AMESBURY — The 121 graduates of the Amesbury High School Class of 2019 filed into Landry Memorial Stadium as a group for the last time at their graduation ceremony Friday night.
Although happy about graduating, the Class of 2019 had been touched by tragedy earlier in the year when one of their own, Troy Marden, was killed in a snowmobile accident during the February break.
Principal Elizabeth McAndrews noted Marden’s passing in her speech and Marden’s family members were presented with his diploma Friday as well.
“It has definitely been a year where you have had a lot to celebrate, as well as a year where you have needed to rely on your family, friends and teachers to try to cope with an incredible loss,” McAndrews said. “It made me think about each of you and your experiences throughout your high school years. When I learned that the title of your yearbook was ‘Are We There Yet?’, I 100 percent laughed out loud.”
Valedictorian Eleanor Costello told her fellow graduates that most graduation speeches are quickly forgotten.
“In the grand scheme of things, the speech I’m giving right now really isn’t that important – well to me it is but to the rest of you not so much,” Costello said.
Costello added that she will not be upset if most of the words she was speaking would go “straight into the trash” after they were spoken Friday.
“When you look back at graduation and senior year as a whole, you’re not going to remember what the speeches were about, you’re going to remember how you felt, sitting in these chairs,” Costello said. “You’re going to remember what you did with your four years of high school, the friends you made, the fun you had, the things you accomplished and that is infinitely more important than anything I can say to you tonight.”
The valedictorian then encouraged her classmates to embrace technology, hold onto a memory of a specific moment, and improve their sleep hygiene to foster better memory.
“Do more things and live in the moment,” she said. “Take every opportunity you get to do something cool, or spend time with the people you care about because later in life those experiences are all you’ll remember.”
Costello closed by saying, “We may not remember the speech but we will always remember this night.”
Salutatorian Kyra Tripp told her class that “being right isn’t everything. There’s a lot more value that comes from being wrong and being able to admit you’re wrong that people tend to overlook.”
Being able to recognize and admit when someone is wrong is a skill which makes relationships last, according to Tripp.
“Admitting you’re wrong in any situation is giving yourself the opportunity to grow,” she said. “Because admitting you’re wrong can easily be a step towards being right.”
Class president Jack McCarthy brought his classmates through a brief history of high school before leaving them with some simple advice.
“Just because you aren’t the smartest person in high school doesn’t mean your life is over,” McCarthy said. “Your success isn’t based solely off your inclination towards intelligence. It’s about being a person. It’s about being a human.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.