Waterhouse to remember Matt Roberge in speech


Kavya Desikan

Class speaker Erika Waterhouse addresses the class.

Kavya Desikan, Social Media Manager

Traditionally, each graduating class is addressed by one of their peers as class speaker to reflect on their four years together at Westford Academy. This year’s class speaker, Erika Waterhouse, will reminisce with her peers on their high school experience.

Inspired by her twin sister, who took WA Theatre Arts Director Michael Towers’s public speaking class, she decided to try something new and audition to address the Class of 2018 at graduation.

“I just thought it would be a good opportunity to do something that was kinda out of my comfort zone because I’ve never really done something like that. I mean no one really has, in front of that many people,” Waterhouse said.

Public speaking, though not something she had often participated in throughout high school, was a daunting task that Waterhouse wanted to tackle. Using her love for writing, she crafted a speech which she thought would bring The Class of 2018 together in their last few moments as high school students.

Waterhouse received support from many of her friends while she considered auditioning, including last year’s class speaker, Mara Burke, as well as teachers like Marine Biology teacher Jen Girardi and English teacher Emily Coates.

Between all of her audition rounds, Waterhouse always spent time in Girardi’s classroom, who had nothing but praise for Waterhouse and considered her an outspoken and thoughtful student.

“[When] Erika came and told me she was going to be the class speaker, I thought she was perfect, […] she always stood up for herself and everyone else in class. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. She’s very thoughtful and has a lot of empathy, and she can relate to a lot of her peers. I thought she made a perfect fit for class speaker,” Girardi said.

Coates, who taught Waterhouse English for two years also applauded her for being named as class speaker.

“I was thrilled to hear that Erika was giving the graduation speech. I enjoyed having Erika in my class for two years and found her to be thoughtful and engaged in what was going on. […] I loved her school spirit and was entertained by the outfits she wore to support whichever team she was on at the time. I imagine her speech will reflect those same qualities – thoughtfulness and school spirit – and look forward to hearing it,” she said.

Waterhouse feels honored to be named class speaker and hopes that her speech, which centers on the late Matt Roberge, will help bring her class together and remember Roberge’s legacy at Westford Academy.

“[My speech] was about Matt Roberge, […] I think that’s one of the most important things to talk about because he did have such a huge impact on our class. It’s pretty much all about him,” Waterhouse said.

Waterhouse and Roberge were members of the St. Catherine’s church and its community, and both went on a mission trip with their families together. While they weren’t close, Waterhouse felt as though she grew closer to him through working to support him and his family with the St. Catherine’s community.

“[St. Catherine’s] was a huge community for him. Everything is all about support and community there, and we did a lot of stuff for him there. I think that brought me closer to him,” she said.

She hopes that her speech sticks with her peers at Westford Academy and that she hopes that it is one that applies to not just a specific group of people, but the class as a whole.

“I used a balloon analogy, and it actually worked pretty well because the first day they started the Matt Roberge fund was releasing balloons at a boys’ soccer game, and I used that analogy to talk about things that we need to hold on an let go of,” Waterhouse said.

She hopes her message and speech is one that her peers appreciate and relate to.

“Obviously, after this day there are things that we’re gonna forget about, but there are certain things that we do need to remember,” Waterhouse said, “One of those things is the memories we have of each other and of Matt, and how it made us stronger and really come together as a class.”