ITEM PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Brendan Patterson walks into Stackpole Stadium to receive his diploma.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
SAUGUS — One hundred ninety six graduates crossed the stage and entered the next phase of their lives at a crowded Stackpole Field Friday night.
Among the Saugus High School class of 2017 graduates was Valedictorian Rachel May. While introducing her, teacher Kevin Fontanella told a story about a split second decision to move out of the way of a 75-pound-suitcase falling down an escalator, leaving May in its path while on a class trip.
“Helicopter teacher I am not,” said Fontanella, who jokingly called it a teaching moment and a real-world physics problem.
After screeching louder than Fontanella thought possible, May stopped the suitcase with her own, thus solving the problem and learning how to defy the laws of physics, he said.
The largest class in the school, May pointed out that, at almost 200 students, the odds were that six of them would end up having twins, many would get tattoos, at least one would regret their tattoo, and more than 150 would gain weight. But she added that the class had a knack for defying the odds and that they had left their mark on the school.
“The class of 2017 will remain long after our building is torn down,” she said. “And yes, that was a shameless plug to go out and vote for a new school.”
May raised $2,000 for the Northeast Animal Shelter by organizing the Stroll for Strays, a fundraising walk held at Breakheart Reservation last June.
The shelter is located in Salem and is one of New England’s largest no-kill shelters for cats and dogs. May began walking dogs and cleaning kennels at the shelter to fulfill a service project requirement for the National Honor Society.
She was also the first high school student to receive the Saugus Public Library Foundation’s annual Readers Make Good Leaders Award in 2016. Principal Michael Hashem said he nominated her for the honor because of her community service efforts, her grades, and she fits the description of a well-rounded student.
While many of the graduates will go on to further their education or enter the workforce, at least five will serve in the United States military.
“We are leaving Saugus high a much better place than when we found it,” said Salutatorian Kristina Italiano. “Wherever you end up, continue to leave that place better than when you found it. Surround yourself with people who, like the class of 2017, also want to leave places better than when they found them.”
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte