WMHS CLASS OF 2022 graduates toss their caps in the air at the conclusion of Saturday’s commencement exercises ay Landrigan Field. (Mark Sardella Photo)

WAKEFIELD — Under a perfect sky, 236 seniors graduated from Wakefield Memorial High during the Class of 2022’s commencement exercise Saturday morning at Landrigan Field.

From  Sucdi Warsame Abdullahi to Ethan Joseph Zall, this year’s graduates celebrated their achievement before family and friends. The beautiful weather set a fitting scene for a group of young adults who have endured much during most of their high school careers; halfway though their sophomore year, the world was hit by COVID-19.

The Class of 2022 heard a variety of speakers during the ceremony before taking life’s next step.

Class President Elizabeth Stevens said in her welcoming address that she and her peers “have not had the easiest of times these past few years. And yet, we’re all here.

“It’s been a long ride. There’s been pit stops. There’s been flat tires. And there’s been road blocks. We’ve been pulled over, we’ve run out of gas. But we buckle up. We refuel. And we keep going.”

Class Essayist Zachariah Baumhardt, who also made the morning announcements at the high school, said, “Now I may be known to most of you as just the announcements guy but believe it or not I do have other passions outside of doing the morning announcements. As some of you may know, I am the president of the Theater Department here at Wakefield and I have been acting for most of my life. Now there are two things that I’d like to talk about today that I have learned from acting over the years and they are perspective and love. I know these are very broad terms and I don’t personally claim to have mastery over them, but these are two ideas that I think we need to be reminded of as we are pondering our futures here today.

“Perspective and love, two things not typically talked about in these kinds of speeches and I think we can all think of the stereotypical speech which is often framed around hard work and effort. These speeches never stuck with me and to be honest with you, I’m not the hardest worker and while I don’t disagree that these things are crucial to success, I think that they are often overstated. With this being the case, more unquantifiable things like perspective and love are forgotten in a world where status is measured by wealth. In our success-fueled society, our world is often too focused on that one goal of success. Now don’t take my words the wrong way, I am not telling you to all stop pursuing success and wealth, I am merely pointing out the fact that there is more to life than climbing the ladder of your chosen field.

“Now how does this tie into my theater experience? You may be asking yourself, well as you know theater is all about portraying someone other than yourself. That takes a level of perspective that aims to understand another on a personal level to the point that you are able to authentically act as that person. Not only that but you also have to have authentic relationships with fellow actors portraying other roles. Due to the intimate nature of having to tap into deep emotions, and understand another perspective on a deep level, theater teaches the importance of human connection and understanding.

“Having respect and understanding for another person’s perspective is part of what makes us human. But the technological world is making that genuine connection fragmented and selective to the point that online interactions are more often negative than positive. We have come to hate those with perspectives that are adjacent to ours. Now obviously I’m not trying to say that you all have to agree with other people’s opinions but it is the understanding of the other side that is lost on a lot of people today. You don’t need me to tell you that we live in a hate filled world and if there is one thing that I want to see this class do, it’s spread love.

“As the next generation it is soon to become our world to manage. We are about to hold more power as we embark into the future, soon we will no longer be a bunch of teenagers asking for change, but the leaders who can instill that change first hand. I hope that the future leaders of our class will remember perspective and love as they push us towards a brighter future.

“Now I’m not trying to advise you to all become saints and love everybody you meet, but with a little love and understanding we can remove some of the hate in our world little by little. I hope that what I have said today will stick with you at least a little / but from what I have seen of this class, it’s clear that we have the drive and conviction to make a great change.

“And it’s not an easy thing to wake up and change the world, but I know we can do it. All it takes is a little love and understanding. Thank you and, as I would say on the announcements, have a Super Saturday.”

Valedicatorian Donald Dubuque said, “I am glad to have the privilege of being able to say I graduated with you all, especially given how our high school experience was anything but routine. I’m sure all of the athletes in the crowd have been given the speech at one point or another about adversity and having to be able to rise above it. This idea of overcoming challenges is just as, if not more important, off the field as it is on. You don’t need me to tell you how difficult these past few years have been with the pandemic on top of the everyday challenges of being a teenager. What I do want to highlight is how we were able to overcome these challenges and make the most out of our time here.

