WWOBURN - Gathering at Connolly Stadium under near-perfect skies, the panel of student speakers representing the Class of 2019 yesterday impelled their peers to endure the adversity of change by embracing the comfort of family, friends, and community.
On Sunday afternoon, 358 WMHS seniors celebrated the end of their public school experience by launching a spiraling streak of black mortar-board caps over the main field at Connolly Stadium, where proud relatives and guests enjoyed a comfortable partly-sunny day with early springlike temperatures of 63 degrees.
In his introductory remarks, Class President Robert Concannon, reflecting on the almost surreal experience of celebrating his final hour as a WMHS student, told his classmates that the gravity of the moment revealed to him the wisdom in cliche expressions about "time flying by".
However, looking back on his chaotic first days as freshman in high school, Concannon remembered the experiencing of time so much differently.
Upon that reflection, the class president concluded he and his peers were able to endure that whirlwind of anxiety-provoking change by leaning upon one another.
"It doesn't seem long ago that we entered, and got lost, in WMHS as beady-eyed freshmen ready to take on the world," he said. "[L]ook around to your left and to your right. Odds are the friendly faces which surround you are the same faces which have surrounded you since middle school at the Kennedy and Joyce or even your elementary school."
"As we all may have taken this for granted, take a minute to reflect on all the passing smiles…The people that surround us now have all been a crucial piece in our puzzle of successes. Appreciate them," Concannon furthered. "It is these friendly faces which served as our saving grace on the awful first Monday mornings in first period."
Embracing similar themes, WMHS Class of 2019 co-Salutatorian Amelia Rycroft acknowledged how the hardships of high school life, though frightening to endure at times, had pushed all 358 graduates towards self-growth and fulfillment.
According to Rycroft, the WMHS seniors almost certainly would have never flourished so much without the loving prodding of the larger community, which included not only close friends, but scores of teachers, relatives, and school administrators.
"We learned that the hardships we encountered along the way didn't define us as individuals, but instead pushed us on in the direction of measurable growth and development. The evolution of our adventure and Woburn High would not be possible without an incredible support system for which we all owe our deepest gratitude," said the class salutatorian.
"We are surrounded by so many people today who want to see us flourish as adults. Whether the task at hand is big or small, always strive toward your fullest potential, because I know you are all capable of accomplishing amazing things," Rycroft added.
Looking ahead, co-Salutatorian Robert Bourque insisted that the Class of 2019 can now always reference their high school experience when facing the challenges of tomorrow.
Also recalling his ability to withstand the stressful challenges of change over the past four years, the WMHS speaker echoed his peers' view that the comfort of community proved the difference-maker.
"Today is definitely chaotic. We are graduating from high school. I'm sure I can speak for the Class of 2019, when I say that is very scary. But, Woburn High has been a great place to learn that you can find joy in chaos," said Bourque.
"Maybe it's from a friend, a teammate, a coach, a teacher, or a staff member," he continued. "All of those people are part of a cohesive community that, by the end of the day, gives you something that makes you even a little bit happier."
In his concluding remarks, WMHS Valedictorian Chris Chalmers urged his peers to be flexible in the face of change, even if the events that precipitate those seasons of upheaval threaten the most calculated plans.
"Change is terrifying of course, but it is necessary," the Class of 2019 valedictorian conceded. "From at-first daunting changes in our lives, we gained new perspective and reached new potentials. When I was 5, I dreamed to be a truck driver. Over time, my ideas transformed, and with it my motives."
"As we move onto the next chapter in our lives, and face all the new obstacles of the new world, it's okay if your goals change. You may have the details of your future meticulously planned out, or you may have absolutely no idea what you're going to do. No matter what, when life changes, don't be afraid to change your goals to," he later advised.