‘Enjoy every minute,’ ORR graduates urged

Jun 4, 2022

MATTAPOISETT — With stands packed with cheering fans in the form of family and friends, Old Rochester Regional High School students received their diplomas Saturday, June 4 and entered the latest chapter of their lives.

“This is the true civic center of the Tri-Town,’’ Principal Michael C. Devoll said as he welcomed the audience to the graduation, held under sparkling sunny skies on the school’s athletic field.

In what he said has become a tradition, he threw out certain categories and asked students to stand if they fit them. 

Students stood who were from each of the Tri-Towns, who attended via school choice, who were athletes, artists, honor society members, AP class attendees, planned to attend in-state college, out-of-state college and the military, among other categories. Many students were the first ORR graduates in their families, while others had grandparents who attended.

The audience chuckled and a few students stood when asked if any of them had been quarantined during covid-19, a category he quipped was a popular one when mentioned last year. 

Keynote speaker Rose Bowman, the retiring principal of Center and Old Hammondtown schools, urged the graduates to make wise decisions throughout their lives.

“The choices you make will impact your life and will impact others in ways you may never know,’’ she said. Keep in mind, she said, the “ripple effect of your words and your actions.’’

She told the graduates that she had “great faith in you as a class and the generation you represent. The world needs your leadership.’’

Never forget, she advised, to “bring joy to those people you encounter.’’

Class treasurer Edward Anthony Gonet IV told his classmates that this day was an accomplishment for all students.

Not every student can earn the highest grades, he said. Everyone faces hardships that others may not know about that might make even getting out of bed a challenge some days, he said.

“Whether you’re in first place or last, it doesn’t matter,’’ he said. “The fact is, you did it. Each and every one of you should be proud of graduating from high school. The bottom line is, you crossed the finish line.’’

Now everyone begins again, he said. “Just because you strolled through high school doesn’t mean potholes won’t pop up,’’ he said.

Class valedictorian Amaya Catherine McLeod expressed regret for evenings she said she was distracted when hanging with friends, or when she skipped out on that opportunity altogether, because she was worried about a project or test.

She advised her classmates instead to remember the experiences they have shared as they move forward toward anxiety-producing challenges. “We can get through it because we’ve gotten through so many’’ obstacles, she said. “We’ve helped each other manage every curveball.’’

School Committee chair Heather Burke applauded the class for returning to a more normal post-covid world with “crazy big spirit and enthusiasm.’’

Class president Mackenzie Marie Wilson left her classmates with three words to take on their journey from ORR to their futures: “Enjoy every minute.’’