Speakers praise Souhegan’s class of 2018

Spirits were high on the evening of June 1 when Souhegan High School’s class of 2018 graduated.

AMHERST – If there was a theme to the graduation of Souhegan High School’s Class of 2018 it was gratitude – gratitude toward parents, advisors and teachers, but also to senior projects.

Most of the seniors who spoke at the June 1 ceremony mentioned the projects as a vital part of their senior year.

Christos Nassiopoulos, one of the evening’s master of ceremonies, talked about the project’s nine-month process, and read aloud comments his fellow seniors wrote after the completion of their projects:

“I felt great pride that I did that.” I am a more courageous person.” “I know I can get things done if I put in the necessary work.” “I gained confidence in public speaking.” “I learned the importance of organization, structure and focus.”

In her speech, Erin McCool, the other master of ceremonies, thanked the four senior faculty advisors and described how balancing academic work and co-curricular activities taught them “precious time management skills.”

Salutatorian Eliza Mastergeorge talked about accepting change, because “like it or not, that’s what you’re going to get. I know it sounds cheesy, but embrace change with open arms.”

Principal Robert Scully urged the seniors to talk a little time to focus on the past and recognize how much their parents have done for them. He referenced a TED talk by New York Times’ columnist David Brooks, that asked if we should live for our resume or our eulogy.

“It feels like both selves are addressed by this school,” Scully said, because it encourages young people to be “bold, loving, generous, dependable and kind. … Nothing is wrong with ambition when it’s coupled with compassion. Thank you for your energy and closeness.

It gives us hope,” he told the seniors.

Graduation took place on the football field on an unseasonably warm night, but spirits were high as the Souhegan High School Concert Band and the Souhegan High School Choir entertained between speakers.

Teacher Sean Whelan told the seniors it has been “a huge honor” to teach “an extra special class for three years.”

Gratitude is one of the essential attributes that makes a person happy, he said, urging the young people to email messages of thanks to teachers and parents. Boys especially, should put down their “macho barriers and let the ‘I love yous’ loose.

“Your parents love you more than you can fathom,” he said. That’s why they have sacrificed “their money, their sanity and their sleep” to raise you.

“In a matter of minutes you will be officially free of high school and part of the world at large, and you have to give back. It won’t be about you anymore.”

Two years ago, when his father died, Whelan said, the many cards of sympathy from Souhegan students and staff “helped me more than anything … Be grateful you guys.”

Valedictorian Melody Chen told the audience and her fellow seniors that high school was “not all wonderful,” reminding them of “horrible all-nighters” and tests where they only knew two answers, their name and the date. Most impressive, though, were the seniors’ reactions to tragedies like school violence and distant hurricanes.

“We, as Sabers, didn’t hide in fear,” she said and will help to build a future in which people will acknowledge others’ differences.

School board Chairman Jim Manning gave the final speech, predicting the graduates, with their optimism, sense of community and acceptance of differences. will help erode the current “culture of incivility.”

“I see in you many amazing things we are not,” he said. “You rise above us.”

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.