Published in the June 9, 2017 edition
MELROSE — The Class of 2017 bid farewell to Melrose High Friday night, June 2, during its graduation ceremony.
Family, friends and other well-wishers sat on a beautiful evening under skies that threatened rain briefly but never delivered as 239 seniors received their diplomas.
In her welcoming address, Class President Rachel Freed said, in part, “The Class of 2017 has a bond forged in the fires of E-Camp, of pacers, of disappointments and heartbreaks, elation and dreams come true. We have been there for each other through imaginable losses and through horrific pain, but we have also been there for the highest of the highs. For incredible wins on the football field, for insane academic achievements, and for a really great Lil Greek performance at last year’s prom, which in my humble opinion, was the peak of our four years. We are a family; many will say they have homes on Hillcrest and Grove, amongst other streets where their closest friends live on Orient Avenue and Meridian but I believe our homes are more complex.
“We have a home with each of the people who in an hour or so, will pitch their caps sky high. I am confident in that and that is not something that any of those “matches” will be able to say.
“We can go into the future confident in the gifts our past has given us, and it will be hard crushing at times, but I am confident that each of us is ready.
“My dad will tell you that when he was driving me home from the hospital when I was born, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” came on and he’s associated the song with me ever since. It’s only become really applicable to my own life recently and there is one lyric that really sticks out to me. Stevie Nicks sings, “Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’, ‘Cause I’ve built my life around you.”
“I’ve build my life around you all, around Melrose High School, around this whole town, and I am afraid of changing, but I know it’s time for all of us.”
Valedictorian Michaela Fanikos said, “Today marks the start of our individual journeys into uncertain futures. For the first time, our paths will not be clearly outlined by the adults in our lives, and we will be confronted with the difficult decisions about which roads to take. As we venture into uncharted territory, we should remember the foundation that the Melrose schools have laid for us. Our school system taught us more than just mathematical equations and historical facts; we were taught life skills which will serve us well in situations we cannot even envision.
“One of these lessons is the importance of curiosity. In elementary school we were taught that every question stems from one of six main words: who, what, where, when, why, and how. As we advanced through the next eleven years of school, this lesson was subtly but repeatedly ingrained in our minds. Every class we took encouraged us to seek answers to these primary questions and we did not learn in isolation. In chemistry, we studied how atoms bond together, but we also learned who contributed to this discovery, why this discovery is important, and how this discovery affects us today. In history, we examined the political, social, and economic ramifications of major events both in the past and in the present, both locally and globally. In math, we tirelessly applied formulas and graphed equations that we claimed would never be useful in the real world, but we were remiss if we did not admit that these mathematical phenomena challenged us to think critically and analytically. We continued to ask ourselves if what we learn in school is true, why this information is necessary to learn, and how we can take this information and exercise it beyond the classroom. This curiosity and inquiry led us to make our own discoveries and we should extend our investigations, our innovations, and our imaginations far beyond what we have accomplished so far. We never stop absorbing from our surroundings and it is our responsibility to interpret our observations to the best of our abilities. The most powerful force in this universe is humanity’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge. It is this passion that drastically advanced medicine, that put man on the moon, and that even enabled us to be here today.
“In addition to our intellectual curiosity, our character has supported our unprecedented success in not only the classroom but also on the field, the stage, and in the community. We have acted with integrity and compassion to help our classmates when they needed guidance or assistance in any area. Hostility does not exist within the Class of 2017 and it is imperative that as we engage in our prospective ventures that we do not forget how we treated one another. As we go off to change and save the world, we cannot ignore the plight of the person right next to us. Just as Melrose has laid a foundation for us, it is our obligation to lay the foundation for those who follow in our footsteps.
“We have left an indelible mark on Melrose High and there is no question that we will maintain this level of success in our future endeavors. As we strive for gold in our futures we must remind ourselves where we came from, what we have learned here, and what we achieved here.
“And if there are times when your aspirations seem unattainable, just remember this quote that arguably defines our generation: ‘According to all known laws of aviation there is no way a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyway, because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.’ It has been an honor to be a member of the Melrose High Class of 2017. Congratulations classmates, go forth and seek knowledge, act with integrity, and challenge the impossible.”
Melrose High Principal Jason Farrell seemed especially close to the Class of 2017. In his remarks, he said, “In front of me I see tremendous students, actors, athletes, musicians, singers, writers, …I also see leaders,, problem solvers, thoughtful listeners, great friends, compassionate classmates, hard workers, students with who have tremendous ideas, determination, grit, and gumption, students who have persevered and overcome adversity.
“You will go on to live incredible lives with fulfilling careers and experiences and adventures that you have only dreamt about…but you will all have the opportunity to make a difference in our world, be an agent for change, help your neighbor, and listen to those who have a different view. Or hear the words of those who haven’t been heard. Take advantage of these moments.
“I came across part of an essay that was written on a storefront in downtown Portsmouth, NH on Marathon Monday 2013, a day we will always remember as greater Bostonians.
“Credit belongs to Dr. Bob Moorehead, former pastor of Seattle’s Overlake Christian Church. This essay appeared under the title “The Paradox of Our Age.”
“‘The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
‘‘‘Spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. Remember, to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember to say “I Love You”. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.’
“Although this was written before you were born I am confident you all will be a generation that will heal this paradox not only by creating what is next but also by leading with your heart and with others in mind.
“I have said this all year… Our students’ success will not depend on their transcript alone, but on their ability to communicate effectively, collaborate inclusively, treat people with kindness, build and sustain relationships through empathy, acceptance, and appreciation. You have exemplified these qualities time and time again….you are the people that we need to lead our world.”