The concept of time was woven through the speeches at Friday’s graduation ceremony at Hopkinton High School.
Class president Manoli Barris reflected on the various periods of high school life.
Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh talked about the emphasis placed on time and how perceptions change as years pass.
Valedictorian Celia Jenkins urged classmates to live in the moment and focus on what brings them joy rather than always seeking perfection and projecting into the future.
And finally, Principal Evan Bishop challenged the graduates to take a break from social media, unplug and dedicate time and energy toward their mental health.
Barris kicked things off by remembering how “scary” it was as a freshman and sophomore to enter a new school, try to make friends and navigate as an underclassman in a sea of larger, intimidating older kids.
He noted that things start falling into place as a junior with privileges and culminates when they are seniors and “the school is ours.” Barris said that by the time senior year comes, “students look up a little less and we’re more and more looked up to.”
He said seniors are role models because they have matured and learned from their mistakes.
Barris asked whether graduating and going out into the world — to the workforce, military or higher education — feels like middle school again with that uncertainty.
He urged his classmates not to be scared because “stages are just a part of life.” Now that they are leaving the tight-knit Hopkinton school environment, Barris said, they have a clean slate, the ability to reinvent themselves and the opportunity to change and try new things.
The superintendent noted this milestone day is the culmination of 13 years of work or 72 percent of the graduates’ lives. She expanded by saying the graduates spent close to a million minutes in Hopkinton schools or elsewhere learning.
Quoting L. Robert Cole, Cavanaugh talked about the American culture’s obsession with time and how people have developed a “complex lexicon” about it — whether it is keeping time, worrying about losing time, delighting when saving time and understanding that time is a commodity not to be wasted.
Cavanaugh joked that when there is extra time “to kill … we call it senior privileges.”
Continuing the theme, she said that every day or single moment is perceived differently by each person, something the graduates will discover at future class reunions as they reflect back on their school experiences.
“Every unique, distinctive, idiosyncratic, quirky one of you has experienced high school differently,” Cavanaugh said.
She said during the nearly one million minutes they’ve spent in school, they have been “individually and markedly shaped … academically, socially, emotionally, behaviorally and philosophically,” with help from educators.
Cavanaugh urged the students in the days ahead to reach out and tell teachers how they influenced their lives. She also said graduates can expect to see “more greatness in the world and in humanity.”
Cavanaugh added, “Forge your own path. … It doesn’t matter where you go. What matters is what you do when you get there. Please continue to be the good, kind people that you are.”
Jenkins spoke about how as a kid, she sectioned off her food into parts and when there was “one perfectly crafted bite” left, she was unable to fully enjoy it because she was full.
She likened the experience into her adolescence and adulthood when she was always looking forward to vacations or perfect moments of peace during the school year. Jenkins said by overestimating those moments, by the time she got to them, she was burned out and couldn’t enjoy them.
Instead of focusing on what she loved most, Jenkins said she “endlessly was reaching forward,” and striving for perfection, thereby making it hard to appreciate the little things in life.
“Do your best to be kind to yourselves,” she told her classmates. “Don’t obsess over superficial things.” Instead, the valedictorian said her peers should focus on the present, the people they love and find out what brings them joy.
Bishop encouraged graduates to place the same energy on their mental health that they do on physical health. He said life is sometimes unfair and it is important the graduates ask for help when they need it and understand that it is “OK to be vulnerable, OK to not be OK.”
He concluded his remarks by saying, “Be kind to one another, be positive and keep smiling.”
Also during the ceremony, Annalise Curl received the Marion T. Harris Award. English teacher Andrew Frey praised her, calling Curl “an absolute force in the classroom and arts community.” He used the words “insightful,” “passionate,” “honest,” “kind” and “brave” to describe her.
Class treasurer Luciano Duca announced that the yearbook was dedicated to the technology staff. Secretary An-Wen Huang announced the class gift was a large red LED clock in the athletic center. Vice president Sarah Furlong presented gifts to class advisors Samantha Breen and Jay Golden.
Following is a list of the graduates.
Jakob Dugas Costa
Donate Nickey Gonzalez