ROCKPORT — Amid the familiar pomp and circumstance, 70 Rockport High School seniors marched into the gymnasium Friday night to officially be declared graduates in the school's Class of 2012.
High School Principal Philip Conrad congratulated the students, their families, and their teachers.
He noted that the class chose as a motto a message from Confucius: "Wherever you go, go with all your heart."
"This is a simple yet challenging approach towards life," Conrad told the class and crowd attending the ceremony. "It suggests that we remain open, kind, and helpful regardless of our own situation. It asks us to see the best in others instead of being cruel or unkind. The quote tells us to go into the world and make it a warm and sunny place. The Class of 2012 has certainly made our school and community a warm and sunny place."
He listed numerous highlights from the year as well as the Class of 2012's accomplishments — from the Electrathon success to those of the its athletes and DECA and music students, to name just a few.
"We smiled on a cold October day when over 60 seniors initiated Seniors helping Seniors, spreading kindness all over town by helping our senior citizens prepare their homes for the winter," he said. "How about the determination to do good, that our Environmental Action Team has shown.
"You, the students of the Class of 2012, have demonstrated that you are ready to pursue all challenges and participate fully in a diverse and ever-changing world," he said.
The Class of 2012 was led by President Emily Ohrtman, Vice President Seth Perkins, Secretary Arianna Sanfilippo, and Treasurer Joseph O'Brien.
Sydney Colussi, the salutatorian, gave the opening address.
"As students, our passion and drive to do whatever it is we want to do in life will ultimately define our success, not necessarily the written achievements fit for our resumes," she said. "At this milestone in our lives, the Class of 2012 is about to officially set out on a path where each of us will try and find our own success and happiness. If the past four years is any indication of what is to come, I am confident that whatever it is we choose to do, it will be done with passion, and, in the end, meet true success."
In her keynote address, Valedictorian Savannah Reed first wished everyone "true happiness," whether at the high school or anywhere in the world. She cautioned her classmates to not build self esteem and pride at the expense of others. She suggested that self esteem be fostered through self-directed activities, success, accomplishments, and recognition of those accomplishments — even in the absence of praise.
"We build self esteem by being happy with ourselves," Reed said. "Rather than pride yourself as smarter than your coworker, recognize the value of your thinking ability, and how you made an effort to further your ability to ponder, comprehend, and explore new ideas.
"In being happy about your progress and accomplishments, your only standard is yourself," she said. "You win the freedom to be wrong, to be worse than others, but to still improve yourself and explore. This self-evaluation will help us through the rest of our lives, especially at this time of pronounced change.
"Rather than relying on others, be happy about your accomplishments by comparing your progress now with that of the past," she said. "Building from your self is the only way to be comfortable with and trusting of yourself. Pride leads to ego and dependence, but recognition of self-worth leads you to independence and life-long happiness."
The Class of 2012 graduates were not the only ones saying farewell to their secondary school careers.
In addition to Superintendent Susan King, the following staffers are retiring as well: Cherrie Lamphear, a high school English teacher; David Curley, middle school guidance counselor; Kate Anastasia, a middle school special education teacher; Karen O'Leary, a math teacher; Cyndi Bolcome, middle school secretary; Robert Canon, a middle and high school technology teacher; Dr. Lou Cannon, the school pyschologist; Janis Jenkins, food services director; Steven Whittey, high school math teacher; and Jim Davison, a music teacher.
The full list of graduates and scholarship winner will be published in the Times next week.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-28307000 x3445, or firstname.lastname@example.org.