BEVERLY– Like Game of Thrones, the Beverly High School Class of 2019's final season has come to an end, Principal Betty Taylor pointed out on Sunday.
But she also promised that graduation won't be the last we hear from the students.
"There's definitely a sequel coming," Taylor said at the graduation ceremony at Hurd Stadium. "You all have your own particular story to tell."
A total of 274 graduates received their diplomas in front of family and friends who filled the stands on one side of the football field, sat in beach chairs and on blankets on the grassy hill on the other side, and lined the fence near the stage.
In her speech, Taylor said the graduating seniors, like the characters in Game of Thrones or any good story, each contributed a "page to the tale of the Beverly High School Class of 2019."
Taylor asked different groups of students to stand and be recognized -- scholars, leaders, artists, volunteers, foreign exchange students, students of the month, and those who are joining the military.
"I wish you adventure, a bit of mystery and suspense, some poetry and romance, an interesting point of view, and a satisfying conclusion," she said.
In her welcoming speech, graduating senior Eleanore Brown told the students that there's nothing wrong with "being fearful of change."
"I believe that change is the key to growth," Brown said. "Nothing can remain the same forever."
Class President Beatrice Crocker said that even though she and her brother, junior Finn Crocker, are "polar opposites," both will leave Beverly High School with the skills and maturity to take on adulthood, as did their sister, a 2011 Beverly High graduate.
"We formed meaningful relationships with teachers who wanted us to grow, learn and succeed," she said.
Saluatorian Catherine Johnson thanked previous generations, including her grandfather, for giving the students the freedom to pursue their goals.
Johnson said her grandfather always worked one or two additional jobs in addition to his main job as a firefighter to support his family.
"He did not complete high school himself, but it was and is extremely important to him that his two daughters and three granddaughters leave high school with a diploma in hand," Johnson said.
Valedictorian Nathan Levin encouraged the graduates to be unafraid of failure. He told a story of shooting the ball into the wrong basket in a third grade game of basketball.
"But I quickly learned a lesson: namely, that perhaps basketball wasn't the sport for me," he said. "And that's the only way forward. When we put ourselves out there, when we make ourselves vulnerable to the real possibility of failure, we learn what we like, and what we don't."
Other speakers included Mayor Mike Cahill, Superintendent Steven Hiersche, and School Committee President Kris Silverstein. It was the final graduation for Hiersche, who is retiring after five years as superintendent in Beverly and a long career as a teacher and administrator.
"No other community I have worked in focused so much attention on education," Hiersche said. "No community shows greater pride in their students than Beverly."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.