HANOVER — One might say that even the South Shore Vo-Tech National Honor Society members of the Class of 2018 went down in history … the school’s history book, that is.
It represented the largest graduating class in school history with 148 diplomas awarded on Friday, June 8 at Cohasset’s South Shore Music Circus. The venue was nearly filled to capacity with graduates and their proud family members.
More members of the Class of 2018 participated in cooperative education work outside the school than ever before and 14 juniors and seniors, accompanied by four faculty chaperones, exercised the school’s renewed dedication to community service in its first service trip over April vacation.
“They showed us that civic-mindedness means playing a role in our community, even one that is hundreds of miles away, and that is because ‘community’ and the common good are not limited by ZIP Codes,” Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey said in his address. “Our students told me that the service trip inspired them to be part of something bigger than themselves, to tackle something they had never done before.”
Valedictorian Rosa Gachia of Whitman has also made her mark in the SSVT history books. Born and raised in Kenya, Gachia told her fellow graduates that she spoke little to no English when she moved to the United States with her family. She also graduated as the school’s Outstanding Allied Health Technician student and a licensed CNA who will attend Bridgwater State University in the fall and hopes to become a surgeon.
She thanked her father for his influence in her life.
“For as long as I can remember you have guided me and influenced me into making the right decisions,” Gachia said. “You helped me with every stage of my life, including the adjustment into a new country, but I don’t think I was quite ready for the changes high school brought.”
She added the same could be said for many of her classmates. But there were plenty of firsts.
“This was the first class to go on a service trip to New Jersey, the first class to have a rocking senior reception, and the first class to ask someone to prom through an email,” she said encouraging her fellow graduates to continue embracing life and taking risks.
Hickey also singled out the seniors who went to trip to Wall Township, N.J., to help in the continuing recovery effort after Hurricane Sandy for thanks: Grace Ciampa, Alixandra Elliot, Outstanding Metal Fab/Welding Student Cole Hoadley, Kelly Pienkos, Jackson Powers, Outstanding Automotive Mechanic and Vocational Student of the Year Mikaela Drake and Gachia.
“For four years we have told you that the workforce needs your skills and talents,” Hickey said. “Beyond that, the world needs you to share your time and talents with others. Invitations for service are all around you.”
He stressed that means more then building houses for the poor or dispossessed. It includes serving as youth sports coaches, Scout leaders, volunteers in local government and voting in elections or attending town meetings.
Service to country is also important and nine members of the Class of 2018 have enlisted to serve in the armed forces. Students going on to higher education from SSVT have been accepted to more than 50 colleges and universities.
Senior Class President Taylor McKinnon of Abington also spoke of the value in SSVT’s cooperative education program as part of the added responsibilities they found being seniors meant.
“We now had freshmen to watch over,” said McKinnon, who was also the Outstanding Culinary Artist for the Class of 2018. “We earned more and more trust as some of us went out on coop and got real-world experience, while some of us stayed to learn more from our shop teachers.”
She noted the bittersweet nature of graduation, but added SSVT seniors gradate “with two educations that have the power to change our futures.”
But McKinnon also basked in the goofy memories — the time she set off a fire alarm at a SkillsUSA competition or a classmate starting a minor fire in shop freshman year.
“It’s a mistake not to dedicate yourself to the things you are great at,” she concluded. “So, whether it be your trade, art, music or even basket weaving, dedicate yourself to it because your talents are like no other.”