Published June 7, 2019

MELROSE — Mother Nature was looking after members of the Class of 2019 and their guests last Friday as seniors said goodbye to Melrose High during the city’s annual commencement exercises at Fred Green Memorial Field.

The 234 graduates were blessed with good weather for the proceedings. With parents, relatives and friends looking on, they came onto the athletic field to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” played masterfully by the Melrose High School Band.

Class officers Cian Murphy, Sarah Mackowski and Gabbie Merullo took turns speaking during the welcoming address. They said, “All three of us are here to welcome you to our graduation ceremony and present the class gift. In the past, the class officers have spoken separately, but this year we wanted to be up here together, because our four year journey was done just the same, together. To us, the titles of president, vice president and secretary are meaningless, we all worked together to ensure this class had a great four years. From laying out hundreds of mables on the dollar tree floor for prom centerpieces to scraping starbursts off the floor of the VFW, we have loved every second of this journey and could not have done it without the help of two very special people.”

THESE 2019 Melrose High School graduates are (from left): Brooke Barriss, Maeve McGillicuddy, Celia Gaga, Maeve McAllister and Molly Wright. (Nia Kovacev Photo)

Cian Murphy continued, “The concept of ‘the future’ can be terrifying. You can hear students and teachers discussing future plans at every turn, and at face value it can seem daunting, especially to those who haven’t figured it all out just yet. Change is hard, but something I have learned not to fear.

“This year has been such a bittersweet time in our lives. We’ve gotten to enjoy the perks of being seniors, but we’re also the ones who have to leave everything that we know in the coming year. With all of the exciting and nerve-wracking plans in the future, we have to take some time to appreciate what we have right now, because it’s almost time for us to say goodbye.

“Like I said, this is a bittersweet moment. No more mad dashes to the knoll to beat traffic or last minute essay writing at midnight, but also no more school dances, games or waving to your best friend in the halls. This is one of the last times all of the people you’ve been with for the majority of your life will all be together in the same place. For some that could be exciting news, but regardless, these are the people that shaped you into who you are today. I’m not going to ask you to look right or left to remember the faces next to you, but I do want you to take some time to appreciate the important people in your lives who helped you achieve this goal, because none of us did it alone.

“A thought that kept popping into my head when thinking about you all was the idea of permanence. It seemed like you all would be with me forever, never once considering that this day could be real. It’s hard to imagine life without Melrose, making it that much harder to say goodbye.”

In her annual graduation address, Supt. of Schools Cyndy Taymore talked about a class filled with achievers.

“As your superintendent, I will often say I am lucky because of the staff, students, and families we have here in Melrose. When I consider the students in the Class of 2019, I once again realize how fortunate we are. The students who sit before us did the right thing to be successful academically and personally. They set goals, worked hard, persevered, and with the support of each other, their families, teachers, paraprofessionals, and coaches, they succeeded. As a group, almost 90 percent of them will go to college, 11 have achieved the Seal of Biliteracy, including some students whose first language is not English, 16 are receiving the Advance Placement Capstone diploma, three have completed the GEM pathway, four have completed the STEM pathway, and as a class they have received $200,000 in scholarships.

VALEDICTORIAN Nicola Tysall addresses the Class of 2019. (Lisa Lord Photo)

“And they did this on their own. They asked for no favors nor did they attempt to manipulate the system. Every day they demonstrated integrity, purpose, and responsibility. Every day for four years, they did the right thing. I thank you, their families, for instilling them with these values. More than anything, it will be their ability to ‘do the right thing’ that will ensure their future success.”

Shadae Robinson, this year’s METCO speaker, talked about a community within a community she will always cherish. Robinson said her time in Melrose “hasn’t always been easy. I have dealt with identity issues, adjusting to the common culture, and at times, facing discrimination. Through it all I’ve always had my METCO family, and great friends by my side.

“Now, I know people have used the phrase ‘METCO family’ in the past, but there is truly no other way to describe our relationship to one another. We do this together every single day. Waking up at ungodly hours while the rest of you are still asleep,and getting home long after you’ve had enough time to grab an afterschool snack and maybe even take a nap, depending on traffic. I am not saying this for you to feel guilty, these are just the sacrifices that we had to make in order to benefit from the opportunities we get from being students here. Even though it can be hard at times, I know that whenever I am feeling down, I can talk it out with one of my METCO brothers or sisters. I am truly blessed to have been able to create unbreakable bonds with each of these wonderful individuals. Like siblings, we often argue and fuss with each other, but let someone else try and talk about one of ours and we’ll be ready to ride for them no matter what.”

