Class of ’17 heads off to the future

June 11, 2017

Dominic Scott Testa was one of six Marblehead graduates who were recognized for going into the military.


It was an afternoon the 2017 graduates of Marblehead High School won’t forget.

The 279 graduates listened Sunday during commencement exercises as classmates called on graduates to build on the foundation they established throughout their school years.

“Kindness, Tolerance, and Empathy,” said Valedictorian Samantha Livermore. “You don’t need a college degree to be kind. You don’t need a social status to be tolerant. You don’t need wealth to be empathic. The way we choose to carry ourselves after this day is completely dependent of these factors.”

Those three themes were echoed among the speakers celebrating the classes’ growth.

Kindness was a special quality of the Class of 2017, said Class President Ilse Schaeffner. “We take notice of people around us,” she said. “We look up and around and say hello to people who aren’t necessarily our best friend, people we have never had a full conversation with and even with a teacher we’ve never had.” 

Tolerance for each other and allowing others to find their voice. Reine Jean-Baptiste welcomed guests on behalf of the students. She started four years ago at Marblehead High after arriving from Haiti knowing very little English.

“The teachers at Marblehead High School allowed me to find my voice and not to be scared to speak up because of my accent,” she said.

Jean-Baptiste said she found nothing but opportunity in Marblehead, like being able to work at Harvard Medical School this summer as an assistant.

Empathy, as in when Jacob Emerick recited his senior essay on transferring from his school in Dracut to Marblehead High School in his sophomore year.

“On my first day I was sitting in the bleachers all alone,” he said. “Then somebody sat down next to me and started talking to me. What we talked about that day I don’t remember and I still don’t know who you are but you made one of my most difficult days a little bit better.” 

The transition was something that became easier for Emerick because of the kind of people he met at school, he said.

Salutatorian Claire Caplan offered other advice, like don’t be afraid to take the back road or to be different.

“It’s like an MHS metaphor,  use the back staircase,” she said. “Just like the main staircase might be the shortest amount of distance to your classes, except this isn’t the road to take when 800 people are also going that way. I’m sure we can all laugh looking back but the message is clear: don’t live your life following the traffic.”

Matt Demirs can be reached at