Hundreds of Wellesley residents gathered at Hunnewell Field during Friday's sunny weather to cheer on the first Wellesley High School class to graduate from the new $115 million school building that opened in February – under budget and ahead of schedule.“You led our school with distinction and grace, and made a lasting impression on each and every one of us,” Wellesley High School Principal Andrew Keough told the graduating seniors.
For the class of 2012, the past seven years has been fraught with construction – both with the renovation of their middle school as they started in sixth grade, and then the building of a new high school.
And, as many students and school officials pointed out, the constant construction defined the class as a whole.
“We would like to thank those of you who allowed us to experience a peaceful last few months of high school,” joked class president Christopher McKenna.
The class of 2012 expressed their thanks by donating outdoor seating and tables to the courtyard beside the new school’s cafeteria, where class vice president Reid Williamson said many students relaxed with their friends and ate lunch on sunny days.
The outdoor area will be dubbed the 2012 Pavilion, Williamson said, as the bleachers holding parents and family erupted into applause.
“Our time here is especially meaningful because of our place as the first graduating class from this building,” Williamson said. “And as such, it is important that we are remembered for unique and diverse talents this class has brought to the Wellesley community.”
As the graduating seniors sat patiently on the field, clad in bright red caps and gowns, both students and school officials alike lectured the students on living a morally positive life and the importance of pursuing their dreams.
Wellesley High School English teacher and faculty speaker David McCullough – made somewhat famous in 2006 when he told then-graduating Wellesley students to “carpe the heck out of every diem” – stressed the fact that everyone is individually remarkable in their own way.
“As you commence and scatter to the winds, do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance,” McCullough said.
He also added that the students should live genuinely as they embark upon living on their own, telling them over and over again that no one is special.
“Selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself,” McCullough said. “The recognition is that you’re not special, because everyone is.”
Callen Raveret, the senior class speaker, told a touching anecdote about how a former fourth grade teacher once knocked out his dream of becoming an NBA superstar, and how it forced Raveret to reevaluate and tweak his ambitions as he grew older – including recovering from college rejection letters.
“I received five rejections in March, and then Duke lost to the Mountain Hawks, so it was a rough month,” Raveret joked before delivering his serious message. “But the most difficult part of process was adjusting my dreams. Every college we apply to, we picture ourselves at… but when the colleges reject those dreams, what should our dreams be? Anything.”
Wellesley Superintendent Bella Wong also gave her last farewell to the graduating class – not only because the 300 or so seniors would be leaving Wellesley, but also because Wong announced she would be resigning earlier amid a school budget uproar.
However, Wong steered clear of any controversial rhetoric, as the former biology teacher urged students to preserve the rain forests.
“One of the most basic commitments you can make to the global community in the 21st century is to safeguard the natural world for your children and generations to follow,” Wong said. “I hope you choose to do this and to be a model for others who will follow you.”
Valedictorian Daniel Miron, who will attend Columbia University in the fall, reminded his peers that they are responsible for their own moral actions, and urged them to forge new friendships and go exploring.
“There’s no excuse to ever be bored, and there’s no excuse to not take advantage of all world has to offer, and give it back something greater,” Miron said.
Loud applause erupted in the bleachers later in the evening as Jeffrey Miron and his family cheered for the valedictorian as he walked across the flower-dotted stage to receive his diploma.
“I’m so happy and proud,” the older Miron said of his son. “It’s good to see him have such a good time. I’m very happy, but a little bit sad because this means that he’s going away.”