By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — If the COVID-19 pandemic could not stop the Lynnfield High School Class of 2022 from reaching new heights, neither could cool temperatures and the threat of rain.
The LHS Class of 2022 basked in the glory of its accomplishments under dark and cloudy skies in front of a large crowd during the 63rd commencement ceremony at Pioneer Stadium on June 3. The graduation ceremony began with class advisors Nicole Hawes and Emily LeBlanc leading the 140 graduates onto Pioneer Stadium while “Pomp and Circumstance” was played over the PA system.
After the graduates took their seats on the football field, the Chamber Singer performed the “National Anthem” under the direction of High School Band Director Harry Wagg.
A new beginning awaits
Student Council President Lauren Grava welcomed the 140 graduates, their families, educators and local officials to the ceremony.
“Today, we close a chapter of our lives, one full with many memories and experiences that we will cherish forever,” said Grava. “This is the beginning of the rest of our lives. Regardless of the paths we decide to take, we will always find comfort in knowing Lynnfield is our home.”
Grava recalled that the Class of 2022 was incredibly nervous when they walked into LHS four years ago. After experiencing a traditional year-and-a-half of high school, Grava said the graduates’ lives were “put on hold” when the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.
“As a class, we have faced many hardships and challenges that we have had to overcome in order to shape us as a class,” said Grava. “We have become resilient and persevered. No matter what we were faced with throughout high school, we always persevered and made the best of our time here.”
Grava said the Class of 2022’s experiences brought the graduates together.
“We’ve learned to appreciate what we have and never take anything for granted,” said Grava. “We learned to always enjoy the moment and cherish each other and the memories we have formed.”
Grava thanked Lynnfield High’s “amazing” teachers, administrators, staff members and coaches for supporting and guiding the Class of 2022 over the last four years.
She also thanked the Class of 2022’s parents and families for their love and support. She thanked her fellow graduates for making the past 18 years an “unforgettable experience,” and urged them to celebrate “this precious moment.”
“Although this seems like the end, this is just the beginning,” said Grava.
After Grava concluded her remarks, she was given a round of applause.
Learning to persevere
High School Principal Bob Cleary said the Class of 2022 “has been through a lot over the last four years.”
“It’s not just the usual ups and downs, and wins and losses,” said Cleary. “They have not only faced the health risks of the pandemic, but also the many disruptions to a normal high school experience that came along with it. And then they had to deal with the loss of a classmate (Patrick Moroney) before their senior year began.”
While Cleary said the Class of 2022 has endured a number of challenges, he said the lessons they have learned have prepared them for their future.
“They have learned the valuable lesson of perseverance,” said Cleary. “They have also learned that time moves on, and time doesn’t really care about pandemics, masks, the loss of a friend or remote learning. Time just keeps winding on and you can either watch it go by, or you can jump in and get to work. This class chose to jump in and get to work. And through it all, they have persevered and have been successful. Because of that, I am confident they will continue to be successful in whatever they choose to do in the future.”
Cleary said the 140 members of the LHS Class of 2022 “should be very proud of their accomplishments.”
“They should know that if they can succeed under these conditions, everything else will seem easy by comparison,” said Cleary.
Cleary also thanked the graduates’ families, educators, local officials, various nonprofit organizations and the entire community for “enriching the lives of this class.”
“Without your help and support, our students would not have been able to reach their potential as scholars, performers, athletes and citizens,” said Cleary.
“Write something everlasting”
Valedictorian Lauren Lim acknowledged that the past four years have been “difficult” for the LHS Class of 2022.
“It would be vain not to mention the uniqueness of our high school experience, said Lim. “There is the universal struggle with the pandemic that has forced us to readjust our lives again and again. There were also reckonings of our own society, re-evaluations of how we treat our very neighbors. There were deep pains of the millions who did not deserve to perish that cut through us.”
Despite the challenges and hardships the Class of 2022 faced, Lim said the graduates should be “incredibly proud” of themselves for overcoming the challenges.
“The possibilities and opportunities ahead are boundless,” said Lim.
