Published in the June 15, 2017 edition

Members of the North Reading High School Class of 2017 make their way into their commencement ceremony last Friday evening.  (John Friberg photo)

Members of the North Reading High School Class of 2017 make their way into their commencement ceremony last Friday evening. (John Friberg photo)

NORTH READING – The members of North Reading High School’s Class of 2017 held their commencement ceremony last Friday evening, with 186 students graduating.

In his opening remarks to the graduates, Principal Anthony Loprete said that some of them had adopted the phrase “The ‘90s saved the best for last” about their age group. Loprete said that the phrase does seem to have a deeper meaning as the students begin to establish clearer identities for themselves.

“There are real challenges ahead, regardless of what lies of ahead of you and where you go, of that there is little doubt. But remember this… not money nor power nor fame nor friends, can carry you as far as your integrity. Be resolute, steadfast; created by pressure and heat, but able to bond and connect, to construct and create,” said Loprete.

In his own opening remarks to the students, Superintendent Jon Bernard cited U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven, who advised University of Texas students during a 2014 speech to “make your bed” as a way to start the day with some sort of small achievement. “If, after all, as McRaven notes, we are unable to tackle the simple things in life, then the more complex challenges certainly will be less likely to be completed to an acceptable level of satisfaction,” said Bernard.

Students also heard from the three class honor essayists and their class essayist.

“The past four years have shaped us more than anything before that. We have changed each other, helped each other, failed together, and prevailed together. Each of us defined by the friends that sit around us,” said Vitaly Andrusyshyn, who graduated first in his class.

Honor essayist Logan Stansbury told classmates he would not trade the experiences he had with them for anything. “From watching our sports teams make deep runs in the tournaments to hiding together at parties that I was most definitely not at, these experiences have shaped us and brought us closer. Although I know I will see my close friends when I come back, it is my classmates who I admire that I will not see again that makes me sad,” said Stansbury, who is heading to West Point later in the summer.

Fellow honor essayist Andrew Shedd told the gathering that his hours spent working and studying had been key to his speaking before classmates at graduation. “The most successful people, from professional athletes to business people, say they weren’t the most talented people they competed against, but owe their success to working harder than everyone else to achieve,” said Shedd.

Class essayist Claire Bailey started off asking everybody to put away their electronic devices. “Whether you are going to college, the armed forces, or the work force, put down that phone,” said Bailey. “You do not need to be shielded by a dog face filter to make friends. Put your true unfiltered self out there, the world is just waiting to get to know the real you.”