Graduation by Cameron Frank
I’d like to start this speech off by giving a huge congratulations to all of us, not just for graduating high school, but for persevering through a really heavy year. I would also like to thank all of the teachers, staff, and of course parents that have supported us not just this year, but all along the way. The coronavirus pandemic and its repercussions, on top of massive levels of social unrest throughout our country, have completely changed the world as we once knew it and that has made this year difficult, to varying degrees, for so many of us. Despite all the odds, we made it to this monumental day, we should all be so proud, and the future feels bright. I think that I speak for a lot of the members of my class when I say that I will never take a single moment of togetherness for granted in the years to come. There have been many silver linings to this year, but one that I think we all share is that we will go through the rest of our lives with a heightened appreciation for life. Not only will our generation, and especially our class, enter this next phase of our lives with a greater appreciation for life, but I think we all understand the importance of using our voices to create positive change. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you choose to believe, or how you choose to live your life, all of our voices carry value in this day in age. However, we can only make positive change when we come together despite our differences. One of the most important lessons that I have learned in high school is to be open-minded, always. I really believe that in order to create positive change it is imperative that we stop focusing on hating, shaming, and pointing fingers, and instead focus on working together towards common goals. Two of my best friends are complete and utter opposites of one another. They have entirely different beliefs and they argue about them frequently. But at the end of the day, they are still best friends. And both of them are significantly smarter and wiser because of that friendship. Late Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia are two more famous examples of this kind of productive friendship. Despite having polar opposite beliefs, they respected one another and they learned from one another. They set an important precedent that we, as the next generation of leaders of this country, should look to for inspiration. They have proven that it is possible to work towards a common goal peacefully, respectfully, and with integrity without resorting to violence or hatred. Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “Fight for things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” She taught me that it is possible and it is productive to have friends with different beliefs who challenge you. I urge you all as you meet new friends in this next phase of your life to please open your minds and your hearts, because you will learn something by listening.
But now I think it’s time to take a walk down memory lane. The Class of 2021 will no doubt leave a very memorable mark on Hingham Public Schools. Not only was it an incredibly unique senior year, but this senior class has some pretty unique students. If there was a Guiness Book of records for the town of Hingham, I think our class would dominate in several categories:
- First being the loudest sneeze. On behalf of all of my classmates, I’d like to thank Nick Busby for his larger than life sneezes and all of the smiles it has produced over the years. I vividly remember one day at lunch in 8th grade, just as Mr. Riordan had finished his countdown to quiet the cafeteria, Nick sneezed and it had the effect of a thunderbolt literally rattling every table.
- “Most people to get sick at a school-sponsored event:” I think we all know where this is going. The first and last 7th grade whale watch was an incredibly traumatic event during which I don’t remember ever seeing a single whale. So many people were puking that eventually, it was impossible to get help from teachers because they too were puking. I will never forget the moment I watched Oliver Morelli throw up off the side of the boat, turn around, and dab in front of everybody. If that doesn’t scream 7th grade I don’t know what does. But I feel like I witnessed history in that epic moment so thank you Oliver.
- I have no doubt that our class would set a record for “most passionate about graffiti”: That middle school girls bathroom had no idea what was coming for it. Neither did the urinal in the boys bathroom unfortunately.
- The 8th grade DC boat trip earned us: “Most sweaty bodies packed on to a dance floor:” I don’t know if we were all just unfamiliar with the concept of deodorant, but not a single body escaped that night without sweat stains dripping from their armpits. Not only were there three separate dance floors, but each one of them was packed to the brim with eighth graders whipping and nae naeing. A truly magical moment.
- We’d definitely set a record for “closest and only attempt to flee the country to Argentina.” I’ll leave that one at that.
- The record for best nickname would hands down go to the class of 2021. Some people in this audience might not even know that Poundcake’s real name is Jake Wilson.
- It’s necessary to mention that we would set the record for “best cookies.” Shoutout to Mrs. White, thank you for sharing your delicious cookies with all of us and for being the unofficial mother of our class. Your kindness and generosity did not go unnoticed. If you haven’t tried one yet, you might want to start acting extra nice to Connor and Steven because you are missing out.
- There are also awards for several teachers at Hingham High who I believe have some outstanding and very memorable qualities that deserve some credit today:
- The award for “voice so loud it could probably be heard in China” goes to Mr. Raymond. Mr. Raymond, I never even had you as a teacher but I didn’t have to. I can’t even recall all of the times that I had a science test in front of me and I couldn’t focus because I could hear Mr. Raymond’s voice all the way across the school in the English hallway.
