Class of 2017 graduates move on from WA

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Class of 2017 graduates move on from WA

Mehul Shrivastava, News Editor

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On Friday, June 2, the Class of 2017 concluded their years at Westford Academy as they celebrated their high school graduation. Friends, family and faculty all gathered at the Alumni Stadium to recognize the graduating seniors.

The stadium started filling up a couple hours before the ceremony, which was set to take place at 5:30. The WA Band played for the audience as they were getting seated. The school faculty entered at 5:15, with the graduating class entering soon after.

After the national anthem, once again performed by the band, Principal Jim Antonelli gave the welcoming speech. He recognized all faculty members who were retiring, especially Dean Michael Parent, and also Principal Kevin Regan, who will be retiring from Norman E. Day School at the end of the year. Antonelli concluded by referencing the Patriots’ unexpected Superbowl win to tell the senior class that love will always be more powerful than revenge.

Guidance counselor Jill Karatkewicz was up next to announce salutatorian Amanda Li, and talked about her many academic and extracurricular accomplishments, especially in WA Math Team and the Junior State of America. Karatkewicz also called up valedictorian Vennela Mannava and recognized her achievements as well, specifically focusing on her Latin accomplishments.

The class officers, President Daniel Koerner, Vice President Blake Mazzaferro, Treasurer Sean Tseng and Secretary Trisha Kagalavadi, followed and gave special awards to their class advisers Lauren Coffey and Scott Brown as well as their dean, Parent, and also said a few words about each of them.

Following, the performance of the Alma Mater by the WA Band and Honors Choir, class speaker Mara Burke gave her speech, comparing the class’s experience at WA to that of a roller coaster. She started out by mentioning how the class of 2017 was “that class”, and named some of the things the seniors were either notorious or famous for. She then told the class to always try new things, take chances in life, and contribute to society.

“No matter where we go or what lies ahead, there will be challenges awaiting us. The new ride we board may stop us, send us backwards, make us fall, or even drop the floor right out from beneath us, but what I ask from each of you is to get back on track, forge forward with your heads held high, like we did here at WA,” Burke said.

Next, the Board of Trustees gave out awards to one male and female student from each class for being the most worthy representatives from their grade. For the freshman class, it was awarded to Luke Dylan and Emily Blagg. For sophomores, Ben Lawrence and Ariella Fleischer. The juniors who were awarded were Thomas Burke and Katherine Arnold, and the seniors were Mark Dunne and Mara Burke. The Trustees also handed out awards to students who achieved academic excellence in certain subjects.

Superintendent Everett V. Olsen gave a speech to the class. He recognized seniors Melissa Mead, Brendan Hull and Daniel Carrasco, who are joining the armed forces, and thanked them for their bravery. He then addressed the entire class to tell them how much he enjoyed getting to know them over the years

“I want you to know how much you’ve meant to each and every one of us. You’ve been our children for many years, and that’s been very special for us,” said Olsen.

The school committee and administration then proceeded to call each member of the graduating class to receive their diplomas. Following that, the class band performed “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”.

To end the event, Koerner gave a speech, bringing back memories of awkward middle school dances and comparing that to their future. He then reflected on memories of their high school experience and told the class to try new things in life.

“To the faculty here, all the families, and my classmates, thank you for the memories, and I hope you have fun making new ones these next few years and beyond. And if I could ask just one last thing of all of you, it would be to leave it all on the dance floor,” said Koerner.

As Koerner presented the class of 2017, all caps were thrown into the air, as family and friends celebrated, ending both the ceremony and the high school years of the class of 2017.