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SAUGUS — The two top scholars from the Saugus High School Class of 2022 admitted that attaining academic accolades was a big goal. But, they said, now that it’s all over, one thing counts more: character.
Valedictorian Jason Ciampa and salutatorian Lindsey McGovern were two of four graduates who spoke at Friday night’s ceremony at Christie Serino Jr. Memorial Stadium on the grounds of the middle/high school.
Principal Brendan Sullivan greeted the 172 graduates on a raw evening, under gray, threatening skies. But the rain, which had been forecast, held off.
“You endured a great deal,” said Sullivan, regarding the class’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “But you persevered through all of it. At a time when you could have given up and said that you couldn’t do this, you persevered and did all you said you were going to do.
“You did not seek the easy path,” he said. “That makes all the difference.”
Superintendent Erin McMahon spoke briefly, telling the class that graduations were like a country-western song.
“Country songs are basically about ‘stay, so and I’m going to miss you.'” she said. “I’d have to say that all three apply to graduations.”
Victoria Rose Quagenti, president of the Saugus High chapter of the National Honor Society, spoke of the rapidity in which her school years passed.
“You blinked, and it was eighth grade moving on ceremony,” she said. “You blinked again, and then, you wished you could stop blinking so much.
“These milestones faded from accomplishments to stress,” she said, as the homework got harder and the time commitment longer. And her lament about sacrificing family and social life was a main theme of the ceremony. But, she said, one of her personal goals was to make the National Honor Society.
“Then, you blink, and you’ve completed high school,” she said.
McGovern began her address by asking for a moment of silence in memory of the school shooting in Texas earlier this week.
“Surviving high school,” she said, “shouldn’t have to be taken in that context.”
McGovern spoke of the sacrifices she made to maintain her grade point average and be eligible to become either a valedictorian or salutatorian.
“What did this speech, and this diploma cost?” She asked. “Everything.”
But, she said, she learned something important.
“Your self-worth isn’t measured in grades,” she said, “but in who you are.”
Ciampa echoed McGovern.
“Norman Vincent Peale once said that you should always shoot for the moon, because if you miss you’ll land among the stars,” Ciampa said. “But no student should ever be defined by a GPA, but by character,” he said. “I don’t need titles or grades to prove my worth, and neither do you.”
He spoke of classmates who meant a lot to him “because they embraced their personalities.” He ended his talk by inviting everyone in the class and the audience to sing happy birthday to his friend, who was among the graduates.
Class President Madison Goyetche rounded out the student speakers (there was no guest speaker).
“It’s time to say goodbye,” she said. “But goodbyes are sad. It’s much easier to say ‘hello’ to what’s about to come.”