- The award for having “eyes like a hawk” hands down goes to Ms. Newman. Everyone sitting in this audience knows the feeling when you think you’re being super sneaky eating your snack in the library, but you accidentally make eye contact with Ms. Newman and realize she’s known the whole time.
- The award for “most questionable what’s going on in their classroom” goes to Mr. Woolley. To any underclassmen watching, if you hear a loud bang just know that he’s either doing a walking handstand and he’s hit one of the desks or he just shattered a mug as a part of his lesson on fragmentation in medieval Europe.
- Finally, the award for most famous one-liner goes to Mr. Rice. By the end of sophomore year, I was doing the T-stretch in my sleep.
Throughout the time I have spent in Hingham Public Schools, I’ve learned how to find the derivative of a complex function, how to label every part of the human skeleton, and how to properly cite my sources in MLA format (still working on that one). But beyond the pages of any textbook or the slides of any powerpoint presentation, I’ve learned a lot about life. When I was in seventh grade, I met my beloved English teacher Ms. Cassidy. Ms. Cassidy helped my class navigate through the pages of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and she taught me how to hook my audience in the introduction paragraph of an essay. But I learned more that year than anything written down in the seventh grade English curriculum. About halfway through the school year, Ms. Cassidy’s dad’s health had reached a critically low level and she had to make an incredibly difficult decision. She had to choose between doing what she loves most, teaching her students, or helping her dad in his final days. She chose her dad, her family, her loved one. She stood by him and comforted him to the best of her ability and she was standing right by his side when it was time to say goodbye. She said goodbye knowing that she had done everything she could to make him feel loved, appreciated, safe, and cared for as his time came to a close on this earth. She taught me one of the most valuable lessons in life, the importance of standing by and supporting the people you love.
In my freshman year English class, I met another beloved English teacher, Mr. Haflin. Shoutout to the English department for carrying in this speech. I will never forget the day that Mr. Haflin dedicated to listening to the Taylor Swift song “Last Kiss” as part of our unit on song lyrics. Mr. Haflin opened up to our class about how songs hold heavier meaning when you can relate to the lyrics based on your own personal experiences. He taught me that love can be unpredictable and painful. He taught me that it’s not always as easy as it seems in the movies and that no, it’s not normal to show up in the middle of the night with a guitar outside of a girl’s window. But he also taught me that when one door closes, another door opens and that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we just have to get to the other side of pain to see that it’s taken you to a new starting point. If he hadn’t followed his ex-girlfriend to Massachusetts, I never would have had him as my teacher and the track team would have missed out on the opportunity to have him as a coach.
Students, like teachers, have also taught me huge life lessons. When I was a sophomore, Andrew Warhaftig, the brother of our classmate Rachel, passed away after a long fought battle with a rare kidney condition. Seeing nearly the entire student body at his funeral was one of the most touching and impactful moments of my life. It instilled in me the importance of unity in times of grief. And it showed me that what we choose to do in our lives matters, the people we choose to love matters, the kindness that we spread matters, and the way we treat each other matters. Every life that was lost this year, whether as a result of the pandemic or another cause, mattered. Their legacy will live on in the pieces of their hearts that they shared with us, in memories of their smiles and their laughs, in all of the good that they did in their time on this planet, and in the ways that their families support and love each other until we get to see them again. There is a latin phrase that reads “annus horribilis.” It literally translates to a disastrous or unfortunate year. I am sure that this year will go down as an “annus horribilis” in many of our hearts. My mom always told me that the best way to get through life is to focus on the good, not the bad. This year more than ever, it was difficult not to focus on the bad. Many times I found myself so upset by this world that seems to grow increasingly more complicated and more disheartening each day. Although, I guess that is just part of growing up. So as the door of our time at HHS closes and a new one opens, I have a hope for us all. When it feels impossible to ignore all of the negatives in front of you, rather than letting them bog you down, let them inspire you. Let them motivate you to lift yourself up and those around you. I hope that this year allowed you to reflect on your life. I hope it showed you that you’re so much stronger than you previously thought. I hope it proved to you that you can and you will persevere through any obstacles life throws at you. So have faith in yourself, be kind to yourself, and remember that if you can get through this year, you can get through ANYTHING.