June in Gloucester is the month in which we rush to buy our beach sticker, the month we stand faithfully on Pavilion Beach to watch men wobble across a greased pole — and the month in which parents, friends and other residents say goodbye to a class of Gloucester High School seniors and wish them well on their journey through life after high school.
Sunday, a crowd at Gloucester High's Newell Stadium did just that, as 222 graduates walked across the stage at Newell Stadium and into the so-called real world.
Beautiful weather made for a perfect ceremony as family and friends packed the Newell bleachers. On the left side of the stage sat the girls in white; on the right sat the boys in maroon.
Faculty and staff sat facing the graduates and the Gloucester High School Docksiders sat canal side as Class of 2012 president Vincenzo Terranova led the ceremony and Katherine Geraghty sang the national anthem with grace as the flag soared from its post on the field.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk carried with her the greetings and congratulations of the city. This year she continued her tradition of "tweeting"¬ù her speech to the departing seniors.
"Always remember the city you came from, a city by the sea, a community of unmatched generosity," she said. "On behalf of the city of Gloucester, congratulations to the class of 2012."
School Committee Chairman Jonathan Pope recalled that, 46 years ago, he was sitting here in cap and gown himself.
"I never thought I'd be the old man in the suit up here," he joked.
He urged the graduates to give back to their community by "navigating through life with a moral and compassionate compass."
"This is the last time you'll ever be all together and also the last class to graduate on the grass of Newell Stadium," he said, The "renewed" or renovated Newell Stadium will have artificial turf.
Richard Safier, the first-year superintendent of schools, used his speech as an opportunity to recognize and congratulate all teachers and faculty moving onto retirement — the latter of which includes GHS Principal William Goodwin.
The Salutatorian address was given by Joshua Kai Zubricki, who reflected on the simple things he will remember from his time at Gloucester High School.
He listed many,
"Hacky sack during lunch, stupid inside jokes to yell through the halls, the time when the AP chemistry class set off the fire alarm," he recalled. "Make the small things in life count."
He ended with a quote from the film character Ferris Bueller, played by actor Matthew Broderick.
"Life moves pretty fast," he said. "If you don't stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it."
Valedictorian Sarah Zuidema looked both backward and forward.
"My mom once called me an idiot savant, emphasis on the idiot," she said. "We are all idiot savants; we have all tripped up the stairs and we have all asked stupid questions."
She then shared examples of savant qualities she sees in the class of 2012 — like the voices of the high school's choir, the talent of the actors in the drama club, the skills of the automotive shop students.
But, she added, "One thing we are all experts at is friendship and we will leave here at least knowing the power of companionship."
"Speed off into the next chapter of your lives," she said. "Show the world your talents and your flaws because the days by the sparkling river are coming to an end."
The class of 2012 then transferred the leadership to the class of 2013 with the spyglass and sextant wishing next year's class "Fair winds and following seas."
Then it was time for the graduating hopefuls to make their way to the stage. Families and friends cheered and honked fog horns. Bubbles were flying through the air above the tops of caps.
Caps were decorated as uniquely as each member of the class, some embellished with rhinestones, some with pictures attached to them. A Burger King crown and a juice box were attached to the caps of two of the male graduates.
Once everyone received his or her diploma, the Class of 2012 was asked to rise and move each of their tassels from left to right. With that, Class President and MC Terranova said happily, "Congratulations, Class of 2012. You are now graduated."
With that, the graduates threw their caps into the air, and families and friends flooded onto the field.
One of the graduates, Daniel Gonzales, said he'll miss playing football and spending time with friends. His plan for next year is the Ben Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston.
Alexandria Dunn, meanwhile, said she looks forward to studying child psychology at North Shore Community College — adding that the thing she'll miss most about GHS is the lunch table where she sat ever since freshman year.
Jaimee Horne celebrated on the field,
"This is my motivation," she said, holding her baby sister on her hip.
"I'm going to miss being so close with everyone," she said. "I already do, We are all going in different directions. I'm definitely going to keep these memories forever."