Foran High School Principal Max Berkowitz told the Class of 2019 to be themselves as they head out into the world.
Quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, Berkowitz said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
He told the class of about 225 graduates that Emerson’s words about individuality are as important now as they ever were.
“Realizing who you are and finding your true self is a timeless and universal theme,” Berkowitz said. “In the complicated world we live in today, one filled with messages telling you what to think, how to live, how to look, and who to be, it’s important to remember that you decide who you are based on your own personal feelings, goals and values.”
The Class of 2019 graduated in the gymnasium Monday, June 10, due to rain. An overflow crowd was able to watch the graduation live-streamed in the auditorium.
Valedictorian Tessa Malesky referenced the weather in her speech, saying it rained for homecoming, ring dance, prom and now graduation.
But she told her fellow graduates not to let the weather, or other setbacks, get them down.
“Try to make the best of every situation, and be excited for new opportunities no matter how daunting they might seem,” Tessa said. “Fear does not have the power to control you. Nothing has the power to control you unless you allow it to.”
She also told the class not to let other people’s views change them, and to excel even if others think they cannot. She dared them to take chances and do things that scare them, and to try to make a difference in the world.
“If you have become fearful of some of the bad things happening in this world, then choose to be one of the good, and choose to make an impact,” she said.
Tessa will attend the University of Connecticut in the fall where she plans to study biology.
Class Salutatorian Dean Vogel said his eighth grade math teacher once told him he had what it takes to be valedictorian of his high school class. Dean got a laugh out of the audience when he said salutatorian is “close enough.”
He advised the class to look at their four years at Foran High School as a stepping stone, a gateway to their futures and their potential as they head off to college, the military or trade school.
“As long as we spend our lives working toward our own goals and passions, we are unquestionable successes,” Dean said.
Dean will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the fall, where he plans to study computer science.
Michael Melillo, class president, started off the speeches at Monday’s graduation ceremony with words of endearment for Foran High School, the place where he said he got to grow up and become the person he wanted to become.
He left his classmates with words of advice, things he’s learned as he’s matured in high school, including being patient, forgiving and brave, and reminding them as they head off into the world that “nobody’s perfect.”