“I think that most of us would agree that the hardest time we had as a class was the end of sophomore year and the beginning of junior year when we were all separated, had to learn remotely, and had limited or no ability to participate in extracurricular activities with our friends. This was a huge adjustment to make but the fact that you are all in this group in front of me means that we were all able to adapt and overcome these difficult circumstances. It may not have felt like it at the time sitting in your bedroom, living room, or even garage taking a math quiz on your computer at eight in the morning, but now that we are about to walk across the stage and get our diplomas, it was definitely worth it.

“While our time here was certainly more challenging than we would have imagined walking into school four years ago, that doesn’t mean we didn’t find ways to make it a great experience. Not to toot our own horn, but our class had a level of school spirit that has not been matched in years at Wakefield High. Whether it was storming the football field on Thanksgiving to celebrate beating Melrose, packing the Brawl In The Hall to watch the wrestling team, or driving out to Scituate to watch the basketball team, we certainly supported our sports teams and had plenty of success as well, exemplified by every spring sports making the State Tournament; good luck to you all in the upcoming weeks. This spirit however, extended past the courts and fields into the school. From pulling off the Senior Show to showing out for multiple Tropical Tuesdays throughout the year, the energy walking into the school was something special.

“While we are obviously going to remember the big moments like getting the diploma or the first day of every school year, the little memories that we made at Wakefield High and the quirks of the school itself are what truly made these four years so special. There are many memories we share unique to Wakefield High, from the first time going through Crash Corner, to rushing into the cafe on Mondays for the mashed potatoes and chicken, to tripping over a bucket collecting a leak in the ceiling in the history hall. Oh, actually based on the looks on your faces that last one might only have been me. I know that looking back on the good, the bad, and the embarrassing from my time at Wakefield High, I’m going to look fondly on the experiences that I had, and hope you all will do the same.

“But today isn’t just about looking back on the past, it is also about looking forward to what’s ahead. Many of us are going to college next year, many others are going into the workforce or armed forces. We will be doing all sorts of different things after we leave Landrigan today. I’ve heard throughout the past few years many comments from people who wish we could just have had a ‘normal’ high school experience, and I have been guilty of the same thing myself. No matter what we do in the future there are a few lessons that we can all take from these last few years of high school into the future. After missing out on a season of sports, performances, and other group’s activities, I learned to more fully appreciate the ability to participate in activities I truly enjoy. Learning how to go to school online taught us adaptability and making the best out of a difficult situation which are skills we can take with us the rest of our lives. I will never take going golfing with my friends or watching the Super Bowl with them for granted again. Ultimately even though I wish I had a ‘normal’ time in high school, I think that we will all be better off in the future based on the challenges we overcame.”

In his speech, Salutatorian Braden Carroll urged his classmates to stay true to themselves.

“I used to be a 14 year old boy, spewing nonsense out of my mouth. Not much has changed. But now I’ve been given the opportunity to spew that nonsense to all you lovely people. And as someone who likes to hear himself talk, I’m rather excited for the next 19 and a half minutes, and you’re forced to listen. But in the last 4 years, since my aforementioned discovery of prepubescent stupidity I’ve become at least slightly self-aware of just how little I know, and when I say little I really mean little. Any advice I might give would be completely and utterly useless if not detrimental. Instead, through many failures, I am really good at figuring out what not to do. Like plagiarism. With that said, here are my 7 deadly sins.

“Number 1: Indifference. I am quite the competitive person. To those who know me personally, I’m sure that comes as quite a shock. This competitive nature probably came from my desire to be better than my sister. Grades, sports, instruments…juggling, I pushed myself to be better. To be more. It is okay to care about something. Progress is achieved when people are pitted against each other. I implore each and every one of you to continue to strive to be better. Be better than the people who came before you, be better than the people on your left and your right. Be better than yourself just a day ago. Never stop trying to be better. My sister was 3rd in her class by the way.

