PEABODY — The 2018 Peabody Veterans Memorial High School graduates are resilient. A little rain and mugginess wasn’t going to stop them from celebrating their successes during Friday’s commencement ceremony.
The stands at Coley Lee Field were packed with cheering family members waiting to catch a glimpse of their walking across the stage to reach their diploma.
Senior class co-presidents Tabbitha Bono and Ann Manning delivered the welcoming address through a bout of unwelcome wet weather to the more than 360 graduates in attendance. Fortunately, the drizzle quickly subsided as the ceremony continued.
Mayor Edward Bettencourt encouraged the graduates to follow in the footsteps of other Peabody graduates who went on to be entertainers, scientists and doctors.
“I want to ask every graduate where you want to go,” he said.
The answer is unique to each graduate, as is their journey once they leave, he said.
Herb Levine was emotional as he delivered his final graduation address as Peabody superintendent. The outgoing head of schools asked the young women of the class to stand up, telling them they are the future of the professional world.
“I am confident that you ladies will be taking over the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the banks and all the other places that have so disappointed us over the past 20, 30, 40 years make them a better place, do better than we have,” said Levine, adding, “I strongly urge you to stay in control even when things get difficult.”
The iffy weather didn’t dampen student spirits. The graduates could be seen laughing and smiling as beach balls were thrown in the air throughout the ceremony.
Senior Essayist Sarah Abdulghani spoke about her family’s journey to the U.S., and of the difficulties they have faced living in a new country.
“Not everyone welcomes us with open arms, but that’s just another harsh reality and something you fellow graduates can change of the future,” said Abdulghani.
Valedictorian Ryan Cormier brought a dose of humor to cap off the speeches before graduates received their diplomas.
“One of my fellow classmates was dumbfounded that I do more than schoolwork when class ends for the day. ‘Wait, so you don’t lock yourself in a room and study all day,’ he asked me,” said Cormier.