HARWICH – The era of firsts continued at Monomoy Regional High School on Sunday when the Class of 2019 became the first to attend the school from its opening day in 2014 through five years of classes, athletics, activities, concerts, musicals, and multicultural festivals, culminating in a heartfelt commencement at the school on June 2.
Principal Bill Burkhead spoke of the school in terms of family, emphasizing its motto of being a home away from home while recognizing a class he deemed selfless, with beautiful minds and hearts.
“The senior class sets the tone for the school,” he said, noting how they navigated the nuances of attending the newly regionalized school with class, respect, and faith. “When you enter our school you feel the warmth, safety and energy reflected in how our seniors treat each other, our faculty and staff, and especially our underclassmen.”
Indeed, the senior class was known for taking the younger generation under its wing, either on the athletic field, through the school's music and drama programs, its myriad clubs, or simply by serving as positive role models and mentors.
“To some, a culture of love in a school is not possible,” Burkhead said. “I challenge them to visit our school.”
Superintendent Scott Carpenter encouraged the graduates to embrace diversity, noting that recognizing “the benefits of divergent perspectives and skills will be crucial for your success in life, and our success as a community and as a country.”
“You will have opportunities in college and in your professional lives to surround yourselves with teammates who look and think just like you, or you can choose to surround yourself with those who have different perspectives and cultures,” Carpenter said. “Embracing diversity in all its forms makes us stronger.”
To celebrate the diversity found among Monomoy's families, Carpenter invited four members of the community, relatives of graduates, to speak about the importance of a harmoniously diverse world.
Jean-Claude Butter emigrated to Cape Cod from Haiti, first working in the hospitality industry before becoming a caregiver for Cape Cod Healthcare.
“Having my family here is a dream come true, but I've never forgotten my roots,” Butter said, offering a favorite quote from his culture: “One, we are weak; two, we are strong; together we are stronger.”
“Don't be afraid to express your heritage or your background,” Butter added, “which enhances this puzzle we call life.”
Hari Rai's daughter Supriya is the first in the family to receive a high school diploma in the U.S., the family having come to the Cape from Nepal. Rai also offered a quote, first in his native language, which he then translated into English.
“Hundreds of different flowers create one beautiful garden,” he said.
Landscaper José Germosen brought his family here from the Dominican Republic, and was proud to witness son Etai receive his MRHS diploma.
“If you have a dream,” he told the graduates, “follow it and be happy.”
Last to speak was Kirtis Shakespeare, who came to Cape Cod more than a decade ago from Jamaica. He told the Class of 2019 that “we are stronger when we work together.”
“Regardless of where you're from, we are one,” he said.
Then, comparing Monomoy, a smaller school with a population of roughly 620 students, to his home country, he offered a quote.
“Wi likkle but wi tallawah,” he said. “We are small, but we are strong.”
Two students, Erin Starkey and Sam Yuskaitis, staff member Nicholas Seeley, and teacher Denise Creedon were then presented with the 2019 Ad Lucem Awards, given for exemplary, inspiring, and lasting contributions to the school and community.
Valedictorian Perry Comeau celebrated various memories made during his years at MRHS, drawing on favorite lines from popular media to encourage his classmates to remember the good times as they set out on new adventures. Comeau first offered a quote from “The Office” in which a key character laments not knowing he was in the good times until they'd passed, then summed up with another quote, this time from “Ferris Bueller's Day Off.”
“Life moves pretty fast,” he said. “If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Salutatorian Caroline Davock urged the Class of 2019 to remember those who helped them reach their goals, including teachers, coaches, family members, and friends, and challenged her peers to make a positive impression on those around them.
“We all have the ability to make a lasting impact on those around us,” Davock said. “If you can make an impression on just one person, then you will have succeeded. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, 'In a gentle way, you can shake the world.'”