HANOVER — For the 139 graduates receiving diplomas from South Shore Regional Vocational Technical High School on Friday, June 10, the ceremony meant much more than an end to classes and the ubiquitous post-ceremony cigars.
As Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas Hickey, noted their high school experience has meant finding a calling or at least building a foundation for discovering what that calling might be.
“We believe that discovering a career, learning a trade, can help one discover one’s calling,” he said. “We gave you choice, opportunity and time and surrounded you with great teachers and resources. And as a result you have built for yourselves a solid career foundation, and wherever life takes you, I am sure your foundation will help you discover your calling.”
While Hickey focused on allied health student Rebecca Reardon of Rockland, culinary student Connor Christie of Whitman and metal fabrication/welding student Tim Cashman of Abington as examples of his point, the school’s co-valedictorians and other student speakers also illustrate it.
Reardon will study occupational therapy in college, and Christie plans to attend the Culinary Institute of America with a goal of following his love of working as a line chef. But Hanson Valedictorian James Cosgrove, a metal fabrication/welding student plans to study nursing at UMass, Dartmouth and Abington Valedictorian Rachel Rapson, a drafting student, plans to major in pre-veterinary at Beckett College. Senior Class President Emily Flynn of Whitman, an auto student plans to major in education in college with the goal of becoming a middle school teacher.
“Your future is like another exploratory program,” Hickey said. “So take the advice we gave you as freshmen: Be flexible, try your best, be open to learning new skills.”
Flynn and Cosgrove reminded classmates of the progress they’d made since entering SSVT as nervous freshmen, and the life lesson that progress holds.
“Walking into the doors freshman year was OK for a few of us, but for the unlucky majority it was scary,” Flynn said. “Coming out of this school, we are going to be technicians, cosmetologists, graphic designers, generals in the Army and much more.”
She added that, with the educational opportunities afforded by SSVT, that even if they don’t stick with their trades, they come away with an education to last a lifetime.
“For those of us entering college or the workforce, I urge you to always remember where you started and to think about the positives of what Vo-Tech has brought us, even if it’s something as simple as an inside joke or as meaningful as lifetime friends,” he said.
He also reminded the class that they have already impressed people outside their school for what they have learned outside the classroom, relating how a waitress at their prom venue had complimented them.
“‘I can tell you guys are Tech kids,’” he recalled. “I didn’t know where she was going with it, but then she went on to say that we had a certain maturity about us. It was a nice memory on top of a fun night.”
Rapson, too, spoke of the dividends gleaned from their high school years.
“For the past four years, we have been going to school together, finding friends and creating relationships,” she said. “And the day has come where we will be leaving this community. … We are able to grow and see the world. We get the chance to live our lives, educated and inspired, a privilege other people don’t always get.”
The Class of 2016 had a sense of fun, too, which was evident by the mortar board décor alone — cosmetology students tweaked the title of last year’s biopic about rappers NWA with their “Straight Outta Cosmo” caps and Student Body President Madeline Long of Rockland referenced the catchphrase for Disney’s “Up,” “Adventure is out there.”
Assistant Principal Mark Aubrey literally gave a tip of his hat to the graduates’ humor after relating the fate of the senior prank. A group of students planned to camp out on his front lawn, he said — but were unaware he had moved.
The class also held a beach party on the school’s front lawn last week, but didn’t tell him because they were concerned he’d be angry.
“I’m just mad I wasn’t invited,” he said, pulling an over-sized white, black and green Aloha shirt out from behind the podium and putting it on over his robe, topping it off with his trademark black cowboy hat before announcing scholarship awards.