Foran graduates advised to use their voices and to speak out

As 237 Foran High School seniors on Thursday night prepared to graduate from the halls of high school to the “real world,” Class Salutatorian Mark Duffy told them to remember to use their voices and to speak out.

Mark, number two in the class with a 4.38 grade point average, has worked part time at ShopRite as he pursued his studies and a list of extracurricular activities. It was there, in the “real world,” that he said he learned to use his voice.

“I knew that store inside and out,” Mark said. “I knew every policy and every protocol. With this strong, newfound voice came the ability to make compromise, the ability to be more sympathetic to another’s needs, and the ability to alter a customer’s negative experience for the better.”

With experience, Mark said, it becomes easier to use one’s voice for self-assertion, and he told his fellow graduates that voices “become our strongest instrument in the face of insecurity, timidness and self-doubt.”

He urged them to be confident in themselves, their abilities and their decisions, and to speak out about a cause, a person or a message if they believe in it strongly. He also told them not to fear saying “no.”

“‘No’ is not a confrontational word,” Mark said, “but rather a word that symbolizes your own self-awareness. On the surface, ‘no’ seems to represent missed opportunity, but in a different light, ‘no’ closes a door that was never meant to be opened.”

Mark, son of Judith and Mark Duffy, will attend Fordham University, and plans to major in journalism or political science.

Joseph Bartone, the class valedictorian, with a grade point average of 4.52, told his classmates that admitting they don’t know everything is the first step toward understanding life.

“You might laugh, but the truth that no sane teenager wants to admit is that we don’t know everything,” Joseph said. “We don’t have it all figured out, and we still have a long way to go. But recognizing this is the first step to having it all figured out.”

Learning will come from many sources, he said — college, jobs and experiences. Joseph urged his fellow graduates to never stop learning, growing and questioning the world. “As one of my favorite lesser known Marvel Comics superheroes, Beta Ray Bill, once said, ’If there is nothing but what we make in this world, brothers and sisters...let us make it good’.”

Joseph, son of Ronald and Catherine Bartone, will study robotics engineering and computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Under sunny skies Thursday, Foran High School Principal Max Berkowitz told the Class of 2016 that the future is bright because of the quality of the students in the class and he urged them to never lose confidence in themselves.

Class President Victor Rosado, son of Victor and Claribel Rosado, also spoke. Victor, who heads off to the University of New Haven to study national security, advised his fellow graduates not to fear change or failure.

Victor quoted Winston Churchill when he said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”