MANCHESTER — For the 103 Manchester Essex Regional High School graduates who received their diplomas at Hyland Field Friday afternoon, knowing how to start their lives after high school can be as daunting as it was for salutatorian Meredith Wolf to write her graduation speech.
“Many websites suggested discussing a quote, and it is customary for these quotes to come from a distinguished politician, an author a famous historical figure,” said Wolf. “However, I think we have spent enough time reading quotes from classical authors and learning about historical figures in school.”
Wolf chose to use a quote from “The Office,” the class’s favorite TV show, to sum up the experiences they have shared.
“‘Sometimes I start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.’” said Wolf, quoting a character from the show. “I believe this humorous sentiment is applicable to our grade’s experiences throughout the years.”
Wolf spoke about a white water rafting trip MERHS seniors went on earlier this week, where both herself and many of her peers felt lost during a game of manhunt in the woods. But like this quote from “The Office,” Wolf said everyone eventually managed to find their way out.
“I have complete confidence that we will find our purpose,” said Wolf. “As a grade, we have always found our way before.”
Commencement speaker John Mullady, a social studies teacher at MERHS, told the graduates that conflict is an inevitable part of life.
“We all have these struggles, experiences, concerns, setbacks and tragedies that may seem unique to us, but others are going through them everyday,” said Mullady. “You’re not unique if you feel alone sometimes, so try to take some solace in this.”
Valedictorian August Kahle said students will find success on their own terms.
“Success is not about how much money you make or how good your grades are,” said Kahle. “True success is about you. It’s about doing what you love and about using this passion to push yourself further every day.
Class President Sirine Benali, Vice President Jia Mulvey, Treasurer Sophia Larson, and Secretary Isabella Pomeroy said the graduates have already made a mark on their community.
“Collectively, our most common interest is and was our dedication to service and activism,” said Benali.
The class has raised money for charities that work to cure the rare disease CMT4J, used ASR projects to bring vital medicines to third world countries, organized a walkout to end school shootings and participated in social justice clubs, such as the MERHS Gay Straight Alliance and Humanitarian League.
To further their legacy of service and activism, the class officers announced at the ceremony that the class gift will be a $1,000 donation to Sweet Paws Rescue, an organization that rescues and provides homes for dogs.
Benali told her peers to make the best use of the opportunities their work in life has provided them with, as her parents have done since they immigrated to France from Algeria with only $17 in their pockets before coming to the U.S. after a decade in France. She encouraged them to “live life to the brim: fully, boldly, happily and fiercely,” as her parents have taught her to do.
“But most importantly,” Benali said, “they have always advised us to be open minded and grateful.”