By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Temperatures in the high 80s and the threat of severe thunderstorms couldn’t stop the Lynnfield High School Class of 2023 from reaching new heights on June 2.
The LHS Class of 2023 basked in the glory of its accomplishments in front of a large crowd during the 64th commencement ceremony at Pioneer Stadium. Due to severe thunderstorms scheduled to move into the area around 6 p.m., Principal Bob Cleary moved the commencement exercises start time to 5 p.m. to make sure Mother Nature would not drench the graduates, families, educators, officials and other attendees.
Cleary’s decision paid dividends, as a large thunderstorm rolled into town at 6:30 p.m.
The graduation ceremony began with class advisors Jen Goguen and Elizabeth LaMonica leading the 135 graduates onto Pioneer Stadium while “Pomp and Circumstance” was played over the PA system.
Student Council President Genna Gioioso welcomed the 135 graduates, families, friends, educators and local officials to the ceremony.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have so many encouraging mentors, family and friends in our lives,” said Gioioso. “Without you, we would not be where we are today.”
Gioioso said the high school’s culture “fosters a supportive environment that encourages all students to venture outside of their comfort zones.”
“Here at Lynnfield, I found my voice and learned how to express it, as I am sure many of you did too,” said Gioioso.
Gioioso said the COVID-19 pandemic taught the graduates to appreciate “attending school in-person and being able to interact daily with all of the inspiring people here tonight.”
“Living our lives on screen underscored the value of those little social interactions, which we are now grateful to have back in our lives again,” said Gioioso.
After the graduates reconnected during junior year, Gioioso said senior year was full of lasting memories that the Class of 2023 will never forget.
“The memories go on and on,” said Gioioso. “I will always hold dear these moments that will be engraved into my memory, these moments that I was able to make with all of you. We are onto the next set of memories in our lives, and I wish you the best as you jump into new experiences, face new challenges and rediscover the joys and uncertainties that accompany life’s best adventures.”
After Gioioso concluded her remarks, she was given a round of applause.
Cleary was full of pride while recognizing the LHS Class of 2023 in his final graduation speech.
“The Class of 2023 is outstanding,” said Cleary. “More than 40 students have a GPA of 4.0 or higher, and they are certainly talented and driven. But in addition to that, I can honestly say this is one of the nicest classes that I have had the privilege of working with.”
Cleary also thanked the graduates’ families, educators, coaches, 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.
Appreciating big and small moments
LHS Valedictorian Maddie Daigle said tearing her ACL on the soccer field during her sophomore year taught her how to deal with adversity.
“I was devastated,” said Daigle. “Sports have always been my social life and how I deal with school stress. However, in the end, this experience taught me a lot.”
Daigle said she spent nine months focused on her recovery instead of spending “more time with family and friends.”
“This experience reminded me that looking at history offers us a lot, especially the gift of appreciating the big and small moments in life,” said Daigle. “Tearing my ACL also reminded me that while we can look ahead and work towards goals, we must be prepared that the journey may be different than we imagined and rather than linger in frustration and disappointment, we can be open to new opportunities and discover new passions.”
Daigle said the pandemic taught the Class of 2023 to “appreciate the value of any minute spent with each other.”
“I will never forget packing the stands for Friday night football games or the rush from finally winning that exhausting game against North Reading, or our ridiculously large senior trip to Aruba, as I am sure some of you will never forget the band trip to Nashville or warming up before an opening night of the play,” said Daigle. “But I also loved joking around during cafe studies and cramming during the 10 minutes before a test or our quick chats in the bathroom between classes. Even these seemingly trivial acts shaped our high school experience. I cherish all of those memories.”
Daigle also paid tribute to the late Sonny Tropeano, who would have graduated with the LHS Class of 2023. Sonny passed away suddenly from T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma at the age of 10 in July 2015.
“We found unity and solace within each other, and a way to carry his spirit with us,” said Daigle.
After Daigle concluded her remarks, she was given a round of applause.
A compassionate and resilient class
Senior Class President Sahil Akhter said graduation marks an “incredible milestone” in the Class of 2023’s lives that was the “culmination of years of hard work, perseverance and growth.”
“As we look back on the past four years, we can’t help but feel a whirlwind of emotions: Joy, excitement, anticipation and perhaps a tinge of sadness at the thought of leaving behind the comfort of our high school days,” said Akhter.
Akhter said the Class of 2023 has “truly excelled in every aspect.”
“We not only achieved strong academic results on standardized tests and AP exams, but we also acted as leaders for the freshmen by serving as Compass advisors, guiding them through the challenges of high school with kindness and support,” said Akhter. “We created memories that will forever remain etched in our hearts, from the senior prank where we camped out on the field and watched the sunrise together, to the simple yet cherished moments of mask breaks, where we would all gather outside, sharing laughter and camaraderie. These moments brought us closer, fostering a sense of community that defined our LHS experience. Through our collective achievements and shared experiences, we have proven that our grade is not just academically exceptional, but also compassionate, resilient and full of vibrant spirit.”
Akhter said graduation marks a new beginging for the LHS Class of 2023.
“Up until this point, we have done everything together,” said Akhter. “We have been in the same halls and walked together. We have sat at the same tables and eaten together. We have been given the same assignments and worked together. We have been in the same rooms and laughed together. Up until this point, we have all been living our own lives, but we have done it together. From when we were kids on the playground, scraping our knees on the pavement, to now, high school graduates, all gathered here today to finally go our separate ways.”
Akhter also paid tribute to his late friend Sonny, who he called a “special person.” A moment of silience was held in Sonny’s honor.
“It is crazy to think that it has already been almost eight years since he passed, but not a day has gone by where I have not thought about him,” said Akhter. “I know he is looking down on all of us today with a smile on his face.”
After Akhter concluded his remarks, he was given a round of applause.
“A champion’s mindset”
Superintendent Kristen Vogel urged the graduates to learn from Allistar McCaw’s book “Habits That Make A Champion.”
“‘A champion mindset is not about being gifted or talented. It’s about being prepared, focused, disciplined and having a deep unshakeable belief in one’s self,’” said Vogel.
Vogel said the graduates will be facing “many challenges” in life, some of which she said might feel “insurmountable.”
“However, if you possess champion’s mindset, nothing can stop you from achieving your goals,’” said Vogel. “Your success in life is not about the talents you have been given, but it is about the effort you put in, the focus you maintain and the discipline you exhibit in pursuit of your dreams.”
End of an era
School Committee Chair Rich Sjoberg presented diplomas to the 135 graduates with the assistance of Vogel, Cleary, and class advisors Jen Goguen and Elizabeth LaMonica.
After the graduates received their diplomas and Cleary wished the graduates well as they begin the next chapter of their lives, the Class of 2023 threw their mortarboards in the air, officially marking the end of their Lynnfield High School careers.