By Jonathan Phelps
---- — MARBLEHEAD — Valedictorian Kathleen Reilly yesterday encouraged her fellow Marblehead High School graduates to be themselves and forge their own paths as they move on from the school.
“If we allow other people’s preconceived notions of us to limit or control the way we behave or the things we are willing to say, then those people own us,” she said. “When other people’s expectations shape the way we live, then we aren’t living our own lives.”
She said now is the time for graduates to start living for their own expectations and no one else’s.
“When we establish expectations for ourselves, it can be empowering and motivating,” she said, noting that her fellow students should also honor their pasts as they move forward.
With the boys donned in black gowns and the girls in red, the 209 graduates received their diplomas during a 2 p.m. ceremony yesterday held in the school’s field house.
Max Levine’s title should have been class humorist instead of class essayist for providing a speech filled with many one-line jokes and funny stories. But there was a part aimed at “making everyone cry,” he said.
“Some of us will be going into the armed forces. Others will explore for a year, and all the losers will go to college,” he said.
He asked fellow graduates to look to their left and right and thank those around them for the bond they all established as the Class of 2013.
“When you leave this Sunday detention, will you forget about those around you?” he asked. “I know I won’t forget where we began or what we learned.”
Mentioning examples of heroism during the Boston Marathon attack, Superintendent Gregory Maass challenged the graduates to be “an everyday hero.”
“Those who chose to serve that day didn’t go to Boston to be a hero,” he said. “As a matter of fact, when you think about those individuals even today, we don’t know many of their names. But I can guarantee you that those individuals that they served that day know those individual heroes’ names.”
This marks Maass’ last graduation in Marblehead because he has resigned from his position effective June 30.
“Opportunities are in front of you, and all you have to do is see it, grab it and go for it,” he said. “Whatever you do, if you serve others, you’ll find satisfaction. Don’t run after fame. Fame will find you.”
In her speech, class President Meghan Collins listed off some of the quirky things that makes Marblehead and its high school unique. For example, using “the police log to provide more laughter than an Adam Sandler ever could.”
“Each and every one of us at this very moment are a Marbleheader, and nothing can change this,” she said. “ … These moments as Marbleheaders and the memories we made are the things I hope will continue to define me for the rest of my life, and I hope for the rest of your life, too.”
Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.
MARBLEHEAD HIGH SCHOOL Number of graduates: 209 Graduates with a 3.8 GPA or higher: 31 Class gift: A new green water filtration system where students can fill water bottles Valedictorian: Kathleen Reilly Salutatorian: Nicholas Perry Senior essayist: Max Levine