 The Melrose High School Honors Chorus performed “The Climb” and “A Million Dreams,” and Samantha Zysk performed her tribute to the Class of 2019 called “Growing Up.”

Morgan Cronin, Matthew Rocha and Nour Troumi gave the farewell address.

Matt Rocha said, “The academic support our school provides is outstanding, but it’s the personal support that makes our school unique. Tragedy struck early in my life. My uncle, Ray Rocha, died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was a phenomenal football player for both Melrose High School and for Brown University, and most importantly, he was an incredible person; though I was young when I knew him, I am always told about his charisma and ability to make people laugh. His football jersey, number 17, is retired, and it hangs from the school, a constant reminder and celebration of his life. During my four lacrosse seasons at MHS, I have worn number 17 to honor him and his memory. Over the past 18 years, the loss of Ray has been difficult for my family to deal with, but thanks to the Melrose community, we have never been alone. When the Fred Green Memorial Field opened in 2011, it was dedicated to Ray in a touching ceremony; a large, red 17 was painted in the center of field. At the Melrose Public Library, the bench outside honors him and serves as his symbolic resting place. On 9/11, Mr. Merrill holds an annual moment of silence, and at the Incarnation Parish, a mass is dedicated to him. Dozens of people always offer me their apologies and condolences. For 18 years, Melrose has preserved his memory and the memories of all those who lost their lives on 9/11. In my family, we have a saying: ‘Ray Lives.’ Thank you, Melrose, for keeping his memory alive.”

Nour Troumi said, “We’ve watched each other experience hardships and happiness not only here at Melrose but also in our personal lives, and now we get the honor of watching each other walk across the stage, to graduate into the first step of our adult lives. One thing I love about being in this school is whether it’s helping solve an actual problem or just saying a simple hello to keep each other going, we are always there for each other and we always look after one another.

“So as we stand in this little town of Melrose, I believe it is important to recognize the strong community we have developed for ourselves. And I would like to thank this town for opening its doors to me, a seven year old girl who wanted nothing more then to find her place and feel welcomed. I felt like a lost puzzle piece when I was starting high school and all I needed was to find its way; luckily for me there was a half finished puzzle waiting for me I can proudly say I have finished and now there’s a whole unfinished one waiting to be started and completed at wherever life might take us.

“As a Muslim immigrant family that needed to find a home, you made my parents, sister, and me feel safe and welcomed. You made a girl whose curly hair and chubby cheeks stood out like no other, feel accepted. You taught me the English language that continues to help me thrive in my livelihood and taught me that only I can create my path to future success. And as I assume I can say for all of my fellow classmates about Melrose High, you gave us real life lessons which we will continue to cherish and use in our routines beyond this building. Thank you for being a place we can always call home. For being a place we have all discovered the value of friendship and the importance of individualism.

“The Community here is what made my family choose this town, that people cared for you, opened their arms for you and defended you at all costs. Because of you, I think whether we want to admit it or not, we are all ready to move on and start this new chapter in our lives. So for that, thank you Melorse, thank you Melrose High. But I think that we can all agree that Melrose High deserves an apology….you deserved better than what we have given you for the past 12 years, sorry for not taking advantage of your resources and sorry for always taking you for granted. Nonetheless, we are thankful for everything you have done for us and provided us throughout our years of education.

“Melrose, you gave us the comfort we needed the most. On Monday, August 31, 2015, we entered Melrose High School as scared 14-year old kids not knowing what’s to come of these years, and today on this beautiful Friday, May 31, 2019 we leave Melrose High not as students but as young adults with our heads held up high. Some of us may still be unsure about what’s to come in our futures, but are well prepared to begin our lives and our future. As departing seniors in high school and incoming college freshmen….that’s right, after today we will officially be considered college students…. I want us all to reflect on our time here, making sure to leave all bad habits behind to make room for all the good ones we have developed or learned about.

“As it is sad to say goodbye to this chapter in our life, the reality is that this is truly just the beginning of a new one — the chapter to the rest of our lives. Today, we say goodbye to Melrose and its memories but not a final goodbye but a ‘see ya later.’ So for the last time, I’d like to say Class of 2019, we did it!”

The graduating class then left Fred Green Field to “Fairest of the Fair,” ready to take the next step on life’s journey.