Graduation from high school marks the end of an important road in every student’s life, and the beginning of the sometimes rocky path to adulthood. At the North Shore High School graduation on Friday, numerous speakers acknowledged the accomplishments of the graduates, and how much farther they still had to go.
The event began with the procession of faculty and graduates to their seats as hundreds of families were gathered on the high school’s athletic field, balancing between enjoying the beauty of the day and trying to hide under hats and parasols from the unyielding heat from the summer sun.
The students marched to their seats, with boys in maroon gowns and caps while girls wore white, the school’s colors. Many of the Class of 2022 touched up their caps with bedazzled symbols and inside jokes written on the top.
High school principal Eric Contreras, the emcee for the event, highlighted that this was the first real, in-person graduation ceremony since before the pandemic, and how proud he was of the students and their families, for having not just survived, but thrived in these trying times.
“We have so much to celebrate at this school, and these students seated in front of us, to my left and to my right, are the best examples of what great schools bring out in young people,” Contreras said. “I also want to take the time to acknowledge North Shore parents and families. It takes a Viking village to get it all done.”
Valedictorian and salutatorian, Kate Gilliam and Emma Nelson reflected on their respective journeys navigating through high school, and emphasized how much of an impact NSHS, its faculty, staff and spirit, had on their personal development as individuals and members of the Viking community.
“While thinking about our time together, so many words came to mind to describe us; however, one word in particular kept coming up again and again. That word is courageous,” Nelson said. “Being courageous is a trait, or a characteristic, that is so important, especially now, as we branch out and begin this next chapter of our lives.”
Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Dolan thanked the school and its families for his amazing, yet brief time at the North Shore School District. He also took a moment to highlight the importance of staying informed in a time of such rapid technological development and rampant misinformation.
He quoted a New York Times editorial from 1858 which complained about a new technology, telegraphs, which was feared would make news travel too fast for consumers to be able to handle. He drew comparisons between that time, when the nation was more divided than ever, with today. In one of his last acts as the district’s superintendent, he taught the students one last thing before both he and they left NSHS one last time.
“The danger is not in receiving news too quickly,” Dolan explained. “The danger is in being told of its meaning and value, without the opportunity for contemplation, consideration and consultation.”
President of the Board of Education Dave Ludmar told students and families a comical story of how he got lost on a hike with his children, leaving them covered in tics, which ended with him falling in a pile of trash while looking for his wallet. He told the story to encourage the students to never take themselves too seriously, and to always find the humor in any experience they have, no matter how exhausting it may seem at the time.
“You will rarely regret the experiences that you do have in life, but it’s the ones you skip that will be the ones you wished you hadn’t,” Dolan elaborated. “But please, never ever take yourselves too seriously, and don’t ever lose the ability to laugh at yourself. Life’s little moments, even when they’re embarrassing, are often the one’s you’ll never forget.”
The students received their diplomas beaming with joy despite the heat of the day. As they recessed to the tune of “Rondeau from Premiere Suite,” by Jean-Joseph Mouret, the graduates took their first steps on the path to the next great adventure of their lives.