said class President D’Onna Marie Roche, who will attend Suffolk University in the fall.
Roche recalled the early days of high school, when students were known from which part of town they came from. In four years, however, the class has grown together, she said, and “no matter where we go, we will all have a special bond…and have learned to accept people for who they are.”
Mayor Thomas Koch and School Committee Chairman Barbara Isola, and City Council President Michael McFarland also gave well wishes to the graduates.
However, no speech garnered more laughs than that of Valedictorian Michaela Jane Walker, who will attend Duke in the fall.
Her advice started with admitting that mothers are always right, and how graduates should listen to the advice of their families – even advice from “weird uncle Bob.”
Yet after graduation, you don’t need to listen to anyone anymore, she said, and there may be little reason to try to be the best when being the best is nearly impossible.
“The reason I offer [for you to keep trying] is you may never be the best - but in striving to be the best, you become better, and that’s what counts,” she said. “Failure isn’t when you stop doing well; it’s when you stop caring about doing well…so care. And if you can do that, you can persist.”
Superintendent Richard DeCristofaro also encouraged students to work hard.
“Celebrate this evening, and tomorrow keep working hard…and make sure you continue to dream,” he said.