LINCOLN â€“ Lincoln High Schoolâ€™s class of 2012 marched into the future with words of reverence for great teachers and courageous alumni, plus a bit of guidance for weathering any adversity except, perhaps, the end of the world.
â€śSit down, breathe, find perspective,â€ť said Valedictorian Dory Enright. â€śNothing is ever the end of the world, unless it is.â€ť
It was something Enright thought about during 2012, an unlucky year on the Mayan calendar, which appears to reach the end of time about now. But itâ€™s not that hard to find joy, she told her classmates, no matter what the timekeepers have on tap.
â€śRelax, itâ€™s too easy to become overwhelmed,â€ť she said. â€śIdentify the person, place or activity that brings you joy. Hold onto that.â€ť
Clad in white and blue, 210 members of the class of 2012 picked up diplomas in the gymnasium at the Community College of Rhode Islandâ€™s Flanagan Campus as hundreds of spectators watched from seats on the floor and the wall benches. Members of the School Committee, the Town Council, State Sen. Edward J. Oâ€™Neill, school administrators, LHS Principal Kevin McNamara, Schools Supt. Georgia Fortunato and Town Administrator T. Joseph Almond were among the speakers and dignitaries for the commencement.
â€śToday is not an end,â€ť said Fortunato, striking what became a recurring them for the event. â€śItâ€™s just a beginning.â€ť
The very word commencement says itâ€™s so, she said.
High school may be over, she said, but the path toward â€śfull-blown maturityâ€ť is just getting under way. Her advice: Donâ€™t get distracted en route.
â€śCommit yourself, body and soul, to the task at hand, whatever it may be,â€ť she said. â€śIf you do that, the future will take care of itself.â€ť
Almond told the students he took quite seriously his job of offering grads some bit of parting advice that they would find truly useful as they embark on the path ahead. After a fair bit of research, Almond said he concluded that it might be worthwhile to pass along his own personal strategy for dealing with the challenges of everyday life.
â€śI continue to rely on others for inspiration and guidance,â€ť he said. â€śWisdom and inspiration are best imparted not by silver words, but by acts, deeds and accomplishments.â€ť
Thanks to excellent teachers, Student Council President Christopher Beauchene said he was able to look out upon classmates he sees as future professors, lawyers and doctors.
But when it came to offering his classmates advice for the future, Beauchene looked not to the faculty of LHS, but to the example of SpongeBob SquarePants. For those unfamiliar with the relentlessly effervescent cartoon character, SpongeBob is an ocean sponge who lives in a pineapple at the bottom of the sea and who spends his free time fishing â€“ for jellyfish. He works as a fry cook for a boss who is crabby because he really is a crustacean.
It may sound like a less than satisfying existence, but not for SpongeBob. Nothing can wipe that irrepressible grin from his face because he does what he loves.
â€śMake sure you do what makes you happy,â€ť said Beauchene. â€śFollow your passions and not the money trail.â€ť
During her turn at the lectern, Salutatorian Jessica Carrignan said she and her classmates were â€śblessedâ€ť to have some of the best teachers any student could ask for.
â€śSomeone once said to teach is to touch lives forever,â€ť she said. â€śFor many of us we know how accurate that statement is.â€ť
Principal McNamara recalled the class of 2012 as that which marked the 10th anniversary of the terrorist bombings of the Twin Towers in New York last September. The event set the nation on course for a continuing debate about liberty versus security as America became embroiled in two wars. Among the many casualties of those battles were two LHS alumni, one who was killed and another who became a double amputee, McNamara said.
â€śLittle did we know on that day, when you were in the second grade, how the world would change,â€ť the principal said.
Your challenge, he told the graduates, will be to pay attention in a world in which the proliferation of new media makes it ever easier to become lost in a jungle of electronic information. In such a situation, itâ€™s necessary to focus harder than ever to determine whatâ€™s important.
â€śThe future depends,â€ť he said, â€śon your undivided attention.â€ť