Instead of recalling past experiences at LHS, Lim posed a question to her fellow classmates: “Now what?”
“The big surprise is that I cannot answer that question, as disappointing of a surprise it might be, because it is up to you,” said Lim. “It’s a challenge for a reason. But here is a hint I think might help: Write your everlasting glories. Whatever they may be, read the ones you already wrote and keep going. Write everlasting glories that grace instruments of art. Write everlasting glories that care for the ones who have been discarded for so long. Write everlasting glories that hold the things most dear near to you. But that’s the thing: Write something everlasting.”
Lim thanked the graduates’ teachers, families, friends and school officials for supporting the Class of 2022 throughout their Lynnfield Public Schools’ careers.
“As much as we acknowledge the sheer amount of work we’ve done, we’re also lucky enough to have these people in our lives who have helped us to move forward,” said Lim.
After Lim concluded her remarks, she was given a round of applause.
Senior Class President Caitlin McCormack thanked all of her classmates as well as the graduates’ families, friends and teachers for supporting the Class of 2022 over the years.
“I am incredibly proud of our journey, despite all of the obstacles that have been thrown our way,” said McCormack. “Getting to this point has certainly been challenging, but we have come a long way, and I know that there are many more successes ahead in our futures.”
McCormack noted that the Class of 2022 had a “reputation of being quite immature” when they entered LHS four years ago.
“As we were working on proving ourselves as mature and worthy of respect, our normal and exciting first year-and-a-half of high school quickly got turned upside down with the ever-changing pandemic,” said McCormack. “Through this, we kept our heads up, continuing to grow both individually and as a class, allowing us to get to this point today.”
McCormack recalled that she and a group of classmates were filling out a survey for the yearbook that asked the students to describe the class in one word. She said the classmates asked Spanish teacher Jodie Leibowitz for assistance.
“She quickly responded with the word ‘kind,’” said McCormack. “This one word allowed us to realize that we will be remembered for more than just the initial impression of being immature, or for masks and Zoom. We are gentle and patient. We have been present in every situation with encouraging words and smiles, with or without masks. Our personalities and compassion carried us through in a positive manner, and our kindness extended beyond both the classroom and the screen. We are not just another grade affected by the pandemic; we are hardworking students who persevered. We displayed kindness and compassion that will be remembered for years to come as our time spent at home allowed us to grow.”
While McCormack said the last four years have been “defined by uncertainty and loss,” she urged the classmates to “walk away from this time embracing its best moments.”
“Embrace the times we came together,” said McCormack. “As we move forward, always remember this place that we have come from, the kindness we showed it and the kindness it has shown us. Just as we have left an impression, Lynnfield High and its people will forever be a part of our lives. Walk away with the positive memories, the lessons that extend beyond the classroom and the kindness found in each and every one of you. Once again, thank you to our teachers and administrators for your support, Student Council and our advisors for helping to organize the events that allowed us to come together, and to Mrs. Leibowitz for reminding us just how much kindness counts.”
After McCormack concluded her remarks, she was given a round of applause.
Hope for the future
Superintendent Kristen Vogel shared several wishes she has for the LHS Class of 2022.
“I wish that you believe in yourselves, celebrate what makes you unique and special, and learn from and embrace the differences you have with others,” said Vogel. “I wish you success and happiness in whatever you choose. I wish that you continue to be kind to everyone you meet. I hope you find love and happiness in this world. I hope and wish that you make a lasting and positive difference in the world.”
End of an era
School Committee Vice Chair Stacy Dahlstedt presented diplomas to the 140 graduates with the assistance of Vogel, Cleary, and class advisors Nicole Hawes and Emily LeBlanc. While Student Services teacher Nicole Parziale accepted the diploma in honor of late Class of 2022 member Patrick Moroney, Devin Delaney held up a card in his late friend’s memory.
After the graduates received their diplomas and Cleary wished the graduates well as they begin the next chapter of their lives, the Class of 2022 threw their mortarboards in the air, officially marking the end of their Lynnfield High School careers.