, Newburyport, MA

June 9, 2014

'You only have one pass at life'

Triton graduates 138 with rousing send-off

By James Pouliot

---- — BYFIELD — Triton Regional High School gave its students a rousing send-off Saturday morning, graduating 138 students from the Class of 2014.

Superintendent Christopher Farmer headed up the day’s speakers, beginning with a recognition of the faculty, staff, volunteers and musicians who had made the day possible. Farmer also formally congratulated five students who will be graduating into the Armed Forces and the Community College of the U.S. Air Force.

The body of Farmer’s speech began on a note of dark humor, as he joked about getting a day off from “a raft of unreasonable and unfunded state mandates” that come across his desk. He then recalled a 1952 production of “Hamlet” in which he had played Polonius, the doomed, doting father who gave such classic graduation advice as “to thine own self be true” and “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

“I don’t think that today I need to give you that kind of advice,” Farmer said, “or to draw attention to the fact that the world into which you’re going is challenging, often capricious, often unfair, and fraught with profound inequalities. Instead, I turn you not to Shakespeare, but to a text which I believe well characterizes you, the Class of 2014 … : Robert Fulghum’s ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.’”

Farmer jokingly exhorted the graduates to follow Fulghum’s lessons, from the simple and profound “Share everything, play fair and clean up your own mess” to the merely simple, “Flush.”

He then noted the Class of 2014’s accomplishments, highlighting athletic champions, an award-winning musical and inventors, among others. Farmer commended them for demonstrating virtues worthy of the school, including mutual support, resilience, determination in the face of challenge, a strong sense of fairness and success without arrogance.

“If you can hold onto these habits,” Farmer said, “you will carry your collective commitment to the common good into the lives you will make for yourselves and others in the years ahead.”

After a short musical interlude, Salutatorian Devon Brown Shuman stepped to the podium for a speech on the theme of “The Past.”

Shuman saluted the students joining the Armed Forces for their bravery and spoke of the graduates who will join the workforce.

“Not everybody here today will be going to college next year,” he said. “Some graduates have elected to enter the workforce, which is a smart decision because for the next four years, they will be able to see something which will be foreign to us college students: money.”

Shuman listed the five lessons he learned during high school: even the smartest make mistakes, failure isn’t the worst thing in the world, don’t forget to enjoy life while you look toward the future, do something that you’d like to do and remember that it’s never too late to do something great.

Shuman pulled from sources far and wide, recalling JK Rowling’s 12 rejections of the Harry Potter manuscript alongside his “smartest person in the world” chemistry teacher’s accidental explosive incidents, reminding the audience of perseverance in failure and humility in victory.

He was led out by 2014 graduate Conner Faucher and Triton’s choral singers performing Faucher’s own “This Won’t Be the End,” an original melody for guitar and voice.

Valedictorian Nicole Lin Indingaro took the podium for the final address of the day.

“You learn the most from your mistakes,” Indingaro said. “It is by our failures that we can improve ourselves as people ... Hopefully, we’ve learned from these experiences and become wiser.”

She also encouraged her classmates to volunteer for causes that are important to them and not to waste their time, recalling math teacher Kathy Norton’s phrase, “You only have one pass at life, so make the best of it while you can.”

Indingaro’s speech was followed by a short presentation of the class gift: six picnic tables made by the Tech Department and a donation to the Taylor Brown Foundation.