WA class of 2019 celebrated for kindness

Hannah Thomas, Staff Writer

The WA class of 2019 graduated on Friday, June 7 in alumni stadium under a sunny sky.

The principal of WA, James Antonelli, gave the first speech to the seniors. He shared some thoughts on the retiring staff members, history teacher Donna Kavanagh and business teacher Christine Cournoyer.

During his speech Antonelli shared a recent story of how a student wrote a thank you note to a pilot and his staff before departing on an airplane to Florida. He and his crew were moved. The note thanked the crew and apologized for potentially bad behavior, which they saw none of. He thought it was very kind how the student took the time to write a note on behalf of the students to show appreciation.  Antonelli told everyone about how this event described the kindness of the entire class.

“Your class is very special. It truly touched my heart and soul. The kindness that has poured out from you in so many ways has made a difference. To me, you are the class that is humble and kind. Those are the two most important characteristics that I am concerned that a person can carry. I truly believe that the class of 2019 embodies [these characteristics],” Antonelli said.

Then guidance counselor Wendy Pechacek recognized the salutatorian, Helen Zhou. She commented about how Zhou was interested in chemistry and Latin.  Zhou will be attending Brown University in the fall.

Guidance counselor Karen Halloran recognized the valedictorian, Kristen Colavita. She has taken many advanced courses and has received many academic awards. She also has knitted more than 100 baby hats to donate to charities, spending over 350 hours in total. She has also been a member of the marching band, which strengthened her relationships and taught her the importance of teamwork and collaboration.

“She plans to follow her passions and will study computer science, biology, and bioinformatics at Northeastern University in the fall,” Halloran said.

The Honors Choir sang the Alma Mater alongside current and past members.

Then Elsa Heil spoke to the group as the class of 2019 class speaker.

“Now we are leaving… despite the failures and mistakes we will make, and although we may feel average right now, we find that the average can achieve success. By striving to be their best selves,” Heil said.

The Westford Academy Trustees shared the history of Westford Academy and then the trustees of WA gave out awards. Some awards were Excellence in French, Excellence in visual arts, and Excellence in music.

After all the awards were given to the students, Superintendent Bill Olsen presented his speech. He said to the seniors they should strive for what they want in life and to be themselves. He also advised them to be optimistic and make a change.

“You can achieve anything you put your mind up to. You can be the best in the world and pursue what you are deeply passionate about,” Olsen said.

The WA deans called up the members of the graduating class to be presented their diplomas by the school committee members. One by one the students got up on the stage and were handed their diplomas. When Rajiv Paluri’s name was called, a grey balloon was released into the sky to remember Paluri who tragically died when the students were in 8th grade.

After the last names were called out, the class members of 2019 sang out High Hopes by Panic! at the Disco.

Closing the ceremony, class president Julianne Lee thanked the people who have helped her, told the crowd to do things outside their comfort zone, and told them to add some excitement and energy to their lives.

“Everyone single one of us is a work in progress, so we should do what makes us happy [. . . ] do those things that scare us […] We all possess special and unique characteristics that make us, us,” Lee said.