Foxboro High School class valedictorian Adriana Callen minced few words in labeling the COVID-19 pandemic a frustrating year of lost chances and missed opportunities.
“Many of us have lost our sense of routine and normalcy, and even the motivation to complete the smallest tasks,” said Callen, one of two student speakers at Sunday’s graduation ceremonies. “This past year has been about sacrifice and we all have felt it.”
But, Callan added, the strength, humility and most importantly, humanity gained through months of adversity will serve both she and her classmates well later in life.
“There is a cliché that actions speak louder than words, but it could not be more true,” she said. “We all possess the power to impact others’ lives and we should try to do so every day.”
Callen’s lesson resonated during the school’s 146th commencement exercises held late Sunday morning with many in attendance seeking relief from a scorching sun on the Sam Berns Memorial Field.
Staffers and student aides passed out water bottles as guests checked in before the ceremonies which limited each graduate to six guests grouped in small, individual “pods” on the football field.
Displaying a celebratory air despite the heat, 184 seniors accepted diplomas from FHS Principal Diana Myers-Pachla, who in earlier remarks told graduating seniors they have lived through a “defining time” in our history, while highlighting the positive contributions and long-term impact each made to the climate and culture at Foxboro High.
“Everything you pursued, you did with determination, dignity and heart,” she observed. “These are the characteristics for which you will be remembered and the characteristics that define you.”
In particular, Myers-Pachla thanked graduates for responding enthusiastically to four specific challenges outlined by administrators during a school assembly last September: to become positive leaders of the school; commit to excellence on a daily basis; to make a positive contribution, no matter how small, each day; and to stretch themselves.
“As you go forward, follow your dreams,” she concluded. “Take the challenges, make your own path, take the road less traveled -- and most importantly, be kind and always remember to finish strong.”
Class President Ella Waryas, the second student speaker, also urged her classmates to stretch beyond their comfort zones, saying the fear of failure prevents many people from reaching their full potential.
“As you step out of your comfort zone, you will find you’re more capable and in control than you think,” she said. “It is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed or hesitant as you go forward in life. Stepping our of your comfort zone means you are entering uncharted territories, and you are bound to make mistakes along the way.”
In brief remarks, Superintendent Amy Berdos sent a heart-warming message to graduates, urging them to show their appreciation to parents, family members and a community that has supported them through thick and thin.
“Be sure to thank those who helped you get here today,” Berdos said. “Remember where you came from.”
Earlier, Myers-Pachla had introduced three graduates -- Michael Grace, Trent Rennie and Matthew Winn -- who will be enlisting in the military following graduation.
“Your willingness to serve and your dedication to our country is greatly appreciated,” she said to lengthy applause.
Myers-Pachla also recognized 65 seniors who had received nearly $179,000 in scholarships at the school’s Scholarship Night ceremonies last Tuesday evening.