EASTON — The lobby of Stonehill College’s W.B. Mason Auditorium was an enthusiastic wall of noise amid a sea of green caps and gowns just prior to King Philip Regional High School’s 62nd commencement on Sunday afternoon.
On each of their gowns, the 313 graduates wore a small yellow ribbon in memory of Jennifer McCann Black, a KP teacher who died only six days prior.
At the start of the ceremony, KP High Principal Lisa Mobley shared her belief, and wish, that the graduates would find someone special to share life with someone along the way.
Mobley also took time to remember Black, who had been awarded Teacher of the Year at the previous graduation ceremony.
“She was our teacher, she was our coach, our adviser, our mentor and leader,” Mobley said. “But most importantly, she was our friend.
“She would want to ensure that we celebrate all of you sitting before me today — celebrate. So, that’s exactly what we plan to do: to celebrate you,” Mobley told the graduates.
Superintendent Paul Zinni noticed that in the weeks leading up to the end of the school year, the graduating students had been spending time “focusing on endings.”
Zinni reminded the class of 2019 that graduation wasn’t just an ending, but also a beginning, and they would write the next page in the book of their lives.
Collectively, school committee member Michael Gee and honored speaker Timothy O’Connor reminded the graduates of their strong, lifelong sense of community, and their capability to answer the formidable challenges of the world.
Class President Robert Doolin told his classmates that even if their goals and plans did not “crystallize for a while,” it should not shake their confidence.
“Remain ambitious, and be open to new ideas...do not compromise the values of your true self, and always question authority,” Doolin said.
Salutatorian Justin Willson’s message for his fellow graduates echoed a quote of an professional English soccer player — that those who wished to live their lives positively should not obsessively compare themselves to others.
“I truly believe that everyone in this room is more than capable of achieving great things,” Willson said.
Expressing his wishes for his classmates through the themes of his many favorite films, Valedictorian Ryan Wood told the graduates they should follow the motto of “Dead Poets Society,” which was “carpe diem,” which means “seize the day.”
“We each have our own movie to write,” Wood said. “The ink you put on your blank pages is up to you...your script shouldn’t be a single genre.”