LYNN — The first part of the journey was completed Friday for 380 seniors at Lynn Classical. Now, said commencement speaker Capt. Alexander Mora of the U.S. Marines, comes the hard part.
Mora, a Classical graduate in 1999, came back to the school Friday to tell the graduates that they would have to earn what they get from here on out.
“It will not be easy,” said Mora, who went into the service upon graduation from high school. “No one is going to give you anything. Obstacles will be put in front of you, and they won’t be easy to overcome. But you will.”
Mora also told the class not to let environmental obstacles stand in their way.
“You are a product of your decision-making,” he said, “not your environment.”
He also told the graduates not to be afraid to fail.
“Sometimes,” he said, “you need to feel the agony of defeat to find the desire within you.”
Classical Principal Gene Constantino gave special recognition Friday to Paul and Gerri Stafford of the alumni association, and to Dr. Catherine C. Latham, who is stepping down as Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Patrick Tutwiler, her successor, was among the invitees.
Also addressing the graduates were Mayor Thomas M. McGee, Latham, class president Aderky Diaz, salutatorian Alvin Lam and valedictorian Victoria Adams.
Latham asked the graduates to remain down-to-earth, and to grow into caring, and kind, people.
“Kindness leaves a lasting feeling,” she said. “You can be brilliant, but it doesn’t mean much if you’re not a pleasant person. Be that person who’s pleasant to be around. Make an effort to get along with people.”
McGee, as he did Thursday night in the KIPP Academy graduation, urged the graduates to heed the words of John F. Kennedy.
“Be the people who ask ‘why not?'” he said. “Be the dreamers. Take pride in all you’ve accomplished. The future is yours, but with that comes responsibility.”
He also told the graduates they needed to be vocal in order to ensure justice.
“Stand up and speak out with words and actions against those who seek to divide us,” he said.
Diaz began the day by talking about what turned out to be a theme among speakers: the journey the graduates undertook in their four years at Classical.
“If there aren’t any struggles in our journeys,” she said, “the journeys aren’t worth it.
“Some of us moved mountains in order to be here today,” she said. “Failure is not a marker of unworthiness.”
Lam saluted the school’s faculty during his address.
“The teachers at Classical are more than teachers,” he said. “They taught more than knowledge. They taught wisdom. They teach us how to be people.”
He also asked his classmates to “make a difference in the word by impacting others they way we have been impacted.”
Adams, who will take to the pitcher’s circle today as the Classical softball team tries to advance in the MIAA Division 1 softball tournament, said that writing her speech was harder than any of the games in which she has played. She spoke of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” and used it as an example of how life opens up for you after high school.
“There aren’t a lot of roads to take at Classical,” she said. “You either do it or you don’t. But in life, there are different roads.”
But, she said, whatever roads her classmates choose, “we are prepared for the future success by the education we have received at Classical.”
She spoke of the accomplishments by members of her class, including senior diver Sarah Sirois, who has received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., and of Paris Wilkey, a member of the girls basketball team who scored her 1,000th point.
Finally, she asked her classmates to remember where they came from.
“We come from different backgrounds, different hobbies, and different circumstances,” she said. “But the one thing we have in common is that we are a family.”
Said Constantino, “my wish for you is that you find happiness in whatever you do.”