WHS celebrates 150th commencement

Nicole Beckett is all smiles as she receives her diploma Photos by James Kinneen

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

June 7 marked the 150th graduation exercises of Wellesley High School, with the class of 2019 receiving their diplomas, giving their speeches, and being made to understand they are now part of the broader system of the world.

Class president Matthew McKenna was the first to speak. He thanked his fellow graduates as he “could never have gotten here without you guys,” and called for them to “have each other’s backs going into the future.”

When it came time to present the class gift, Vice President Cameron MacKinnon explained that they wanted something that could be used and enjoyed by everyone in the school. And, as he explained, “What is something that’s universally cherished? Food!”

So, the class gift came in the form of a couple new grills the school could use as they saw fit - grills so new and perfect that according to MacKinnon, “Your dad is going to try and come to the school to use them.” This was in line with the class’ senior prank, which apparently involved blocking off a part of the parking lot and tailgating before class.

Senior class speaker Matt Haverty gave a humorous message he dedicated to the crowd of “parents, friends, teachers, and random kids stuck here because they’re in band,” in which he first noted that at eighteen, he doesn’t feel very well prepared to enter adulthood.

“I can’t peel an orange, so I avoid them entirely,” he explained. “I can’t balance a checkbook, nor do I know if that’s a relevant skill these days. And I can’t spell the word definitely. On this piece of paper, there’s a red squiggly line underneath it.”

He then related a story of how he failed to become class president, despite printing and wearing a custom “Matt for president” tee shirt (which he pulled out as a prop), an experience he described as essentially “having all your peers swipe left on you.” However, he turned that anecdote into an expression of how we sometimes have to fail to learn, noting that life is all “trial and error,” and how anyone that doesn’t fail isn’t learning, they are “stagnant.” He also apologized for his sniffling and noted how sick he was.

Service played a significant role in the ceremony, with many speakers pointing out that Ms. Novogroski had put in 49 years of service to the Wellesley School System. “How many lives did she touch?” asked Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Lussier, and how many lives did those people touch?”

 Matt Haverty shows off a custom tee shirt from his failed presidential campaign Photos by James Kinneen

Matt Haverty shows off a custom tee shirt from his failed presidential campaign Photos by James Kinneen

But perhaps the most poignant message of the evening came from Jacqueline Katz, a history teacher who presented the faculty message. Her speech focused on how the graduating students need to become a part of the solution to the problems the world faces, such as climate change, income inequality and mass incarceration.

“Starting today, you’re a part of that system, and I need your help,” she pleaded. She then related the classic graduation story of the starfishes on the beach, wherein there are a bunch of starfish on a beach, and a man is throwing them into the water. Another individual comes by and tells him that he’s not making a difference, as there are far too many starfish washed up on the beach for him to throw them all back. The man takes a starfish and throws it into the water, before proclaiming: “it made a difference to that one.”

While Katz appreciated the message of the story, she begged the graduating class to “get a bulldozer and bring it to the beach,” to “ask the guy who questions you if he’ll help - if he’ll be part of the solution.

“Attack these issues with the same tenacity you did your senior prank,” she added.

If they put their minds to it, they can do it.

They d-e-f-i-n-i-t-e-l-y can.

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