Foran's graduates counted on to make the world a better place

With the country struggling with political unrest and gun violence, Foran High School’s principal and class president, as well as the school superintendent, are counting on the graduating Class of 2018 to go out and make the world a better place.

Class President Matthew Kennedy, who will head to George Mason University to study international government and politics in the fall, was one of several speakers who addressed the graduating class during commencement exercises Tuesday at Foran High School. Matthew quoted Barack Obama, saying, “Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.”

Matthew told his classmates that there is no mountaintop and there is no highest level, that there is no cap on their individual success.

“We’re a new generation, we’re not baby boomers, we’re not millennials, we are our own generation,” he said, telling them that they live in a challenging world that needs their attention and action.

“There is division, distrust and ever-growing debates,” Matthew told his fellow graduates, before quoting Bobby Kennedy, who once said, “We have to make a supreme effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand to go beyond these rather difficult times.”

Principal Max Berkowitz continued the theme when he talked to the students about their new day, one that has arrived after much work in school, but still with much work to be done.

“The world needs you right now,” Berkowitz said. “It needs people like you who can lead in tribute and stand up for what they believe in. It needs people who can make a positive difference and bring people together. As you go forward, step up and fight for what is right. Advocate for the causes you feel passionate about and continue to show compassion, kindness and respect to others.”

The principal said he is confident the Class of 2018 can make a difference because he has seen their integrity and good characters.

School Supt. Dr. Elizabeth Feser thanked the community and the students for their support, as she prepares to retire from her position July 31. She told the students that she and they have something in common: Leaving the Milford school system and taking new paths.

She advised them to learn from their failures, telling them when she was a senior in high school, she failed pre-calculus, receiving her first failing grade ever.

“I was absolutely devastated,” she said.

Feser said she could do the math, but she couldn’t do it as fast as the other students or as fast as the teacher required.

But that failure helped shape her, she said, explaining that when she became a teacher, she was far more sensitive to students struggling to learn.

“Know that you will make mistakes and you will fail at some things,” she said. “Though it’s hard to pull oneself up from it, it is imperative that you do so because you will be better for it.”

She also told the graduates to determine the kind of person they want to be, and reminded them that from kindergarten on they have been taught to be respectful, kind and to care for one another.

“Hopefully you will carry these precepts with you and elevate them further within yourself,” Feser said. “We desperately need a kinder world, a world in which we are mindful of one another, a world in which all people, all individuals are respected and treated humanely.”

Foran’s Class of 2018 valedictorian is Geroan DeGuzman, who will study neuroscience at Yale University in the fall. A student and athlete, Geroan started several new clubs at Foran and participated in many community service projects, here and across the Eastern Seaboard, Feser said in introducing him at graduation.

Geroan quoted Walt Whitman during his speech Tuesday night: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine — and shadows will fall behind you.”

He told the graduating class not to let their doubts prevent them from achieving their goals.

“To let an opportunity pass out of fear that you may not be good enough, or that you may not be qualified, is to guarantee that your own dreams slip out of reach.

“Remember to keep your face toward the sunshine,” he said again, “and you can trust that the shadows will always remain one step behind.”

Class Salutatorian Sarah Kummer, a top student and an athlete, also performed community service and worked a part time job during high school, Feser said in introducing her.

Sarah will attend Gettysburg College, studying psychology, economics and mathematics.

Admitting she dreaded giving a speech because she doesn't like to draw attention to herself, Sarah left her fellow classmates with a bit of advice from the movie character Ferris Bueller.

She said that while he wasn’t the most studious person, he offered great advice that they should all heed: “Life moves pretty fast,” she said. “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”