By: Riley McKenna
On Saturday, June 1, the 153rd annual Arlington High School graduation took place for the Class of 2019. Flowers were set up next to the podium where students and staff delivered speeches. The graduates’ seats were facing the bike path, where curious passersby stopped to watch.
The first couple of hours started out warm but ended with heavy wind. Excited family members and friends gathered on the bleachers, balloons and flowers in hand. As people arrived, the Arlington High School Band (directed by Sabatino D’Agostino) played music until 3:00, when the event started.
The graduates began walking onto the turf after Paul McKnight, the Master of Ceremonies and dean of the Collomb house, welcomed everyone. The graduates were dressed in maroon caps and gowns and walked in pairs. They were led by Bagpiper Hamish Blackman. Once they sat down, the Arlington Police Department Honor Guard performed the presentation of Colors. Raising the American and Massachusetts flags high in the air, they walked down the aisle.
Before leaving, the band performed the National Anthem. McKnight then thanked the graduation coordinator Joanna Begin and volunteers who helped out with the event. He also wished all of the Arlington graduates a future full of “success and happiness.” McKnight then introduced the Principal of Arlington High, Dr. Matthew Janger. Janger thanked all of the students, families, administrators, volunteers, and teachers who had helped out with the ceremony. He talked about the important and valuable “knowledge, memories, and relationships” that he hopes the graduates took away from their time at AHS.
Class secretary Julia Alesse presented the elementary and middle school appreciation awards. She thanked them and added, “We couldn’t have done it without you.” Alyssa Frank from Bishop School, Colleen Gorman from Brackett School, Adriane DiPasquale form Dallin School, Laurie Johnstone from Hardy School, Christina Perkoski from Pierce School, Janet Satlak-Mott from Stratton School, Siobhan Foley from Thompson School, and Nanta Hardesty from Ottoson Middle School were all awarded.
Leonard Kardon, chair of the Arlington school committee, then gave a speech congratulating the graduates, telling them, “Arlington is very proud of you.” Dr. Kathleen Bodie, superintendent of schools, stepped up to the podium to acknowledge the school’s staff and recognize the accomplishments and contributions the class of 2019 gave to AHS.
The speeches then took a pause as the AHS Madrigal singers and Rhythm Section stepped up to perform “When Your Mind Is Made Up”, arranged by graduate Ben Horsburgh. After the concluding applause, Class President Neil Tracey took the podium. He talked about his memories of the Jason Russell House bullet holes and how the town of Arlington is made up of revolutionaries because of how much we’ve learned. He said that the class of 2019 is “not a passive community” because of all of the revolutionaries who are part of it.
Lucia Voges, President of the Student Council, came up after Tracey, stating that she “realized how similar adults living in Arlington were to kids” after spending time on the Arlington List, a Facebook page for the people of Arlington. Both generations had similar disagreements, problems, questions, and reactions, mainly involving politics that concern her about what future life will be like outside of Arlington. She left the podium declaring, “there are things in life that do not involve politics” and she hopes we can remember that.
Next, Faculty speaker Timothy Marten, introduced by Isabella Dray, commenced his speech with a story about his first day teaching at AHS. He related the nervous feelings he had to all of the students’ nervous feelings from when they started high school as freshmen. He talked about perseverance and getting through difficult times by comparing a bike ride in a blizzard to high school for the graduates. With great applause, he ended his speech by announcing, “don’t make your lives small to avoid these feelings- step right into their path.”
The first honors speaker was graduate Maggie Horgan. She discussed the frequently asked questions concerning the new AHS that will be built in the upcoming years. She also defined “our” AHS as the school with the flooded bathrooms, broken computers, and stinky hallways. She also explained how the new building will never be “ours” because of all the special experiences that occurred in the current school. The second honors speaker was Joey Dalton who gave a speech describing the accomplishments of the Class of 2019, what he and the other graduates will miss, and his thoughts about moving on. He also asked the audience to “remember to be positive, show grace, and stay kind.”
After an introduction by McKnight, Janger and Kardon handed out the diplomas. AHS dean Veronica Tivnan and William McCarthy read off the names. After the diplomas had been handed out to each of the graduates, Tracey presented the class gift and farewell. He stated that the class of 2019’s gift will be a fund to help build the new AHS and to “create a depiction and commemoration of the current high school.” Tracey then invited all of the graduates to move their tassels to the left side of their caps. The graduates then excitedly threw their caps in the air.
After the ceremony concluded, family, friends, and graduates crowded together on the turf to celebrate. Hats and sashes lay on the ground and on chairs, pictures were taken and hugs were given. The ceremony was described by a friend of one of the graduates as “an all-around good graduation” and “really inspiring.”