Onto the next chapter

A DAY TO REMEMBER - The Burlington High School Class of 2019 celebrated their graduation Sunday afternoon on Varsity Field with 249 students receiving diplomas. Here, seniors celebrate by throwing their caps into the air after closing ceremonies. (Bob DeChiara Photography)

BURLINGTON – Sunshine, smiles, and jubilation filled Varsity Field Sunday afternoon as the Burlington High School Class of 2019 celebrated their graduation.

Principal Mark Sullivan commended the graduating class on their achievements and encouraged the students with some constructive and positive advice, in addition to thanking those who helped them reach this point.

“Remember to take with you and continue the values and the character traits that you have been taught,” Sullivan told the students, as he asked them to always respect others. “As you set on the next phase of your life, please take some time to thank those who have helped you get here, like your families and instructors. Take some time to thank them for the support and encouragement that they have given you.”

Principal Sullivan spoke to the students about staying invested from within so they can do great things in the future.

“Believe in yourself and become a lifelong learner,” he said. “Investing in yourself will pay dividends in the future.”

He told the students to “never give up” and “always believe in yourself.” He concluded his words by thanking the students for the last four years.

“You have set yourselves apart and it has been my pleasure to be with you these last four years,” Principal Sullivan remarked. “It has been my honor and I wish you nothing but the best.”

School Supt. Dr. Eric Conti’s remarks had a familiar theme that focused on gratitude interwoven, specifically emphasizing the generosity of the community, teachers, and parents to ensure students in Burlington get a satisfactory education and life.

“The wide possibility of opportunities you have experienced in Burlington are not by accident. The generosity of the community of Burlington has been aimed at keeping a spark in each of you. Please recognize this commitment and know that many anonymous residents and businesses contributed to this day,” Dr. Conti said of the community.

Dr. Conti extolled the teachers who have guided the students to the best of their ability.

“School buildings and programs are empty promises without the many talented professionals who facilitated your learning throughout your years in Burlington. Teachers ranging from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, sports coaches, and administrators have all performed tirelessly to arm you with the ability to think independently and to better serve the constantly changing world. It can’t be recognized enough, so please take the time to thank them,” applauded Dr. Conti.

The superintendent articulated the importance of parents in the life of a student.

“I will never be able to capture all that your parents have given to you and will continue to provide. I do want to highlight the incredible gift they gave you 18 years ago – your name. You will all be taking this name out into the larger world. While you always will encounter many situations beyond your control, you will always control how you respond to these situations. The adjectives that get attached to your name are up to you. Don’t make the mistake of taking your name for granted. You are all named with unconditional love and hope for your future. I, for one, can’t wait to read the words attached to your names as you continue to accomplish great things,” Dr. Conti concluded.

Encapsulating the Class of 2019

Class President Michael Winters speech touched on being thankful of the memories and long-lasting friendships, as well as being excited for the future.

“Despite the good times and joyous memories we are leaving behind today, what lies before us is far more exciting. We are aspiring entrepreneurs, dedicated engineers, honorable members of the military, and industrious tradesmen. We are the future, BHS, and I have no doubt that each and every one of us has the potential to achieve our dreams, the potential to change the world,” Winter read. “How can we measure our time at BHS? We could measure it in semesters, grades, or hours spent in assemblies, but I encourage you all to measure it differently. Measure it in the friendships you have made and the bonds you have created. We have all been fortunate enough to spend the last four years surrounded by such amazing people and that is something we have all taken for granted.”

Winters concluded, expressing how fortunate he is to have graduated with the Class of 2019.

“Regardless of where my future takes me, I’ll consider myself lucky to be surrounded by as many friends as I am today. To everyone that has crossed my path here at Burlington, thank you. It truly pains me to see all of you moving on with your lives and to have to say goodbye, but I wish you nothing but the best of luck. Eventually, time will pass and these memories will fade, but there is one thing I will never forget: all of you,” said a heartfelt Winters.

Valedictorian Gati Aher reminded her fellow classmates to take full advantage of life and conquer challenges that can change the world.

“We have seen and heard many such stories of people doing things that make a difference. Soon, we are going to join them—no longer just mere observers, but active adventurers in humanity’s saga,” Aher said with conviction. “In a few short years, we will be creating work that amounts to more than a letter grade in aspen. We will be measured by the novelty of our ideas, the strength of our beliefs, and the impact of our actions. Our changing world will blur the lines between disciplines and enable our journeys to have more possible paths than ever before. We will inspire and be inspired, spark revolutions in every field, at every level, or solve problems that haven’t even been discovered yet. Each of us will definitely add something unique to the human experience.”

Aher finished her speech by again asking the Class of 2019 to take advantage of their God-given skills.

“Ponder your powers, the gifts you were born with and the skills you will keep building in your journey through education, work, and all the random opportunities that will come your way, and ask yourself, what is the world you want to create?” exhorted Aher.

Salutatorian Kristina Wolinski finished the ceremony by prompting her fellow classmates to be thankful of those who helped them get to graduation, including themselves.

“I think it is important for us to give ourselves credit for the individual hard work, the late nights, the stress and the successes that we have experienced to get here today. The journey to get to this day was not always easy, but we have persevered and arrived. Likewise, it is just as important for us to acknowledge the people in our lives who made it possible for us to get here. We sit here because of the parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, and Burlington community who invested in us and supported us throughout the most formative years of our lives,” Wolinsky praised. “But, I believe the people who deserve our thanks the most are the people sitting on either side of and all around us. Class of 2019, let’s take a moment to look around. In these seats are so much more than just our classmates. In these seats are the people who, for the last four years, have inspired us, supported us, turned in far too many 11:59pm papers with us, pushed us to dream big and encouraged us every step of the way. In these seats are the graduates of today and the thinkers and the artists, the service members and the scientists, the dreamers and the leaders of tomorrow. I am incredibly grateful to have grown up with you all, and I can’t wait to live in a future shaped by your visions, solutions, creations, and dreams.”

A total of 249 students graduated in the Class of 2019.

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