“Number 2: Complacency. I could bore you with complex dissections of Shakespear’s Hamlet and his fatal flaw urging you to take action before it is too late. But that is unnecessary, not to mention an exceptional dull topic for a graduation speech. Don’t let your mind or your body sit still. Approach the world in new ways, view problems in a different light, start, pick up piano, learn sign language. Take risks. And if you fail, then you fail. All you have to do is try again, or start something new. It doesn’t matter what it is, just do it. There’s a lot worse things in life than failure. Like plagiarism

“Number 3: Apathy. You do not need to be happy all of the time. Honestly you shouldn’t be happy all of the time. Just like pain, we have many different emotions for a reason. You are a person and people have feelings. We make mistakes, and we start fights, and we want, and we take. We hurt because we want to be more. Want to be better. We feel angry at our own powerlessness to make change, and we feel guilt at the harm our actions have caused. Experience these emotions in their entirety. Use these negative feelings to improve, and to reflect. These feelings are there because you care about something, and they only make the happiness you feel later even more rewarding.

“Number 4: Incivility. Just don’t be obnoxious. That was all I had originally planned to say. But the more I think about it, the more difficult “not being obnoxious becomes.” People are weird. They have pet peeves and try as you might to be “vanilla” in order to appease all of them you’ll eventually come across someone who’s pet peeve is blandness. You don’t know what other people are going through and so you should try to be as nice as possible. But you also don’t know other people’s quirks and oddities. Aim to be respectful, but understand that not everyone is going to like you. And that okay, that’s their loss.

“Number 5: illiteracy. Please, I’m begging you, read books. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Jane Austene’s Pride and Prejudice, Theodor Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. All defining pieces of literature. Millennia of human advancement and knowledge have been stockpiled in books. Their impact is unquantifiably insightful. Plus they improve your vocabulary. It doesn’t matter what it is, please put down your phone and just read…it’ll make you smarter. You don’t have to like every book you read either. There’s a lot of them, you might find some wordy, or boring or just plain stupid. That’s alright, you’re free to read whatever you want. Just enjoy what you’re reading.

Number 6: Modesty. This one is kind of ironic considering that pride is one of the original 7 deadly sins because I’m still going to stick to my guns. Be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished. When you achieve something great, it is okay to recognize that you have achieved something great. When you succeed it is okay to recognize that you have succeeded. These successes come from hours and hours of accumulated hard work. Have some confidence in yourself. Have some pride in the work you are able to produce, in the skill it takes to do something or the dedication to stick with a passion. You are all great people who will do great things, it’s okay to be proud of yourselves.

“Number 7: Conformity. My name is Braden Carroll. Quite the frustrating name for someone who at times struggles to pronounce the phenom /r/. It took years of speech therapy to even get to where I am today, and even after all that work I will modify how I talk to avoid specific alphabetical symbols in the English lexicon. But as you can see, in avoiding the use of the letter “r” my message would often become muddled and incomprehensible, my intention misconstrued. My very identity has changed due to these struggles.

“So I leave this as my final warning. You are you. I’ve spent the last 19 and a half minutes telling you all the things you should and shouldn’t do. But that doesn’t mean you are always going to be able to follow them. You are you. You might fail thousands of times before you ever succeed. You are you. You might plagiarize at some point. You are you. That is because all you can be is you. Do not lose your identity.”

Sophie Brown, the Class of 2022’s treasurer, served as the mistress of ceremonies Saturday morning.

Class Vice President Aiva Barnard passed the school key to Haris Hodzic, president of the junior class.

Caroline Collins, class secretary, presented the Class Banner that she designed.

The always-impressive Wakefield Memorial High Band under the direction of Thomas Bankert performed the opening Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 as the Class of 2022 entered Landrigan Field.

Seniors in the WMHS Choral Department under the direction of Ana Morel performed “The Star Spangled Banner” as the ceremony got under way.

“Stand In The Light” was performed by class Essayist Zachariah Baumhardt, Kaitlin Patt, Thomas Mulcahy, Leo Kavanaugh and Zachary DeAngelis.

Diplomas were presented by Principal Amy McLeod, Supt. of Schools Doug Lyons, School Commmittee Chair Thomas Markham and class officers Stevens and Barnard.

The Wakefield Memorial High Band also played the recessional as members of the Class of 2022 left Landrigan Field for the last time as a full group, prepared for whatever awaits them..