Law graduates advised to speak up, make the most of their lives

Jonathan Law High School Principal Fran Thompson asked the graduating class of 2016 to consider three points as they head out into the world.

“Never forget where you came from,” he said, recalling the passing of two students during their years at Law: Maren Sanchez and Laura Gonzalez. The lives and deaths of those two young woman shaped the Law family, he said.

Next, he advised, “Get over yourselves. The world owes you nothing.”

Parents and family members in the audience cheered and applauded those words, and Thompson continued, adding that sometimes there is strength in numbers, such as when they grieved their losses together and when the community came to grieve with them.

Finally, he asked them to remember to always show gratitude.

Under sunny skies Friday, 220 Jonathan Law High School seniors graduated. Class speakers urged them to be true to themselves and to make each moment count.

Class Salutatorian Emma Shea, daughter of Mary and William Shea, told the class that she has been influenced by great authors, inspiring speakers, professional athletes, famous musicians and others. But she cautioned the class to be mindful of outside influences — to know when it is wise to follow the crowd and when they should “deviate from the norm.”

“Conforming in the classroom or during a private discussion can take place by outwardly agreeing, but it can also be nodding or even holding back your own opinion,” she said. “Although it may seem harmless, this compromise and compliance can pose a far greater threat than the courage to speak up.”

She encouraged them to voice their own beliefs, even if they are not popular.

Emma, with a grade point average of 4.61, will attend Rennsselaer Polytechnic in the fall.

Class Valedictorian Amitha Sastry, daughter of Poornima and Prasad Sastry, spoke about her friend Laura Gonzalez, who died unexpectedly last year. Amitha praised her friend’s passion and goals.

“Last year on this day, we lost a very special person,” Amitha said. “Laura Gonzalez, a friend to many, an inspiration to her peers, an asset to the community. She was an amazing girl with lofty goals and an admirable passion for everything she did.”

Amitha ranked number one in her class with a grade point average of 4.66, and she scored a perfect score of 800 on both the math and critical reading sections of the SAT.

“Truly stupendous,” said School Supt. Dr. Elizabeth Feser.

“In Sanskrit, Amitha’s name means ‘limitless’,” Dr. Feser said. “All evidence is telling me she is living up to her name.”

Amitha was accepted to Yale University, UCLA, UConn and Brown. She will attend Brown University in the fall, where she has been accepted to the Warren Alpert Medical School eight-year program.

Amitha encouraged her fellow graduates to make the most of their lives, to fill them up with memories.

She told the Class of 2016: “Make the next phase of your life so packed with experiences, emotions, and excitement, that when you’re sitting there, wondering if you’d ever be able to wrap it up, you stop and think — no. Not in a million years, not on a million pieces of paper. Take these years, and make them yours.”