SENIORS HAD THEIR TIME under the lights at Fred Green Memorial Field last Friday, June 3. (Photo by Raj Das,


MELROSE — Nothing could dampen the festive mood of the 245 members of Melrose High’s Class of 2022 who graduated last Friday night at Fred Green Memorial Field.

From Hiba Abouchamcha to Matheus Rossi Velasco Zanelli, this group of seniors — beset by a pandemic halfway through their sophomore year that created a totally unique secondary school experience — were in high spirits during their commencement exercise. And they had every right to be.

Under gray skies, the graduates listened as class Co-President Brigid McCarron said, “Although tonight, we should all reminisce on the good times MHS has brought us, we must not forget the obstacles we faced and what we have learned and accomplished from them. Each and every one of us faced a challenge at some point. Take a moment, and think about that difficult essay; a shift in friend groups that left you feeling lonely; the first time you were cut from an activity or did not make the team; college applications that overwhelmed you; the isolation we faced at the end of Sophomore year; and especially the loss of our classmate Amazing Grace Zinck.

“Now think about who and how you got through it. Most likely, someone in this crowd was the one who offered a helping hand or put a smile on your face when you needed it. As we venture into our next chapter, keep in mind the kindness you received when you struggled, and your own resistance and persistence. The road ahead will be full of challenges, but if we choose to support those who surround us, success WILL follow. Not just first place or an A, but true success where you can be proud knowing you gave it your all.

“In the words of Horace Mann, ‘Doing nothing for others is the undoing of one’s self. We must be purposely kind and generous, or we miss the best part of existence.’”

The Melrose High Band performed the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” to kick the evening off, and Camille Hodgkins sang the National Anthem.

After students, family and friends were seated, Master of Ceremonies Maxwell Kirby kept things moving, introducing McCarron and the other class co-president Drew Harrington. Harrington pointed out some pretty impressive athletic statistics.

“Over the course of the 1,374 days we’ve spent as MHS students, 12 of our 25 sports teams have won league championships — volleyball, girls cross country, football, golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, boys hockey, girls indoor track, wrestling, boys lacrosse, and of course, cheer. Of our league champions, two teams went on to win the state, football and wrestling. There was a good chance football was going to win a second state championship last year, but due to the shortened season, playoffs did not take place. On behalf of everybody, I think we should just go ahead and claim that state championship as ours.”

In the METCO address, Elizabeth Thomas said, “As you know, I go to school here but I live in Dorchester, so I’m in METCO. However, I have not once in my life taken the bus, which is why when most people find out I’m in METCO they go “huh?”. The only way I would really ever spend time with the other METCO kids was when we would be called down for meetings at school. It’s like I’m only half in METCO. I do wonder what my life would be if I lived in a cute town, in close proximity to my school and all my friends, or if I lived in Melrose. But I only wonder, I don’t wish, because I most certainly would not trade this experience of mine for any other. These four years—these four unforgettable years have taught me patience, and how to be mature and solution-oriented. Many of the teacher’s I’ve had here have also made me realize that I was not dumb, but just distracted. And my mother, who teaches here, who has had so many students, but has had me as her best student for 17 years and counting, I could never thank enough for all the things she has taught me, and will continue to teach me for the rest of my life. Speaking of mothers, I can easily tell that Ms. Jackson cares for all of her students like one. And Ms. Ward, although she no longer works here, I could tell made such an impact in so many students’ lives, being a “mother” or “auntie” figure to her students. There are so many people here that care so much, and exceed all expectations because they want each and every one of us to succeed in life, and to them, I say thank you, thank you dearly.

“Going through these four years, I would feel between communities, but I have made so many close relationships that I value incredibly, and I wouldn’t go to school elsewhere because Melrose feels like my second home. So I end my speech by asking this: Am I a Metco student? I guess so. Am I black? I guess so. But am I also white?…I guess so. But do these questions really even matter? Questions I do know the answer to: Am I graduating? I know so. Am I scared? I know I’m scared. Am I going to make mistakes? I know so. But are there great things ahead for all of us? I know so. My next journey will start in September as I head to Washington DC and attend Howard University, One of the first Historically Black Colleges and University.

“To the senior class of 2022—take a look at your surroundings, and see each other in your caps and gowns. You’re a part of a community, in which again, I am watching from the outside as I stand in front of you, but it’s not a bad thing this time, and maybe it was never a bad thing in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, it was meant to be this way.”

Class Valedicatorian Charlotte Tysall said, in part, “Originally I wanted to say that life is short, so you shouldn’t waste your time doing things you don’t enjoy. But something felt off about that advice and I finally realized what the problem was. It’s just not realistic. It would be really great if we could spend our lives doing things we’re passionate about, but sometimes that’s just not how it works. Even if we make it to the perfect job or life path in the end, there might be times along the way where we have to prioritize making money or supporting ourselves over doing fulfilling work. I know this is probably the opposite of every inspirational quote ever written, but sometimes we just can’t follow our dreams – just yet. But in those times when we are doing things we don’t want to do, we can remember what we learned in high school during MCAS, during AP tests, when we studied tirelessly and did hours of homework. Sometimes we have to do boring things, but that doesn’t mean our time is any less valuable or have any less potential to be some of the best times in our lives. Some of my most memorable high school experiences are from days of sitting in class and making stupid jokes to my friends while we worked on whatever it was that we worked on.

“Sometimes we don’t have the option to choose exactly what we want to do but what we do have control over is making sure we see the time with our friends, coworkers, or even just ourselves as valuable and treating it like we would if we were doing our favorite thing. With this mindset, nothing you’ll ever do is a waste of your time.”

James Kavanaugh introduced his “good friend” Principal Jason Merrill, who said, “Wherever you are next year, or even this summer, put your phone down and talk to people. People may argue that we have become more connected than ever. But I could make a solid argument that we are actually less connected than ever. It’s tempting to access thousands of people in the palm of your hand. But I will promise you that the value in talking to the person in front of you is far greater.

“This world and its people need some grace…say sorry, forgive, be thoughtful, show empathy and patience.

“Remember, people will make mistakes, it’s okay to forgive them. And remember people can change. You are going to make mistakes and it’s ok to forgive yourself.

“And remember that everyone has a story. Everyone has been through something. Don’t judge them by the chapter that you walk in on.

“You will always have roots here. You are always going to be Melrose Kids.

“Remember where you came from. Remember that you all have roots here in Melrose…. And you can always come home to Melrose High School. Never forget all of the places that you call home. And I have no doubt that you will remember.”