PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Alyssa Alperen hugs Cara Murtagh, Peabody assistant superintendent of schools.
By LEAH DEARBORN
PEABODY — Farewell marks the start of something new for hundreds of graduating seniors who waved goodbye to Peabody Veterans Memorial High School on Friday evening.
As family and friends waited in the bleachers of the football field with balloons and bouquets, Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. presented opening remarks at the commencement ceremony.
He asked graduates to take a moment to reflect on their own goals, and said that having gotten to know many members of the Class of 2017, he is confident the future is in excellent hands.
“Find a ray of sunshine,” said Interim Superintendent Herb Levine, who stepped up to impart some advice to exiting students. “Pursue that…Be nice. I know that sounds simple, but we need that in this world.”
During his short speech, Levine cautioned seniors to take great care in who they choose to associate with, calling it one of the most important decisions in life.
Before any diplomas were passed out, valedictorian Makenzie Hery addressed her fellow members of Generation Z, calling them a generation of planners who grew up surrounded by technology, and who adapt to change easily.
“We welcome differences,” she said, daring her classmates to step outside of the box.
Spencer May, class essayist, spoke about the transition from adolescence to adulthood, and how with it comes a responsibility to stand up to authority.
“Authority is not always right,” asserted May. He said that while it isn’t always easy to face down an established force, “You walk out knowing it was necessary, and knowing it was right.”
There were words of thankfulness from the graduates, directed at parents and teachers, coaches and siblings. Principal Eric Buckley congratulated the students, calling the event a well-earned accomplishment for the class.
Class of 2017 co-president William DeMayo paused to acknowledge the sacrifices of his mother, who left her full-time job in Boston 18 years ago to raise him.
“These four years together have brought us all so close,” said DeMayo. “We will always be a family.”