As the opening strings of “I Feel Pretty,” floated throughout DAR Constitution Hall on Thursday, June 22, family members of graduating Wakefield High School students excitedly whispered amongst one another as they awaited the processional of their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.
At 8 p.m., the moment arrived, and the beaming graduates, dressed in green robes with yellow trim, made their way down the aisles in time to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Principal Doris Jackson introduced the eight class valedictorians, class president, members of the school board, Assistant Superintendent Meg Tuccillo, and Superintendent Dr. Robert Smith, all of whom were seated center stage.
Dr. Smith proceeded to make the welcome remarks, noting that, “by anyone’s reckoning, it’s been a great year.” He went on to list the plethora of achievements accomplished by Wakefield this past year, including three Cappies for "The Wiz" and being named as one of the schools in the top 1 percent of high schools by Newsweek.
CLASS PRESIDENT Josmin Khatun, who has held the position for the past three years, gave an engaging speech stressing how important Wakefield High School became to them over their four years, describing it as a place where “… teachers become lifelong friends, the ‘pal’ in ‘principal’ is highly evident … and everything just feels like home.”
With a rousing “Class of 2006, we’re graduating … Cuz that’s how we roll,” Khatun ended her farewell speech to thundering applause.
Faculty speaker and Assistant Principal Christian Willmore was introduced by Principal Jackson; this was the first year a graduating class had voted for a member of the administration as faculty speaker.
Willmore began by admitting four years ago, he was probably just as intimidated, if not more, as the seniors upon his arrival to Wakefield. Yet, he said, “…we all figured it out, and now here we are.”
He enumerated the lessons he hoped the graduates would take away with them, urging them to set high goals for themselves and reach them and to always surround themselves with a support network, before going on to reflect upon their future contributions to the world.
Willmore named specific students, predicting what field they would make their mark, whether it would be sports, theater, volunteering, military services, or politics — at this he paused to say, “Monica, I’ll vote for you when you run for President,” a statement that was received by great cheers. Willmore concluded by emphasizing the importance of treating others with respect and leading a life of integrity, reminding the graduates that “What you do is important, but how you do what you do is just as important.”
The valedictorian speeches were next, given by Daniel Letchev (“Reflections”), Laura Downes (“Today”), and Claire Allen (“Looking Ahead”). The three speeches all made the point of how Wakefield had changed them for the better, providing them with the tools needed to face the real world, in keeping with the school’s motto of sic semper tyrannis.
Allen brought her speech to an end by saying they were all currently “at the turn-it-around bend to face the beautiful future,” and she promised to “see you all again, wherever our paths next cross.”
The Wakefield High School Choir then sang a selection from "RENT," entitled “Seasons of Love,” and audience members clapped along to the song.
Principal Jackson praised the chorus for a job well done, telling them that next year the “challenge is to maintain the excellence Mr. Salvatierra has led you to.” Michael Salvatierra, the director of the choir is leaving Wakefield to be a missionary in Peru.
WITH HER closing remarks, Principal Jackson advised her graduating seniors to “never stop learning” and “make the world a better place because you were in it.”
Without failing to keep up the tempo of the exuberant ceremony, she ended by saying the graduates would finally be presented with the “small passport” to get them started on their journey — their diplomas.
The presentation of the diplomas followed, the valedictorians and class president being called first. With the spirited applause for Cesar Rojas and the little hop-step dance performed by William Lopez upon receiving his diploma, the entire momentous occasion took place under the watchful eyes of the two golden eagles on either side of the stage at DAR Constitution Hall.
As they filed out, enthusiastic to embark upon their journey into the real world, Wakefield’s graduating class was certainly feeling pretty, they were definitely full of pomp and circumstance, and of course, they felt the love, because, by anyone’s reckoning, it was quite the ceremony.