Published in the June 10, 2016 edition
MELROSE — The Melrose High Class of 2016 took the next step in life as members graduated last Friday during ceremonies at Fred Green Memorial Field.
On a beautiful night, the 232 graduates were given diplomas by a slew of presenters and heard speeches from a top academic achiever, their class president, Melrose High Principal Marianne Farrell and others.
Madeleine Carbonneau gave the academic address, in which she praised educators in Melrose.
“The class of 2016 has many academic accomplishments,” Carbonneau said. “When we entered MHS as Freshmen, 100 students were taking AP classes. This year that number has risen to 300 students. The number and percentage of qualifying scores on AP tests has consistently increased throughout our time at MHS. And while this expansion of course offerings may not be solely responsible, the Class of 2016 has been very successful in gaining admission to some of the area’s most competitive colleges and universities in what by many measures has been the most competitive college admissions year in history of academic institutions in the US.
“The introduction of challenging AP and other courses does not happen overnight or without the investment of our teachers. We have been the beneficiaries of inspired teachers whose goal has been to provide us with the greatest possible academic opportunity. These teachers work tirelessly because they believe that education is and should always be our birthright.
“Despite these investments and expanded opportunity for academic development, there remains a deficit of academic spirit in the student body. For most of us, lunch is our favorite class of the day. It seems that members of the student body shy away from their own intellect. After four years here at MHS, I have several theories explaining why.
“Firstly, school can be hard and unfortunately, the human condition dictates that we shy away from difficulty instead of embracing it. Thomas Edison himself was called “too stupid to learn anything” while he was in school. Perhaps, Edison’s academic shortcomings were not a result of inability, but rather his disinterest in everything that was not physics or chemistry. However, this does not change the fact that some things taught in school were hard even for Edison.
“Secondly, we live in a culture where academic interest is often a social liability. For those of you unfamiliar with the term ‘try-hard,’ a ‘try-hard’ is quite literally someone who tries hard to excel. The try-hard label can extend to anything: academics, sports, appearance but regardless it is not intended to be a compliment. Too often a lack of effort leading to failure or mediocrity is viewed as ‘cool.’ While some overcome the social challenge associated with this labeling, you don’t have to be Freud to understand that others will stop a behavior when it results in peer criticism and ridicule.
“Thirdly, there is a broader cultural devaluation of intellectualism. We live in a world that often regards ‘academic’ or ‘intellectual’ as a pejorative. We consider intellectuals and academics to be a group of indulgent and elite thinkers who avoid action. We consider them impractical, unrealistic and idealistic. But the truth is academics are far more varied than the white-haired people sitting around a parlor coffee table analyzing Proust. Academics does not mean we study something instead of acting. Academics means we study something before acting, thus building on the knowledge of our predecessors and avoiding their mistakes. The truth is we all are or have the potential to be academics. If you have ever wondered why the sky is blue, you are an academic. If you have ever gotten joy from discovering a paradox, you are an academic. If you have ever wondered why a cockroach can live for weeks with their heads cut off, you are an academic. If you have ever tried to count the number of stars in the night sky, you are an academic. If you have ever wondered why the world keeps on spinning after you’ve stopped turning in circles, you are an academic. It is this unquenchable curiosity that motivates the pursuit of truth and leads us to new discoveries that shape the world.
“Class of 2016, we are moving onto Chapter 2 today. The majority of us are moving onto further academic challenges. The stakes are much higher and costs much greater than many of us realized during our time at MHS. It’s time to embrace difficulty and not fear labeling because of it. It’s time to discover or rediscover our inner academic. We all have curiosities. Those curiosities may be challenging and they may be unpopular but don’t shy away from them or hide them under a cloak of apathy.
“Ask questions and search for answers. Find answers that will only make you ask more questions. Put both your mind and heart into your discoveries. Find something that will make you want to stay up all night working. But then don’t, because you need sleep. Find your own truth, because that is really what academic pursuit is. Study what you love, love what you study and please try hard!”
In his address, Andrew Fox, president of the Class of 2016, said, “The Class of 2016 has built an unbreakable sense of community, which is what held up when ‘the worst of times’ came thrice this year.
“We lost three beautiful people (Mr. Moss, Mrs. Seeley and) and the most beautiful soul I ever knew, Rob Davey, left us in January. Words cannot describe our devastation at these monumental losses. We were sad, we were angry, we wanted to know why
“Why did these beautiful people have to be ripped from us?
“We will never have the answer to that question, but I could not have been more proud of how the graduates in front of me reacted.”
Auriana Anderson, a product of the city’s METCO program, congratulated all those in the class and then mentioned fellow METCO students who will be attending some fine colleges in the fall.
“We have strived for success, and we are making it. Nobody can hold us back. It was a struggle for all of us coming to Melrose every morning. There were those mornings, every METCO student has experienced, the ones when you get up late and run for your life hoping to catch the school bus, and still you miss it. Then you stare at the bus as it leaves you, with a blank face, empty inside and then you do that walk of shame all the way home to either go to sleep to try again tomorrow or beg for a ride to school. Your Mom or Dad tells you to get your butt on the train and get to school. Sometimes – even when we made it to school without the bus drama, the door closest to the bus drop off was locked and we were forced to walk around the WHOLE BUILDING no matter the weather. It was as if they didn’t know that the METCO students have been coming in that way at that time for years, but it’s cool. Hopefully that will change.”
In her farewell address, Natalie Brogan said, “While this year was the year of lasts, today, June 3, 2016 marks years of beginnings. We can now enter our future whatever it may be, with confidence that Melrose has instilled within us. After we walk across this stage, I have faith in the fact that each one of us has a bright future ahead. So as we say farewell to Melrose, MHS, and to each other, keep in mind how we measure our time here, and all of the memories we have to do so. Remember where we came from, and how we got to be here today. Thank your parents for all their support, thank your teachers for believing in you, and thank each other, for making our experiences in Melrose truly wonderful.
“Congratulations class of 2016. We made it.”
Yes they did.